Somehow, a god in gleaming skintight gold pants and massive white go-go boots does not necessarily inspire fear or reverence in me. For a long while, I steered clear of The First, as a series, as it took me quite a while to get past the style — here were characters who were almost ridiculous caricatures of humans, with massive muscles, teeny waists, and costumes that give even Elektra’s costume a run for its money in the body-parts-about-to-pop-out department. This was the kind of comic that made me rant about the representation of women in comics (though, I was forced to admit, the men were equally, ahem, displayed in The First). Then I read it. And poof, my objections began to melt away. Remember the Greek Gods? They were an arrogant, selfish, petty lot, and thus we have some great stories of betrayal, love, war, and magic. The First follow in that tradition, being the powers hovering just above the CrossGen universe, immortal and ridiculously beautiful exaggerations of humans, and as with Zeus et. al.,petty, vindictive, territorial, and passionate. Suddenly, the wacked out costumes and elaborate anatomy made sense, and the story — well, the story is one to rival the myths. Though the First have long accepted manipulation of the lower peoples as their right as gods, they have just discovered that not only may they not be as all-powerful, or alone, as they believe, but they can also be killed. Long ago divided into two halves by a cruel but powerful leader, the two houses of The First struggle with their own loyalties and politics in order to reestablish their rightful place in universe. Sides are beginning to form, and some take this newfound weakness as a sign to start breaking down long-held rules. Although occasionally difficult to follow in terms of who’s on what side, the complexity and high drama of this tale make it a whole lot of fun. And hey, there’s a god in go-go boots. Hee.

The First, vol. 1: Two Houses Divided
ISBN: 193148404X
by Barbara Kesel
Art by Bart Sears, Andy Smith, Michael Atiyeh, and Dave Lanphear
CrossGen 2001

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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