Devastating earthquakes. Unprecedented storms. Life-killing droughts. Unpredictable weather patterns.
If these sound like worst-case scenario predictions for climate change, that’s intentional. But in this case, the dystopian conditions do not apply to planet Earth, but instead to a fictional world that’s captured in the comic-book series Acid of the Godz.
Described by Heru as Game of Thrones meets Stargate, the series has been a labor of love for the writer, who first envisioned its concept in 2005 and worked on a screenplay until 2012, after which he found an illustrator from Boston, Ryan Best, to draw the fictional world.
"I've created a universe that's taking place in an alternate reality,” explains Heru. "The world is falling apart. A massive horde of genetically engineered creatures are systematically invading different parts of the planet, and a young prince by the name of Manetho, along with three unlikely heroes, have to come together in order to find an ancient artifact that was left by their ancestors to help them deal with this nemesis."
Heru says that his world and its characters draw heavily from African martial arts, of which he has long been a student, and that his comic book also raises very real issues around tribalism and damage to planet Earth – both things that threaten our long-term existence. As an example, he brings up the Delaware-sized iceberg that broke off of Antarctica on July 12.
"In Acid of the Godz, because an [enemy] creature was fashioned through alchemy, it's thrown the spirit of the planet and its climate out of balance, because it’s very unnatural,” he says. "It’s just like on planet Earth, where we're doing things that aren't natural and the Earth is reacting to it. It's called climate change. And it's very interesting how relevant Acid of the Godz is, in that if we don't get our act together, it's not us or our children that are going to suffer; it's our grandchildren and great-grandchildren."
Mortality is a topic that Heru is familiar with for another reason: He went through an emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor in 2001. Heru says that he came up with Acid of the Godz during his recovery, and that he benefited from some creative consulting from his friend and slam-poet activist Theo Wilson, whom Westword profiled in our March 1 cover story, “A Cut Above.” (Wilson also created the music for the Acid of the Godz promo video on YouTube).
"In the inception, Theo wanted to see the same thing in a comic that I did: more characters that resembled us in the black community," says Heru.
Now, Heru is hoping he can raise $25,000 to fund future issues of the comic, and encourages comic-book fans to check out some of the Kickstarter prizes before the campaign ends, including a four-foot-long toy sword that’s modeled after the weapon used by his fictional character Chuma.
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Heru credits other comic-book creators based in Denver like R. Alan Brooks and Lewis Brown among his inspirations. "There's a real camaraderie and a wanting to see each other succeed in Denver," Heru says. "It gives me energy and juice that inspires me to keep doing what I'm doing."
He dreams of eventually doing a spin-off series for individual Acid of the Godz characters, and maybe even one day turning the franchise into an animated TV show, graphic novel or live-action movie.
Before that, Heru says, fans will be able to buy high-quality paper copies of the comic through the Acid of the Godz website, or they can read the issues through a stand-alone app that he’s releasing for Android phones and iPhones by the end of September.