Comic: Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors All Hail the King #4

Order

Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors All Hail the King #4


English Comic Title

Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors All Hail the King #4

Authors:

Erik Burnham

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

Dan Schoening
Dan Schoening
Luis Antonio Delgado
English
2023
IDW Publishing
26

Covers:

Dan Schoening

Comic

Monsters

Godzilla
Godzilla
King Ghidorah
King Ghidorah
King Ghidorah
King Caesar



Review

By: Nicholas Driscoll

So far, this is my favorite issue of IDW’s child-centric Monsters & Protectors line—both in the first mini-series, and in the sequel series. Whereas I often have felt pretty unsatisfied with many aspects of the property, this issue hits the right kinds of humor, drama, deep-cut Toho references, and character depictions to make me pretty happy. While the monster action is a bit lacking, the episode sets things up well, and King Caesar receives an epic kaiju entrance. While fans who prefer their Godzilla mature and scary will still be best served searching out more dire monster fair elsewhere, those with a youthful flair may discover much to enjoy in this month’s offering.

As with my previous reviews, I will go into spoilers once again—you know the (flying) drill (submarine)—jump to the last paragraph lest your eyes be despoiled with yon spoilers, if you care about such things.

Forthwith, the story: We open with MeToob narcissist Cedric pulling a Risky Business side-skid in the hallway of his school, looking cool and gaining kid kudos for saving the world again. But before his ego can eclipse the sun, King Ghidorah arrives, smashes open the school, and eats him.

Alas, this is a dream sequence (I kid—Cedric’s bloated sense of self-worth is starting to grow on me, and I don’t want any kid to be munched by a space wyvern). Once again, Cedric, Anderson, and Emily all shared the vision, and share their thoughts. The next day in class, we glimpse class plans for a fundraiser to gather cash for those who suffered in the recent monster attacks. But before our child protags (including Karen now) can take part in an ambush quiz from their teacher, the Shobijin teleport their consciousnesses to Infant Island and inform them that KG is back and the prospects are black. Everyone’s favorite magical tiny girls want the kids to work together by placing a call to Godzilla (in the case of Emily, Cedric, and Anderson) and also King Caesar (in the case of Karen) so that the two monsters can team up and bash the galactic demon to dragon dust.

When our heroes zap back home, their teacher is not amused at their mental abandonment of her class and begins interviewing them as to what the hoo-hay is up with their brain bye-bye.

Meanwhile, over at the Xiliens, several of our favorite Ainu-sunglasses wearing alien scum are lamenting their lack of control over KG, and the great leader wants to call in something called “mechanoids” to deter Ghiddy from destroying the entire world. Tension!

Back to teacher-scolding, Cedric straight-up fills the teacher in on the plot of the comic, and before she can fully express her consternation at the ridiculousness of the truth, Ghidorah arrives on the scene to cause havoc. Cedric, Anderson, and Emily form a circle to call Godzilla, and Karen places a prayer-message to King Caesar (which makes her eyes glow), and both messages go through. We get a shot of KC on the way to save the day, hurray!

Now, as you might surmise from the synopsis above, we ain’t got no real monster-on-monster action in this episode. Instead, we get a pretty effective build-up—the ominous (but still funny!) dream at the beginning, the Shobijin explaining just how bad things are, the Xiliens turning against their golden child, and the triumphant appearance of King Caesar on the final splash page image. Not every plot point works very well—while I am intrigued at the prospect of Xilien mechanoids joining the fray, the Shobijin offer up the lamest of excuses for why Mothra can’t come to the party. Even one year after her encounter with Godzilla from the previous mini-series, she apparently needs more time to recuperate… But from WHAT??! She didn’t battle anyone in the previous book! She needs over a year to get better after channeling kids’ hopeful dreams for the future into Godzilla’s noggin? Is his nuclear head really that thick?

Oh well, let’s go to character moments. For some reason, Cedric’s crazy ego-boost dream sequence really put me in a good mood (though it looks like, GASP, the students at the Japanese school are wearing SHOES INSIDE???). There are several funny little exchanges, too, with characters sniping at each other (such as a barb about Cedric’s brain location) that I honestly enjoyed, as well as goofy cheerful Shobijin predicting doom and gloom, and other humorous moments. It just clicked for me in this issue.

Plus and I like the nameless teacher. Yeah, so I am a teacher in Japan, and it’s nice seeing a teacher in Japan getting to take part in a kaiju adventure ala Ultraman 80 or Attack of the Giant Teacher. This educator just gets to competently respond to her students’ dilemma, but she also has a funny line about her spicy ramen towards the beginning of the issue. She already is making more of a positive impression than the teacher from the first series.

