Imagine the Incredible Hulk fell in a swamp and started sprouting plants, and you’ve got the perfect image of Gogor, the title character in the comic written, illustrated, colored, and lettered by Ken Garing. However, instead of alternating between a mild-mannered physicist and a brute raging about destroying things, Gogor is a fairly placid character, prone to violence only when his friends are threatened.
The story begins in the middle of a chase, with Storm Trooper-esque men called the Domus riding giant ants after a caped young man atop a giant shrew. As the shrew launches himself off a cliff and into the air, we see that the landscape of Altara is a floating ring of islands high in the sky. The young scholar, Armano, flashes back to what started the chase—the Domus attacking his home and the delivery of a scroll into his safekeeping. The scroll reveals that the key to safety and fighting the Domus is the awakening of Gogor, a “cyclical entity that changes form with each renewal.” As the one who awakened Gogor, Armano is now Gogor’s keeper, with the caveat that he must trust Gogor’s plan, even if it goes against his own. As they travel together, Armano pushes to return to his home to save his fellow scholars, but Gogor continues to take them to unexpected locations, revealing the full nature of the threats Altara is facing.
As described by the author, the art style was highly influenced by Jim Henson, particularly Dark Crystal, and Jack Kirby, who originally illustrated the Incredible Hulk comics. The art is a bit reminiscent of Bone, as well. These influences can be seen in the wide gamut of characters, from those who are purely fictional to those who are clearly men, or those who are a combination of man and animal. The colors are vibrant, and the layout and size of the panels shift to accommodate the action and control the focus of key moments.
The comic opens with “Dedicated to the dispossessed,” immediately connecting the comic to the work of Ursula K. Le Guin. The story addresses issues such as environmentalism, exploitation, and capitalism. The Domus overmine crystal deposits and drain swamps change the landscape and the livelihood of existing cultures. For example, one culture from the bogs is subjugated by invaders who drain the swamps and plant grain, forcing the existing culture to change their diet and their lifestyles, reminiscent of how American Indians have been treated. The story even takes a shot at the ways in which we make money just to spend money, competing to obtain the newest gadgets, even if they serve little purpose in our lives.
This comic is billed as a fantasy adventure—a great read for those who love a quest story. Its use of “thunder ball!” is the closest the text comes to expletives, and while the content of the story is appropriate for all ages, the Lexile level of the text is a bit high for younger readers (5-11). Those younger readers would likely enjoy having the comic read to them. Readers ages 12 and up are a great target audience.
Unfortunately, at the end of Issue #5, Garing announced that Gogor has been cancelled. There is a chance it could be picked up again at a later date, but until that is confirmed, I would not recommend purchasing a trade that ends on a cliffhanger with no promise of upcoming resolution.
Gogor, vol 1
By Ken Garing
Image Comics, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: Teen