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Comic Book / God is Dead

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Picture this scene: one day after a summer filled with strange, unnatural weather and staggering natural disasters, a very tall and muscular old man with a head of long white hair and a white beard is walking through Vatican City. He steps into the Sistine Chapel and looks up at that most famous of paintings on the ceiling, The Creation of Adam, where God stretches forward his hand to pass life into Adam. The old man with the flowing white hair and beard considers it for a moment... and then declares it to be ridiculous, and says that he will never be satisfied with such a bloodless and tame form of worship. He calls down a lightning bolt that strikes right through the roof of the chapel, and as he makes himself a throne there he declares his identity for the first time: Zeus, King of the Gods.

What? Not who you were expecting?

Not long after the appearance of Zeus, gods of multiple pantheons begin appearing, (most prominently the Greek, Norse, Aztec, Egyptian, and Hindu deities) and hold a conference where they agree to not fight and allow each other to take control of their traditional territories. The gods then focus on taking complete control of the Earth, recruiting followers, mercilessly repressing any non-believers, destroying any knowledge that doesn't come from themselves, and starting to crush the few factions (such as the US Military) that attempt an organized resistance.

Gods being gods, however it's not long before that truce between them goes out the window and there's a mad round of divine combat as the various pantheons battle each other for total control of the world. And unknown to the gods, there is an underground cabal of scientists and soldiers called The Collective who are looking for a way to understand and defeat the gods, even if it means attempting to create a new one to help them save humanity from the grip of the divine oppressors.


Originally a limited series coauthored by Jonathan Hickman (best known for works such as The Manhattan Projects and East of West, among others) and Mike Costa. After the conclusion of the initial six issue arc, God Is Dead has since become an ongoing series with Mike Costa as the sole writer.

