Azn Badger's Blog

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Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters Review

I never thought I’d say this about a Godzilla comic, but goddamn this comic was preachy.

Godzilla, and indeed many giant monsters over the years, have often carried with them an air of social/political commentary, be it cautioning the world against the use of nuclear arms, or the dangers of bureaucratic obfuscation I.E. The Host.

While these messages aren’t always at the forefront of things, the symbolism that crops up from committing a giant radioactive dinosaur from the South Pacific to film or print is undeniable.

While Godzilla is one of the more malleable pop-culture characters in all of history, serving as a symbol of everything from nuclear deterrence to a hero to all children; I never thought I’d see him used the way he was in IDW’s Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters.

I’ve been watching Godzilla films since the cradle, and naturally I grew up reading Dark Horse’s Godzilla comics during the early 90’s.

While no other Toho monsters or characters were featured in the Dark Horse comics, with the exception of a few less than stellar issues here and there, I found that these comics paid homage to the spirit of Godzilla about as well as anyone could ever hope.

Pictured: Godzilla preparing to surface amid the Spanish Armada. God I loved these comics...

Perhaps more so than anything else, I found myself blown away by the writers and artists of Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters’ complete lack of respect and understanding for the character.

Over the course of 4 issues, I found myself utterly flabbergasted at the writer’s inability to satisfy even the least of my expectations for a Godzilla comic book.

Despite the book’s claim to being the first American comic to license the rights to use monsters from Toho’s stable other than Godzilla, a claim I don’t dispute; the fact of the matter is, within this first collected edition the writer’s did little to flex their muscles in this regard.

That is to say, despite featuring 4 monsters within as many issues, with the exception of a few pages at the very end, there was no interaction between any of them.

You see this cover? IT'S FULL OF LIES.

I’m sorry, but as much fun as it can be to watch Godzilla step on buildings, or watch Anguirus bounce around in the desert; at the end of the day we all pay to see the monsters fight and/or team-up.

The fact of the matter is, right from the start Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters paints itself as a tongue-in-cheek comedy.

I don’t know if it’s a cultural difference in the form of the Western mind being unable to treat a larger than life character like Godzilla with any sort of seriousness, but personally I found this interpretation and use of the character to be horrible misguided.

The way Godzilla and the other monsters are used in this story, as mobile natural disasters and calamities that are talked about (endlessly) and cut away to rather than given any sort of spotlight; it’s as if you could have made the exact same comic without paying out the nose for the licensing fees.

Or without featuring any monsters whatsoever for that matter.

Sadly, the entire book seems to be more interested in playing itself off as a pop-culture satire rather than an homage or addition to the legacy of Godzilla.

Allusions are made to the Godzilla mythos, in the form of a pair of psychic French twins that are clearly supposed to be an “evil” version of the Shobi-jin, who are featured in exactly one panel, as well as the use of Anguirus’ “soccer ball” maneuver from Final Wars as an odd form of locomotion; but at the end of the day pop-culture asides make up the majority of the page count.

While the names are changed, Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, various news anchors, and the cast of The Jersey Shore are all satirized, and quite exhaustively at that.

Pictured: The Jersey Shore in comic form... I've never watched the show, but sadly, now I can say I've read a comic featuring them.

Why anyone would think a comic based on a pop-culture property would feel it wise to make said comic a send-up of other pop-culture properties is entirely beyond me.

Sadly, these caricatures serve as perhaps the closest thing the entire book has to actual characters, as outside of numerous joke characters, I couldn’t name a single character with any sort of depth or longevity; including the monsters.

If that weren’t bad enough, the story, or what little there is outside of talking heads mulling on and on about the monsters instead of us actually seeing them in action, is horrible disjointed and tonally unbalanced.

While most of the story is devoted to watching Obama be profane AKA “funny,” or watching short-lived joke characters/stereotypes get picked off by the monsters, there are in fact a few serious moments here and there that fail to illicit any sort of emotional response due to the goofy events that sandwich them.

For instance, there’s one scene where a Japanese fisherman becomes a suicide bomber in an attempt to kill Godzilla that could’ve meant something to me, had his character been featured in more than 5 panels, and had the story not been mired in referential pop-culture humor.

... And this added to the story, how?

Perhaps the weirdest instance of unwarranted seriousness though, is the addition of perhaps the only character in the entire 4 issues, a decorated U.S. soldier.

This character is supposed to be solemn and worldly, but really, I’d imagine he sounds like me or any other whiny, 20-something year old boy that tries to speak out about the “serious issues” in life.

Trust me, there’s a reason I don’t write about politics/world events on this blog…

That is to say, his character is used, for whatever reason, to condemn and damn the vapid consumerist youth culture propagated by spokespeople like the Jersey Shore folks.

While I see the validity of his and what I’d assume is the writer’s viewpoint, the fact of the matter is, I have no fucking clue what place this sort of preachy-ass bullshit has in a Godzilla comic.

Wrong fuckin’ time, absolutely wrong fuckin’ place my friend.

