Goddess Mode #3 // Review
Cassandra Price is the Oracle of Garbage. It’s not the most pleasant title imaginable, but she learns its value in a very empowering third issue of Goddess Mode. Zoë Quinn layers in narrative density in the latest installment of the fairy fantasy cyber serial in another issue with art by Robbi Rodriguez with color by Rico Renzi. Price and friends sip through frenetic action in the world of pure information before spilling out into a street-bound drama that reveals a bit more about the world in which the action occurs.
The story opens as Cassandra and her fellow oracles face a huge, seemingly ravenous info monster with massive jaws. Action tumbles across the page until an impassioned outburst escapes from Cassandra, revealing to her that she has strange powers that affect time and people in the world of information. Successfully escaping the monster, Cassandra is finally forced to confront her real life boss and make something of a faustian bargain that ends the third issue with an explosive launch into the fourth.
The density of Quinn’s world continues to impress. Quinn has constructed a very complicated world that isn’t exactly in any kind of rush to make itself comprehensible to the reader. Falling into an issue feels like falling into another world. Quinn triumphs briefly through embracing the power of her own identity. In its own way, Quinn’s story has found a way to take the purest distillation of the cyberpunk genre and cast it into a super-heroic medium. The individual is the pilot of her own reality here. She IS the oracle of refuse, but there’s real power in that and she’s going to need to embrace it in order to take on sinister engines of authority. It’s a really solid marriage of cyberpunk and superhero genres.
Rodriguez’s wiry, shadowy structuring of the visual world continues to amplify emotion in the extreme. Goddess Mode alternates between wide-eyed moments of intense action and the lazy exhaustion of life in the gritty filth of a real world punctuated by glowing pop-up notifications which are constantly threatening to drag everything back into the gleaming world of information. Without over-emphasizing the difference between the twin worlds of the series, Rodriguez is building a rich visual backdrop for the central conflicts that are shooting through Cassandra’s life.
Renzi is given a tremendous amount of space in which to deliver the color. In addition to a cool pastel primary palette, there are some really clever, little details poured in around the edges of the action. There’s a feeling of the digital creeping up around the sides of the action...sometimes in plain sight. Early on a pair of massive magical arms seek to pry open the mouth of the great digital beast and they look like the static on channel zero...what Gibson might have referred to as “the color of television tuned to a dead channel.” Eyes fade out into their own kind of static when characters get tele-present for meetings and such. Text messages flash out white against hot pink. It’s a rich visual world and the color does a lot for it.
Quinn’s got a lot going on in Goddess Mode. The ground level of the series might feel like The Matrix of superhero comics, but this would be a pretty superficial read of what Quinn and company are doing here. By drawing Price into a world of superpowers and super peril, she’s developing a fusion between genres that’s cooly electrifying in its third chapter.