Poor Godzilla. Even with a hit movie and a great run of comics with IDW, all that death and destruction he causes has saddled him with a serious mortal debt of mortal sins. Now artist/writer James Stokoe is taking Big G on a punitive trip through hell so he can pay up. Is it good?
Godzilla in Hell #1 (IDW Publishing)
A small opening shot widens to show us a view of Godzilla falling into the underworld. After picking himself up off brimstone, he immediately reacts with some understandable anger over his forced relocation (along with the firepower to back it up.) Unfortunately for the King of Kaiju, things don’t just get hot or hostile…they get downright weird.
Is It Good?
The only knock against this book is that the lack of dialogue makes it a little too of quick read. But don’t let that make you think Stokoe is skimping on character or story here. In addition to his gruesomely lush and beautiful artwork, his story of Godzilla’s first steps through the underworld is the beginning of a potentially brilliant tale.
For starters, Stokoe actually has Godzilla emote. Not enough to be ridiculous, but not too little he just seem like a big dumb lizard. Also, those emotions/reactions don’t solely consist of “HOLY CRAP WHAT THE hell IS HAPPENING?!”
…and then Godzilla found himself in line at the DMV.
Don’t get me wrong, though—there’s still plenty of that, both for the main character and the reader. Instead of the usual hell-stock of muscly demons and horned beasts, Stokoe goes on a total Lovecraftian bender to show us hell’s welcoming committee. I’m sure we’ll get some classic monsters eventually, but the ones he creates are all types of twisted. He also uses those monsters/forces to subtly highlight the way hell itself is actively torturing/punishing Godzilla. See that cool cover shot above that looks like a swarm of locust flying around him? Yeah…wait until you see what it really is.
I wasn’t expecting much of an ending for this issue since it’s the first one in the series, but Stokoe delivers here too, going from Lovecraft to Kafka to inflict a completely different type of pain upon our scaly protagonist as chilling as it is tragic.
Of course I expected this book to look good. I also expected it to be fun. But I did not expect it to be this dang good. Stokoe could have just gone totally crazy with Godzilla fighting hell beasts—with little to no narrative push behind it—and the book probably would have been fine. Instead, he’s put together an opening chapter in which the writing is completely up to par with his formidable artistic skills.
If you’re any sort of Godzilla fan, you absolutely need to make sure this book is on your pull list. Otherwise, you can go straight to…well, you know….