Editor's Note: Wires were crossed. We ended up with two reviews, so we posted them both. At once a menace and protector, Godzilla can fulfill a reader's power fantasy. As a destructive force of nature and a nationalistic point of pride, the mutant lizard has served writers as a powerful and poignant metaphor of Japan's collective anxiety. In Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 the creature is an unwanted ally against Mongol invaders. It's perhaps no coincidence that Godzilla's dorsal plates are rendered in the same way as the tumultuous waters where he rules. He, as a chaotic force, has no allegiance and is fickle in choosing his targets. Like the sea, Godzilla is unpredictable. And this issue does a good job driving that notion home.
It is sadly common for audiences to criticize Godzilla stories for focusing on human drama more than goofy monster fights. Here, the balance is just right, letting the two human leads have enough personality to believably guide their actions and simultaneously tying their plight to the theme of uniting in Japan's defense. The characters are very broadly written, not offering much in the way of depth. They serve the plot more than anything else. And once the monster battle begins, you've already forgotten the people.
Visually this book successfully evokes a vaguely ukiyo-e art style that, while anachronistic for the issue's too early time period, is recognizably Japanese. Some readers are going to be turned off by the heavily stylized renditions of four classic kaiju. The end result of this approach, however, is a book overflowing with intense line work. Curls of smoke are rendered as actual curls, clumped together in giant masses hovering over invading hordes. Godzilla's signature radiation breath blast has never looked more eerily beautiful.
Where will the atomic gorilla whale show up next? Will these stories be confined to Japan? When will he pilot a mech in space? No matter. I'm excited to follow the further adventures of this accidentally heroic monstrosity, wherever they lead him.
[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]
Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 Writer: Jeremy Robinson Artist: Matt Frank Colorist: Paul Hanley and Gonҫalo Lopes Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital