Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors—Rise Up! | Review
Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors—Rise Up!
Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Dan Schoening
IDW Publications; $9.99
Godzilla returns to IDW comics in this new kid-friendly series. What makes it more kid-friendly than the publisher’s many past Godzilla comics? Well, for starters it stars a group of kids, one of whom serves as the narrator of the series. The entire adventure is related via a YouTube vlog series by Cedric Nishimura .
When the energy company Linival develops a new, pollution-free energy source derived from a newly discovered element, it seems almost too good to be true. And that’s because it is. The energy source comes with one big side-effect: Godzilla hates it.
No sooner is the new energy spigot turned on than the big guy shows up to destroy it and the infrastructure supporting it. This, we’ll learn, is because the energy source somehow hurts krill, the building block of the ocean food web, and the Godzilla of this series is something of a kaiju judge of humanity, set to wipe us out if we continue our world-destroying ways. This new anti-krill energy source may in fact be the last straw.
As to how Godzilla knows what’s what, that’s somewhat elided in the script, but we know he knows because of the Shobojin of Infant Island, the twin psychic fairies who work with Mothra and reach out to our human heroes Cedric and his classmates Anderson and Emily when seeking examples of human beings with the faith to save the world, changing humanity’s trajectory of environmental degradation. Their plan is to present these children as a counter-argument to Godzilla, so rather than using his awesome powers to plunge the world into a humanity-erasing ice age, he will spare modern civilization for at least one more generation.
That’s their plan. Linival has another one: Fight back against Godzilla. To do this, they splice Godzilla’s DNA with some plant DNA, throw in some of their new energy discovery, and come up with a version of Biollante, the villain in 1989’s Godzilla Vs. Biollante, who has also appeared in a handful of Godzilla video games and comics, including some of the earlier ones from IDW. Given Godzilla’s track record at fighting other giant monsters, you can probably guess which of these two plans ends up working best, although Burnham does try to wring some drama out of the set-up, having Biollante best Godzilla in their first encounter.
Schoening’s versions of the monsters are stripped-down and simplified, making them much less detailed and, it should be noted, much less scary than in their film appearances…this is particularly the case of Biollante, who is genuinely creepy in his original filmic appearance. The human characters are all slightly exaggerated and cartoony, giving the entire endeavor something of an animated series feel.
The themes explored are hardly new to the franchise—environmental and apocalyptic anxiety was built into the very first Godzilla film, and particular films concerned themselves over the idea of humanity’s poor treatment of the environment—although they are presented more bluntly and directly than they sometimes are in other outtings.
The message is bright, clear and noble, and one that readers anxious about climate change and the state of the world in general would hope young readers would take to heart (using a fictional source of energy seems a bit of a cop out, given how destructive plain old-fashioned fossil fuels are, but I suppose IDW couldn’t sic Godzilla on, say, BP or Shell).
I personally found the narration somewhat irritating, but I suppose I am well outside the target audience, and therefore may have less patience of YouTube as a narrative device than younger readers might have.
The book ends with a cliffhanger, in which the head of the energy company meets with an alien and talks of conquering the world, as well as a tag reading “The End…For Now!” , so a sequel series is presumably in the pipeline. One would expect to see more monsters from Toho’s large stable of kaiju, and, perhaps, some new protagonists.
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About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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