It's 3:30 AM on a Saturday morning, Mountain Standard Time in Montana, ca. 1997. A greasy-haired, fair complexioned man-child lay on a copper tinged couch fighting an intense urge to fall asleep while staring at a 14-year-old television set which pulses with a mindless flash of imagery. The volume on the television is at a minimal setting, but his ears have become attuned. And between the inane conversations in badly dubbed English there emerges a sound which none can mistake.
It is the trumpeting, bone-vibrating, skull-wrenching cry of the lizard titan called Godzilla. And although I had seen them all, from Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) to Godzilla 1985 (1984), I cannot recall a particular story line. I remember two things; that screech, and the sheer size of the beast. I loved how he withstood every assault and, in spite of his size he could sneak up on nearly anyone. I loved his powerful fire/electric/lightning breath. I enjoyed that he could walk right through a building as if it were a fog.
I liked the other creatures, his enemies, but none stood as tall. And I loved that within his immense claws he held the power to end it all.
So it is that we wake up in a world destroyed by the monsters. Post-apocalyptic, as it were. A scene of destruction and devastation so complete that the world is unrecognizable. It is dry, dusty, and crushed. The sky is yellow, the people are ragged and unkempt, and our planet earth is a frightening, alien place. But it has been so long this way that the younger generations haven't seen the monsters. They have only heard of them.
And they are beginning to lose their fear. But it only takes one foray into the unknown for the worst to happen. And yet something sits beneath the usual rampage and fury. Something an old man keeps secret even though it has torn him to pieces for decades. And that is when the story gets interesting, and involved.
The book gives a gracious nod to the sci-fi notion of the old movies with a semi-plausible technology that is theoretically the catalyst for all this destruction.
Written tightly by Cullen Bunn this foray into the Godzilla universe is frightening, beautiful, and refreshing. We care for the characters. We are frightened right along with them. And we witness a veritable clash of the titans.
Now for the art. It is easy to tell that Dave Wachter was in love with his subject material. I've read a dozen Godzilla titles, and this one stands apart. Not only are the monsters fascinating, their immense size and weight translated well into the page, but they are elegant and beautiful. You can tell that he took time to study the Japanese face, and he chose his favorite features to put on his characters, particularly at the end when we witness an important death.
My only complaint is that the story ends abruptly. We are literally in the middle of a second Armageddon when it suddenly, and unexpectedly ends. This is not a common occurrence for IDW. I can understand budget and constraint. But I like a solid literary climax and some winding down before all is well again in the world. It is a weak and disappointing ending that leaves you hanging. Hint* hint* IDW!
Overall an excellent and enjoyable read, but I'm removing a full star for the conclusion. Eye sugar. Godzilla madness!