This comic review is a pretty big landmark for me because it is the first Godzilla comic book that I have ever read. That is probably a little surprising to hear since I’m such a big Godzilla fan, but my library simply doesn’t order the comics very often. I’m a comic reader, but not necessarily a collector. It’s the opposite with video games. When I saw that the library had picked this trade paperback up, I grabbed it instantly. I heard that this comic was quite different from the average Godzilla adventure and that is certainly true, but I suppose that it’s as good a way to enter the Godzilla comic part of the franchise as any other. It is a good comic although I feel like it could have gone a lot farther with this ambitious concept.
On the back of the book they have a quote from legendary comic reviewer Daniel Alvarez of Unleash The Fanboy about how this is the most unique Godzilla tale of them all. It is a little…sketchy how they completely took the quote out of context although I certainly agree with it and would argue that the reviewer would as well. This is the most unique Godzilla tale of them all and there will likely never be another one quite like it. That doesn’t mean that it is the best Godzilla tale of all time. Certainly not, but it’s a good one and that’s why I feel this mini series should have ran for a little longer. Another 5-6 issues would have given it time to really explore Godzilla’s time in hell. Who knows, if this sells well enough then maybe we will get a sequel.
As the title outright states, this series is about Godzilla being in Hell. (Or is he really there?) It works as a bit of an anthology as each issue has a different team behind it and Godzilla faces a new threat each time. The stories are still held together by the loose plot of Godzilla trying to get out and most anthologies have some kind of string holding the plot together, but for all intents and purposes, the comics are all separate. As such, I’ll review this in the style of an anthology with a paragraph for each individual issue rather than talking about it as a whole until the end.
The first issue sees Godzilla literally fall into Hell where he fights off a Dark version of himself who turns into a very deformed version of Biollante and threatens to eat him whole. Godzilla fends off his attack and makes his way into the next layer of Hell. It is a solid start to the collection and I dare say that it is the most compelling issue of the bunch. It doesn’t have as much action as some of the issues coming up, but it handled the concept better than the others. The big sign saying to abandon hope is something that you would expect to find in Hell, at least conceptually. Once you are in Hell, there is no hope at all. Simply put, the race is over and you made the wrong choice. Of course, Godzilla is not dead yet so he is not truly out of time. Plus, let’s face it, Godzilla doesn’t feel fear. The art for this issue was solid. It did a good job of showing the facial expressions for Godzilla and the fight was well done. This is really what a comic version of Godzilla should strive to look like and I definitely liked the design of the made up villain.
Following that strong start was the worst comic in the collection. The series tried to go for a live action look and it didn’t work. As far as I’m concerned, if DC’s Kingdom Come event couldn’t pull it off, nothing ever will. The fight scenes are very choppy and it’s a shame since this issue could have had the most action. This level of hell has demons transform into lookalikes from Godzilla’s past. Fake Rodan, Anguirus, Varan, and Ghidorah all attack the hero. Godzilla fends them all off and it should have been a really good issue. The art just takes you out of the adventure. I do like the use of the word bubbles here as they add more context and hint at what is actually going on here. Godzilla passes this trial with flying colors as he proves that he is more than a match for any demon. Of course, the trials will get stronger from here.
The third issue was the most colorful and went for more of a cartoony feel than the other two. This made for a great fight between Godzilla and Space Godzilla, but the facial expressions could be a little odd at times. It was uncharacteristic for Godzilla, but the fight scenes were worth it. Space Godzilla is definitely a worthy opponent for the King of the Monsters. This was also the strangest issue in the collection. So, this trial is essentially that Godzilla must defeat Space Godzilla without resorting to the temptations from both sides. Half of Hell wants him to become their god and rule while the others want him to work for Hell. You are led to believe at first that half of them worship God and want Godzilla to join, but they quickly switch to believers of Godzilla and also don’t seem trust worthy. Regardless, Godzilla eats them all and crushes the rest, but neither side seemed to have a clue as to what they were doing.
They were yelling about submitting to peace the entire time. Godzilla just kept on blasting them which is probably a safe bet. Why would angels be in Hell anyway unless they were fallen ones? I guess some Earthlings tried to come here as well since we saw that Moguera was toasted. It was an odd comic, but it also helps support the argument that this is all real and not simply a dream the most in my opinion. I don’t have a lot of concrete arguments to support that, but this issue felt like it could be real. More on that at the end.
Issue 4 also had some pretty nice art. It was a little more realistic, but still pretty vibrant which is good because the whole issue is a big fight with King Ghidorah and Destoroyah. Godzilla has to use his wits to defeat these two since their combined might is far greater than his. It is cool to see him actually using strategy like dividing the opponents and taking them out on at a time. He loses though and the second half of the issue sees him die over and over again. The problem is that since he is in Hell, he cannot die for good. He has been cursed with immortality and it is a somber thought. At the end he breaks out of this part of hell and makes his way to the final challenges. This was my favorite story. As a big action fan, it was fun to see some fights here and Godzilla being portrayed as more than a mindless monster is always good.
Finally, the collection ended with Godzilla facing off against the elements and the actual demons from Hell. In their true forms, they were finally playing for keeps here. Unfortunately, they got a little too overconfident and after destroying Godzilla, they reanimated him with fire, which was enough to jump start his body and allow him to regenerate. They should have quit while they were ahead. It ends with Godzilla rising out of the water and you have to ask, did this all really happen or was it in his head? The answer will come in a moment. Meanwhile, the art here was not as good as the last few issues. The final shot with Godzilla rising it great and it’s better than the live action issue, but it is too gray-scale for me. Comics don’t always have to be vibrant, but it just didn’t look that good and everything was just too faded. Still a good issue, but it’s always sad to see Godzilla lose due to sheer numbers. It is part of why I don’t like the Megaguirus film.
In the end, my answer is that this was all a dream. The final issue does state that winning against yourself is greater than a thousand victories. It said that such a win can never be taken away and those lines of dialogue really support the fact that this was in Godzilla’s head. It is still a little iffy as Godzilla is not the type to ever doubt himself and I don’t think he would need to conquer his inner demons. Still, I suppose that even Kaiju have things that they need to think about so it is not totally unreasonable to believe that Godzilla has to come to terms with himself now and again. I’ve never been all that opposed to reading a series that ended with the plot twist of it all being a dream so it is not all that bad. It is open to interpretation so feel free to choose another theory to follow, but this is definitely the one that I follow.
Overall, I think this series definitely could have benefited from being longer. Of course, it could have had the opposite effect as it really depends on an issue to issue basis. If the writers started to run out of ideas, then it is always best to quit while you are ahead. I definitely recommend this to any Godzilla fan. The concept is simply too priceless to pass up. I think the average comic reader should be able to enjoy it as well. There is very little dialogue here so it is more of a visual experience than anything else. That’s something that everyone can ultimately appreciate in a comic as long as there is some kind of interesting plot/good characters to go alongside it. I’ve finally entered the world of Godzilla comics, hopefully I am able to read another one someday!