Goddess Mode: The Future’s Not Near; It’s Here (But It’s Very Colorful)

Goddess Mode #1 - DC Comics - Robbi Rodriguez December 2018

Goddess Mode #1

Simon Bowland (letterer), Zoë Quinn (writer), Rico Renzi (colorist), Robbi Rodriguez (artist)
DC Comics/Vertigo
December 12th, 2018

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

In a world where artificial intelligence powers basic human needs, Cassandra Price’s standard issue tech support job becomes anything but when she plunges into the world of her company’s secrets, only to find even more secrets: an entire community of super powered women looking to bypass the game of reality.

Cyber punk main character in front of wild color tech
Cover by Robbi Rodriguez

The future’s not near; it’s here. That’s the challenge of writing any near-future story. At what point do the out-of-this-world predictions become reality?

Goddess Mode falls prey to this trap. The world it presents starts out as radical, but with deeper reflection and research presents rather realistic (for 2018) concepts. Our protagonist Cassandra works for medical technology company Hermeticorp, working to keep the terminally ill alive with the help of an AI — not a far cry from the current state of cryogenics. Communications operate through “spooky eyeball magic,” but smart glasses and smart contact lenses are now possible and affordable. In 2018, the term “near future” needs a reinvention to explore more than just the most out-there of scientific possibility. It’s too much to ask for this one series to redefine a genre alone. But, if you characterize your story as “cyberpunk,” you may want to give pause to just how you define the term.

There’s nothing revolutionary in writer Zoe Quinn’s script. She sticks to tropes we’ve all heard before: directionless low-level employee with an ample amount of sass breaks into the system, gets a promotion. That promotion unlocks another layer of corporate mystery our star feels a need to solve in order to find personal fulfillment. And then Cassandra finds yet another mystery: the superwomen, the ghosts in the machine looking to upend it. Throw in a mystery illness that leaves Cassandra’s father and others in stasis until a cure is found, and you have too many plot lines competing for attention. This is a serious problem for any series, more so for a debut issue. Worldbuilding is important, but it must be done in an organized fashion. That is not present here.

At least Rico Renzi and Robbi Rodriguez make Goddess Mode a visual feast. An artistic definition of cyberpunk is hard to find, but conventional wisdom suggests a neon noir look. Renzi takes this to 11 by opting for the “neon” side of “neon-noir.” It’s a canvas that makes ever detail in Rodriguez’ artwork clear. And there is plenty of detail! The busy nature of the artwork makes sense with the tone of the script. And yet, Rodriguez wisely knows when to hold back and when to let loose.

Rodriguez shows keen use of perspective.  Two point perspective and worm’s eye view of the women in the machine emphasize their power and swagger. Zero point perspective allows room for detail and color to flesh out. Bird’s eye views of Cassandra highlight her mood and perception of low social status.

The art, however, cannot carry this book alone. Much like a definition of cyberpunk, Goddess Mode tries too hard and does too much in an effort to reconcile what the future is when it’s already here. If Quinn’s script can match the tone and pace of the artwork, this series has room for a new exploration of the concept of dystopian futures.

Kate Kosturski

Kate Kosturski

Librarian by day, comics nerd by day and by night. Also published at Geeks OUT and Multiversity Comics (where she is also the social media manager for the site). Originally from New Jersey, now of Connecticut and New York City. Raging feminist your mother probably warned you about. Body positivity and LGBTQ+ advocate. Lover of good whiskey, Jensen Ackles, Doctor Who, Funko Pops, knitting, Hamilton, and the New York Mets. Will defend the Oxford Comma to her deathbed. Find her on twitter at @librarian_kate