Usually we expect the first issue of a comic to clearly lay out the premise of a series and introduce readers to the world of the story. The first issue of Goddess Mode, the new Vertigo comic from writer Zoë Quinn and artist Robbi Rodriguez, is the exception that proves the rule.
I've read this issue of Goddess Mode three times already and I honestly don't know where the book is going from here. Is it a Matrix-like story of a woman fighting for freedom in a virtual world? Is it a Brazil-like story of a cog in a bureaucratic machine who struggles against the social forces that are holding her back? Is it a Gibsonesque story of lawless frontier technology? I'm still not sure; it could be all three.
Goddess Mode begins in a virtual realm (it's described as "Everywhere. But also nowhere. Kind of.") where a warrior woman (who describes herself as "a barely functioning bundle of neuroses who can't master putting on a fitted sheet") fights a starfish-looking monster. But most of the book is the story of Cassandra Price, a "junior artificial intelligence support assistant" who gets swept up into a swirl of great expectations, both within her all-powerful corporation and without.
While it's not yet clear if Goddess Mode will be a liberation story or a Dick-ian exploration of self in a futuristic setting or an investigation of the emotional impact of video games (or, again, all three,) it is obvious that the book is good comics.
Quinn relays a lot of exposition with very little awkwardness, and Rodriguez's art is a fascinating blend of the futuristic (his tech looks lived in and unobtainable) and the organic (his skill at body language is remarkable.) The color palette for the book, by Rico Renzi, is a refreshing blend of turquoises and pinks and purples — less of a sterile iPhone future and more of a neon smear.
A caption box at the end of this issue of Goddess Mode promises a few answers to some of the most nagging narrative questions in the next issue — mainly, what's with the team of fierce warriors who show up to recruit Price at the end of the issue? With this first chapter, Quinn and team have earned the right to keep readers guessing for a while longer.