After a strong start, it's make or break time for James Stokoe's Godzilla: The Half-Century War as to if the series can maintain the momentum it started. Thankfully, the issue not only passes the mark, but exceeds with a second issue that is even more enjoyable than the first as Stokoe shows incredible talent doing both the writing and art duties for the comic.
The story begins in Vietnam in 1967, two years after US forces began deployment in the Vietnam War. Lieutenant Ota Murakami, as part of the Anti Megalosaurus Forces (AMF), is pursuing Godzilla in a helicopter, trying to figure why the monster has invaded Vietnam after attacking Japan so repeatedly in the past. Getting ahead of the monster, Murakami meets up with fellow solider Kentaro Yoshihara as they listen in on the American's plan of attack against the monster. AMF has their own plan, having deployed Maser Tanks to the area. However, the problem is larger than either force realizes, as the periodic earthquakes hitting the area are not simply Godzilla advancing...
Plot wise, the comic's setting is inspiring, taking Godzilla to a time and place that is totally unique to the franchise. With such a destructive creature, why not throw him into a modern day battlefield? The Vietnam War backdrop is an excellent choice for the source material, and Stokoe's nods to existing Toho continuity, such as the Anti Megalosaurus Forces from Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002,) are welcomed. Now, please stop reading if you want to avoid spoilers, as I will hold no punches from here on out. With that said, the earthquakes are actually Anguirus burrowing underground, very similar to how the monster did in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). The creature emerges and engages Godzilla. It takes a certain kind of artist to capture a conflict in a comic. I was disappointed in Godzilla #4 last month for faltering in giving energy to the Rodan vs. Titanosaurus battle. However, Stokoe knows how to stage and draw a fight, with each panel giving a sense of adrenaline to the knock down battle. The detail in the art and being able to capture that right chemistry in making the conflict flow between panels makes this a joy to read. Interestingly, Anguirus is modeled after the version from Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) rather than the more popular Showa appearance, but right after one sees the creature's impressive entrance in the comic they are sold on this being the right choice for the story.
In regards to the covers, the one by James Stokoe gives a great image of Godzilla being bombed by the American forces while troops evacuate below. The other cover by Sheldon Vella is probably the stronger of the two, creating a sharp image with its use of reds and purples, although it does spoil the use of Anguirus in the story
Overall, everyone should be checking out The Half-Century War. If you have picked up most of the Godzilla comics, or are relatively new to the King of the Monsters in the medium, Godzilla fans won't be disappointed as Stokoe continues to craft one of the most interesting stories involving the nuclear menace.