GODZILLA: RAGE ACROSS TIME #1 Review

It’s been about a month since Godzilla: Oblivion reached its final issue. Sadly, that mini-series was perhaps the weakest. The characters were wooden and the monster part of the story was all over the place. There was also very noticeable plot holes. Rage Across Time is the latest series and just from this first issue it seems to have fixed most of the problems with Oblivion. It’s not perfect, but it does have a high quality look to it.

Move over dinosaurs… monsters used to rule the planet! Travel to different time periods to examine the origin of myths that fueled nightmares! In this first installment, Godzilla brings his terror to feudal Japan!

The concept of Across Time is a unique one. Having Godzilla and his monster enemies in different time periods is a fascinating idea. This plot was kind of explored back in the Dark Horse Godzilla series when in a later arc the title monster was sent time traveling. (For example, he was sent back in time to when the Titanic crashed.) Rage’s story is much more refined since this idea is the primary focus. The first issue takes place in feudal Japan. It’s an excellent backdrop since legendary monsters fit right into this time period.

Jeremy Robinson nicely paces the story. It could have benefited from either being two parts or a graphic novel however. While Robinson makes excellent use of the limited pages, it isn’t quite enough to fully establish the human character conflict. We get a broad picture of the internal feudal Japanese dissension, but the two main characters could have used a little more developing. This doesn’t mean they are bad characters, because they’re actually pretty solid. (At the very least, much better written than the cast of Oblivion.) The usage of Yamata no Orochi was an excellent touch. This is another part that would have benefited from a few more pages. The two characters vs. Orochi happens rather fast, and the brief battle between it & Godzilla was excellent, though again rather quick due to limited pages.

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Even though somethings might have been rushed, the story is still very nicely paced. It’s an engaging read and Robinson makes fun use of the samurai era. Matt Frank’s art is of course fantastic. What I personally like is that it isn’t quite as stylized as usual, fitting with the retro backdrop of the story. This is also helped by the almost-bronze color palette, so credit must be given to the three colorists: Paul Hanley, Goncalo Lopes, & Josh Perez. The main cover by Bob Eggleton is an elegant piece. Everything, from the Sakai version of Godzilla 2000 to the wave is beautifully painted. The subscription variant by Matt is a solid cover, featuring an enraged Godzilla against feudal era ships. Personally, I would say the simplicity of the main cover makes it the winner, but both are good. The RI by James Biggie is definitely the most unique of the three, featuring Godzilla drawn in the feudal style. If you like period pieces, this one is for you.

Overall, Rage Across Time starts out with an excellent first issue. The story is paced very well, with a good balance of dialogue and action. As stated earlier, some parts feel rushed unfortunately. Also, at first it seemed like the book was going to be an anthology. Inside however there’s a sudden cut to modern day, and based on the ending it looks like future issues will be connected in some way. I don’t think this was needed, because the cuts to modern day were distracting. Besides these things, the issue is a fun trek through feudal Japan with some surprise faces. From this opening issue, it looks like we’ll have a great Godzilla book.

9/10

GODZILLA: OBLIVION #3 Review

It’s been quite awhile since the last issue of Oblivion. It was supposed to come out last week, but for some reason was delayed. Was the extra wait worth it? Let’s dig into the comic.

Here’s the official description from IDW:

A plan to rid our world of King Ghidorah backfires and the Earth faces certain calamity! A small piece of technology from another world may be the only hope of salvation.

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 Oblivion has been the definition of an “okay” series. There are some fun concepts but the characters haven’t been that particularly engaging. The artwork also has been more on the mediocre side. Issue Three fixes some of the problems . It opens up with promise: Godzilla shooting a beam at King Ghidorah. What follows is a popcorn fun issue. Sadly, it doesn’t go beyond that and is pretty average in terms of compelling story.

 

A challenge of mini-series is having engaging characters. There’s so little space to introduce backstories, who they are, etc. It’s not impossible however, as seen in previous Godzilla minis. Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov doesn’t give us any reason to care about the characters here. None of them are particularly likable, and there’s very little development between issues. In fact, there’s anti-development in the case of Yamada. Let’s put this in perspective: in this world monsters don’t exist. We have these crazy powerful creatures roaming around for the first time yet Yamada manages to say the line of, “I could use people like you in my company.” How can this be spoken when there are giant monsters destroying the city? The reactions here just aren’t good. Also, the ending features a plot hole because there’s no way they managed to do what they did in such a short amount of time.

