Graphic Editorial Review by Chris Mirjahangir
IDW Publishing starts their Godzilla Legends series, a mini-series dedicated to Toho's other kaiju beyond the King of the Monsters, with the company's second kaiju: Anguirus. For the honors, IDW brings in long time fan Matt Frank for both art and writing duties, the latter of which he is joined by Jeff Prezenkowski. The two craft a more traditional monster story, but one that ultimately excels thanks to good pacing, great art and above all a monster fight that appeals to the allure of watching the big screen characters duke it out in the movies themselves.
For the story, Destoroyah starts to rampage across the city leaving the military with a situation as the destruction escalates. In the nearby vicinity, Doctor Anders is instructed by his superior to use his G-Signaler, a a creation that was inadvertently created when he accidently called Godzilla while trying to communicate with whales, in hopes that Godzilla might arrive and keep Destoroyah distracted long enough for reinforcements to take over. However, rather than attracting Godzilla, the device lures Anguirus to the area who attacks and does battle with the much larger Destoroyah.
The story is very simple and something that, for better or worse, feels more like a plot Toho themselves would have constructed versus the more "out of the box" thinking seen by the other IDW titles. While this might seem like a strike against the comic, its ultimately streamlined for good pacing, quickly developing its human and monster cast with a scant amount of page time while at the heart giving the first satisfying monster fight seen by the publishing house since it started these comics earlier this year.
This doesn't leave for a particularly engaging human element, but in a traditional monster movie fashion the kaiju themselves steal the show and give the overall comic a grandstand feeling that would have been right at home as the climax to a longer story, had it been given the luxury of several issues to develop its material. Still, despite the good pacing, the issue does seem to wrap things up too quickly, in particular with regards to the fight which feels like it should have had at least a page or two more for a conclusion rather than the overly abrupt transition that occurs to later in the day.
Now the art for this issue is easily the best of the IDW catalogue of Godzilla titles so far. Frank in particular excels at the kaiju action, capturing the battle and giving a sense of adrenaline missing in other such comic fights such as the recent Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah conflict in Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #8. Most of this is actually due to Destoroyah, who has arguably never looked better. The creature's amazing introduction sets the scene for the issue quite nicely, while the added facial expressions work very well, such as a moment of curiosity and the cold look of indifference as he tries to break Anguirus' jaw with his hands. As for the star of the issue, Anguirus is portrayed well, although the comic is really stolen by his adversary, and most of Anguirus' better panels are thanks to this such as demonstrating the immense size difference between the two monsters as they are about to fight. As great as the kaiju are, the humans are only so-so. Its a better representation than the art that is currently present for the human characters in IDW's other two comic series, but all the same the portrayal is slightly too cartoonish in its take.
In terms of the covers, how can one go wrong with Arthur Adams? Truly an amazing cover by the artist, arguably one of if not the best standing alongside other amazing covers by Adams such as the one for Godzilla King of the Monsters #1 by Dark Horse. The detail placed on Anguirus, from the flawless representation of his face to his countless spikes on his shell, allows Adams to give the perfect cover. Artist and writer Matt Frank also gives a great cover, focusing more on Destoroyah in his piece with a great juxtapose between the three characters. The final of the three main covers by Bob Eggleton is impressive, although seems to focus more on Godzilla rather than either of the two starring monsters of the issue. Still, the three covers are all well crafted and each, most likely by coincidence, highlights one of the three monsters most frequently featured in the issue.
As a side note to the covers, through an added promotion done around the time of Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #12's release, this issue was offered a new incentive program. This program offered a unique sketch from artist Matt Frank featuring Godzilla in a variety of poses, just a few can be seen here. The comics were offered as incentives if 50 issues were ordered by retailers, and by themselves carried a list price of around $80 as a single item.
Overall, the issue is
on the simpler side compared to what IDW has been doing. It feels like a more traditional monster versus the military plot that one would actually find in a monster film versus the "grim dark" plot by Eric Powell or the story for Godzilla Gangsters & Goliaths by John Layman. Still, for what it sets out to do, the comic achieves it quite nicely and makes for an enjoyable read even if it does feel like it appeals to the more "popcorn entertainment" sensibilities of the reader.