Thursday, July 16, 2015
Godzilla In Hell #1
James Stokoe comes back to Godzilla for this issue and it's a fun little treat. Not quite as weighty and destructive as his Godzilla: The Half Century War, but more of a nicely violent little snack. I'm not sure who is going to be responsible for the other issues of this series, but I'm gonna be honest: I'm not really interested in the rest of this series. The story is minimal, a fight comic in its simplest, most brutal, most fun. Frankly, the list of people I'd want working on that comic is so small and I'm betting none of them will be working on any upcoming issues, so I'm content with this existing as a simple one-shot in my mind.
Stokoe's art is of course the star of the show as he takes advantage of taking Godzilla outside of a cowering city and having him fall endlessly through a stone abyss surrounded by giant carved lettering announcing his new domain (destroyed almost instantly by one of Godzilla's radioactive shrieks, of course). We also get some of Stokoe's weird, squishy, dripping design sense in Godzilla's encounter with a Hellish doppelgänger. It's wonderful and strange, but ultimately it left me wanting more as this level of Hell seemed to be a vast, mostly empty desert flatland. Part of the fun of Stokoe's art for me is seeing him draw those expansive and bizarre environments, and he doesn't really play that angle here. We get to see Dante's tornado of sinners and some bizarre monster stuff, but it's set amongst mostly formless blacks and browns and reds. This level of Hell is a barren wasteland and Stokoe conveys that well, but I think one of the reasons Godzilla elicits such fear and awe is through sheer size. Every single one of Godzilla's opponents and obstacles in this comic is as big or bigger and I think that diminishes the awe of Godzilla as the shock of seeing something bigger than our favorite monster starts to wear thin when we realize she's probably gonna come out of it ok.
I guess my problem with it was a reduced amount of collateral damage and the fact that there was no real emotional hook or at least a sense of danger. Half Century War got that right with its focus on the Godzilla hunting crew. There were actual stakes when we followed humans around as opposed to our invincible super monster. It's tough to actually care about Godzilla here because we know that she can't be stopped, and whatever's trying to stop her is from Hell anyway, so they're probably the bad guys in this situation anyway. Since she can't be stopped the thrust of the action is less "will Godzilla survive?" and more "how's Godzilla getting out of this one?" But that doesn't mean it's irredeemable. What it lacks in emotional hooks, Godzilla In Hell makes up for in inventive action and fight scenes. We know that she's getting out of this, but how?? is the question that moves us forward here. I'd have preferred more collateral damage and senseless destruction, but for a one-off issue like this one it's fine. Low investment, high thrills. We should never need to think about a Godzilla comic this much anyway.