goes to Sam Messerly for sending this in for review
and the image!
As far as American Godzilla comics go, Arthur Adams
may be the best artist at bringing Godzilla to life.
His hyper-detailed work has inspired many, and due
to its astounding accuracy and passionate awesomeness,
he was even selected to sketch up a stupendous collection
of artistic yumminess for The
Official Godzilla Compendium, as well as
one of the most wonderfully wonderful Godzilla shirts
in existence. Adams' love of all things monstrous
is no secret, so it’s fitting that a selection
of his kaiju-type work be agglomerated into one
place. Hence, Art Adams' Creature Features,
which, while it may not include any original pieces,
nevertheless pulls together some memorable creaturely
creations in one place.
Adams kicks it off with a very faithful sequential-art
retelling of Creature from the Black Lagoon.
I love the Creature, and consider the original film
one of the best old-school monster romps ever made,
but Adam’s adaptation isn’t perfect.
I certainly can’t fault his depictions of
the gill-man, which, for the most part, are stunning,
but the rendering of the story consistently feels
off somehow. Part of it is the vibrant colors; the
original film was in black-and-white, so adding
such off-kilter details as gill-man's bright blue
eyes can be discombobulating. Also, in trying to
fit all the action of the film into about 50 pages,
occasionally the layouts become cramped. This may
be a personal preference, but I would love to have
seen a more relaxed take, with more build-up, character
development, and big art that really breathes. Adams
also makes little attempt to recreate actor’s
faces, and his often cartoony expressions look out
of place in this somewhat grim tale. Nevertheless,
it’s an impressive achievement that should
be worth a look for fans of the film.
After that, we have what might be the most-frequently
reprinted Godzilla comic of them all—ye olde
Color Special. Much has been said of this
classic already; it’s a highly entertaining,
fast-paced, action-packed tale. If nothing else,
it's nice to have the story on crisp, well-bound
paper. I still can’t believe he named the
priestess Ookii Mune, though.
Two brief Monkeyman & O'Brien tales
are also included, but they barely give readers
a taste of the delectable daikaiju delights that
can be found in the longer tales. Basically, all
the Monkeyman & O'Brien stories are an
unapologetic coalescation (that’s not a word,
but it should be) of monster movie nerdery—it’s
a talking ape-man and a giant babe named after King
Kong creator Willis O'Brien, for Pete's sake! (You
also get to see who this "Shrewmanoid"
fellow is that the G-Force members mention in the
Color Special.) While the stories herein
don’t necessarily jive with the plots of the
full-length stories (collected in a separate graphic
novel—pick it up NOW!), they are still enjoyable
enough, and even includes our heroes being chased
by a Godzillasaurus.
Finally, and most bizarrely, we have an illustrated
song. Yes, a song. More like a poem, really. Written
by Alan Moore. Yes, that Alan Moore. The one who
wrote Watchmen and From Hell and V
for Vendetta and etc. And the song is about
Godzilla. It's called "Trampling Tokyo,"
and was originally included in something called
Alan Moore's Songbook. The poem includes
lines like this:
"And I long for Monster Island
In the late Cretaceous silence
Where every night beneath the stars
The tiny twins hold hands and sing
While Mothra plays guitar."
Respect to Moore aside, it's probably best he didn’t
make his career in the music business—although
I’d be entertained!
Even though the song obviously refers to the Tono
universe, apparently when Alan Moore's Songbook
was published, they didn’t bother to obtain
the rights to Godzilla’s image. Thus Adams
improvises, and creates a sort of dinosaurian beast
that looks like a cross between the never-produced
American Godzilla from the 80s and a velociraptor.
A beefed-up homage to Mothra and Rodan can also
be seen in the background.
With its hodgepodge of monsterly material, Art
Adams' Creature Features is something of a curiosity,
but it's a fun one for those who take the time to
search it out. While by no-means a must-buy, for
completists the book is a mildly rewarding find.