While the original Godzilla film is a somber allegory of the destructive power of nuclear weapons, it’s not surprising that the king of the Monsters became such a big hit with kids. The films basically have everything, monsters, punching, and guys in rubber suits; it’s a franchise that is pretty much tailor-made to capture children’s imagination. There have been stories that explore Godzilla’s parental side over the years. What remains through the series, though, is the overarching question of “what IS Godzilla?” It’s a character that has been a force of nature, protector of humankind, the scourge of humanity, and plenty of things in between. It’s really up to the interpretation of humans. While other movies with Kaiju have explored the so-called “Kaiju groupie,” scientists who study and defend the monsters, that’s something mission from at least the classic stories of the Alpha Kaiju. In “Godzilla: War For Humanity” #1, Godzilla has a human defender but lacks a compelling story.
Written by Andrew Maclean
Illustrated by Jake Smith
Colored by Jake Smith
Lettered by Rus Wooton
“Godzilla saved us that day.” When Dr. Yuko Honda was young, she was chased by Hedorah, the smog monster, and thought it was all over…until Godzilla saved her! Now a respected professor and writer, she’s dedicated her life to showing that while Godzilla may be a monster, that doesn’t mean it and the other kaiju are enemies. Unfortunately, when a strange new monster emerges, her belief in the good of Godzilla will be put to the test. If Godzilla doesn’t defend them, what can humanity do against the might of ZOOSPORA?! Find out in this titanic tale written by Andrew MacLean (Head Lopper) with art by Jake Smith (Blood Force Trauma)!
It seems like “Godzilla: War For Humanity” #1 has decided to follow a more or less classic Kaiju story. There is a new monster threatening the world, a team of humans tasked to take him down, and plenty of disagreements about the role of Godzilla in the situation. The main character, Dr. Yuko Honda, is a Kaiju scientist interested in defending Godzilla as a protector of humanity. Honda is likable enough as a protagonist, and her narration gives you a good set-up for the situation, but the rest of Kaiju Task Force Alpha drags down the issue. Each of these characters is relatively one note, which isn’t that out of the ordinary for the human characters of a Kaiju adventure, but we spend so much time with them that you want just a bit more fleshing out. The commander is a tough, no-nonsense commander, the other scientist is a wet noodle, and Phazon Fullchech is completely insufferable. While you can argue that this is what Andrew Maclean is going for, there is a stark difference between a well-written character that rubs you the wrong way and an annoying character. Fullchech falls firmly into the latter, a parody of a tech bro, complete with weird jargon and a little too earnestly wanting to be the story’s main event. Again, other characters like Fullchech add something to the story; here, it’s just an obnoxious obstacle.
Perhaps it’s that you just want more Godzilla is a comic about Godzilla. While there are moments of the King of the Monsters proving his moniker and taking other Kaiju to task, the character isn’t present in the issue. We learn that perhaps he’s not intervening because he’s too busy being a parent at the end of “Godzilla: War For Humanity” #1, but that just doesn’t feel like enough. You need to have more Kaiju fights in the comic with a team that isn’t bringing much to the table. The fights we do get are certainly the highlight of the book and also do the best job of highlighting David Mariotte’s art in the issue.
The art of “Godzilla: War For Humanity” #1 feels inspired by Ukiyo-e, the Japanese art of woodblock printing. David Mariotte captures the intricate textures of the form and composing panels that feel reminiscent of pieces like “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa.” This is especially true of his Kaiju’s designs. Both Hedora and Zoospora have a design that implies a kind of constant undulation or movement. The action, similarly, feels dynamic when Godzilla’s energy blasts through the pages and blasts a monster out of the frame. But while these moments work in the fight scenes, the art can sometimes come off as busy or flashy in the nonfight sequences. Scenes in the base of Kaiju Task Force Alpha sometimes look like an 80s toy gone wrong, with panels, maps, and radars seemingly without rhyme or reason. The scene at Honda’s lecture, similarly, feels cluttered or busy. Likewise, some visual gags don’t match the tone of the fight sequences, which can sometimes be pretty brutal. While the fights in this issue are a highlight, the nonkaiju scenes have a similar problem to the script.
There is some potential here. You have some classic elements of nature vs. machine, as Fullchech reveals yet another attempt at creating a mecha kaiju. There are also the elements of Godzilla’s role as both a parent and a force of nature. Honda’s motivation is unique, considering she has a connection to Godzilla from her past, and her familial relationships aren’t great. It’s frustrating because “Godzilla: War For Humanity” #1 has plenty of elements for making a good kaiju story, but there is something incredibly mediocre about the execution. There aren’t even attempts to build a mystery or raise the stakes meaningfully. Overall, this new foray into a Godzilla adventure leaves you wanting more but doesn’t give you a reason to return and get it.
Final Verdict: 5.0 Despite some well-executed fight sequences, “Godzilla” War For Humanity” #1 features lackluster characters and a bland story.