Godzilla is one of those fantastic franchises that has followed a simplistic format. Big green scaly, beating the ever living hell out of everything that comes across its path. Also people running and screaming, and in the end, big G saves the day, sort of. But, ya know, with a ton of collateral damage before Godzilla drops the mic and stomps on out.
Fear not, the format remains intact, but in this piece by writer Cullen Bunn, the monsters take to the background. Bunn crafts a visage of Japan where Godzilla did not truly play his role, and all of civilization was shattered between the war of godlike Kaiju. Their savior does indeed arrive, but due to the folly of man and our endless hubris, mankind tries to force Godzilla's hand, and there begins the backdrop for the tale.
Set in the decimated rubble of Japan, our tale is told from the lens of a wizened old man who was there to watch Japan get ripped apart. The story takes on an oddly reverent tone, as Kaiju have long since faded into distant memory.
This is less a tale of smashing buildings in massive monstrous brawls and more a story of what mankind is capable of and how terribly the tables can turn when we overreach. Left with little, the characters spend more time in reflection as they deal with their self inflicted squalor, instead of bolting through the streets in screeching horror.
Now, don't fear, there are brawls, and though this volume feels like the lead up, with only a modest amount of action spread throughout the text, it is more than ample for the tone. With the lens largely taken off Godzilla, it becomes a somber piece of work peppered by adrenaline induced moments of panic, as Bunn really seems to have an eerily powerful grasp of pacing.
The artistic duties undertaken by Dave Wachter really step up and maintain the ferocity you would expect from a Godzilla tale, as the battles are dense with detail, only to be wrecked and powdered a panel later. The action seems are about as fluid as one can expect from giant lizards who shamble about like drunken ballerinas.
But Wachter takes to the color work quite brilliantly. The use overly washed out tones is applied from page to page and arc to arc to create an immersive tone. Somber blues, hopeful yellows, and fearful reds wash out entire pages as our characters trudge through their desolate world, and it is tragically beautiful.
In summation, I love Godzilla, and was hesitant to see a break from the big brawl format, but Bunn manages to somewhat sidestep the formula brilliantly. Battles are still in tow, but a denser narrative tone works oddly well here. Wachter pairs up amazingly well, as his color work and capacity to make the brawls beautiful and bloody really do round out this tale smoothly.
4 out of 5.