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Godzilla: Half Century War #2 (IDW): James Stokoe's take on Gojira works in a way that most ostensible "monster" books don’t because Godzilla really isn't the main star of the story. Instead, he focuses on the impact that the rampaging irradiated beast has on the soldiers, on humanity, on the culture, and just the way that people think about and perceive the world around them. Ultimately, that's the true cost, not just the rampant property damage, although there's plenty of that too. You hear this hyperbolic "so-and-so could illustrate the phone book and I'd buy it!" all the time, but in Stokoe's case it's actually true. I can't image anything that his art could fail to make interesting. I often try to compare the style of his work to other artists in an effort to relay some oomph. Today, I'll say that it's got all the detail of Geoff Darrow, and all the danger of Rafael Grampa lurking in his million flicks of ink. He's the kind of artist I want to cozy up to Brandon Graham so that we can get a special Stokoe issue of Prophet. This issue sees a Vietnam War era military crusade against Godzilla, attempting to defeat him with everything from traditional B-52 carpet bombing, to maser batteries, to another surprise guest, with hints toward the end of a larger plot in motion. All the while, see Stokoe do serious, humor, static, or action, and understand what a truly versatile visual storyteller he is. Grade A.
Batwoman #0 (DC): Here's the thing. I've read the original 52 series that first introduced Kate Kane as Batwoman. I've read her first solo adventures in the Detective Comics run. I've read the original #0 issue that was pre-52. I've read the entire New 52 run so far. And now I've read this second post-New 52 #0 issue. These comics are fucking great. But, as good as they are, and as good as this issue is, I haven't really learned anything new from this issue that I didn't already know about Kate Kane. I don't know, at this point, nothing I'm going to say is going to be able to sway you one way or another on this title. If you like it, you're going to like this. If you don’t, then you won't. The entire issue is built around a pre-recorded message from Kate to her Army Colonel father that fills in her entire origin story and high points from the series to date. It's smartly written and expertly rendered. I'm not just talking about Jim Williams' pencils either. I'm talking inking, coloring, lettering, all the way down the line. The team has displayed an absolute mastery of the psychological drivers of this character, all in a purposefully shifting aesthetic style that JH3 can tap into at will. Despite the pure expositional construct of the story, it's a portrait of one of the most beautiful killing machines ever created. It's, by far, the best thing currently coming out of the mainstream DCU. It's impeccable. That said, it pains me to explain the following. This book is an anomaly that shows the desperate incomprehensibility of the New 52 initiative. Aside from lengthy shipping delays, the New 52 had absolutely zero effect on this book. It's the same book that it was before the New 52, so what was the point? Good comics don't come from rebranding and remarketing your intellectual property catalogue. They come from sticking the best creators possible on books they're passionate about and then largely getting the fuck out of their way. If you can imagine this book in a vacuum, it's totally Grade A+ material, but branded such as it is, as a "New 52 #0 Issue" (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean), it's unfortunately dragged down by that contextual clusterfuck. Grade A.
Ghost #0 (Dark Horse): Hey, even Dark Horse can't escape the #0 madness! So, this is apparently a collection of the prequel stories that appeared in Dark Horse Presents #13 to #15. Which really only leaves me asking where was the #0 issue for The Massive? Sorry, I'll try to get through one week's worth of reviews not mentioning Brian Wood. It's Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto, a creative team with some sort of online buzz-worthy pedigree. But... this is what I call "Dildo Art." It can be fun, it can be sexy, it can get the job done, but it's also stiff and unnatural. Something something something a huckster reality TV dude has the tables turned on him by investigating paranormal phenomenon that actually turns out to be the real deal. My problem is that the script really lacks a sense of clarity. I'm not sure why these guys are even friends in the first place. I'm not sure how the dude knows that Vaughn tampered with the machine. I'm not sure about the entire page in quotes that comes after that. The three prequel pieces don't play well together, feeling like disjointed vignettes. It lacks realism. There are so many times I was just thinking, shit, "people don't talk like that," they don’t talk out loud at themselves, they don't act that way, they don't hit each other randomly, they wouldn't react to a "ghost" like that, etc. It's just jerky and rough. Why would two guys enter a room and one of them says "two in the front room" (statement of fact) and the other says "is there anyone else here?" (question). It just doesn't make any sense. I thought it was interesting for a minute to show the main character descending into alcohol induced madness and wondering if what he was seeing was real or a hallucination, and during the last third of the story the dialogue kinda' gets ok with the ex-wife chatter, but for the most part I just didn't get it. The whole affair seems like a very flimsy premise to base a series on: uhh, we're going to go on the run and find the identity of this person because she just killed someone and she uhh needs a name, 'cuz like, that might honor the dead person, or something? Grade B-.