This comic series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Gaby, a bodyguard for The Collective and daughter of a mercenary who is aiding them, and later still a newly made goddess christened Gaia is this to an almost exaggerated or Narm level.
  • All-Loving Hero: Jesus Christ and Eros best fit the description of this trope. Both are pacifistic and benevolent individuals with a "spread the love" philosophy and are notable as the most kindhearted characters in the comic.
  • All Myths Are True: Although the first arc deals with only a few pantheons (with a seemingly arbitrary limit of 3 figures from each pantheon) further arcs have given time to more pantheons and more figures within previous introduced ones.
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  • And I Must Scream: After Jesus revives the Earth and everybody that died from the Second Coming is revived, death is all but wiped from existence. Unfortunately, Reality Ensues and it is elaborated that this is not a good thing. Starvation, sickness, aging and other forms of hardships and suffering associated with living are still very much a thing, but anything with a soul (humans, gods and mythical creatures) cannot die. This causes a sizable number of humans to go mad (leading to self-cannibalism and failed suicides), as with conflicts and supernatural beings that are more than happy to harm humans leaving mankind literally broken. It takes the combined might of Thanatos's many demi-god bastards and Jesus sacrificing himself to Baphomet to reverse this.
  • Badass Boast: The gods frequently do this or attempt to do this. It often doesn't end well for them, since they frequently give these boasts when they're on the losing end of a battle against another pantheon, and state how they'll be much tougher and stronger than any other god that has been defeated... and then promptly get easily defeated.
  • Baphomet: Portrayed as the Dragon cited in the Old Testament, a being that exists outside of the universe and is the only being (it and whoever he devours) left when the universe dies and subsequently rebooted into existence.
  • Big Bad: Issue 25 reveals that Satan was the one who killed the Abrahamic God and kickstarted the events of the comic.
  • Beelzebub: Portrayed as one of the demons and chthonian gods aligned with Satan.
  • Blood Knight: Pick a god willing to fight. Any of them. The Norse gods fit this trope more vividly than they do in the original myth.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Characters die constantly. Anyone Can Die, after all. (Sometimes, characters die right as they get introduced)
  • Coitus Ensues: Shown many times in the series. More so with Tansy to gain favor with several gods, but a more random case would be with Gaby and Paul. Paul was tasked with finding and protecting Gaby from turning into Gaia once more after being resurrected, but ended up having sex with her not more than two minutes after meeting her.
  • Crapsack World: The world that the gods start to create. Science and higher learning is outlawed, freedom of religion or speech is naturally a thing of the past, libraries and universities are torched, scientists and intellectuals are purged, etc. It's going to be a world run purely according to the dictates and whims of the gods... and anybody who knows about the whims and dictates of say, Odin, Loki, Zeus, or most of the Aztec deities should find that quite a horrifying thought indeed.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The world seen after the Time Skip once Gaia has defeated Zeus and taken complete control of the world. Unlike the previous gods, Gaia cares about people (to an extent, anyway) and spreads a religion of love and peace throughout the world. However, the human population is still a fraction of what it was before the gods returned, the world is an agrarian one where almost everywhere on the planet is a bad harvest away from famine, Gaia herself is something of a Clueless Boss who contributes nothing to the lives of her people except to keep saying "Gaia loves you", her worldwide theocratic church still considers science and independent thought heresies, and Gaia's High Priestess, who actually is the one running the entire world, is so fed up, bitter, and jaded that she's actively looking for ways to kill Gaia because she thinks it's the only way anything might change for the better.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Battles between the gods tend to almost exclusively be this.
  • Dead Guy on Display: After the final godly battle between Zeus and Odin, Zeus mockingly leaves Odin's body on Zeus' throne.
  • Decoy Protagonist:
    • During the first trade paperback, more time is spent following the Norse Gods than any other pantheon, and they win battles with other pantheons via Curbstomp Battle so often that it becomes logical to think that he Norse will be the eventual winners of the battle royale among the gods. Then Zeus personally got involved and pasted Loki, Thor, and Odin one after another.
    • The first professor who serves as our introduction to The Collective might seem like he's going to be the main character, but he dies at the end of the first trade and Gaia is the only member of The Collective to survive.
  • Divine Conflict: And lots of it!
  • Driven to Suicide: The US President near the very start by way of a self-inflicted Boom, Headshot!, and later, The Quisling newscaster.
  • Emotion Bomb: Thammuz is capable of overwhelming any woman (including divine beings) with longing so powerful that it kills them, as demonstrated when he made an army of valkyries spontaneously combust.
  • Ethical Slut / The Ingenue: Tansy fits both tropes to a T. Though she is polite, kind, a strong believer in "love conquers all", and empathetic to those around her, she is also willing to use sex as a means of getting what she wants or simply to appease aggressors.