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Of course, the primary draw of this issue isn’t the dialogue; it’s the monster fight. People may groan because we’ve seen Godzilla vs. Ghidorah multiple times already, but at least they can admit the fight here is fun. It has excellent usage of beam wars, buildings being used as weapons, and pure fighting. (There’s a really cool panel with Ghidorah literally kicking Godzilla to the ground.) I’m not sure I would call this their best comic book fight, but it was certainly excellent. Brian Churilla’s artwork also improves. It provides a unique  look for the monsters throughout. Godzilla in particular has quite a few standout scenes. The shadowed silhouette near the end also looked really cool. Sadly, once again the humans lacked sufficient detail. There are three covers to pick from this week. The main one by Churilla is certainly unique. Its bright colors are appealing, and the layout is something we haven’t seen before. Cover B by James Stokoe as expected provides awesome detail. Godzilla’s face looks a little off, but nonetheless it’s a great piece. The best one however has to be the RI by Tadd Galusha. We’ve seen covers of the two monsters before, but this might be their best representation yet. One can see the fury in their faces.

Overall, Godzilla Oblivion #3 is a fun issue. It can’t be called great however, which is due to the mediocre characters. The fight is satisfying however, which is enough for a lot of fans. Those hoping to see the story become compelling though are in for a disappointment.

6.5/10

GODZILLA VS. HERO ZERO REVIEW

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I often pride myself as being a hardcore Godzilla fan. I’ve seen (and own) all the films, have a wide array of collectables, and know the history behind the franchise. My nickname would even be “Godzilla” sometimes. Somehow however there are things I’m still discovering. Recently after all these years I managed to acquire a copy of Godzilla vs. Barkley. I’ve known about this crazy crossover, but never actually read it until recently. It was definitely a strange way to advertise Nike sneakers, and one has to wonder how TOHO allowed a basketball player to openly mock the Big G.

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The comic we’ll be looking at today however is another one from Dark Horse, known as GODZILLA VS. HERO ZERO. Like Barkley, I’ve known about this comic for years but never bothered buying it. Out of the blue Midtown Comics acquired the issue so naturally I took this as a sign and attached it to this week’s comic order. Why don’t we take a look at the official description?

It’s a monster-size megabattle of butt-kicking, rampaging, thermonuclear proportions! The size-changing superhero Hero Zero heads down to San Diego in his alter ego as young David MacRae. He’s looking for monster deals at the biggest comic-book event of the year, the San Diego Comic Convention, but what he winds up with is a monster of a different color, that atomic fire-breathing lizard lovingly referred to as Godzilla! Hero Zero learns a hard lesson, San Diego takes a pounding, and Godzilla shows why he’s King of the Monsters.

There’s a few interesting observations on the onset. As you can tell, this a blatant tie-in to the San Diego Comic-Con. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that of course. The cover (which is a nice piece by veteran Arthur Adams) boasts that “It’s a must-have, double-bag item when the two biggest characters in comics crash the San Diego Comic-Con.” Hero Zero even at the time wasn’t close to being “a big character.” Nowadays, even the most hardcore of comic fans have to pause to think about who this guy is. He apparently only had two comics to himself. Over-hype aside, how about the core story? The thing is that Hero Zero is one of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever read. The story has him early on literally say “Nyaaa” to a couple of onlookers. I wish I was joking.

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One can see why Hero Zero never hit it off with the masses. Why would I want to read a story centered around on that? At least the design isn’t bad. The Comic-Con setting is pretty cool, and I couldn’t help but get a chuckle when David’s dad looked at the “Meet Adam West the TV Batman” sign with interest. Naturally the comic amps up from its mediocrity when Godzilla shows up. I’m pretty sure this is in Dark Horse’s Godzilla continuity since the sailors recognized him. Though there’s one completely random guy at the Con that after hearing the announcement G was coming says, “Godzilla? Ohh…scaaar-eee!” Honestly, that’s probably the worst written dialogue I’ve ever read in a comic.

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The actual battle between the two characters is pretty good, which is thanks to the solid art by Tatsuya Ishida. The comic with Hero Zero’s immature jokes and Comic-Con setting gives the story a rather light feel, which is why the death of David’s friend near the end felt so out of place. It was there to make Zero stop feeling overconfident but it still felt out of sync with the rather chipper story. It’s also apparently used to make David decide not to be Hero Zero anymore by the end. (Which is Dark Horse’s not so subtle way of cancelling such a failure of a character.
Overall, Godzilla vs. Hero Zero has never been known as anything special, and it certainly isn’t. It in theory might be the closest thing resembling Godzilla vs. Ultraman, but Zero is so unlikable one has to wonder if writer Michael Eury regretted writing the character. How TOHO  allowed such a crossover is tough to say, since the company seems against the type for the most part. At the very least it’s definitely a novelty.

 4/10