Comic: Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors #3

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Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors #3


English Comic Title

Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors #3 - Rise Up! Part 3

Authors:

Erik Burnham

Pencils:
Inks:
Colors:
Language:
Release:
Publisher
:
Pages:

Dan Schoening
Dan Schoening
Luis Antonio Delgado
English
2021
IDW Publishing
29

Covers:

Dan Schoening / Jorge Monlongo

Comic

Monsters

Godzilla
Godzilla
Biollante
Biollante



Review

By: Nicholas Driscoll

One of my personal pet peeves with media made for children is when the writer ignores what was written earlier in the story or just outright changes things that were already established in order simply to kick the plot forward. Such tactics stink of poor planning and laziness… and unfortunately we have a bit of them here in issue 3 of Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors. Overall the issue is a step up in terms of action and basic stuff happening, but most Godzilla fans will probably still find the issue pretty disappointing—perhaps especially the children in the audience.

Note: I will be discussing spoilers. Skip to the last paragraph if you want to avoid them.

Story: Elementary kid and MeToober Cedric Nakamura has made another video to explain his adventures with Godzilla and co. Here he clarifies that the Shobijin are not fairies (they don’t have wings), and states that they took a long time to fly over from Infant Island and arrive in Japan via bird. The bird they flew over on, then, unfortunately, just disappears, and the Shobijin end up at Cedric’s school.

The twin fairies (sorry, that’s what I call them) chose his school because they claim they saw it in their vision, and then they say to each other that they need to just find someone with a hope for the future in order to set things right. They scan the minds of various kids and don’t find what they want, and then notice a pair of twins that they hijack.

Cedric and his two friends are discussing their ideas for what the future of the world will look like, and we get a few elaborate guesses, and then Cedric supposes everything will be the same as it is now but with more holograms. The random twins from before (now being steered around by the twin fairies) overhear Cedric’s conversation, and so ask Cedric’s gang to come to a private area where the Shobijin can talk in secret. But they are interrupted by the Godzilla app streaming a video.

The boss-guy from Linival, the evil energy corporation has hosted another meeting/press report to declare he is turning his new energy source back on to lure Godzilla to his artificial island and trigger a face-off against his monster Biollante. Godzilla and the plant creature fight, and Biollante has instant regeneration abilities. The plant lights Godzilla’s head on fire and tosses him in the ocean, apparently defeating him.

Then the twins disappear somewhere, and Cedric says see you next time.

That’s it.

On the plus side, in this episode we actually get some plot movement. It isn’t just another series of meetings (though… we still get one or two of those). Monster fans may rejoice that we finally get a real fight. Biollante’s nearly instant regeneration skills are cool, an ability I haven’t seen since Shinji Nishikawa’s manga adaptation of the movie. The fact that Biollante’s acid apparently is flammable and sets Godzilla’s noggin on fire is a nice touch. However, the fight is relatively short, and Godzilla doesn’t get much of a chance to attack. It’s over when it barely feels like it has started.

The action with the Shobijin is much more frustrating, from a narrative point of view. The two tiny girls claim that they saw Cedric’s school in their vision. But that simply isn’t the case. The school is not featured clearly in the art that depicted the vision, and the actual text of the conversation between the Shobijin from the previous issue also makes it VERY clear they did not see any particular schools, in Japan or elsewhere.

Here’s how their conversation went down in the previous book.

“There needs to be hope. There needs to be faith. Only THAT will convince him,” say both Shobijin simultaneously.

“Where do we find what we need?” asks one.

“A school of course! The next generation is where hope grows best,” says the other.

“There are many schools in the world,” says the first.

“The vision showed us Japan. We will go to Japan,” says the other.

From this exchange, it seems pretty clear that the Shobijin did not see a particular school in their vision. It just seems to be an idea which one of the twin fairies thinks up on the spot, and neither seems to have seen a school in the vision. So why does author Eric Burnham suggest that the Shobijin actually did see a specific school after the fact? I guess he needed an excuse for them to visit Cedric’s school particularly, and he forgot that he hadn’t mentioned it before? It feels forced and lazy and inconsistent, like he couldn’t be bothered to check his own writing from the previous issue, which is hugely disappointing.

The introduction of the random twins is arguably just as poorly handled. In the first two issues we were introduced to Cedric and his two friends Emily and Anderson, but the twins are never mentioned. They come out of nowhere and have no personality. What’s worse, it makes no sense how the Shobijin use them to help meet their goals. The Shobijin can read people’s minds. In fact, they could have apparently read the children’s minds from Infant Island. But now they use these random human twins to cart them around? And the human twins find Cedric and co talking about the future, which is fine I guess, but couldn’t the Shobijin have found them just as easily on their bird, using their mind-reading abilities? If they wanted to introduce more human characters, wouldn’t it have been a lot more interesting if they had had some relation with Cedric—maybe as bullies or rivals, or just replaced Emily and Anderson with the twins? At least then the characters would have already been introduced and we would have a natural “in” to forming a relationship between the Shobijin and the circle of friends.

