Saturday, August 4, 2012

Godzilla Legends (Review)

This 5-issue mini-series explored some of Toho's other monsters that regularly make appearances in Godzilla movies and comics.  Each issue/chapter of this Graphic Novel explores one of the monsters pictured on the cover.

Various writers & artists collaborated on this project; most notably Matt Frank, who drew the cover for the collection and all of issue 1.  Simon Gane; the current artist on the on-going Godzilla series from IDW, is among the artists as well.

The Godzilla/Toho universe is a rather simple one......Giant Monsters, Alien races, and Humans trying to determine the friendliness of the aliens and avoid/defeat the Monsters.  Godzilla is the Alpha-Monster, who regularly saves mankind while also crushing them underfoot.

I am rather new to Godzilla; having watched several of the movies as a child.....and am currently catching up on several Godzilla films made after 1998.  IDW has done an outstanding job staying "true" to the franchise's history and direction (unlike previous incarnations of Godzilla at Marvel & Dark Horse).....much like they've done with G.I. Joe, Transformers, Doctor Who, Star Trek, & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

On to the Review.....

#1 cover, by Art Adams
It begins with "The Underdog".   Destoroyah appears for no apparent reason and begins leveling the metropolitan area.  Dr. Anders has a frequency device that is still in the development phase, but has "called" Godzilla once.  Desperate to rid their city of Destoroyah, Colonel Matsumiyah orders Dr. Anders to use the still-unfinished device.  Dr. Anders activates the frequency device, but it apparently doesn't work.  Destoroyah destroys their building with them in it.......Tagger & Anders escape, but Matsumiyah doesn't.

But Wait!  The device did work!  Just not quite how they expected, it hasn't called Godzilla, but rather Anguirus!!  Though he is far from humanity's best hope.  Anguirus has lost every single recorded battle with another monster.  Charging blindly into the fight with Destoroyah, Anguirus looks destined to lose yet again against his far more powerful opponent.

Tagger has a soft spot in her heart for the courageous Anguirus, though Dr. Anders believes he may lose his life against Destoroyah......who will be victorious? And what happens when Godzilla appears?

#2 cover by Art Adams
Next, is "Lifespan", a tale involving everyone's favorite flying monster....Rodan!!

When Marine Matty Graves returns from leave with a giant egg, all hell breaks loose in Okinawa!  It's Rodan's egg!  While Rodan wreaks havoc on the base, Dr. Holder hides the egg.  Obsessed with unlocking it's secrets, Dr. Holder ignores his other duties and gives the egg his undivided attention.

Dr. Holder's son; Ethan, is having problems at school.  Getting bullied and beat up because he's not Japanese and his father is not in the Marines....but he has developed a talent of sorts, he's become a good thief.  Ethan tries talking with his father about his troubles, but Dr. Holder only cares about the egg.

When the military order him to give up the egg, Dr. Holder goes insane with his obsession....and Ethan sees an opportunity and offers to help his father steal the egg from the base! The next day; while Dr. Holder is being arrested for stealing the egg, Ethan takes the egg to school....coaxing out Rodan to "punish" the bullies at school.  Rodan appears, and you won't believe what happens next......!

#3 cover by Art Adams
In "Secrets" we learn that Tristan has an unusual gift....the ability to read minds and influence others.  Miki Saegusa has this gift as well, and has been sent by the United Nations to recruit Tristan & others for a special development school aimed at stopping the Kaiju Monsters using their telepathy.

The school is run  by Headmaster Mugal, who oddly has the power of blocking the telepaths from reading his mind. Tristan decides to attend the school, and quickly shows himself as the most powerful of the students....exciting Mugal, but worrying Miki who thinks the training is proceeding too quickly.

Using fear and pain as catalysts, Mugal causes Tristan to have a "break" and connects with a monster, Titanosaurus!  As Titanosaurus rages across the city, Tristan tries to find his parents....who have been abducted!  There is far more powerful forces at work here; however, than meets the eye!  Where is Tristan's parents, Tristan, & Titanosaurus?  What is the connection with Mugal? And what is he planning?....

#4 cover by Art Adams
"Smog of War" stars one of the weirdest monsters of the Toho universe, Hedorah!  Linfen, China has been destroyed and rendered uninhabitable by huge amounts of toxicity.  A Mechagodzilla training team has been sent to investigate....assuming that the destruction was caused by Godzilla himself.

The team is quite surprised to face this very different creature, who can change shapes and is toxic to the touch.  While Mechagodzilla chases after Hedorah to keep it from destroying any other metropolitan area, Godzilla enters the fray!!

Tasked with destroying Godzilla, the team of Mechagodzilla doesn't know who to fight....Hedorah or the Kaiju Alpha Monster himself?

Mechagodzilla targets Godzilla, who ignores it to fight Hedorah....who seemingly cannot be hurt by conventional means.  Hedorah decides to attack both Godzilla and Mechagodzilla, and appears to have the upper hand!  Who will win? The giant Machine, Chemicals, or the Lizard?

#5 cover by Art Adams
In "From a Great Height", adventurer Bryson Allworth describes his journey from Godzilla's tail to his effort to collect scientific data for research, and to conquer the challenge of climbing the great Monster.

Allworth discovers along the journey that Godzilla is much more than meets the eye....he just wants to live his life and be at peace, but we keep getting in the way.  So do other monsters!  This time it's Kumonga that disturbs Godzilla's "chi".  Kumonga dug a mile-wide quicksand pit to trap his prey, and goes to work spinning his web to wrap up lunch.....but the King of Monsters will have none of that!  A battle between giant monsters ensues, and to quote a famous acting quote, Godzilla will "break a leg"!

Is Godzilla Kumonga's lunch? or, did Kumonga bite off more than it can liquify? Is Mr. Allworth's theory that mankind causes the destruction brought about by Godzilla and other monsters true, or pure fiction?

If you are a fan of the Kaiju, then Godzilla Legends is a very enjoyable read.  Filled with giant monsters, weird sci-fi, and strange aliens.....decent writing & good art showcase the unique perspectives revolving around some of Toho's other Monsters.  Citizen's Grade: Impressive.

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