Saturday, October 29, 2011
Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters Look-Back
I remember last year back in December the announcement of this series. I usually don't get hyperactive over announcements, but some things I do. This was one of them. I remember the headline over at ComicBookResources: "Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Returns at IDW." That was the biggest announcement of the decade besides the upcoming film being confirmed. I was extremely impatient with waiting for this series, then it got pushed back from March to April. Wow, I thought they were just messing with me. Anyways, when that April 27th came, I found Issue One and had two options. Go with the Godzilla solo cover, or go with the cover showcasing some of the monsters. Usually I would have gone with the latter, but the first had such great detail when compared to the other. So I bought it, then I went home to feast my eyes on my most anticipated comic ever. I'll repeat that, most anticipated comic ever.
I read, or should I say, blasted through it. It was probably the fastest comic I've ever read. It showcased Godzilla attacking Tokyo, and the President. (Who bares a striking resemblance to Obama.) Pretty much a normal, generic Godzilla story. Was I disappointed? A bit, but it wasn't a bad first start. It was Godzilla destroying things, alright in my book. Of course, even that would get a bit boring after awhile, like the films, it's always more exciting when there's another monster. So with the debut of supersonic horror Rodan and spiky armadillo Anguirus next issue, it would get better. And it did......for a bit.
The second issue floored me, I had the impression that this would be a very good series. It was a combination of Godzilla, 2012, and The Walking Dead. As the issues went on, something happened. Each month it seemed that the issues had lost focus. It seemed hell-bent on poking at today's culture rather than focusing on the monsters. I gave Issues Four and Five pretty harsh reviews, the first got a 4/10 while the latter got a 3/10. At that point, my enthusiasm went dry, I was then only collecting this series just cause I'm a Godzilla fan. Personal honor you could say. My past two reviews of Issues Seven and Eight were good, the series was on the right track. Now that Eric Powell is out, I decided to revisit the series, read all all eight issues back-to-back. Reading them again made me realize something.....they are much better read that way.
Re-reading Issue One made me realize that it was a perfect start. The reason why I found the first issue disappointing back months ago was that I felt so excited having the first issue in my hands to read. I was expecting something big, I just gazed over the issue, and finished it within five minutes. Now that I was more relaxed, I took my time with the issue. It was actually a lot better than I remember. Godzilla's emergence was great, and it a very good issue now that I've re-read it. Godzilla's portrayal was spot-on, and the humor, (at that point, remember that) was actually funny. I especially liked the scene where they nuked him and their reaction to his having the ability to shoot an atomic beam because of it. So I'm glad I re-read this issue, I've gained a better appreciation for it.
It's really the other monsters and confrontations I was looking forward to. I have the same opinion as before, Anguirus and Rodan make fine intros. I don't think the writers like Rodan all that much. I mean, he appears the least, (not counting Kumonga, will address that soon) and when he finally is in a fight, he gets mind controlled. I wasn't expecting the monsters to be portrayed 100% accurately, but they were. Both Godzilla and Rodan are aggressive and attack anything that moves. Anguirus isn't as aggressive, more like minding his own business as he intends to cope with the situation. Beautiful. However, Godzilla's portrayal turns into something of a mindless monster. In the films, he always had a distinctive character, (villain against Japan, hero of Japan, anti-hero, etc) here he's becoming just a raging beast. By issue eight, he's more of a walking event than an actual character. The thing that separates Godzilla from other giant monsters is his character. He isn't some raging one-shot Tyrannosaurus, he has character, and I hope this series will give him that soon.
It's hard to surprise people today, mainly cause every time type of surprise has been done already. Issue Three back when I read it had the perfect cliffhanger: the surprise arrival of Battra. Of course, re-reading it didn't have that same effect, but it's still such an amazing appearance. Battra so far is lacking his character from the film. There he was not truly evil, he was the protector of earth. He just couldn't stand humanity, and wanted to purge the earth of all humans. That's what puts him at odds with Mothra. In this series so far, he seems to be a mindless slave for the Twins. Speaking of them.....
Who are these strange twin girls? Despite all these monster appearances, they are the main antagonists. I don't mind new characters, but using them over established monsters is almost a crime. They can control monsters such as Battra and Rodan? That's sure to get on some fans' nerves. (I still cannot get over Rodan being controlled.) We get introduced to two monsters in Issue Six: Mechagodzilla and Kumonga. The ladder gets ONE scene and hasn't appeared since. I mean, it seems like he was just thrown in just to have another monster appearance. Take out that appearance, it doesn't effect anything. Mechagodzilla gets a pretty good and accurate portrayal, based solely on his look from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. However, as stated in my review, the part where he goes haywire doesn't make sense. It's a homage to when Kiryu (Mechagodzilla III) went haywire, but here it happens all too quick. There isn't any reference to him having DNA from Godzilla, so it makes zero sense. He reappears in the latest issue, but goes dead for no apparent reason.
KING GHIDORAH. Now there's a name every Godzilla fan knows. Universally accepted as Godzilla's greatest opponent, his appearance in Kingdom of Monsters was inevitable. Even after re-reading issue seven, I STILL think that was a great issue, unlike in most of the reviews. Ghidorah's build-up was perfect, but is thrown away in the next issue. The battle was of epic proportions, but once he lost, he felt like a throwaway character. I mean, it seems the writers are more bent on making the Twins the menacing force rather than King Ghidorah himself. If he doesn't come back anytime soon, there will be trouble. I hope the same doesn't happen to Destroyah.......
I actually really like the art back in Issue One. It wasn't Jim Lee, but it was good. The splash pages are nice, and the monsters look great. There are some amazing shots of them. However, starting at issue three, the art falters. The humans look odd and just plain bad. I don't know what happened, one issue the President looks fine, the next he looks like he needs a face transplant. I don't want to say this, but the art is making the humans look slapstick. The covers themselves are always something I look forward to. Powel's covers are mixed. His cover for issue one stands out as the best. Matt Frank's covers are truly phenonminal. My only problem is that sometimes it gives you the illusion of what's going to happen. I mean, one of the covers for issue three showcased Godzilla, Anguruis, and Roan battling it out. Did we get? Nope. Not even a meeting between the three. What's worst is that in the actual comic, they say "Next Issue!" Which features Godzilla shooting at Mothra. She didn't even appear in the following issue, that was false advertisement right there. (Where is she anyway? She's only been hinted at, her appearance is overdue.)
Overall, re-reading the first eight issues of Kingdom of Monsters back-to-back made me realize something. It's a solid tale when read like that. I actually enjoyed it better than when I bought the issues every month. The real-world references are more durable when read like this, the story has MUCH better pacing. The first fight, Godzilla vs. Anguirus, was disappointing when I first read it. Now that I've re-read, I appreciate the detail put into it, the monster fights are great, they just need to be a bit longer sometimes. Steven Woods and Allie's plot felt like it was going nowhere each month, but when read back-to-back, it feels a lot better paced. I wrote in to IDW and got my letter published in the letter column of Issue Three. I said it had potential to be the greatest comic book series ever. After reading the issues that came after, I revoked that claim. Now that I've re-read the first eight issues, I don't think the series is a disgrace to the Godzilla name anymore. It has a long way to go before being "great" however. It's a fun story, go check out the trades.