“God-Puncher” #4-5 up the stakes for everyone’s favorite god-punching curmudgeon, Tim Finnly. He’s under bounty, under siege and in over his head – until a few new friends show up to even the scales.
And then things get weird.
Creator: Lane Lloyd
Lloyd pairs a relatively simple plot with innovative and unique artwork to make for a fun and stimulating comic experience. “God-Puncher” isn’t quite like anything you’ve seen before, and Lloyd takes chances with layouts, character design and detail that are refreshing, and mostly work. There are a few odd choices here and there, like extreme angles that disorient or a few background details done in a heavier stroke that might compete with what should be a focal point, but “God-Puncher” is an explosive celebration of strange anatomy, spindly limbs and unbound imagination. Small things like the changing expressions on Dethorn’s skull eyeballs or Finnly’s mustache foregrounded in a three-panel strip are details you might not see in more mainstream comics, and for every Dutch angle that might skew a little too hard there’s a moment of delight that follows.
Lloyd’s to be applauded for the playfulness and innovation of “God-Puncher,” and over time that innovation has led to more interesting backgrounds, unique character designs and a keener sense of comedic timing and absurdity. Beefy boys and willowy girls rub shoulders with grotesque zombies, skull-faced villains and bearded sirens. There’s a fluidity of gender, anatomy, geography and personality at play in “God-Puncher” that make the book feel a bit like a fever dream. Throughout it all, however, Lloyd maintains Finnly’s dedication to fisticuffs – and in issue #5 we see why that might not be such a good idea.
Lloyd plays more with color in each issue, and #4-5 feature some nice palette choices for individual characters that help the black and white world come to life. The salmon-colored carnage of the masked assassins in issue #4 is a nice payoff for their gentle pink suits, and Lloyd goes full color for Finnly’s fateful meeting with the witch-smith. Lloyd makes some unconventional choices, like upping the intensity of her hair from establishing panel to close-up, that fit the overall tone of the book. Sometimes these choices don’t work, as in some of the harsher red lettering or when similar tones are chosen for different outfits on the same page, but the overall effect is a positive one.
Of note is the improvement in lettering over earlier issues. Though the italicized font still takes up a good deal of real estate, there’s less padding in the balloons than before and the placement is more sophisticated. Lloyd also experiments with balloon styling for each character, and most of it is dead on, fun and additive. There are a few errors that fly by because there’s so much going on. Lloyd does a lot of drawn sound effects, from the ever-present, peaky tiks and toks for Syrem to panel-wide bubbly explosions and interjections. Each is experimental, often amusing and interesting to look at in its own right.
The big question here is: does “God-Puncher” hold together as a comic? Answer: yes. There’s a progression of skill and innovation from issue #1 to now, and the process is worthwhile. Lloyd is growing with this book, but “God Puncher” hooked me from the beginning with its daring and style and the book’s only gotten more interesting – and sophisticated – over time.
Better to take chances and create magic on the page than retreat behind conventions and lose the marrow of a story, and Lloyd’s creativity more than delivers an enjoyable experience.
The Verdict: 8/10 – “God-Puncher” #4-5 up the ante for Finnly and for the book’s production value, with Lloyd’s characteristic imagination, style and flair.