Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Terror of Godzilla (1988)

Author and Illustrator: Kazuhisa Iwata  |  Translators:
Mike Richardson / Randy Stradley  |  Page Count: Approx 30 per issue (176 total)

“...conventional weapons only seem to make him angrier!”

A six-issue miniseries set thirty years after the events of the first Godzilla film (1954). Japan has been free of kaijū trouble since then, but a natural volcanic eruption in the Pacific Ocean changes that. It's time to suit up, JSDF.

The first thing you ought to know is that the English language edition published by Darkhorse is the original manga translated but it's been coloured (the original was B+W). I'd have preferred it left as it was intended, but in all fairness it's not a bad job and the upside is we get it on better paper stock than Japan did. I'm going to take the optimistic stance and say that it could've been much worse, truly.

Artwork is Tezuka-inspired. Issue one is occasionally gruesome, but subsequent issues are less interesting. There’s not much emotion conveyed through facial expressions and it bothered me that the plucky hero, reporter Goro Maki, was drawn with his mouth open most of the time, surrounded by dramatic lines that did little to increase the actual drama of the scene. He gets himself stuck between two G's, the Government and Godzilla, but with help from a Professor of bio-physics named Hayashida he's determined to see the story to the end.

The story itself does everything you’d expect it to do and a few more things besides. The creature—referred to as male—puts the fear of G into the people of Japan. He and his man-boobs get at least a half dozen two-page spreads, often dialogue-free, that are impressive, effectively showing the scale of the problem.

America and Russia get involved in a secondary capacity, having commentary on atomics pinned to their inflated chests. During one such scene it succinctly puts into perspective the attitude that men of war have toward nuclear weapons and the bombing of cities into just three small panels. It shows how justification for such action is balanced against proximity to home soil (i.e. how far from home). A human error can be even more terrifying than Mother Nature's.

The quality takes a dive with the addition of a clichéd, hysterical female calmed by male rationality, in turn followed by male heroics and female sensitivity. Oh, dear. And finally, to punctuate the gender inequalities further, it ends with a daring act of male chivalry! You’ll see it coming from a mile away. The same story was handled much more competently in the film version, The Return of Godzilla (1984). The post-explosive ending is definitely memorable, though.

2½ instances of THOOM! out of 5

Note: You can find spoiler-free, mini-reviews of some of the many Godzilla films (and some other other kaijū eiga films) on our sister site, In a Nutshell.

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