10.17.12 Reviews (Part 2)

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Godzilla: Half Century War #3 (IDW): It’s not often that you decide you love a book because of the very first image on the very first page, but it happens here with that map of Ghana. The map puts us in context for the recounting of the tragedy at Accra that follows, and the level of detail in that image is something I’ve just never seen before. Not from Paul Pope, not from Rafael Grampa, not from Nathan Fox, not from Juan Jose Ryp, hell probably not even from Geoff Darrow, or any of the other creators I generally consider the “masters of detail.” The astonishment had me just shaking my head wondering how the fuck does James Stokoe do that? Here we basically see that throwing the AMF at Godzilla and his monstrous brethren is like throwing stones into a hurricane force of nature. Stokoe does the smartest thing and makes this story not just about atomic age paranoia and rampaging monsters (cool in itself, thanks to his art), but about the human impact, and showing off his equally remarkable writing ability in the process. The basics of human nature demand that greed will ultimately kick in, backfire disastrously, and draw more monsters into the melee. Stokoe gives us a sort of impromptu field guide for the monsters and the various specialized AMF teams that fight them, which totally made me smile from ear to ear. On one hand, it reminded of Dan Brereton’s old work in the terrific GiantKiller, but on the other more important hand, it reminded me that stories like this which are fun, have a heart, and incredibly slick art are basically why I started reading comics in the first place. Grade A+.

The Zaucer of Zilk #1 (IDW/2000AD): Brendan McCarthy and Al Ewing kick of this inaugural publishing partnership between San Diego’s IDW and venerable UK powerhouse 2000AD, and I have to say that the results are slightly mixed, but that’s probably a reflection of my quirky tastes more than anything else. Of course this has amazing production quality and is a good value in terms of price to page count ratio, basically everything you’d expect from both IDW and 2000AD. Visually, it overwhelmingly succeeds. In fact, I almost enjoyed the bonus content non-colored sketch page as much as the extended primary content. It’s sort of this psychedelic pop art Billy Batson going down the rabbit hole sort of thing; the creators later describe it as “Wild British Surrealism” and “Elric meets Time Bandits meets The Yellow Submarine meets The Wizard of Oz,” so I guess I wasn’t too far off the mark with my elevator pitch? The main character felt like some sort of Morrisonian empty cipher to me, but I do always enjoy characters like Spantalex and Crissymouth, functioning as sort of dueling id and ego, devil and angel constructs. It’s all about the power of belief and magic wands and the symbolic idolatry of Tutu The Biggest Fan (one of the great female characters in recent memory, to be sure), The Sultan, Errol Raine, everything starting with a “Z,” and on and on and on. My biggest gripe is that I was never quite sure what the dramatic thrust of the story was (why are these characters doing what they’re doing?), or if that was even the point per se, but it’s undeniably fun to look at and enjoy the playful interactions with the reader, and the dayglo cotton candy disco roller skate colors enveloping the page. Grade A-.


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