Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Godzilla: Half Century War

Writing and Art by James Stokoe

            I don’t know if I could really be considered a Godzilla fan.  I’ve seen a couple of the movies, which I’ve enjoyed, and I’d easily watch more, but that hardly qualifies me as a fan.  I just think Godzilla is a fun series, probably not the same way that somebody who’s seen every movie appreciates it.  Half Century War makes me want to watch more of the movies, while also being perfect for my current Godzilla knowledge level.
            Half Century War follows Ota Murakami, a soldier who’s there for Godzilla’s first appearance in 1954, and continues the fight for, well, the next 50 years, following Godzilla through the decades, joining an anti-monster task force, and witnessing the arrival of even more monsters.  I should mention now that, sadly, my review copy lacks the final issue, which doesn’t release until April.  I will be picking it up, but it means that this is a review of 4/5 of the final book.
            But what a 4/5 it is.  The main appeal of Godzilla movies is definitely having the giant monsters fighting and destroying things, but this book is closer to the level of the original movie (which I have seen) where the human effect is focused on.  Stokoe’s phenomenal art is definitely a winner here.  His manga-esque versions of the characters is nice, and he manages to add some humor in the character design so the book doesn’t get weighed down with serious scenes. But it’s the destruction that stands out.  Every city is gorgeously drawn, and the destruction that happens to them is incredibly detailed.  And it’s not just Tokyo, as the team goes around the world, with each city having enough of a unique flair to be different.
            The story is also quite fascinating.  Again, I don’t know my Godzilla, so I don’t know how much of this is created by Stokoe and how much of it is just an expansion of what is already in the movies.  It is still full of interesting events, purely capturing the shock somebody would have of Godzilla initially appearing, along with the other monsters that show up and the impossibility of defeating them, until Ota becomes hardened.  The artwork manages to capture the change from the fresh recruit in 1957 to the battle-hardened veteran who knows that Godzilla fighting other monsters is still a standard appearance, but can still end up shocked.  It also helps that Godzilla is basically a secondary character to some of the corruption that takes place on the human side.
            Half Century War is a must-read for Godzilla fans and newbies.  It’s an interesting take on the giant monster story, along with beautiful artwork.  I say you’ve got to go out and buy it.

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