Well, here we are, the fourth issue of Godzilla: Legends - "Smog of War." I'm just going to get this over with and say it up front: I hate this issue and what it has done to American Godzilla comics, which have been forever ruined because of this issue.
I mean, seriously, how are they ever going to top this?
First of all, the art - by E.J. Su and Priscilla Tramontano - is just downright gorgeous. Not only does it help sell the grim atmosphere of the story, but at times it looks almost photorealistic. I thought it would be hard to top Matt Frank's art in Issue #1, but Su and Tramontano have done just that. The opening, full-page shot of Mechagodzilla landing is one of the best pages ever, art-wise, in IDW's Godzilla-related history. Mechagodzilla looks truly metallic and Hedorah really comes across as thick and sludgy.
The story opens as the U.N.G.C.C. sends Mechagodzilla to investigate a destroyed industrial area in China. By the way, major bonus points for actually using the U.N.G.C.C. instead of making up some random organization like "Mega G-Fighters" or "Mechagodzilla Inc." or something. As Mechagodzilla moves in to get a closer look at a damaged factory, it suddenly explodes. In an almost eerie sequence, Hedorah forms and rises up behind Mechagodzilla.
Hedorah goes on the attack, but before too long Godzilla arrives on the scene, and the three super beasts engage in a threeway battle royale.
Like in Issue #1, the story is simple and drops us in the middle of an already well-established universe. And, again like Issue #1, this doesn't hurt the story at all. The plot is simple and to the point, with each monster getting a chance to shine. Mechagodzilla's crew, while nothing too outstanding, is a relatively fun and believable bunch of characters without any really groan-inducing dialogue. Hedorah is shown to be the deadly juggernaut he truly was in Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster
, while Godzilla is shown to be actually outmatched by an opponent while displaying his trademark refusal to surrender (for the first time in IDW's comics). Not only that, but each monster gets the opportunity to show off their various powers - Atomic ray, Plasma Grenade, acid sludge, Shock Anchor, crimson eye bolts and all.
The comic ends with a sort of cliffhanger ending, though nowhere near the level of Issue #3's. Mechagodzilla manages to freeze Hedorah, then shatter him with the Plasma Grenade... only for all the frozen shards to land in the ocean. The final page features a chilling shot of a close-up of Hedorah's eye, surrounded by numerous other little Hedorahs, all off on their own to feed... And grow.
"Smog of War" is not just a highpoint of IDW's Godzilla series, but also of American Godzilla comics in general. It easily stands alongside the legendary Dark Horse Godzilla Color Special by Art Adams, often considered the greatest Godzilla comic produced in America and one of the best Godzilla comics period. Godzilla has needed a comic like this for some time, and frankly, a dozen or so more like this wouldn't hurt, either.