Monday, May 12, 2008

Comic Review - Kazuhisa Iwata's Godzilla

Something I'd been meaning to do for a long time now was get back into reviewing comics and films, and I thought with blogging becoming more and more appealing, I'd just do it here every now and then. First cab off the rank is something that's been sitting in my collection since I first started really getting into comics. As a kid, I loved two things a great deal: Monsters and Dinosaurs. That said, it was inevitable that I become a fan of the King of them all. Godzilla 1984 was the first movie I vividly remember watching as a kid, and I was ecstatic to discover that the first Godzilla comics I ever got my hands on were the Dark Horse translations of Kazuhisa Iwata's manga, which were adaptations of the aforementioned favorite film. Back then of course, I didn't know what manga was (although I was well and truly absorbed into animes of the time - Voltron being a solid favorite!).

Anyway, I'd found these comics in a now long-gone comic shop here in Box Hill (my hometown), which were eventually collected into the TPB pictured to the left. The original comics themselves are in such ratty shape that they're hardly readable now, but luckily I still had the trade sitting on my shelves, waiting to be read after so, so long...

For most Western audiences, Godzilla 1985 (as it was more commonly known in the West) and Iwata's comic book adaptation are two wildly different beasts. This is because Iwata's book is actually a very faithful adaptation of the original Japanese version of the film - a gem which only the most fervent Godzilla fans are likely to have seen, but one which I encourage anyone to see. The story of "The Return of Godzilla" and, by default, Iwata's "Godzilla", acts as a direct sequel to the original 1954 classic film, picking up thirty years later and ignoring everything in the Showa series of Godzilla movies (with the exception of the original).

The first thing that stands out about this story is that it plays Godzilla for real. There are no other monsters in this book for Godzilla to save us (although, in a sense, his purpose is similar) from. It takes a very serious look at something many consider ridiculous, in a similar way to the recent film "Cloverfield", and because everything is presented with such conviction, you forget that there's no way a creature like Godzilla could exist in reality, and you find yourself drawn in by this world, the drama therein and the giant monster rampaging across Japan.

What I enjoy most about this particular book and it's chosen stance on the creature, is that it presents Godzilla as something of a force of nature. Like a natural disaster, Godzilla is unstoppable, leaving death and destruction behind him. He's not a mustache twirler, he is a creature driven solely by instinct, it's simply our response to such a creature that paints him as the villain. By the time the story reaches its climax, you begin to feel a certain amount of empathy for Godzilla, providing an interesting shift in perspective on the events and characters involved therein.

Being a translated text, all the original Japanese artwork is intact and while it is fantastic for the most part, there are a number of odd moments that tend to be characteristic of manga material where characters are presented in dynamic poses for dramatic effect. Some of these moments are hilariously out of character for a number of the mains, and make dramatic moments suddenly comedic but aside from the odd moments of Speed Racer syndrome, the art is fantastic to look at and remains largely faithful to the source material.

My only other minor quibble with the book is the notable lack of the drunk character featured in the third act of the original film (I'm sure anyone who's seen the terrible American dub of the film will remember the character as well). Sure, he makes a seemingly token appearance in the pages of the adaptation, but it would've been nice if they'd kept him in totally!

It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, given that it's not exactly what is considered the traditional idea of a Godzilla story (Monster X shows up on Earth, Godzilla fights said monster and chaos ensues with Earth ultimately saved by the Big G), but for someone looking for a different take on the creature or giant monster genre, this is definitely worth the read.

1 comment:

~ tOkKa said...

-->> GA



..noice !!