Review: Godzilla: Oblivion #1

"So you're into sports?""Oh yeah! I watch the Superbowl every year!"

"So you're a Trekkie?" "Oh yeah, I just love JJ Abrams."

"So you're a comics fan?" "Oh yeah, can't get enough of Calvin and Hobbes."

That's roughly equivalent to someone asking me "are you a fan of Godzilla comics" and me answering honestly "Oh yeah! I loved Godzilla Half Century War!".  James Stokoe's masterpiece summed up the entire franchise in one mini-series that managed to be a love letter to monster movies, comics, and kaiju culture all without ever losing sight of the elemental awe inspired by the titular lizard.  I loved that book, but everyone who read it loved that book, so it hardly makes me a fan of Godzilla. And the original Kaiju is a cultural phenomena far bigger than one volume of comics. I've seen the American movies, both of which hold a soft spot in my heart, but in many ways Godzilla: Oblivion marks my first foray into the extended world of Godzilla.  This might not be ideal, so perhaps fans of Godzilla should take this review with a grain of salt.

I get the impression that Godzilla as a comics franchise has gotten a lot of mileage out of subverting the simple monster destruction story (or perhaps there are only so many such stories to tell). Fialkov establishes a new wrinkle by setting his story in a Kaiju free world and having a dimension hopping trip by greedy industrialists (damn them!) and a concerned scientist accidentally connect to the world of Godzilla. It's an idea that may have some legs, but at the moment feels a little obligatory. It will likely give Godzilla and his friends a new playground to smash, but otherwise, I find it hard to imagine this new setting will really add much to the mythos.

Not helping matters is Fialkov's approach to dimensional travel which is more than a little generic. Crossing over into other versions of earth is such a traditional sci-fi prelude to disaster that Dr. Eli Talbert, afore-mentioned concerned scientist, calls it out. " I've seen this movie before", he tells the evil industrialist, "I turn it on. Terrible things happen. I'm not doing it." It's a clever moment, that is immediately undercut when Talbert does indeed turn it on and disaster does indeed follow. It reads as a lazy shrug of the shoulders, as if Fialkov knew the story was following long standing cliches but ultimately couldn't think of anything better. But of course, if the good doctor didn't open up a dimensional rift, where then would be our stompy monsters?

And to be fair, the arrival of stompy monster is the highlight of the issue. I may be an easy mark for this sort of material, but watching a robotic monster duke it out with biological monsters while sweaty soldiers exposit on the state of Godzilla's world is a lot of fun. Or, well, it would be with a little bit better art. I hate to call it a house style, but there's no denying one can recognize commonality between IDW's licensed property art.  Brian Churilla's work is rough and cartoony, often undercutting dramatic moments through its own simplistic goofiness. The upside is Churilla's grasp of the large action dynamics, allowing the reader to never get lost or lose sight of the conflict's massive scale. Still, it's simply not an iconic or particularly memorable take on iconic and memorable monsters (an impression increased by two gorgeously detailed James Stokoe covers).

All told, Godzilla: Oblivion has a lot of potential. If there's a plan in place to use the series big sci-fi hook to good purpose, perhaps this iteration of Tokyo's scaliest natural disaster will shape up into something slightly more than dumb action. As is, it's a pretty forgettable mass of people running and ineffectually shouting things about portals. There's a certain b-movie entertainment in the generic genre cliches that are being thrown around here, but until Fialkov brings a little more to the table, fans would likely be best to sit this one out.

[button btn_url="" btn_color="violet" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="" icon_left="" icon_right=""] [button btn_url="" btn_color="violet" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="self" link_rel="" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 2/5[/button][/button]

Godzilla: Oblivion #1 Author: Joshua Hale Fialkov Artist:  Brian Churilla Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/30/16 Format: Print/Digital