God Hates Astronauts (GHA) by Ryan Browne (pronounced Brown) may be the most important comic book you are not reading right now. This sounds like an overstatement but on the cover of the first trade Jonathan Hickman has this to say, “I don’t want to oversell what Ryan has accomplished here, but I gave God Hates Astronauts to a blind man and he regained his sight.” I am a firm believer that comedy is the hardest thing to write. Anyone can attempt it however the translation from page to joke execution is not easy. What Browne does in this book is nothing short of spectacular.

God hates astronauts

The first volume of GHA has been in print one way or another since 2010 and has slowly gained a following since. Starting off as an online comic (you can still read the original series here), Image Comics revived the series in September of 2014. The original series follows the superhero team “The Power Persons Five,” a group hired by NASA to stop farmers from creating horribly made silo rocket-ships and entering Earth’s orbit. In their efforts to do their job, John L. Sullivan (the late 19th century boxer) and his bear army become targets. Sullivan quickly becomes the main villain of the first story arch which is taken so earnestly that it could only happen in this comic.

We quickly find out how terrible these people are at actually stopping farmers from reaching outer space because we see a collision that happens to kill royalty and it has an adverse affect we find out about later. While this first volume is ripe with martial strife, team angst, brains verses pure muscle/bullying and answering the age old question of, “If an immortal is missing their head can they still live?”

GodHatesAstronauts_tp_02

Volume two of the series picked up after some time has passed in the world of GHA. A new Power Persons Five has formed, the main characters have welcomed their love child and we are quickly introduced to a new character, 3-D Cowboy (who is a ghost that if you put on 3D glasses he will actually pop out while nothing else in the book will) that narrates the story. When we meet up with our characters they are actually doing their job, apprehending farmers from trying to reach the moon. This second story arch is full of backstory that even chronicles the first moon landing with Buzz Owldrin and Seal Armstrong.

What GHA represents in comics is something that is not easily found, and it is clear that Browne has quite possibly created the strangest world in comics today. You can tell that some beats are taken from the 90’s era of comics, others from classic TGIF sitcoms and pop cultural film classics as well. What GHA provides is a look at characters that are heightened stereotypes found in superhero comics today in a world that is full of trouble where these characters are needed but they care more about themselves than actually helping–until they have to. Browne is testing what comics are able to do in a world that is filled with gritty reboots and attempts to “ground” characters in something more reality based.

Both volume one and two of this series has a complete guide to who should be cast as each character should this be made into a motion picture or Adult Swim cartoon. In the current run, there are quotes on the back of the single issues that are for and/or against the book itself; something that Browne creates that detail another story happening within the world of GHA. At the end of the day, you should read this comic if you love wonderful art, great storytelling, and a reminder that sometimes the best comics are the ones that are more about what bring a smile to your face. The storytelling is not only compelling but one of the truly rare gems on shelves right now.

I will leave you with this: the God Hates Astronauts #6 C2E2 variant staring one of the characters, Simon the cat:

C2E2 Variant

God Hates Astronauts #8 is in stores now.

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