The art is as competent as ever, with the same level of quality expressions, colors, and so on that we have come to expect from Delgado and Schoening. I did find one panel a little confusing—when KG “eats” Cedric, it looks like the “chomp” is a sound effect rather than a separate panel, making it appear as if Ghidorah is chomping with his mouth open if that makes sense. But such is a minor burp in the narrative. KG has a great scene where he flies over Tokyo Tower looking all menacing and bad-butt. King Caesar also just rules. I love his look in the final page where he is swimming to save Tokyo. Based on his look from Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), we get a full-body shot, and he is detailed and gorgeous. Nevertheless, with the somewhat mundane contents of much of the issue, it feels like Schoening’s panel layouts in general are a little flat, too, and don’t exhibit as much of his usual flair.

One other niggle that I have been meaning to mention in a previous review, but never got around to voicing: Is King Ghidorah’s design here based on the Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) incarnation? With his prominent fangs and general head design with the spray of horns, and even the three toes I complained about before, everything suggests GMK (the 2001 Ghidorah has a fourth backward facing toe, which this Ghiddy lacks, but both have only three forward-facing toes). Basing this purely villainous KG on the guardian-monster version of the tri-head is an odd choice—like if a future IDW comic plopped scary pupilless GMK Goji as a hero. Maybe those big canines made the artists think bad-guy?

Moving on to fantasy mechanics, now that we have a little more of a full look at how the child protagonists call on their respective monster protectors, I want to register a small grievance: The visual stylings are a little uninteresting. As briefly covered above, Cedric, Emily, and Anderson simply hold hands in a circle rather than experience the psychedelic expanse from when Mothra initiated their initial Godzilla mind-meld. Giving Karen glowing eyes from when she prays a message to King Caesar, too, seems like a retread of how the Shobijin are shown to take over individuals in previous issues. Maybe Burnham had been attempting to avoid the cheesiness of having Okinawan princesses singing “kiingu Shiiiiiiiiiiii saaaaaaa” like in the 74 film, but the replacement laser eyes swaps unoriginality for unoriginality.

Sliding on to a big plus for me, we also get some killer easter eggs in an early image of Cedric’s room. Cedric has a poster with Maguma (the walrus monster from 1962's Gorath), and another poster with freaking DAIGORO on it (from 1972's Daigoro vs. Goliath)! Man, would I love to see HIM make a legit appearance in an IDW comic! Finally, Cedric also has a Final Wars Hedorah plushy in his room, just to round out the general awesomeness level. Maybe the main character isn’t so bad after all.

Let’s take a look at this month’s covers. The first one, from Schoening and Delgado, is a huge step-up from the weird anatomy of KG in last month’s take. Here we have an “anonymous legs” poster-ish cover peering through King Caesar’s hairy gams at Goji and Ghiddy about to have a donnybrook. It looks a bit like a classic movie ad for something like the 1981 Bond flick For Your Eyes Only, minus the sex appeal (sorry, KC), but retaining the drama. Next, Andrea Bell has her monthly piece of work—this time depicting the four kiddos gathered in a video arcade and playing a Godzilla game of some kind. The art of Godzilla seems to be mimicking a chibi image that appeared on many Godzilla merch way back in 2016 (such as in the Lotteria crossover). Imagery is cheerful, with a strong green tint, and shows the gang actually getting along for once. I wondered if perhaps the cover is supposed to summon the sense that our heroes kind of control their respective kaiju guardians ala a video game. While a bit unmemorable and busy visually, I like it as a piece of art. Yurcaba returns with another cover, too, this time showing the heroic cuatro looking shocked at their “kaiju alert” blaring phones while KG appears in the background across a cityscape. I am still not the biggest fan of Yurcaba’s distinct style, but the image has a dramatic heft, Ghidorah looks truly menacing, and I like the composition.

So what I want to say is, good issue. Monster action is minimal, but the narrative is moving in urgent strides to a final confrontation, and even minor characters get nice moments to shine. The humor is yuckety yuck rather than yuck, and the art (if a little plainly designed) still looks colorful and beautiful. I even found myself enjoying the world’s most self-absorbed Kenny in this issue. I don’t think anyone who has already set out to hate this juvenile take on kaiju material will be sold by this series, but I think Burnham has found a much better balance of fun and drama this time around, and I am looking forward to the final clash.


Variant Covers

Andrea Bell Cover
John Yurcaba Cover