Godzilla: Half Century War #2

I feel a bit like I might be retreading territory only recently surveyed, treading with ponderous thunderclap steps that herald a typhoon wave of panicked shouts and visions of all artifice put to ruin. This is the price of my recent lackadaisical attitude though, so to bring you up to speed the doomsday clock is going on daylight savings time. Roast ’em if you got ’em. The war continues!

We pick up the action fully thirteen years after the events of the first issue. It’s 1967 and Godzilla has taken his show on the road. Next stop: war torn Vietnam. It’s an interesting backdrop for the book’s sophomore outing, and while they don’t do as much with it as I’d have maybe liked, it’s not an arbitrary choice. Godzilla walks through one of the most intense conflicts of the latter twentieth century like it’s barely a nuisance. This isn’t the bedraggled and ill-equipped Japanese army of a dozen years prior, this is half a million American troops and the full weight of our military industrial complex, not to mention thousands more of Vietnamese forces on both sides. Godzilla pays these no more mind than he does anything else in his path. Once again the creature is a force of nature, wholly implacable and driven by primordial motivations. One subject of discussion is exactly why Godzilla has strayed this far south of his normal stomping grounds. Lieutenant Ota Murakami, now a part of the multinational Anti-Megalosaurus Force ( there’s a fan patch I need), has apparently become an adept at predicting Godzilla’s moves, and this rampage is way out of character. Mapping the lizard’s route gives Murakami the indication that he is hunting something, or multiple somethings. At least one of these mysteries is solved with the sudden appearance of Godzilla’s longtime supporting act, Anguirus!

By everyone’s reaction, it can be inferred this is the first appearance of any other kaiju besides Godzilla. The two do what everyone would expect them to do and go double or nothing on the Tacitus tango, making a desert and calling it peace. Their battle sufficiently weakens Godzilla that Murakami thinks they might have a shot of killing him with an experimental weapon, but their shot is interrupted by a bombardment from a cavalier American general and Godzilla is permitted to escape once again. After the dust settles, Murakami’s superior reveals his own discovery of a machine that may have been influencing the two creatures movements. An intriguing plot turn that unfortunately we have to wait another month to explore.

As I mentioned, I feel that there could have been more done with a setting as interesting as this. The characters also haven’t really developed as much as I feel they should have. We pretty much have to take their word that thirteen years have passed, because just about everyone looks the same and their battles with Godzilla over the intervening years are referenced only in passing. Kentaro Yoshihara, our de facto sidekick from the previous issue, really doesn’t feel like he has much of anything to do. That all being said, there’s still enough lip service paid to both setting and characterization that you don’t really feel like either has been completely shorted. Moreover, James Stokoe’s art remains absolutely impeccable. Somehow simultaneously gritty and gorgeous, he captures not only the perfect feel for a Godzilla book but also for a Vietnam War piece. If you haven’t already checked out Stokoe’s fantastic Spider-‘Nam fan work that’s something you desperately need to remedy. My only gripe with this issue is that it didn’t give me more, but in this case that’s because what I got was pretty awesome and I hunger for it greater quantities. I get the feeling that this is a series meant to be savored slowly, and Stokoe is going to give us exactly as much as we need exactly when we’re ready for it. I can’t wait.

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