Negalyod – The God Network is the latest science fiction graphic novel offering from Titan Comics that transports readers to a strange world where science and technology have run amok, but where dinosaurs roam the vast desert lands where small pockets of humanity are doing their best to survive outside of giant cities in the sky.
Negalyod – The God Network follows Jarri, a dinosaur shepherd who has made a small life for himself tending a herd of triceratops’ with his faithful companion, Stygo, a Pachycephalosaurus. The two of them travel the vast, barren desert with their herd, taking them from one safe location to another. However, when a weather truck, a huge tanker like vehicle that produces lightning and storms, driven by cybernetic prisoners, passes by his herd it kills every single one of his triceratops.
Enraged by the senseless slaughter of his dinosaurs, Jarri travels to one of the nearest settlements, hoping that he can find out who is responsible for the weather truck killing indiscriminately, and stop them. Upon arriving in the settlement, a vast slum-like city high above the plains, he learns that things are more complex than he first believed. Despite living above the deserts most of the people there are barely surviving, eking out a living as little more than slaves to those who live even higher up than them. Jarri soon finds himself meeting with the charismatic leader of a local resistance group, and decides that he could be his best way of getting higher up in the city to get his revenge. This sets Jarri on a path that will cause him to become an important ally to the resistance, and part of a mission that could change the world.
Negalyod – The God Network is a strange book. There’s a quote on the back cover comparing it to Mad Max, and that’s an apt description for a few reasons. The first and most obvious one is that it’s being set in a future time where the Earth has gone to hell and people are struggling to survive in harsh desert environments. But the less obvious comparison is that, like Mad Max, this story drops you into that setting with no real explanations. We don’t know why the world has ended up like this. We don’t know how humanity changed and evolved to this point. We don’t know why there are dinosaurs everywhere or why Jarri can speak to them. It’s just stuff that’s part of the story and we’re left to deal with it.
Because of this, there are times where the book feels like it’s being deliberately vague, to the point where even after reading through some parts of it twice I found myself having to try and fill in some of the blanks with small context clues and my own suppositions. This isn’t necessarily a bad way to tell a story, it does leave the author free to concentrate on the tale they want to tell, rather than having to spend time explaining the world that they’ve created, and it means that each individual reader can come away with their own, personal interpretation for the story. However, there are times where I was left wondering why things had happened a certain way, why characters made the choices they did, and even what the ending meant.
There’s a vagueness to the story here that feels part deliberate decision to leave things open to interpretation, and part laziness. That might sound overly critical, but when a story reaches a conclusion and you’re left asking what actually happened it feels very frustrating. I don’t know what the end of this story is trying to say. All I know is that the book ends with a world different to how the story started, but not why or how.
Just as the story is very vague and lacks any real depth, so do the characters. Jarri is our lead, and the only character I get a feeling that I know. His motivation is understandable, he goes in wanting revenge, and over the course of the book we do learn a little more about his history and why he’s such a driven person. But there are still times where I look at the character and don’t feel like I know much about them. And the secondary characters are even worse for this. Many of them react in the moment whenever something happens, but the way they react and their motivations seem to change from scene to scene. Someone can be very confrontational in one scene, but super friendly in the next. A character can be closed off and guarded one moment, but be an open source of information on the next page. The characters seem to be here to serve a story purpose and to move things forward, and have no real sense of consistency because those needs are constantly shifting.
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The artwork for the book is provided by the writer, Vincent Perriot, with colours by Florence Breton. The art feels very simple at times, with very little detail being given over to the characters; however, the backgrounds and environments are filled with detail and small bits and pieces. Whilst you will find yourself skimming over the people, catching a glance at their faces and moving on, you can spend a good while sitting and looking through some of the bigger scenes, taking in everything happening behind the main focus. The colours for the book are pretty muted, with the desert environments coloured in oranges and tan colours, whilst the technology and cities are in cold blues and greys, giving the different locations their own feel and flavour that’s instantly able to be recognised.
Negalyod – The God Network is a book that I think may divide readers. Some will like the open, less clear style of storytelling and will enjoy being able to fill in those blanks, whilst others will find some frustrations with that. The book does have a look and style that sets it apart from other graphic novels on offer, but it’s one where I can’t predict how it’s going to be received by readers.
Negalyod – The God Network is out on 12th July from Titan Comics.