Friday, June 21, 2013

Comic Review: Godzilla, King of the Monsters #1 (Essential Godzilla) (2006, Marvel Comics)

As promised, I've finally cracked open my copy of Essential Godzilla (unfortunately "Cracked" should be taken literally. The second I opened it up the front page split halfway up the binding 3:) and gave the first issue a quick read. I spent a while wondering whether or not I should review this issue by issue since the comics aren't presented in their original form, but then I thought: "Mario Bros. Classic wasn't exactly a port of Mario Bros., but I reviewed that anyways. Might as well do the same for Godzilla."

And here we are approximately twelve hours later, my fingers on the keys and Godzilla tearing through my brain. I'll have to begin with the negative, I suppose, of which there isn't very much. In fact, the only real negative to this comic would be the fact that it was a black and white reprint of a color comic. Now, I have nothing against black and white comics. I read a large volume of manga on a regular basis, and it would be much less charming if it were all in color. Unfortunately, removing the color from something intended for it often damages it. It can now be fairly difficult to distinguish exactly what I'm looking at, particularly in action sequences when there is much swooshing and motion dragging. Explosions become blots of black ink, you get the drill. Taking the color out seriously hurt the comic, and I wish they'd release a more accurate reprint in full color (and on better paper... with better binding...).

Of course a book is only as good as its story. This being a first issue, there isn't very much of it (and I fear the rest of the series will continue that trend). We get some narration by a distant observer as Godzilla wakes from a forced hibernation within the confines of a glacier, something which I believe is fairly common for the big lizard. He then takes to immediately destroying anything in sight, which happens to be an oil pipeline in Northern Alaska. This story really takes Godzilla back to his most primal days, when he wasn't a scaly softy and simply a radioactive, green force of nature (like another certain Marvel hero).

We're also treated to a brief origin story, which is fairly different from the original one and isn't nearly as powerful. Godzilla was originally a metaphor for the destructive power of nuclear warfare. Now he's just an ancient beast, awoken by experiments (which are still nuclear, at least). Other than that he exists in relatively the same form with similar histories, and his two-decade ravaging of Japan is referenced several times throughout the book, leaving lots of room to interpret the majority of the film series as canon.

Throughout the chaos we are introduced to several human characters, including three of Marvel's classic heroes, all members of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The SHIELD agents, already being developed personalities, far outshine the series-original humans, who are right now a rather bland bunch of plot-drivers. I'm hoping they'll develop a little more as the story progresses. Interestingly, it looks like our antagonist/protagonist (I'm not sure if we're supposed to be on Godzilla's side or not) is Fury's old war buddy, Dum Dum Dugan. I'm not familiar with the Dugan character outside of the Captain America film, but he's very stylish and defined with his constant bowler hat and all. I'm pretty excited to get to meet this new character, although he isn't quite as thoughtful as I'd have liked from the figurehead of the Howlers.

Ultimately the book is passable, and actually pretty good at times. I feel as though the writers were a little trapped, though, and while the series is building in some interesting directions with continuing threads, I'm worried that it will quickly become monotonous. There's only so much that can be done with any individual character, and while Godzilla would probably make a great sometimes-character, I don't know how he can handle a monthly on his own. There's also a lot of forgetting I'll have to do, because the Godzilla in my head is more of an anti-hero than an uncaring beast. I'm sure somebody out there is capable of writing a very thrilling Godzilla story that takes it all in lots of wonderful directions, but my first impression of Godzilla, King of the Monsters is that "This isn't it".

But it hasn't been bad yet. Maybe a little boring, but not bad. I'm going to give it a six out of ten, because there isn't really much going for it yet. Here's to hoping it all gets better!

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