While I’m sure the team behind Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters was indeed hoping to build some sort of legitimate story with the license, in my eyes they absolutely failed in that task within what should’ve been a more than reasonable 4 issues.

Whatever success they go on to have with subsequent stories won’t change the fact that they seriously dropped the ball with their first book.

Despite all the flaws in the plot and characterization, I feel I should make mention of the less than stellar art.

While the covers are absolutely fantastic, (included in fold-out form in the collected edition) the interior art by Phil Hester is of a monochromatic and almost mosaic-like style that isn’t my favorite.

I suppose it doesn't help when rendering of Anguirus squishing hillbillies counts as the "best" scene in the issue.

The inking lacks character, and while many of the monsters are rendered well, much better than the humans anyway; there’s very little life to be found in their posturing and framing… Especially when the script doesn’t allow them to do anything outside of molest buildings.

Excuse me, “destroy” buildings.

In all, the intensely black shadows and monochromatic style of the art seems better suited for a noir story than a tongue-in-cheek monster story.

It’s sad really, as if you’ll recall, I was actually quite excited for Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters.

Oh well, at least now I know that if I ever want to read a Godzilla comic, my best bet is to save my money and dig up my old Dark Horse issues.

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Godzilla Comic!

Godzilla is one of my biggest heroes.

Anyone that has read even a single article on this blog is probably aware of that by now.

I’ve been watching Godzilla movies since the cradle, and despite the character’s less than stellar film catalog over the past decade; I’ve remained an ardent fan ever since.

One particular aspect of Godzilla mythology that was particularly special to me in my youth however, was the Dark Horse comic series of the early 90’s.

While there was in fact a Marvel Godzilla comic sometime before the one in the 90’s, even as a little kid I found the art, storylines and characters to be somewhat disagreeable.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't like Avengers in my Godzilla...

That’s saying a lot coming from a hardcore Godzilla fan.

Anyway, the 90’s Dark Horse comics were, in my humble opinion; actually quite good.

I still have every issue I collected from way back in the day, and I find that every time I crack one open for a little taste of nostalgia; I end up having a good time.

While the art and writing staff would change pretty much from issue to issue, I found that Brandon McKinney’s pencils stood as some of my favorite in the series; not to mention Arthur Adams’ always stellar cover work.

My first, and favorite issue, featuring the work of both the aforementioned artists.

The overarching plot of the series concerned the exploits of “G-Force,” a team of Godzilla-focused Japanese scientists who curiously seem to spend almost no time on Japanese soil.

Over the course of their adventures, they end up doing battle with Godzilla, attempt to protect Godzilla, fight several varieties of alien species, and even travel back and forth through time to thwart the nefarious machinations of an evil scientist.

Needless to say, the storyline wasn’t exactly the main draw of the comic.

The real selling point of the comic, was the same as is typically the case in most Godzilla movies, that of getting a chance to see Godzilla stomp through cities and beat the shit out of other monsters.

... Or in the case of Godzilla vs. Barkley, shut up and jam.

The biggest success of the comic, in my opinion; was that it managed the rather impressive feat of crafting it’s own unique characters and universe, all while maintaining the feel of the Godzilla movies, both new and old.

While there were a few issues that I purposely ended up skipping do to poor artwork or writing, the Dark Horse Godzilla comic of the 90’s is one that I regret not fully collecting, as well as one that I wish had lasted a little longer than it’s 17 issue run.

Fortunately, I happened across a news article on Sci-Fi Japan today announcing the impending release of a brand new American Godzilla comic published by IDW.

While no real details are available as to the nature of the comic at this point, one thing that’s certain, is that Toho is involved in it’s production on an advisory level; and the creators of the comic have been given free reign over their use of the extensive roster of Toho’s monsters.

While it might not seem like a big deal to some, both of these points do quite a bit to bolster my optimism regarding the release of this comic.

The sum of these points is that Toho trusts IDW enough to allow them use their characters; but more importantly, it means that I’ll finally get a chance to read a Godzilla comic where he fights a monster I actually give 2 shits about!

Pictured: A monster I give 2 shits about.

Anyway, the new comic comes out in March, and rest assured; if it comes out in trade paperback and is at least somewhat good, I’ll pick it up without hesitation.

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Tokusatsu, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday’s Movie Quiz

Well, here are the answers to yesterday’s (retarded) movie quiz:

#1.  “The one where the bunny throws up and the hippo shoots everyone.”

Answer: Meet the Feebles.


I remember it was sometime when I was around 10 or 11 that I walked in on the ending sequence of Meet the Feebles.

You see, my brother and his friends had been going through their Quentin Tarantino/cult cinema phase of life for the past few years, so it was only natural that I’d walk in on them watching something fucked up at some point in time.

Anyway, the phrase I used to sum up the movie really is just about all I know of it, and will probably never forget for years to come.

#2.  “The one where the alien jumps out of the guy’s chest.”

Answer: Alien (duh).


Come on now, we all know this one, right?

To be honest, I actually saw Aliens before the original Alien, and to this day I still like it better.