  • Evil vs. Evil: This tends to happen a lot.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: The general commanding the US Army undergoes a case of Sanity Slippage as the US Military is increasingly pushed back and defeated by the Aztec gods and their followers. Finally, said general gives orders for nuclear launch against... well, everyone. At that point he's betrayed by a group of soldiers who refuse to carry out his orders and prepare him for an Aztec ritual sacrifice. When he demands to know how they can betray their country and people, they point out that whatever the gods might be, they're not about to destroy all of humanity just to avoid losing.
  • Flat Character: Most of The Collective, perhaps because the original run of the comic was planned to be so short that it was more important to give time to action and driving the plot than to Character Development.
  • God is Dead: In the first trade paperback, the bodies of the gods soon pile up due to combat between them. But things really escalate in the second volume when an attempt by humans to enter Heaven to try to get some answers finds that Yahweh, the God of the Abrahamic faiths, is also dead, his murdered body sitting on his throne.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Second Coming that led the various gods of antiquity to return to Earth (and the cosmic fallout that came afterward) was triggered by the power-vacuum that occurred when Satan finally managed to kill God while on his throne.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Sexual conduct and extensive gore are par the course for the comic. Especially for the horny and violent gods of Greek and Norse myth.
  • Hollywood Dreamtime: The Dreamtime is portrayed as the only safe-place on Earth after the Second Coming, the Aboriginal gods taking pity on the humans that lived there and opened passage into it in Australia. It is depicted as a scenic landscape filled with magical beings where none of the humans there age and they cannot be killed permanently, Albert describing the state of death there as them simply "thinking" that they are dead.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Tansy and to extent the entire "Ladies of the House" of the Special Priestess of the new goddess Gaia's religion were raised to be these. They are raised as early as twelve years old to be sent off on missions to convert the far isolated corners of the Earth to their religion of love using sex as a sort of holy prostitute/missionary hooker.
  • Jerkass Gods: They come by the barrel in this series.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: A bit of a hippy but easily one of the most compassionate and benevolent divine figures in the setting.
  • Kick the Dog: Happens quite often. The king is probably when Zeus gets the Stephen Hawking analogue to betray the rest of The Collective. Zeus points out that he can do what all the other scientists and doctors can't and heal him. As a condition Zeus makes the poor man beg for it without the aid of either his wheelchair or the computer that lets him speak. When the poor guy finally manages to do it, tears in his eyes, after panels of trying, Zeus' answer is "No!" and he stomps on the guy like an ant. Another notable one is a Chinese peasant asking the Chinese god Paoxi to bless her infant daughter. Paoxi is displeased at being given a "girl-child" for such a blessing and promptly tosses the infant off a cliff.
  • Kill the God: Done in copious degrees between gods duking it out and humans killing gods using divine weaponry. The conflict in the series is started when Lucifer manages to finally kill the Monotheistic God that kept the lesser gods in check.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Whenever a problem is solved, it almost inevitably leads to an even bigger problem that one could argue was even worse than the problem before it. It's almost a Running Gag at this point.
    • The Collective try and create their own God through injection of the blood of their own failed creation Mammon. This turns all three of the willing test-subjects into demon-esq gods with the same narcissistic A God Am I personality as the natural born gods.
    • While Gaby (now having renamed herself Gaia) had killed the last god Zeus (the others having killed each other in a civil war), she winds up becoming just as big of a problem as the other gods. The rest of humanity within the next few centuries worship her as the one true god and follow her vague dogma centered around "love". Because she is clearly insane and has no idea what she is doing, the population is left to fend for itself as they have to bend over backwards to appease her.
    • Because Gaia has grown so powerful as an "Earth Mother" goddess, when the heroes successfully kill her, it nearly causes the entire Earth to die out. Animals drop dead, the plants all shrivel up and die, even some of the humans become violently sick.
    • After every other god is dead and the Earth goes along with them, Jesus appears and resurrects the Earth and everyone that had ever died in the Second Coming. Unfortunately, this also means that every living being who has a soul (humans, gods and animals of a mythical nature) cannot die, citing the Book of Revelations when death has become obsolete. What makes this horrible is that mortal suffering (sickness, starvation, bodily trauma, etc) still exists, you just can't die from it anymore. Even worse, this also allows the various gods that started this whole mess to come back to life and they can't die either.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Baldur has this without mistletoe to bypass his invulnerability, which is actually a plot point as it makes him one of the only gods to survive combat with the gods of other pantheons until the very end.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Collective contains painfully obvious analogs of both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
  • Nuke 'em: At one point the US resorts to using a nuclear bomb to try to kill off Quetzalcoatl and its followers that are invading the States. It does the job on the followers, but has no effect on the god itself.
