Review: Kaijumax #1

This was not what I was expecting… I thought it was going to be slapstick comedy making fun of the Kaiju genre and we’d all have a good laugh… I should have realized that the “Max” in the title was referring to prison… this books got heavy quick. That’s basically what this story is about, a prison island (similar to Monster Island of course) that houses the world’s dangerous Kaiju. Their guardsmen… Ultraman-esque dudes with mean attitudes. I’ll be very up front and tell you that even though I wasn’t expecting this story to play out the way it does, it was one of the best things I read this week.

The story begins with fresh fish being brought into the prison. One such Kaiju is called Electrogor and he’s extremely upset because he needs to get back to his kids. It doesn’t stop them from throwing him in J-Pop (which is funny for another reason). He sulks for a while because hey he’s in prison and his kids were waiting for him to come back and feed them. We begin to see the inner workings of the prison and the different cliques that of course it has. Electrogor is of particular interest to the volcano (that may or may not be a part of the island) and his gang that are trying to take over the prison from the old Kaiju that have been running it for generations.

Kaijumax-#1Creator Zander Cannon does a remarkable job of making you care about Electrogor’s plight. He’s just trying to feed his kids that can’t fend for themselves and so the thought of being thrown in prison is terrifying. What’s worse is the thought of his kids being brought to the same prison if they’re found.

Cannon perfectly mixes both genres. He has tropes from both working hand in hand and it’s pretty brilliant. One of my favorite scenes shows the Kaiju working out and all their equipment is in the shape of building. Again, both tropes working hand in hand.

The dialogue is smooth and well-written. This is where it mostly falls into the prison genre, but a couple of Kaiju moments still happen. Cannon manages to build Electrogor up as a character very quickly. We may not have a feel for anyone else, but for right now it doesn’t matter since we know and understand his character.

Not only does Cannon write the story but he also illustrates it. The first thing that stood out was how many unique monsters he created. There’s some homage, but the bulk of the Kaiju are original. Our main character Electrogor kind of looks like a giant grasshopper, while others range from demonic looking to robots. Cannon covers every Kaiju and monster genre for the most part, but I’m sure we’ll see more.

The art is strange. At first glance it doesn’t really match the story, but then when you read the story it’s the only art that could possibly work. It’s not dark and gritty, but rather bubbly and bright. There’s a lot of rounded edges and an overall lack of hard lines used, but there’s an incredible amount of detail. You can see from the cover just how bright it is, but again, it’s the only style that would match.

If you like Godzilla or any other Kaiju stories then this is a no-brainer to pick up. It’s honestly better than 90% of the stuff IDW has done with the official Godzilla license and with just one issue has already restored my faith in the genre working as a comic. It’s really freaking good and Cannon clearly has an understanding and appreciation for Kaiju even if he’s not telling a traditional Kaiju story. Also don’t let the prison part scare you way from sharing this with kids, it’s actually surprisingly PG in the way it’s handled and better for it. The bottom line is that you should check out Kaijumax #1.

Score: 4/5

Kaijumax #1 Writer/Artist/Creator: Zander Cannon Publisher: Oni Press Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/8/15 Format: Print/Digital