Also, the Shobijin claim they just need to find someone with hope for the future in order to save the world. What the cluck does that mean? Godzilla will call off the apocalypse if the Shobijin can show him that some kid somewhere has nice thoughts about where the world might go maybe?!??!?!?!??

Is THAT seriously all that the Shobijin are looking for? Optimistic thoughts from a child will SAVE THE WORLD???

That concept… it’s not interesting at all. Any kid could have an optimistic thought at any time. Where is the tension in this storytelling? Where is the need for these particular individuals? What does Cedric have to do with any of this? Shouldn’t some of these very important story beats have been banged out by now, three issues in?

And the Shobijin ask Cedric and his friends to come to a private room to talk, but the writing is so bad that they can’t even explain why. As the kids point out themselves, the Shobijin can talk through their minds. They don’t need a private space to chill and chat. The human twins come back with the most garbled explanation: “They want to be more careful with you.”

What? Is it dangerous to talk through their minds? Why? Is Burnham going to try to explain that it’s dangerous for the Shobijin to brain-yak with anyone who isn’t a twin or something?

The storytelling, it just feels SO contrived, and it isn’t exciting at all. It just feels like the story is lazily, randomly lurching along.

At the end of the episode, the Shobijin have disappeared again, but I don’t care. They could just talk with any kid with an ounce of hope, presumably. Having Biollante defeat Godzilla also doesn’t add much to the stakes. If Biollante did win, and Godzilla did die… who cares? Godzilla is the bringer of the apocalypse, so it’s probably better if the plant thing kills him, right? Am I supposed to care that the plant seems to have won? Does that outcome in any way raise the stakes or up the tension?

I would have to say, not really, not in any meaningful way. We just… plonk to the end of the episode with almost no real reason to keep reading. It’s agonizingly boring.

Just as a quick caveat, though, I do want to say that discussions of the effectiveness of the story are wildly subjective—any quick glance over fan reactions to the MonsterVerse films makes that obvious. I hated Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), but lots of fans adored it. I really enjoyed Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) despite it’s admittedly plothole-riddled story—many fans couldn’t connect with it. With Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors, the story has really failed to click with me, and each issue seems to pile on the frustration… but mileage varies for everyone, and if you are a fan with a few bucks, it may well be worth your while to pick it up.

And really, on the plus side, there are a lot of little gags in the issue, and some of them are kind of funny. I love that the MeToob ads include a janken (rock-paper-scissors) tournament (very Japanese—I took part in one at one of the Nov. 3 Godzilla day festivals a few years ago) and a reference to Gamera of all things. The awkwardness of the human twins asking Cedric and his friends to go somewhere private is kind of funny. Some of Cedric’s commentary is mildly amusing.

I also think the Dan Schoening’s art is still the highlight of the series, especially with Luis Antonio Delgado’s excellent colors. I just love how much this series looks like a vibrant cartoon, and Emily and Anderson’s futuristic visions when they discuss what the world might look like with new tech especially look sweet. Schoening blunts the violence, too, giving Biollante rounded vines (no spikes) and Biollante looks much less scary. Which is fine and appropriate for the kind of comic this is. The action is easy to follow and has some boom and pop and wham. I just wish the fight was a bit longer and with clearer stakes.

Covers are not bad. The main cover features Godzilla fighting Biollante, with a close up of the latter, and they look good, though the reporter in the background doesn’t feature in the story at all. There is a photo cover of Biollante from the movie, which… I mean, Biollante the monster was a fantastic design, but it’s just a photo. The other cover is kind of bizarre, being a cutaway image of Godzilla pouring soldiers out of a truck and into his mouth, then down his gullet to be digested. I thought he was drinking some kind of pink fluid out of the truck, too, but I think that’s supposed to be his strangely massive and malformed tongue! I like the reference to the anatomy cutaway art from Godzilla’s past publications, but this image is not very successful as it is confusingly rendered, is a bit grotesque, and seems to kind of go against the Godzilla character as portrayed in the comic and doesn’t really jive well with the child-audience that this book seems to be going for.

When it comes down to it, we are now three out of five issues into Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors, and it’s still quite boring, which is really too bad. While the humor can be a plus at times, Schoening’s art is still wonderful, and we actually get some monster action in the fight between Godzilla and Biollante, the book still feels like it’s spinning its wheels, and this chapter further piles on plot inconsistencies and elements that further cheapen the stakes. It’s incredibly frustrating and frankly kind of sad.


Variant Covers

Photo Cover
Jorge Monlongo Cover