Comic: Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors #2


Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors #2

English Comic Title

Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors #2 - Rise Up! Part 2


Erik Burnham


Dan Schoening
Dan Schoening
Luis Antonio Delgado
IDW Publishing


Dan Schoening / Sl Gallant





By: Nicholas Driscoll

Any story in which the main character does not do anything but narrate a series of meetings for the first half of the tale has some serious problems. I cannot believe how boring Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors is after its second issue. The first issue felt like nothing but set-up, with almost no character development, and very little story progression. It consisted of a little kid giving a mock YouTube presentation in which he progressively introduced a classroom discussion, a business presentation, and his friends arguing, intercut with Godzilla attacking an island. The main character was never directly involved in the action, and came across as a smarmy and stuck-up brat… but I figured the author, the quite prolific and experienced comic writer Erik Burnham, was building up to something in the sequel.

Yet the sequel is just as torpid and boring as the first book, with very little story progression, virtually no character development, and even more meetings, classroom discussions, and generally people just sitting around talking about what to do. I have at times heard fans criticize Godzilla films for having too many meetings… but this almost feels like a comic version focusing on those meetings to the exclusion of anything else!

Who thought kids were going to like this utter snooze-party? It feels like an educational comic book, without actually teaching anything!

The tale picks up after the first issue, in which elementary school student Cedric Nishimura gave a MeToob video explaining how an evil corporation called Linival began using a new energy source which adversely affected the krill population and thus triggered Godzilla to go on a rampage. Nishimura hinted that he was about to get pulled into the monster mess by Mothra’s twin fairies, and the book ended with a glimpse of Infant Island. In the second issue, we get another MeToob video as the story’s awful framing device, this time opening with Cedric filling in a plot hole from the first comic—namely, how did Cedric know that the krill were affected? He explains it was via the auspices of the “psychic princesses” of Infant Island. We get several pages of Cedric explaining about the existence of Mothra and the twin fairies, then cut to the fairies themselves, and see a vision they experience of an apocalyptic future Godzilla attack. The fairies talk about what to do, and they decide they need to find evidence for hope that humanity is worth saving—evidence which they can present to Godzilla somehow. They figure the best way to do this is by visiting a school in Japan (because the vision of the apocalypse took place in Japan), so they hop on a bird to fly across the ocean. We also get… long scenes of scientists meeting at the evil corporation, building up to the creation of a cloned version of Godzilla which turns out to be Biollante, which we get a glimpse of in the form of a monstrous pod. Also we get… another long classroom discussion in which Cedric, his teacher, and his friends talk about the implications of whether Godzilla is an intelligent agent, or just a mindless force of nature.

And that’s it. More meetings. More VERY boring justifications to get the characters where they need to be in a future issue. More smirking and sneering from Cedric. The characters, their mouths moving… the monsters doing absolutely nothing. The author makes some movements towards greater plot points, but the motivations behind those plot progressions feels half-baked.

Why are the twin fairies going to eventually meet Nishimura? Apparently its just because Godzilla appeared in Japan in their vision of his apocalyptic attack on humankind… but I am not sure why this appearance should be a reason that the fairies might think they can find positive evidence that the earth should be saved in Japan. If the apocalypse is taking place there sometime in the future, wouldn’t that suggest that Japan possessed evidence of evil instead? Also, the vision doesn’t make it very apparent that Godzilla is in Japan at the time he decides to end all of humanity. In the background there is a building that might be Tokyo Tower, but it’s not all that clear—it feels like a generic tower.

Plus if I can just be a bit of a whiner here… Godzilla decides to destroy all of humanity in the vision because humanity is mistreating nature. But Godzilla’s chosen method for ending humanity is to block out the sun! Does he not realize that by doing so he will kill off untold bazillions of lifeforms OTHER THAN humanity as well? Some hero!

Anyway, the only action in the episode basically takes place in a vision, which of course means it didn’t happen at all. It still feels like the story hasn’t really begun, nor that Nishimura or his classmates have any compelling reason to be in the story, nor anything much that they can contribute to the tale. For me, it makes the story feel really boring.

I wonder if Toho is handicapping the development of the story. I wanted to find out what some of Erik Burnham’s other comics were like, and so read an issue of Transformers: Beast Wars, an issue of Red Sonja, and an issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that he wrote. All three were worlds better than Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors, with fast-paced and witty action featuring storytelling that moves and characters with personality. My favorite that I read was Burnham’s take on Baxter Stockman and how the fly-scientist manipulates his boss Krang with clever schemes. Given that Burnham can clearly write compelling and exciting narratives, it is a mystery to me why this story was written in such a limp and uninteresting way.

Forgive me, but I want to comment on one last—but persistent—touch that puzzles me, this time in the portrayal of Godzilla. For some reason, a recurring theme is that Godzilla cannot get angry. It came up in the first issue, and was repeated here by the twin fairies. Then later one of the students in the appalling classroom discussion sequence also claims that animals can’t feel anger. It’s just such a weird quirk to emphasize again and again, and doesn’t seem to jive with most standard depictions of Godzilla. I wonder if it’s a pet theory of Burnham about animal nature or something.

Still, there were some elements in the writing I did appreciate. Nishimura at least makes slightly amusing comments sometimes, even though they kind of fell flat with me. Burnham places Infant Island in Indonesia, which I love, given that the “Mothra Song” was written in Indonesian. There are hints that the evil members of Linival Corporation are watching Cedric’s asinine MeToob channel, and further small signals that the evil scientists are actually aliens (they talk about leading humankind, and those costumes at the end…). Also, Linival is an anagram of the word “villain,” which is a playful and amusing touch.

Outside of the plot, I still really like the art in the book by Dan Schoening; I love the expressive, humorous visuals (for the most part). Schoening does his best to imbue the constantly chattering characters with dynamic and funny poses and panel layouts that at least give visual interest to the inferior story. For example, I love the introduction of the bird that flies the fairies to Japan, and the descent into the experimental chamber where Biollante is being held, and the facial expressions of Linival’s cadre of mad scientists. Colors by Luis Antonio Delgado are eye-popping and make the artwork truly sing with energy and light—it feels like a gorgeously realized cartoon. Monster designs still stand out—I like the furry Mothra that appears, and enjoyed getting a glimpse of Biollante as a pod.

About the covers, the standard one feels a bit dry and off-topic, featuring Godzilla mostly submerged underwater while swimming away from a freshly-destroyed Linival Island. Given that the attack on the island happens and is finished in the first book, it seems like a poor choice as a cover in the sequel. A second cover is a nice photograph of Mothra from the climactic sequence in the original Mothra (1961) film, but given that Mothra barely features in this issue, again, this cover is a head-scratcher. Finally, a third cover by S L Gallant with colors by J Brown shows Godzilla attacking the city while the imago form of Mothra zaps him and Rose Biollante wreaks her own havoc in the foreground. Once again, given the whole-bunch-of-nothing that happens in the book, such an exciting cover seems misplaced. If they wanted an exciting cover, why not feature the vision of the Godzilla apocalypse that actually transpires in the second issue?

Anyway, look, I wanted so bad to maintain a positive outlook on this book. I read the thing three times for this review, and went out of my way to read other books by Burnham as well. But this issue feels like a broken failure, especially for its target audience. With an obnoxious and vacant main character, anemic action, and a baffling focus on endless jabbering heads, Monsters & Protectors is heavily in need of resuscitation after only two issues.

Variant Covers

Photo Cover
S L Gallant Cover