Pacific Rim got a lot of hype when it was coming out and I had pretty high hopes for it. It had a pretty epic trailer and the very notion of Kaiju battling robots was epic. It turns out that my hopes were probably a little too high for the film since it ended up underwhelming me, but it was still a solid feature. Checking out the graphic novel was a given. I was ready for some big fights, but unfortunately…they were nowhere to be found. This comic definitely isn’t going to help you become a Pacific Rim fan.
The comic takes place before the film as we get to see a little homage of Gypsy Danger as well as some of the old robots. We see one of the main characters as a child and briefly get to see the original Kaiju attack. After that, some new cadets are brought into the Jaeger program to give the outfit some new life. To pilot one of the mecha, you need a pair of individuals who are really in sync. A moment’s hesitation or distraction can be the difference in battle. Technically, the comic takes place after these events, but we see the story through an interview that a reporter is working on with various people. She actually contributes to the problems that arise though.
Well, the comic was really just a lot of filler. That’s to be expected I suppose, but you wouldn’t really enjoy the comic if you just picked it up at a bookstore. They talk about how dangerous the Kaijus are and how the mechs are being sold, but it’s hard to really care. The Kaiju don’t seem to be an imminent threat at the moment and there’s no sense of urgency here. In the present, the humans just seem down and pretty somber. I guess they are on the losing side, but it feels like the war is already over.
One of the main reasons why the comic is not good is that it resorts to cheap fanservice scenes. Neurolinking inside of the mech apparently means that you have to meet in astral forms that really resemble your normal body. You can at least keep on some sci-fi clothes so that the whole thing is less provocative. It’s pretty unnecessary and there’s no point to this. We also get a one night stand just for kicks and so the two main characters would have something to argue about. (Although, it’s tough to call them the main characters since they barely do anything at all)
The main reporter appears to be a decent character at first, but we see her true colors through flashbacks as the comic goes on. She hints that she’s changed since then, but the comic is too short for real character development so we can’t totally buy into this. The flashback definitely didn’t help matters and she just didn’t feel like a real character. She was there to give the reader some backstory, but that’s about it.
The brothers who are asked to pilot the Jaeger aren’t much better. They’re basically your average mainstream joe. They let romance cloud their judgment immediately and they definitely believe that beauty is only skin deep. Gone are the days when we had noble main characters who would really try to be heroes without any reward. It’s hard to sympathize with them at all during their fight over the girl and you’re just waiting for them to fight a Kaiju.
There’s also a subplot with two researchers who used to be friends, but then work caused them to drift apart among other things. They’re picked to help out in the research division and more romance drama ensues. The comic definitely put too much of an emphasis on romance and that’s certainly not what you want to see in an action comic that features Kaiju and robots. The only decent character would be the general guy who saved the kid in the film. He’s still the only character who can get things done here. It’s a shame that he only gets to appear for a few brief pages.
It should also be noted that the art is pretty bad. I would compare it to a fan comic or the titles that are aimed at older audiences so they try to just this style for effect. (Never works anyway) It’s definitely under average and after reading a lot of solid titles like Mega Man and Sonic, it really stands out. I haven’t seen art that was this bad since some of the random Free Comic Book Day comics from a while back. This certainly didn’t help the comic score either and the fight scenes didn’t look bad, but they were extremely brief. You can barely call a 2-3 page skirmish a fight since it’s over before it’s even begun.
So, the comic didn’t really have any notable positives to it. The comic could have easily risen up to a 6 if they had cut out some of the romance and included an actual Kaiju fight. As it stands, the cover is very misleading. I think it may have also been more engaging if we had experienced the events instead of just finding out about them through flashbacks and stories. That’s never the best way to show what happened in the olden days. A more interesting cast definitely would have helped as well. You’ll walk out of the comic forgetting all of the names because the characters just aren’t memorable enough to be remembered.
Overall, Pacific Rim Tales From Ground Zero was pretty disappointing. There isn’t really anything very good to say about it. The concept of this universe is pretty good and it has the potential to be a pretty great franchise. I’m still looking forward to the upcoming TV show and the film sequel should be pretty good as well. This prequel just didn’t add anything to the series and we really learned nothing here. There were no real action scenes and the main characters were all pretty bad. It’s hard to root for the humans, but the Kaiju don’t get to look very good either. Add in the fanservice and the romance and you have a losing formula. I was pretty close to giving this one a 5. It was neck and neck with the 4 star rating, but sometimes the score becomes clearer as you’re writing the review. This was one of those times and I ended up giving it a 4 since I would not recommend this one. Read a Transformers comic if you want some good mecha action with a superior plot. Tales from Ground Zero could not live up to its cover and I hope that future comics will be better.