It is exactly what it sounds like. The King of Kaiju is gone to the depths of the world of darkness and despair. Stokoe is back to (barely) write and illustrate the first issue in this five issue mini series that sends Godzilla into Hell, and he starts it in full atomic blast. If you were like me and were wondering what would he do in Hell other than destroy things that tried to destroy him back, that’s exactly what happens in this issue. Godzilla falls a long way down into the Underworld in a great double splash page that reiterates exactly what you’ll get in this issue, sees the classic “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here,” warning and proceeds to lay waste to it, thus making 10 the entirety of words used in this issue. Gone is the mostly boring human element that is placed to justify our giant lizard wreaking havoc in some population or city. In Hell there is none of those distractions.
I am a shameless Stokoe fan. Godzilla: Half Century War is to date one of the best Godzilla stories ever told, including the movies. It revitalized the character for IDW. His Secret Wars: Battleworld covers have been nothing short of adorable and fantastic, and I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t love Wonton Soup and Orc Stain. So to see that he was making a new Godzilla story, I knew it was probably going to be my favorite book of the month, if not my favorite miniseries of the year. That was until I realized Stokoe is only working on the first issue.
Regardless, I am also a big Godzilla fan, I even love the 1998 film, I know everything that’s wrong with it, I’m aware that is a pretty terrible movie. But I can’t help but love a giant Kaiju in New York. And this being another tale of integration of such an icon from the East into a very Western concept, there is fairly high expectation on this book. With the latent lack of dialogue, one can’t help but make a comparison of this book to Ricardo Delgado’s Age of Reptiles. It is clear that Stokoe has drawn inspiration from this but it revels in the fact that unlike the former, Godzilla has never been known to have heavy plots. This allows Stokoe to play around with the concept and what our monster will have to fight, including a tentacle monster in a representation of a power plant, an enormous cloud of humans, that he may have sent there himself, and even what seems to be a ghoulish clone of himself. Stokoe’s unusual use of colors are noted in this issue as he depicts Hell with vast desert-like tones throughout the title, only breaking to focus on Godzilla’s atomic breath, of the staggering detail on the monster which James Stokoe is well known for doing.
Although Godzilla in Hell may not be a Stokoe epic, he’s definitely set it up for this to be another Godzilla epic. Stokoe uses the Dante Alighieri concept of Hell and took Godzilla through the first level, setting up the scene for the next issue to up the ante even further.
As a Stokoe fan, this is a fantastic pick up for a one-shot comic. As a Godzilla fan, Godzilla in Hell is off to a great start, with different creative teams taking over each issue. If Stokoe was to set the stage, he seems to have picked Madison Square Garden, or The Nippon Budokan.
Godzilla in Hell #1 Writer/Artist: James Stokoe Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/15/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital