Godzilla Gangsters & Goliaths #1
 John Layman
Pencils: Alberto Ponticelli Inks: Alberto Ponticelli
Language: English Release: 2011
Publisher: IDW Publishing Pages: 32
Colors: Jay Fotos Cover: Geof Darrow
Monster Appearances: Aliens, SDF, & Misc Appearances:
Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Rodan, Kumonga, Battra Elias
Dillon Fisher
In my many years of being a kaiju fan (Godzilla in particular), it took me 17 years to get my hands on a Godzilla comic book. That book was Marvel's Essential Godzilla King of the Monsters collection. Ever since I finished that series, I was hooked. I now own that, as well as every issue of the Dark Horse run. Recently, though, IDW comics has been releasing the newest series in Godzilla's career in American comics, titled Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters. The series (currently at its 3rd issue at the time of this writing) has been met with a decent success, selling over 14,000 copies of the last issue. Along with the main series, IDW is also currently releasing a 5 issue mini series set in a completely different continuity titled Gangsters and Goliaths, with the first issue out today. I am happy to report that the first issue is a great start to an even greater story.

The first issue has 4 variant covers. One depicts a green hued Godzilla confronting a snaggletoothed Anguirus while the characters from the story explore Monster Island underneath them. This cover is rather misleading in a few ways. It shows Pteranadons and large salamander-like creatures inhabiting the island, but neither are seen in the book itself. The same thing can be said about Anguirus, who from the cover, looks like he should be a main part of the issue. This cover is by artist Geof Darrow with colors by Peter Doherty, this one is available in colored and a special incentive sketch version.

The second cover shows the characters from the issue staring in shock as Godzilla, his tail is all that is visible, awaits a battle against Mothra, who is seen approaching in the background. The artwork for this cover is pretty lackluster. It looks more like it should belong in a panel on the inside rather than as a cover, although it matches the story told on the inside a lot better than the first cover. This cover was drawn by interior artist Alberto Ponticelli, with colors by Jay Fotos.

The third cover is a San Diego ComicCon Special drawn by popular kaiju artist Matt Frank. This cover does not disappoint. It depicts a very angry looking Godzilla charging his ray, spines lit up, while glaring at Mothra. They are not at Monster Island for this cover, though,as they are battling overtop of the ComicCon convention building. This is a wonderful piece by Matt.

Warning: Major spoilers follow

Now in terms of the review, the first issue tells the story of a man waking up on the shore of an island while a group of people try to kill him. We soon learn that this man is Detective Sato. A Japanese detective who was caught while trying to bring down the head of crime in Japan. This eventually leads to his accidental arrival on the island, discovered to be Monster Island. As the criminals from the boat hunt Sato on foot, they see numerous kaiju from Kumonga, to King Ghidorah. When they finally catch up to Sato, they are shocked to find the King of Monsters himself. One of the criminals is startled at the sight of Godzilla and begins to shoot, which annoys Godzilla to the point where he blasts at them with his mighty ray. However, things end quickly when Mothra comes to the rescue. Sato is then taken to safety by two mysterious men. Upon awakening, Sato discovers that the men responsible for his saving are actually servants to the Elias, two fairies that have the ability to control Mothra. However, Detective Sato is less worried about his new friends and more worried about saving his own name and kidnaps the cosmos and sets off by boat to take them back to his home.

The story is great. It reminds me of the Heisei films, with a slight Showa feel to it. The characters are likable for what we can see so far, and the introduction to the Mothra twins is a warm welcome. We get to see exactly how Sato arrived on Monster Island through a few flashbacks, making a normal back story more interesting. It isn't just a straight through tale, but one that is pieced together throughout the issue. The pacing of the comic also doesn't feel as rushed. The monster action could of lasted longer, though, as Mothra just rams into Godzilla and they walk away.

The artwork is good for what it is. The monsters are easily distinguishable, the people each have their own physical characteristics that allow you to pick them out among each other easily. However, the art feels a little unfinished and sketchy. This is good for something like a mini series, but if it was used for the ongoing series, I wouldn't care for it as much. Thankfully, the coloring makes up for the art style. Its good to see IDW is making their Godzilla the real charcoal gray instead of the generic green Marvel and Dark Horse picked. The overall coloring style for the mini series appears to be dark, which also adds to the Heisei feel.

Overall, this issue is everything the first issue of Kingdom of Monsters should of been. It tells a compelling story that leaves you wanting more. It has plenty of kaiju appearances as well as a battle between trwo of the most famous Toho stars out there, even though the battle is sadly short. This is a great comic, though, and I impatiently await the next issue.

Variant Covers