Review: Godzilla – Half Century War / Author: James Stokoe / Artist: James Stokoe / Publisher: IDW Publishing / Release Date: June 4th
It may be that we're easily pleased, but Godzilla: Half Century War has all the things we need for lazy summer reading: big monsters smashing up stuff. The tale starts in 1954, and follows Lieutenant Ota Murakam’s fifty-year battle with the enormous lizard. This narrative device is used to describe the world which Godzilla inhabits – a place where disaster is common, and they are far worse things on the Earth than a huge dragon-like beast.
Writer and artist James Stokoe gets the sheer joy of Godzilla. Not only does he have a clear understanding of the monster’s mythology, he also gets why a radiation-breathing lizard is so much fun, and this comes out in the writing and the art. The graphics are reminiscent of Japanese comic book style, and is a stark departure from his previous work such as Orc Stain and Wonton Soup. It is visually stunning and incredibly faithful to the source; the creatures and characters look like they’ve come straight out of the classic movies, right down to the texture of their scales. Stokoe’s work is gloriously wild, anarchic and above all, fun.
Though the work updates the setting, it doesn’t try and reimagine the premise or make it significantly more gritty. Instead, it embraces the core elements that make the franchise so good – big things going crash as a collection of huge beasties stomp about with human beings either running away or trying to get the creatures to stop breaking everything.
Godzilla: Half Century War isn’t going to win any awards for being worthy or clever. It’s not going to get long write-ups in the art press, nor is it going to change the world of comics. None of that matters however; the power of this work is the massive ear-to-ear grin it will evoke in the reader. If you like your manga-style comic books to be hugely enjoyable, check this out.