Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Godzilla: King of the Monsters Dark Horse Review
I always knew that their was a rare, out-of-print Godzilla series by Dark Horse. I never thought I'd actually get it. While searching for some some Ghost Rider comic packs on Ebay, I decided just to see if they had any packs of the Dark Horse series. Imagine my excitement when I came across the complete series in NEW condition for $29.00 or best offer. I put in an offer for $25, and it got accepted. Of course, it doesn't come by the latest estimated time of arrival, I end up getting a refund and that package was never heard of again. I couldn't let that stop me, I had to get this series.....and I found a way in the form of MyComicShop (Great store by the way.) They had every issue thankfully, so I bought them all. (And a few bonuses, like the Gamera mini-series by Dark Horse, which I also will review soon.) Now that I'm done with this prologue, let's move on to the good stuff.
The Godzilla Dark Horse series has some interesting beginnings. There's this cool manga adaption they translated of the Return of Godzilla, (known to American audiences as Godzilla 1985) and strange one-shots like Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley. (Don't ask.) It wasn't until 1995 when the big G got an ongoing series by the company. You see, the last ongoing Godzilla series was the Marvel Comics one in the 70's. Try finding a good a comment for it. Yeah, NO ONE likes that series. I haven't read any of it, (but two more bonuses I got were two issues of that series, so I'll know just how bad they are, if they are bad) but I could tell by the covers why no one liked it. (Godzilla looks like a bright green dinosaur. Think about that for a second.) The point is, according to fans, Godzilla hadn't had a decent comic series until 1995. Enter the Dark Horse era, which I've heard solid things about it. I managed to read every single issue yesterday, so why don't we hear my thoughts?
It's inevitable that I'm going to compare this to the current Godzilla series: Kingdom of Monsters. This series is the complete opposite of that, it's more dialogue based and slow-paced. Issue Zero was weak in my opinion. (Apparently there was something called the Color Special that took place before Issue Zero, what?) Even Issue One I thought wasn't that strong. My favorite things about those two issues were the amazing covers. As you could see, the covers for this series is just outstanding, none of that variant cover nonsense, there's one main cover and each of them are just spectacular. Let me just put one of the amazing covers in large mode.
I could look at that cover all day. Back to the actual stories, the series picks up and gets better at Issue Two, with the debut of Cybersaur, who is an obvious homage to Mechagodzilla. One of the good things about Kingdom of Monsters is that it won't let you get bored, whether it's good entertainment or cringe-worthy entertainment. King of the Monsters suffers from having a bit too much words, and characters you just can't like. (I wanted Kate to seriously die every time she appeared on page.) However, King of the Monsters is obviously more high-class than Kingdom of Monsters, each issue feels like a good buy, whereas Kingdom of Monsters, some issues there feel like "buying for time." I was a bit worried after the first issue that this series would go the boring route of humans chasing Godzilla, but from issue Two on, it becomes a very good series.
There are a few different arcs, with a few standalone ones. The stories of course follow Godzilla, the other main characters are G-Force. They are OK, nothing special at all. They're just......there. I can't really say I liked or cared for anyone, some of their dialogue can be too cheesy. Kate, the reporter, being the worst of them all. They never really are deepened or fleshed out, but aren't the worst characters out there.
I find it funny how each time in the letter column of this series someone asks something like "Why aren't you using real characters like Rodan or Ghidorah?" And Dark Horse has to answer every time how they couldn't license the other TOHO monsters, it's almost a running gag. With that said, the original creations are good for the most part. The Mechagodzilla wannabe, Cybersaur, is good but is lacking depth. I know he's just a robot like MG II, but he's finished off rather too quickly. In issue three, we have a much better original creation, a Rodan/Gyaos hybrid: giant space bat Bagorah. I really liked this one, the fight between him and Godzilla was very good. In Issue Five, another robot, the All-Terraintula, (whom I like to call Mecha-Kumonga) appears. Mecha Kumonga here is sadly even more empty than Cybersaur, and the cover shows its color being yellow, but inside, it's purple. What's up with that? Issue Thirteen sees the debut of Burtannus, who's most likely a distant cousin of Jiger. It's a shame her amazing appearance on the cover can't mach her more bland look inside the issue. The fight was disappointing also. Issue Fifteen has Godzilla battle Ebirah-um, excuse me, I meant the Lord Howe Monster. That issue was my favorite actually, it's a stand-alone blockbuster, with it being being 95% of it devoted to the battle between the two.
As you could see, Godzilla is completely based off his Heisei appearance, which makes sense, cause at the the time the Heisei films were being released in America. Unlike Kingdom of Monsters, Godzilla is drawn with amazing detail every issue. There are many amazing splash pages with him, it's just awesome. He's neither a hero nor a villain in the series, like his Heisei counterpart.
Did you know that Godzilla was really the force that sunk the Titanic? Neither did I, as the time-travel arc (Issues 9-12) said. It's realistically crazy, (see what I did there?) but also happens to be the most poorly-received of the series. I'm going to have to agree with this one, Godzilla going to different time periods gets a bit dull after awhile. Sure, Godzilla meeting Sir Francis Drake is cool, and the splash page of the big G breaking the Titanic in half is truly one of the most amazing splash pages in the history of comics, but after two issues, you just want this arc to end. It doesn't help that the villain is the cheesiest antagonist I've ever seen. The arc with the alien species, the Dianii, was good, reminded me of the Showa days. The aliens are Hirogen wannabes, and not very good ones. However, the surprise plot twist that brings the Aliens of the Third Planet from the Black Hole into the arc really made things supremely interesting. This Planet of the Apes-type of species last appearance was in the classic film: Terror of Mechagodzilla. So you could imagine how seeing some aliens from the actual films was. (Apparently then can get the rights to alien species, but not the monsters, hmm.)
I watch Godzilla movies mainly to watch outrageous monsters duke it out. What I like about this series is how fluid the fights are, you feel every blow. Whereas the fights in Kingdom of Monsters feel a bit messy, the fights here are more detailed, especially Godzilla's fight with Ebir-the Lord Howe Monster. What's sad was that this series was placed on indefinite hold (canceled) at Issue Sixteen, due to lackluster sales. It's disappointing, cause it definitely felt like it could have gone for another twenty issues. The last Issue, Sixteen, was interesting because it was completely Godzilla-centric. I would like to see more comics like that. (I''m looking at you once again, Kingdom of Monsters.) I love the little boxes that explain the situations, it's like we're getting inside the monsters' heads.
Overall, King of the Monsters is truly a great Godzilla series. It has a high-quality feel to it, something Kingdom of Monsters right now is lacking. The art is very good, with some of the best covers I've ever seen. My only real draw-back was that it sometimes could get dull with too much word boxes, it made me feel like skipping a lot of the words. Still, the action is great, Godzilla is awesome, and there's no real-world references. If only it was longer, why didn't you fans pick it up? Ah well.