Unboxing: Loot Wear - March 2017

By Dustin Cabeal

Oh, hey I'm kinda on time for Loot Wear this month! Listen, this is the one to get, but they changed everything. I'm not even sure what will be showing up next month, but if you're going to do a Loot subscription, pick one of the wear options, or both if you've got mad fucking money. I'm wearing one of the shirts right now, it's alright... not great, but it's alright. Also, the first pair of socks I cover didn't fit. They didn't stretch enough to make it past my normal size ankle which was weird, they might have been for women, but now I'll never know since the bag is in the trash, always read the trash!

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Review: Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 (2 of 2)

Editor's Note: Wires were crossed. We ended up with two reviews, so we posted them both. At once a menace and protector, Godzilla can fulfill a reader's power fantasy. As a destructive force of nature and a nationalistic point of pride, the mutant lizard has served writers as a powerful and poignant metaphor of Japan's collective anxiety. In Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 the creature is an unwanted ally against Mongol invaders. It's perhaps no coincidence that Godzilla's dorsal plates are rendered in the same way as the tumultuous waters where he rules. He, as a chaotic force, has no allegiance and is fickle in choosing his targets. Like the sea, Godzilla is unpredictable. And this issue does a good job driving that notion home.

GODZILLA_RAT_01_CovIt is sadly common for audiences to criticize Godzilla stories for focusing on human drama more than goofy monster fights. Here, the balance is just right, letting the two human leads have enough personality to believably guide their actions and simultaneously tying their plight to the theme of uniting in Japan's defense. The characters are very broadly written, not offering much in the way of depth. They serve the plot more than anything else. And once the monster battle begins, you've already forgotten the people.

Visually this book successfully evokes a vaguely ukiyo-e art style that, while anachronistic for the issue's too early time period, is recognizably Japanese. Some readers are going to be turned off by the heavily stylized renditions of four classic kaiju. The end result of this approach, however, is a book overflowing with intense line work. Curls of smoke are rendered as actual curls, clumped together in giant masses hovering over invading hordes. Godzilla's signature radiation breath blast has never looked more eerily beautiful.

Where will the atomic gorilla whale show up next? Will these stories be confined to Japan? When will he pilot a mech in space? No matter. I'm excited to follow the further adventures of this accidentally heroic monstrosity, wherever they lead him.

[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 Writer: Jeremy Robinson Artist: Matt Frank Colorist: Paul Hanley and Gonҫalo Lopes Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Format:  Mini-Series; Print/Digital


Review: Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 (1 of 2)

Editor's Note: Wires were crossed. We ended up with two reviews, so we posted them both. I don't entirely understand the point of Godzilla comics. In his original appearance in the 1954 Japanese film, he was a symbol of the raw horror of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Godzilla was an incomprehensible force of nature, destroying a city with the uncaring power of a hurricane. But in the last sixty years, the giant radioactive lizard became a franchise, and as is not unusual, people ran out of ideas of what to do with him. Some mileage was gotten out of using him as an intelligent and perhaps even sympathetic creature (see James Stokoe's excellent Half Century War series). And other takes have simply placed him in as many random circumstances as possible. We've had recently Godzilla going to Hell, Godzilla traveling dimensions, and Godzilla trying online dating (ok, I made that last one up, but it would probably make for an interesting book). While there's nothing inherently wrong with trying different concepts under the Godzilla brand, without a strong central hook, they can feel more than a little pointless. Enter Godzilla: Rage Across Time, one of the most disposable comics one will ever come across.

GODZILLA_RAT_01_CovThe concept for Rage Across Time is, as far as I can tell, to tell stories about Godzilla set in different time periods with a modern day framing device. Issue one, for example, follows an archeologist as he speculates about the role of Godzilla in defending Japan from invasion in the 1200s. Ignoring for the moment that if any of these stories are true, it will make for a very different history, there are a few specific qualities this book would need to work. Firstly, each story would have to be compelling and fully realized and, since there is a framing device, some sort of an overall arc would need to occur. Sadly, Godzilla: RAT does not manage to establish interesting characters or a compelling story in either time period. The modern set bits feel like an afterthought, added to tie the chapters together. Meanwhile, the period set pieces are muddled and dull, never establishing the setting or characters enough for the story to have stakes.

I like the concept of Godzilla having a mythos that stretches back through the centuries, and I think something interesting could be done with it, but the first issue is too anxious to mash its elements together, instead of letting anything happen subtly or organically. We are given two warriors, then are shown an army of invaders who for some reason have two kaiju, then are sent on a quest to recruit another kaiju, and finally awake Godzilla who accidentally solves the problem. It's too much for one issue, especially since much of it could be safely cut and replaced with a few interesting characters or at least a slightly more developed historical setting. We never get a feeling for how this world works, making the addition of giant monsters feels rather insignificant.

A glimpse of what a better version of the book might look like comes through the art of Matt Frank who draws the flashback portions in the manner of ancient Japanese ink drawings. This style is carried off extremely well and coupled with some subtle colors to make a stylish, lavish looking issue. The art even implies that perhaps the story is supposed to be an ancient myth (in the manner of many Hellboy stories) which is not successfully suggested by the script. The only downside is that with all the detail packed into every page, the layouts can become a little muddled, though frankly, that's a small price to pay for art so good.

Die-hard fans of Godzilla may find something to enjoy in Rage Across Time, at least in terms of the art, and it's never a truly bad book. But in all the places where it should be exciting and creative, it feels dull and contained. I'll be interested in checking out future issues to see what other art styles are implemented, but with boring ongoing arc and an inconsequential first issue, there's very little else to be interested in.

[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 Writer: Jeremy Robinson Artist: Matt Frank Colorist: Paul Hanley and Gonҫalo Lopes Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Format:  Mini-Series; Print/Digital


Review: Godzilla: Oblivion #5

I wasn’t that big a fan of the character art for this series.  The cartoonish look that seemed to be rough pencil sketches felt more like storyboards than comic book panels.  The one illustration of Gino-Godzilla looked like he was constipated and trying hard to relieve himself.  But the image of King Caesar sitting atop broken buildings as though they were forming a throne redeemed the entire issue for me. The other way the art betrayed the nature of the book is at the conclusion to the series.  I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what the hell happened at the climax.  I have reread the damn thing five times and still cannot make out what the ending to the Oblivion storyline.  The humans made a very GODZILLAOBLIVION_05_coverAdrastic decision to their kaiju problem, which made for a great WTF moment that I thoroughly enjoyed.   But the last five panels were so damn cryptic (and not in the Stanley Kubrick/Christopher Nolan kind of way) that I left the book unsure of the definitive story.

Let me say this: Joshua Fialakov took a big risk with making the end to this series so amazing in its severity.  I liked the pacing in the last issue and the build up to this final issue.  However, for the grim nature of such a book, more defined artwork would have added gravitas and tone to its ending.  The art was great, and the story was great.  But the two did not work together for the sake of this series.

I believe the ending lead into the next series Godzilla: Rage Across Time, but I am not sure because those last five panels made no sense in their sequential storytelling.  For me, this ending proved to be a let down compared to the enjoyment of the previous issues.

[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Godzilla: Oblivion #5 Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov Artist: Brian Churilla Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital