Saturday, February 4, 2012
RETRO REVIEW: Godzilla Color Special
Godzilla! Godzilla!!!!!! You might have heard of the 70's Godzilla comic book series by Marvel. Yes? No? Either way, it doesn't really matter. Fans who read it don't like it. Why? Well, Godzilla looks like a larger and meaner version of Barney. However, it did have Godzilla battle the Avengers, something that will never happen again. (I'm not joking, the big G trades blows with Thor.) Now we all know Dark Horse, famous for their Star Wars and Conan comics. Did you know that they had done a Godzilla series in the 90's? Today it isn't that well-known, only the fans really know about it. Unlike the Marvel one, (that one had Godzilla shrink down to the point where he wore a hat and trench coat) this one was well-received. You can see what I thought about the whole series in this review Here.
Back on target, the Color Special. Funny little title. The reason I believe it's called that is cause (aide from the Marvel one) the Godzilla comics were black and white. Dark Horse did a few comics before this, mainly putting the Japanese adaption of Return of Godzilla into English. All were black and white though. So then out of nowhere, the Color Special arrives, which would pave the way for the short-lived series. The Color Special is about a group known as G-Force who comes to an island to warn the inhabitants that GODZILLA is coming. These islanders have no plans to leave, however, they're going to defend their sacred ground. But how, how will they defend it against the unstoppable beast that is Godzilla? Well you see, there's this ancient statue known as Gekido-jin. Legend has it that a demon inhabits it, and that it lies dormant due to another spirit constantly locked in battle with it. So the solution is to sacrifice another to awaken the statue. No one seems to believe this legend however, and Godzilla doesn't care either way.
The Color Special is regarded as the greatest Godzilla comic of all time. And yes, for once I agree with popular opinion. Unlike the sometimes messy Kingdom of Monsters, this issue takes its time explaining the situation, with an actual plot. The thing with Kingdom of Monsters was that there wasn't much of a plot. Maybe, maybe if the monsters were more of a focus in the earlier issues with less real world references, I wouldn't be mentioning it in a negative manner right now. This comic was released in 92. The 90's were the 'Heisei' era of kaiju films. (Also known as the Vs. series.) So rather than invent a new Godzilla, they did the smart thing. They used the same Godzilla from that era of the films. They also manage to squeeze this into the Heisei timeline, making it even more of an incentive to read.
Back to the actual story. Randy Stradley's writing is a bit mixed here. The G-force group is an interesting bunch. They come off as rather cardboard, but aren't bad. Like, when one of their members is stomped on, (pretty impressive scene by the way) the other characters barely show any emotion. (One of them even refers to Godzilla's atomic breath as 'flame.') The best human character would be Ookii'mune, priestess of the island. However, it's not the human characters that carry the story, it's the interesting plot, Godzilla, and Gekido-jin that do. Godzilla plays a more antagonistic role, he looks fantastic. This is the single best drawn Godzilla in a comic ever, it matches the Heisei look perfectly. The cover is fantastic, Godzilla looks great. Arthur Adams is a master with drawing G. It's disappointing when an older series has *much* better art than a modern series, that's not how the system is supposed to work.
The opponent is a statue inhibited by a demon called Gekido-jin. It's backstory is very good, very well thought out and interesting. Basically, some of the concept is similar to King Caeser. The battle between the two is very climatic. It has a 'final battle' feel, the dark background in the pages really give the fight an 'epic' touch. Each blow is felt, and I love the little narration boxes, they really complement the fight. A shame Gekido-jin never returned, the possibilities with it are endless, could have made some interesting stories in the future.
Overall, the Godzilla Color Special is the definitive Godzilla comic. You won't find a more accurate portrayal and look. There are many stand out scenes, one of my favorites was when the islanders and G-Force were looking at a looming Godzilla roaring in the background. The writing is very good, aside from G-Force being a little too cardboard. It's like a Godzilla film told in forty pages. This is what writers should look at for reference on how to do a Godzilla comic series. Excellent portrayal of the title character, interesting opponent, great art, and a good story above all else.