I have been a fan of James Stokoe’s for a while now. I first read Won Ton Soup, a culinary space trucker story, which had great character designs and art but I felt like the characters were a little two dimensional and too cool to be interesting. Then he started releasing Orc Stain, a fantasy epic centered around orcs. The art was exponentially better than Won Ton Soup AND the writing was as well. Orc Stain was a huge leap forward as a creator.
Somewhere around this time he drew an amazing sketch of Galactus which took the internet (and me) by storm. The four-foot tall image and the attention to detail showed that Stokoe was the perfect artist to tackle the enormous creature called Godzilla.
Godzilla: The Half-Century War is a new book by James Stokoe and IDW. I love Godzilla. I love Kaiju stories. I love James Stokoe work. So, this is right up my alley. The first issue has just released and I have the same feeling at the end as I remember having at the end of Orc Stain #1: The art is great, but I am not so sure about the story. The next few Orc Stain releases proceeded to blow me away both visually but also story-wise. I felt that Stokoe really allowed the story to progress naturally and didn’t provide a lot of exposition along the way, basically, doling out just enough to move the story forward and immersing the reader within the world through detailed artwork.
Reading Godzilla #1 is a similar experience to reading Orc Stain #1. There is not a lot of exposition to explain why Godzilla is attacking, or really who the protagonist (Ota Murakami) is. I appreciate this method of storytelling, but I think that it works better for trades than single issues. We are dropped into Ota remembering the first time he saw Godzilla which was fifty years ago (Half-Century in case you missed that). A battle ensues and the issue ends with Ota and his buddy joining the AMF (Anti Megalosaurus Force). Not a lot of story in the first issue. While I usually would rail on a comic for having so little in the first issue, Godzilla really contains what I want from it and I expect Stokoe to fill in the rest gracefully over the next five issues.
The art is again the highlight in this issue. There are gorgeous double-page spreads that are incredibly detailed. This is what James Stokoe excels at. The attention to detail is amazing, if you are a fan of his, you will love this art. Close to half of the book is a Godzilla battle beautifully rendered. There is a real sense of mass as Godzilla tosses buildings down with a nod to the original Godzilla movie. At times there were distinct Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) influences that made this book feel like manga. The panel layouts are Stokoe’s most dynamic yet. The beginning pages show fairly standard right angle panels. But, as soon as Godzilla appears, the panels start skewing showcasing the chaos of the story. The color scheme is similar to Orc Stain with mostly purple and red tones.
The bottom line is I am in for the remaining issues. Stokoe’s art is worth the cover price alone, and his Godzilla art is awesome! I look forward to seeing how this story shakes out , my fingers are crossed for giant robots that fight Godzilla!
Godzilla: The Half Century War #1 is out now.
Thor Deacon is a life-long comic book fan who lives in Portland. He claims he thought he once saw Godzilla, but he is now pretty sure it was just his cat, Rocket.