Really, has there ever been a more perfect title than that? As made clear by my completely democratic polls, there were only two titles that I even considered this week. One is about a destructive force of nature that decimates everything in its wake, uncaring about the lives it takes.
The other is about Godzilla.
“Godzilla: The Half Century War” is a rare treat in that it’s a mainstream release about a pop culture icon by renowned indie cartoonist James Stokoe. His art style is a refreshingly stylized break from the glossy, hyper-realistic superhero books that line the shelves. Stokoe’s overwrought style serves the subject well in that the scenes of widespread destruction capture a real visceral quality. Part of me wonders if he can keep this up over five issues. I get hand cramps just looking at some of these layouts. The amount of detail that goes into the splash pages are astounding. And the big guy himself has never looked this good. Nearly every page he’s in could stand on its own as a separate artwork.
The story itself is an interesting one, detailing the beginning of one man’s fifty-year obsession with Godzilla and the other kaiju. Fairly staid for an artist who peddles in insane plot points, like sacrificing a sibling to use as an ingredient in a cooking competition or using severed, sliced penises as currency; but then we’re talking about a thousand-foot energy-breathing dinosaur, craziness is baked right in to the concept. Honestly, the story is secondary; but it does a fine job of keeping up with the art and gives me plenty of excuses to come back for the next issue.
“Punk Rock Jesus,” on the other hand…siiiiigh. Based on the title alone I was excited. Then I read the summary: “Company creates clone of Jesus and creates a reality show around him.” So like the Truman Show, except with water into wine? Sign me up.
Unfortunately, Sean Murphy is taking the long way around in this story. With no punk-rock in sight, the mother of “Chris” (ha!) is finding out that the evil corporation (“J2” – ha, ha!) doesn’t actually care about her or her baby and just wants ratings. The gruff-bodyguard-with-a-heart-of-gold, Thomas, finds that his Irish Protestant upbringing gives him lots of leave to injure protesters, but little tolerance for involuntary incarceration and child abuse. Also, the kind-but-barren-scientist is suddenly pregnant. And the CEO of the company is a dick. And radical religious protesters are dicks. And banks are dicks too because they foreclosed on the grandparents of the baby clone Christ. The story is a mish-mash of stereotypical characters treading along very predictable paths. Hopefully somewhere down the line this comic morphs into something that delivers on the promise of its kick ass cover art; but for now, serialization isn’t doing it any favors.
So the choice is clear this week. It’s GO GO GODZILLA! all the way to Akihabara. We’ll be back to our normal routine next Tuesday with an actual poll (with more than two choices, promise). So if there’s something you want me to cover, make sure you vote for it!