God Puncher #1 & #2 Review: Taking Names
Tim Finnly’s got two disembodied arms, a massive chip on his shoulder and a whole dysfunctional pantheon to, well. Punch.
What’s not to like?
God Puncher created by Lane Lloyd
Lloyd’s working with a great set of concepts and a good deal of imagination in God Puncher. Character designs are completely unique, facial expressions are lovely, cartoony and weird and Finnly’s world is not quite like anything that’s come before. Lloyd takes a lot of chances with Syrem, Vaxis and Finnly, and the book’s delightful so far. Issue #1 introduces Finnly and his spirited arms with a nice conceit of a storyteller who’s very quickly, er, ushered off-screen, and sets up Finnly as a bit of a misanthropic mercenary. Issue #2 introduces Vaxis, a grand adventure, an overblown time god and raises the stakes significantly for Finnly in a nice cliffhanger. Everyone’s delightfully wry, but Lloyd is careful to make sure there’s just enough of a sinister edge to everything to keep the book from disintegrating into a series of fantasy gags.
When it comes to cartooning, Lloyd’s style is fantastic, with big, bold, weird and angular characters that boast exaggerated eyes, scales, muscles, skulls (there are a lot of skulls) and all sorts of gooshy goodness. God Puncher has a completely unique aesthetic, and that alone makes it worth checking out. However, Lloyd’s got a very fine line, and with a lot of unique character details comes the challenge of keeping everything cohesive on the page. Layout-wise, some panels can feel unmoored in the brighter backgrounds, and there is occasionally too much empty space in issue #1. Lloyd mitigates this in places with some high-contrast shading that gives the eye something to follow as we move through the action. Backgrounds are more detailed in issue #2, which contributes greatly to fleshing out the wacky universe Finnly’s trying to navigate, and if they do occasionally err on the opposite side of the spectrum with too much detail or a crowded strip, the choices feels authentic for what God Puncher is going for.
Colors are pretty minimal in issue #1 but in issue #2 they function as nice accents to punch up the book’s artwork. It’s also nice to widen the lens from Finnly to Vaxis and the world around our cranky hero, and the narrative choice gives Lloyd more visual license as well. That said, some of the color pops can tangle with the sequential art, as with Vaxis’ great age progression. For example, the color contrast of her arm isn’t carried through to the last panel, which feels unbalanced and makes the detail a bit jarring. A more cohesive palette and refinement of these details moving forward would clinch the book’s great style.
There are some great sound effects throughout the comic, but the main issue I have with God Puncher is in its lettering. Lloyd does a good job in setting out different colors for each character that make the comic much easier to read, but the dialogue font takes up too much real estate and there’s a color shift for one of the arms from red to orange to red again that makes following some of the dialogue confusing in issue #1. Lettering in issue #2 is more interesting, with colors assigned to specific characters for clarity, but the font’s still generic and occasionally too small to suit the comic’s style and tone. That said, the hand-drawn sound effects and dialogue are fantastic and convey a lot of humor, and I’d love to see what Lloyd could do with even more hand-lettering in subsequent issues to really seal God Puncher’s unique style.
Overall, God Puncher’s a book that’s finding its footing as it goes but is working from an enjoyable foundation. I like watching series take shape, and with Lloyd’s imagination, aesthetic and zany sense of humor, there’s quite a lot here to enjoy as we go.
God Puncher #1 & #2 draw from a deep well of original, imaginative wackiness to create an enjoyable debut, with just a few craft wrinkles to iron out over time.