Modern comics have been off my radar for more than a few years now. While I used to follow roughly a dozen titles in my heyday, I eventually found that comic books just didn't work for me anymore. Not only are they prohibitively expensive (most titles are at least $3), but comics today are way too fixated on the graphic novel concept. A comic company will force almost every storyline into a series of at least five or six issues so that they can capitalize on it twice by re-releasing it in a collected graphic novel format. That's all fine and dandy, but the problem is that often the storylines aren't strong enough to stretch out that far... not to mention the fact that I just don't have the attention span to wait half a year to finish a plot. Nowadays, I read the inexpensive "phonebook" collections like DC's Showcase Presents. But IDW lured me back with Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters. Let's check it out!
The plot is simple. Godzilla appears suddenly on a remote Japanese island. (Presumably, this is the first time Godzilla has been seen in this universe.) He summarily obliterates the local towns and turns towards Tokyo. Conventional weapons don't work on him, so Japanese officials decide to break out the nukes... a decision that has some predictably bad consequences.
Without giving away the climax, that's pretty much it in terms of plot. As you can see, not much happens in this issue. There are a lot of splash pages but not much in terms of dialogue, so you'll be able to blow through this issue in only 10 minutes or so. I guess that's okay, considering the fact that a first issue is often less about advancing the plot and more about setting up the mood of the series. But it makes me wonder if this series will continue the modern trend of having a storyline stretched too thin just to meet the minimum "graphic novel requirement" of 5 issues.
Toho has been reported to be reluctant to show Godzilla directly killing people, but there are a few panels in this comic that appear to show people dying as a result of Godzilla's rampage. I wonder if Toho has been relaxing its restrictions as of late.
The pencil work by Phil Hester is pretty nice and I like the hard, contrasty ink by Bruce McCorkindale. I especially dig the fold-out cover; I'd love to get that in a poster format and hang it on the wall. Godzilla has more or less a late Heisei design in this comic, with perhaps a hint of GMK thrown in the mix. I would have preferred more of a Millenium style as I think the abstract spiky design would have lent itself well to the artist's style and the comic book medium.
OverallKingdom of Monsters is a nice introduction of Godzilla to a new realm of comics. Sure it's light on plot, but there's enough coolness here to make me want to come back for more and see what IDW can do with him. Besides, it's been seven years since the last time we saw Godzilla on film in Final Wars and frankly, I just miss him.
One more thing: the back of the comic has an ad for another Godzilla series due out in June entitled Gangsters and Goliaths. I'll definitely be picking it up even if it's mainly for the cover by Geof Darrow of Shaolin Cowboy fame. Check it out above... just incredible!