After slogging through The Coming Race, I thought I’d take a break from “serious” reading and just enjoy something that was fun, easy to read, and entertaining for a change. I decided on this giant monster smash-um-up…
[This is a photograph that I took of the actual digital book that I read. The image is included for review purposes only!]
Chris Mowry & Matt Frank – Godzilla – Rulers of Earth Volume 1 (2013)
I ALMOST didn’t write this review… I grew up watching and loving Godzilla movies, and I’d read the old Marvel Comics' title from the late ‘70s and loved it, and I’d watched the super shitty Saturday morning cartoon, and I absolutely love Godzilla to this day (probably almost as much as I did when I was five years old…) But this book just didn’t do much for me. I’m not a negative person, and after the mostly bad review I just wrote for The Coming Race, I really hesitated to write another un-thrilled review, but then I remembered why I started doing these reviews in the first place (originally they were just LISTS of what I’d been reading,) and that was so that I could SHARE my input/intake with the folks who are into the same types of stuff that I’m into. These reviews lay bare my influences and, sometimes, let me gush about materials that I really love.
So, even though I didn’t love this book, I thought I’d say WHY it didn’t work for me AND take the opportunity to gush about Godzilla (and a few other things) while I’m at it…
For Godzilla – Rulers of Earth, Chris Mowry (the author) went with a tried and true (perhaps a bit overdone) premise: aliens have come to Earth to take over, and they decide to use giant monsters to smash the humans into submission. (If you’ve watched any of the Godzilla films, you’ll recognize this as the basis for about 80 percent of those movies.) The art by Matt Frank is a bit of a mixed bag (in my opinion.) His monsters are EXCELLENT. I love the multitude of lines, the details, the HEFT that he gives these giant creatures, and the colors (by Ronda Pattison and Priscilla Tramontano) are perfect. The human characters, however, seem flat to me. It’s not that they’re badly drawn, Frank is a solid draftsman, it’s just that they don’t interest me. The facial expressions (or something) seem bland---just didn’t grab me. The backgrounds and movement and (as I said) monsters are all great, I just found the humans to be mostly forgettable, which isn’t a good thing because the human characters take up a lot of the pages in this tale.
Speaking of which, the story itself was also a bit drab. It SHOULDN’T have been, considering the number of classic creatures in this book---but again, the narrative just didn’t ever really take off for me. (I read the whole book in two sittings, and I can barely remember anything that happened.) To be fair, this book was recommended to me by a friend who said he really enjoyed it---so some of this negativity MIGHT just be me! And I think I know what’s causing it…
I love BAD stuff. All of my favorite Godzilla movies are terrible: Godzilla vs Megalon (where he fights a giant cockroach with the help of a semi-autonomous robot), Godzilla vs The Smog Monster (which is weird as HELL), Godzilla vs Monster Zero (where a DEVO-cover-band of aliens kidnaps Godzilla and Rodan---so that Ghidorah, the three headed dragon that shoots lighting out of his mouths, can come to Earth and wreck shit), The Terror of Mecha-Godzilla (in which alien ape-men use a robotic Godzilla to try to take over the planet…) and so on… I love the bad rubber monster costumes and goofy puppetry! I love the terrible overdubbed voice acting! I love the nonsensical plots and corny monster fight sequences and cardboard miniature cities getting smashed to bits… I LOVE the kitschy, cheesy nonsense that these movies represent! (And this holds true for everything I really enjoy: my favorite Bond film is Moonraker; my favorite music is humorous and/or novelty songs by folks like Weird Al and They Might Be Giants and Bauhaus; my favorite horror movies are the funny ones like The Exorcist (a hilarious, madcap, slap-stick romp) and The Shining (Jack KILLS me with his one-liners!); my favorite TV shows are awful, cheese-ball classics like Square Pegs and Soap and The Muppets and The Mighty Boosh and The Young Ones and Futurama and Red Dwarf and Supernatural…) I LOVE BAD…
And this book, sadly, just wasn’t what I was looking for in a giant monster story. It’s not BAD enough to be hilarious or entertaining for its kitsch value, and it’s not really GOOD enough to be a standout science fiction tale. (It’s neither Tron nor 2001.) It’s just a straight-forward, fairly serious take on the old alien invasion motif, which also happens to have some recognizable giant monsters in it. What I’m going to have to do is try to find a collection of the old Marvel Godzilla series and reread that... (Actually, I just looked on Amazon… SHIT… The old comics are going for like $40 to $100 per issue, and the one collection that’s been released is going for $70 and up… Damn… I guess I’m going to have to wait until Marvel gets permission to RERELEASE a collection of the old Marvel Godzilla series---which might or MIGHT NOT happen in my lifetime. Darn… Oh well. If I ever get rich, I’ll have to add “Get the Marvel Godzilla series” to my list of things to do---right after “buy a pinball machine.”)
So there you go. I got to gush a bit about some of my favorite stuff, and I explained why I didn’t really care for Godzilla – Rulers of Earth, while also (hopefully) letting folks know that THEY might like it, even if I didn’t. (It’s the same reason I’ve never seen the 2014 Godzilla movie, and I’m not particularly interested in the brand new Godzilla – King of the Monsters film. With the GOOFINESS of the rubber suits and bad overdubs and terrible fight choreography removed, it’s going to be just another film with CGI and explosions. I find most action films to be tedious and dull. Just not my thing…) (That’s not TOO negative, is it?)
Final thoughts: if you’re looking for a straightforward, fairly serious sci-fi tale about an alien invasion and you like reading about giant monsters fighting each other (and, as I said above, the monsters look GREAT), then this might be the book for you---but if you loved Godzilla vs The Smog Monster, then you might need to find a different tale to sink your teeth into. (If I find such a series, I’ll be sure to let you know!!!) Later!
---Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Holy Fool)
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