    • With some help of the Dragon Baphomet, Gaia's High Priestess manages to kill her using a Neutron Bomb.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Satan. His big goal is to essentially kill off God and after doing so and seeing the other gods roam the Earth, decided to essentially kill off all creation and himself out of spite.
  • One Steve Limit: When the Collective try to artificially create a god to fight off the gods of antiquity, they end up creating a demon they christen "Mammon". Later, it is revealed there is an actual Mammon under Satan's banner (though given the timeline, the created Mammon could have wound up in Hell after its death, making them the same).
    • After Gaby kills the last of the free-roaming gods, she take the name "Gaia." Later on the actual Gaia of Classical Mythology makes an appearance.
  • Only Sane Man: Albert Sailor fits this trope better than most in the comic. He was the one who engineered the death of many dangerous gods and monsters, and leads the community found in the Dreamtime. He's often the one who points out the absurdity of the events occurring around him and calls out others for engaging in acts of zealotry or ignorance.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Subverted as it is the more benevolent powers that do this. As one might expect, it is a real problem when the Big Good is basically passive and does not intervene in the atrocities perpetuated by more bloodthirsty gods.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Aphrodite questions Zeus' decision to govern through sheer power and tyranny, and thinks that love is a more effective way to rule.
    • As a nuclear bomb heads toward Quetzalcoatl and a group of invaders, Quetzalcoatl praises the followers for their courage and tells them It Has Been an Honor. Since the god is unharmed and all the followers incinerated, there was no reason to do so other than basic decency.
    • Lu Dongbin is upset at Paoxi killing an infant girl and threatens to cut Paoxi down with Lu's magic sword.
  • The Pollyanna: No matter what happens to him, nothing seems to permanently upset Jesus Christ. He even takes being killed a number of times in stride.
  • The Quisling: Soon after Zeus kickstarts the events of the comic, there's a long section with a newscaster who pledges that he and his network will maintain their dedication to truth, integrity, and honest reporting in these difficult times. The next panel is a cut to him several weeks later, still doing news broadcasts, but now dressed as a shaman, calling any predictions about the future, (including the weather to come) divinations, and generally fawning over the gods.
  • Really Gets Around: A significant plot point. Thanatos, with help his love god companion, Eros, manages to bed countless women during his time on Earth and unknowingly produces scores of demigod progeny that serve to be the key to stopping the war between the Gods. Tansy as well, as she recounts having slept her way across at least two continents and bedded enough Gods that she can detect them even while disguised.
  • Ret-Gone: After the universe is rebooted, Jesus and Satan are the only gods that have no place in it due to being safely within the belly of Baphomet outside of the universe when the previous incarnation of the universe, collapsed. This is why Yahweh did not recognize Satan before he is killed by him.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: A number of the gods don't match with their mythical personalities or appearances.
  • Smug Snake: Hephaestus thinks he's clever enough to outsmart all the other gods and seize control for himself. The reality is that he moves from one bad idea to another, making things worse and escalating matters each time.
  • Super Serum: The eventual solution The Collective decides on is creating a god of their own to fight for their cause, and after trying to create a god from scratch doesn't go well, they create a serum to inject that transforms three of their members into gods.
  • Time Skip: After the first trade paperback, there's a skip of more than a century before the narrative picks up again.
  • Transhuman Treachery: The three members of The Collective who take the Super Serum immediately show big signs of this.
  • The Trickster: Loki has a fairly prominent role in the first volume, and the second shows other mythological tricksters such as Coyote and Anansi getting into the act.
    • A decontruction of the trope appears later when a cabal of trickster gods ban together to stop the newly deified Gaia from throwing all of existence out of balance. They're completely unable to stop her because as trickster gods they rely on subterfuge and deception to act instead of direct action and Gaia's so single-minded and oblivious they can't get any leverage on her. They end up having to rely on the idiotic and reckless Thanatos and Eros for help since they're constrained by their natures to not directly solve their own problems.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The first arc was written in September of 2013, with the story starting in 2015.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Very little about the gods, who they are, and what their powers are, gets explained. So if you're not already familiar with with, say, which Egyptian God has which animal head or which Aztec deity is which, you're going to be kinda SOL. Although not for long, given how rapidly they're killed off.
    • This is also an important thing in the finale when Nayenezgani and Tobadzistsini appear and become the last two gods standing - their importance, despite being a bit off, becomes highly important.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The Chinese pantheon never gets into the action of the first arc because they're so busy infighting that a divine Chinese dragon winds up destroying their representatives out of sheer frustration.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: All the Chinese dragon wants is peace for the world. Sounds good, right? Keep in mind that killing everyone who is fighting does result in peace.


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