From the very beginning, Godzilla was about punishing humanity for its arrogance. Back in the 50s, when he was just Gojira, he was nature's backlash against nuclear weapons. In Eric Powell & Tracy Marsh's IDW series Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters, he's got a few SKREEE-ONKs to say about our shitty, shitty culture.
Last issue, Lady Gaga got the satirical sting, and in #4, the Jersey Shore idiots get theirs. Sure, they're somewhat easier targets, but the jab here is much deeper and angrily profound, as they're contrasted with a soldier who's received the Medal of Honor and is dealing with a serious disconnect between what was once his life and what he's become through war. Sgt. Steve Woods looks with barely-contained contempt at brats whining about which iPods their moms buy for them, fat fast food slobs and people whining about the slightly-curbed extravagance of their vacations while watching Jerseylfied: Never Stay Sober in 3-D, unable to think of anything but the sacrifices soldiers have made to preserve this festering pile of sloth and entitlement all the way back to World War II. As he's called back to duty to try and protect the world from giant monster attacks, his anger continues to bubble over.
Unfortunately for Sgt. Woods, he's right in the middle of the first meeting of these giant kaiju that have popped up throughout the world, as Anguirus and Godzilla come face-to-face near Venice Beach in Los Angeles. What results is a nice little example of how horrible American media is by having talking heads claim the beasts are in league with each other, and then immediately claiming they never claimed such a thing once Godzilla tries to roast the spiky armadillo monster. After crawling out of some rubble in the wake of this big slam-bang monster fight, Woods is greeted with the sight of the Jerseyfied idiots stuck dangling off some wreckage in their stretch limo together, pleading for help, and that's when his anger gets the best of him, and he just walks away to let those assholes get fried. Because fuck those people and fuck everything they represent.
It's a standard horror movie device – create some horribly annoying characters so we can gleefully watch them get murdered, and it's easy to dismiss this as another little stunt along those lines. But there's a darker, more visceral aspect to this one – not only are these horribly annoying characters based on real life people (or at least the characters they've created for themselves to become rich and famous), but this is a soldier turning his back on people in need because he thinks they suck, and we're cheering for it because we think they suck, too. It's funny and awful and brutal all at the same time, which is right in Powell's wheelhouse.
There's also the ongoing saga of the creepy twin girls who have control of the worm-beast Battra and are crowning themselves the Queens of France because of it. They seem to be the anti-Shobijin, with crazy mental murder powers combining with strangely juvenile flights of fancy they're pursuing with them. One normally expects creepy mystical pre-teens to have weird demonic interests, but no, Mallorie and Minette just want to play dress-up. We glimpsed the actual Shobijin last issue, but they seem to have plenty to do over in Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths – although that series does not seem to be in the same continuity as this one. Let's hope that's the case, because along with giant monster battles, it should be fun to see young girls fight tiny girls.
The fact that I'm talking so much more about the humans than I am about the monsters in a book named after a giant monster shows just how great Powell & Marsh's darkly satirical take really is. Phil Hester's stark, thick-lined style requires a lot from inker Bruce McCorkindale, but the result works. The only real issue is some nitpicking size discrepancies. Godzilla usually dwarfs all human structures, but in Los Angeles, which isn't really home to many skyscrapers, they have buildings as tall as he is. There's also an argument to be made about getting some L.A. geography wrong, but nobody really cares – it is imperative that Godzilla destroy the Hollywood sign, and he's a giant monster – he can cover a lot of ground in a few small steps.
I was uncertain about this series from the get-go, as much as I've liked Godzilla since I was a kid, but Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #4 is the issue that officially hooked me, and I'm in for the full ride.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 8/10