The iconic scene in Alien, where John Hurt has a xenomorph bust through his ribcage, is something that is bigger, and better known than the movie as a whole.

Thanks to things like Animaniacs, and Spaceballs, which parodied this sequence, I knew of this key scene long before I ever saw the movie.

Man, what it would’ve been like to have seen Alien without knowing what was coming…

#3.  “The one where the alien’s chest opens up and he pulls out a ray gun and kills everyone.”

Answer: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

To be fair, this one is pretty much impossible to get unless you read my post about E.T. awhile back.

In case you missed it, check it out HERE.

Anyway, this was how I knew E.T. until I was in my teens, ’cause up until then I never made it past the opening sequence to disprove my brother’s bullshit (yet oddly superior) description of the opening sequence.

#4.  “The one where Godzilla bleeds (for the first time).”

Answer: Godzilla vs. Gigan.

Well now, this is one that is common knowledge to me, but might be a little bit obscure to others.

The early 70’s was a bloody time for Godzilla movies, as it seemed like the Big G was squirting body fluids like a pedo in a pre-school playground.

*Ahem!* Anyway, in case you didn’t know, (YOU SHOULD) Godzilla got his head cracked open as a result of multiple blows to the head from one of Gigan’s bladed hook arms.

"AND IT'S ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL OVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!"

It was a traumatic experience for me a child, almost as bad as when Angilas got his jaw torn open by Mechagodzilla in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.

Let’s hope those American film producers don’t fuck Godzilla up again in 2011, like they did back in 1998

#5.  “The one where the guy gets his head stepped on.”

Answer: Bloodsport.

Gotcha!

Let me guess, you probably thought this one was American History X, am I right?

Well, fuck you, YOU’RE WRONG.

Bloodsport and Kickboxer were the elusive holy grail of R-rated movies for me when I was a little kid.

My brother and his friends talked them up all the time like they were the coolest, and most violent movies ever made.

Well, having seen both Van Damme movies about a billion times, I can honestly say that, while hardly violent by modern standards, both are in fact just as awesome as my brother thought they were way back when.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Anyway, there is a scene in Bloodsport, where the big dude that played Ogre in Revenge of the Nerds get’s his head stomped on by the villain, Chong Li.

Chong Li, post head stomp.

I remember overhearing my brother talk about this scene once or twice, and for some reason, that’s what I chose to know Bloodsport by for the first 11 or 12 years of my life.

Then I actually saw the movie, and now I simply know it as “The Greatest Thing in All of Existence.”

#6.  “The one where Batman says, “Eat floor.””

Answer: Batman Returns.

Aw, come on!

Seriously, am I only motherfucker on the planet that remembers this!?

Just like every Batman movie, Batman Returns was hyped to shit, even going so far as to spawn the creation of the oh-so-wonderful Batman: The Animated Series.

Oh yeah, and Happy Meal toys, lots and lots of Happy Meal toys…

I had the 2 on the left...

Anyway, don’t ask me how, but I remember someone telling me that Batman was fighting Catwoman in the movie at one point, and he told her to “Eat floor.”

To this day, I still think that’s fucking awesome.

Only Keaton Batman could get away with saying something so juvenile and bland, and yet still be Batman in my eyes.

Definitely check this one out, ’cause he really says it, and it’s a fucking awesome movie regardless.

#7. “The one with the black rock.”

Answer: 2oo1: A Space Odyssey.

Yeah, I know, this one is just a little bit too vague to be considered a fair quiz question.

You remember the big black monolith that was one of the key elements of 2001?

Well, that’s the “black rock” that I was referring to.

All I knew of 2001 as a kid, was that there was a big, black rectangular “rock” somewhere in there, and that the movie was really fucking long.

To this day, I really don’t care much for 2001.

I guess you have to one of the cool kids to appreciate Kubrick.

#8. “The one with the train that goes too fast.”

Answer: Speed.

Obviously, I labeled this one as a “trick” question because I knew no one would get it.

When I saw the commercials for Speed in the theater and on TV, for whatever fucking reason, all of the snippets taken from the train sequence at the end stuck out to me.

Take a look at this commericial:

The train sequence is like the last 15 minutes of the movie, but it’s featured in quite a bit of the trailer.

Regardless, I know that I was a retarded kid with a limited attention span, so I better not get any nasty comments over this…

Even though I remember Dennis Hopper talking about a bomb on a bus or some shit, my young mind latched onto those images of the train, and filed them away as the key components of the film in Azn Badger land.

I remember the day I actually got to sit down and watch the VHS of Speed, my dad asked me if I wanted to see it, and I said to him:

“Oh, the one on the train right?”

I remember him giving me one of those, “maybe I shouldn’t have fed him paint chips as a baby” looks, and then promptly corrected me.

Pretty much...

Sadly, the amazingly awesome version of Speed that I crafted in my imagination, the one that took place on a train, was smashed that evening, only to be replaced by the amazingly awesome version that is the real Speed.

Anyway, hope you had fun with this, I sure as hell.

So many retarded childhood memories…

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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