Caliburn24 here to get stompin’ for a review on Godzilla: Half-Century War #3. The creator, James Stokoe, has worked on his own series, Orc Stain, for Image Comics. Stokoe brings a combination of manga-styled artwork in the figures and even sound effects. This is virtually ignored in the other stateside comic book adventures of Big G. He also has rubble-strewn battlefields with a menagerie of giant monsters, kaiju, that is a feast for eyes, the kind of artwork that you can stare at for minutes. Stokoe is able to weave his story around a single character that links the half century of battles and explains all of the Godzilla mythos. The best part is to have the ground level perspective of the monsters stomping a city. Before Pacific Rim hits, it’s great to look back at the King of the Monsters.
Issue #1 covers “Tokyo 1954” which is the time period of the first Godzilla film. It is a remisicing by the protagonist, Ota Murakami, and is a detailed cityscape that would make Geoff Darrow jealous with a path of destruction through it. Ota is seen as a young soldier commanding a tank for the Self Defense Force. There is the radioactive breath shredding through a building. Then, Godzilla’s foot comes stomping down on the street. This goes into a two page spread with Big G fully revealed and then three panels as the tanks come to a halt as Godzilla turns a corner. The design of Godzilla uses the recent Millennium design which is streamlined and detailed. They fire their cannons and this only annoys Godzilla who blasts apart the armored column. Ota and his crew have survived and they plan on what to do next. Godzilla is about to stomp on the street flooded with civilians as Ota’s tank blasts at him to take him down a side street.
The tank gets Godzilla angry enough to let out a blast, but Ota is able to get the tank to dodge the radioactive breath. Godzilla slams his tail bringing down a building with a strange squid logo. Ota’s crew have again survived and he begins to plow through buildings to breath fire on them again. Ota has the tank driven down a canal as Godzilla retreats in a full page spread. Ota is there as the naval ships launch a weapon, not identified, but it’s the Oxygen Destroyer that disintegrates Godzilla. Ota is called up by Colonel Schooler for a special assignment. He recruits him to the A.M.F. the Anti-Megalosaurus Force. This is the division of the SDF that was introduced in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. A full page shows Ota in the foreground of Godzilla and himself on the tank.
Issue #2 moves the arena to “Vietnam 1967” which is uncharted territory for a kaiju film. Ota explains that Godzilla has re-appeared in Japan, but the AMF has tracked him to Vietnam. There is a two page spread of a large panel with helicopters and a jet racing around Godzilla. Ota meets up with Schooler who explains the plan to lure Big G into a valley mined with explosives and hit by American bombers. Doctor Randall runs up to them to say that the maser batteries are ready. This is the awesome antenna-like laser weapons that was modified into the Self-Propelled Heavy Artillery walker seen in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Godzilla appears again blowing up the mined explosives and then hit by rockets launched from helicopters. Ota and his men fire the maser cannons at Godzilla’s eyes. Viet Cong begin running out of spider holes as the ground erupts with Anguirus revealed on a one and a quarter page spread.
The two kaiju begin attacking each other. Godzilla’s breath vs. Anguirus’ back spines. Godzilla gets in a final tail slap that brings Anguirus down. The bombers drop their pay load and this drives Godzilla back to the sea. Colonel Schooler announces he found what was driving Big G. A scientific device in a crashed plane. “Ghana 1975” is the setting for issue 3. There is a terrific map of the city while Ota sits in the ruins of a building. He explains that other kaiju have begun to appear; Rodan, Battra (a recent opponent in Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth), Megalon (the rhinoceros beetle headed cyborg), Kumonga, Mothra, Ebirah (the giant lobster was baked in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster), and Hedorah (the Smog Monster). This is a monster fest equal to Destroy All Monsters. Ota with his head bandaged thinks back at their battles over the destroyed city.
Ota brings readers up to speed on the past events and then explains that the scientific device that was found last issue is a Psionic Transmitter. It was created by the sinister Dr. Deverich. The Psionic Transmitter was supposed to drive off Big G, but Deverich turned it into a weapon that attracts the kaiju. Stokoe unfolds six of the monsters in single panels and the AMF crewmembers assigned to take each of the kaiju down. Battra is pursuing Rodan as the group makes their plans. They head out on a VW bus with Mothra’s head painted over a peace sign. Ebirah begins to attack them. The VW bus slips around Godzilla’s feet. An awesome two page vista which has the VW swerving from Godzilla’s feet, around Rodan crashing into a building, slipping past the many legs of Kumonga, who is closing in on Megalon. Godzilla’s breath slices through the two pages and strikes the right hand corner. Hedorah blocks the way and he takes the VW bus leaping up and through the toxic innards of Hedorah. The VW bus has crashed and the team scrambles out of it. They are ready to find the Psionic Transmitter when the woman soldier says that there must be a guard protecting it.
The soldiers check to see if they have any weapons, with a good line of dialogue, “I never saw the point of bringing a gun to a Godzilla fight.” Colonel Schooler takes out and loads his pistol. They enter the building and descend down the stairs. The group overhears two guards hoping to spend their money from Deveich. The colonel knocks out one of the guards with his pistol and Ota takes care of the remaining guard. They enter the room while Deverich is busy giving his presentation via a film camera. Colonel Schooler yells at Deverich and aims his gun, but the good scientist cranks up the dial on the transmitter. All of the monsters converge on the transmitter. Deverich escapes as the colonel orders everyone to evacuate. Colonel Schooler is trapped by fallen rubble and he gives charge of the AMF to Ota. Godzilla stomps on the installation and the debris crushes Colonel Schooler. The monsters begin to walk away as the others are slumped in the wasteland at sunset. Stokoe brings a sense of fun to the stompin’ and ties in many parts of the Godzilla series.