To compliment the normal comic review, found here, I’m doing a graphic review of Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1 from IDW Publishing, written by Eric Powell and Tracy Marsh with art from Phil Hester. This is a totally new take, with images to provide better examples for those interested in the comic. Below is my review in full, along with images to accompany some of the mentioned scenes.
Story: THIS is the biggest problem with the book. It’s tough to talk about the story where there hardly is one. Nameless characters are introduced and never seen again.
The comic begins with trying to establish Godzilla as a “bad ass” but killing kids and stepping on old people doesn’t fit that description. A “bad ass” is someone who can stand up to a ton of punishment and keep on going. Killing the defenseless makes that character just a jerk. It would be one thing if it was just the kids or just the old person but two defenseless killings in a row made me feel a little uneasy.
Godzilla’s attack is followed by a VERY brief response from the Japanese military who attack him with missiles for two pages and then just disappear. On the next page, nameless Japanese military characters convince the Prime Minister that while Godzilla is out at sea and away from people, that they should fire a nuke at him in an attempt to kill the King of the Monsters. It doesn’t succeed and ends up being the origin of how Godzilla got his nuclear breath. The biggest fault of the comic is that nothing really happens out side of Godzilla showing up and causing death and destruction.
Artwork: Although Godzilla’s appearance changes quite a few times in the comic, the artwork is very clean and full of life. The full page shot of Godzilla being nuked is my favorite shot in the entire book. Very well done!
In the comic, Godzilla seems to be a mix of his appearance from Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) with the scales more prevalent on the body and his appearance in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) with the solid white eyes. The eyes, in closeups do show a pupil which in the way it is drawn comes across as creepy as opposed to menacing and Godzilla’s design changes a few times throughout the comic. Possibly this is the style of the artist himself but one thing that comes across in the design is that this Godzilla is quite a force to be reckoned with. The charcoal grey with blue backplates makes Godzilla streamlined looking yet, to me, oddly mysterious.
It was also a nice touch to see the “skreee-onk” (although this doesn’t happen much in the comic, as Godzilla doesn’t do a lot of roaring in this book) return for Godzilla’s roar, as it was previously used from the Dark Horse comics.
Cover(s): Wow. Talk about boring. Although cover # 1 by Alex Ross has Godzilla destroying a city and using his nuclear breath, it’s too much of a “standard” image. Cover #2, the close up on the eye, makes one think of King Kong rather than Godzilla with the lack of scales around the eye and forhead. This is Godzilla’s first time on the comic book shelf in years he’s introduced with two bland covers.
The third cover is a fold out with Godzilla on the front, King Ghidorah and Anguirus on the right page, and to the left, Mothra Larvae, Kumonga, and Rodan. Although Godzilla is the only monster in the book, it’s a beautiful piece of art with the exception of Godzilla’s odd worm-like tail and Anguirus’ mysteriously pained expression. Godzilla’s white eyes add ferocity for the character making him the clear standout in the piece and he seems to be modeled after the Trendmasters toy. The rest of the monsters seem to be the interpretations of artist Eric Powell.
Probably the coolest thing about the launch of the comic is the promotion for the custom covers for the book. If a comic book store orders 500 copies of issue #1, the store gets to have a custom made cover of the store being crushed underneath Godzilla’s foot. Approximately 100 stores signed on for the promotion and it was a resounding success. It’s a mystery why no one has ever thought of this before but I’m glad Godzilla did it first.
Conclusion: Godzilla’s first foray into comics in over 12 years could have and SHOULD have been a lot more impressive. There are quite a few missed opportunities to introduce characters and brand grandur to Godzilla. For example, rather than wasting an entire page of the book on the guy picking up the phone, Godzilla could have been shown making landfall in Tokyo with a dramatic buildup rather than just appearing.
In summary, if this comic is to succeed, and be more than just pretty pictures of Godzilla with little to no characters and story, the writing is going to have to get a hell of a lot better REAL QUICK.