Thursday, November 3, 2011
Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe Dark Horse Review
Ah, Gamera. If you're a Godzilla fan, you've heard of the giant super turtle. The un-humble beginnings of this franchise started as a mere cash-in of the Godzilla franchise. As the early films went, it differentiated from Godzilla greatly......and not in a very good way. (I enjoy Gamera vs. Guiron as much as the next Kaiju fan, but really, the Showa Gamera films were not very good.) It wasn't until the revival in 1995, with the release of the famous Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. Thanks to this, the flying turtle was no longer a mere Godzilla cash-in, he was his own franchise. Now, Godzilla has had some comics, from the infamous Marvel series, to IDW's current series. I recently bought the complete Godzilla Dark Horse series, which was very good. Now, even I, a big Gamera fan, didn't realize that there was a mini-series by the company about the super turtle until not too long ago. It's even rarer than the Godzilla one, and that's saying something. I never thought I would read it, but that changed, thanks to MyComicShop. Now that I've read the four issues, I can share my thoughts.
I can't find any reviews for this series, so I'm going to proclaim this one as the first. Anyways, the Heisei Gamera trilogy is a high-mark for Kaiju fans, boasting everything that makes a Japanese giant monster movie good. This series actually takes place within that continuity, one year after Guardian of the Universe. That makes this series canon. I think that's sound, fans of the film could dive into new stories. Of course, this being a mini-series that takes place after Guardian of the Universe, it's pretty confusing if you haven't watched the film. The main problem with this series is that it feels too rushed, the monsters aren't fleshed out. It's still fun however, if you're a fan of Gamera, or the film.
The first issue has the return of the "Shadow of Evil:" Gyaos. He's handled incredibly, there are some really cool scenes with him. The fight with him and Gamera was great, very fluid. There are some amazing splash pages with the two. It was nice to see Zigra and Viras revamped, it's always cool to see familiar characters. The problem here is that they aren't fleshed out enough, especially with Zigra. The sinister fish appears, but doesn't have any vital role, and loses rather too quickly. Viras on the hand other hand, is better handled. (He is the main antagonist.) His scene with Karbone about taking over the world was cool and a bit disturbing, now that's how you add character. Sadly, his plan would have worked better if it was done over the course of an ongoing series, not a four issue mini-series.
The main character is Lutz, and man, is he annoying. The story should have told completely from the perspective of Asagi, she's a heck lot more interesting. With that aside, Gamera isn't handled that well in my opinion. He didn't have much depth, which was quite sad. The art is very well done, with some great splash pages. If the art wasn't good, it would be hard to appreciate this mini-series. (And for non-Gamera fans, forget about it.)
Overall, the Gamera mini-series by Dark Horse was a disappointment. The first issue was excellent, but the rest were lacking something. Still, it has some nice fights, and we get to see some classic Gamera characters revamped. If only it was an ongoing rather than a mini-series.