Saturday, March 5, 2016

Kaijumax: Season 1

I am a pretty big fan of Zander Cannon's comics. His work on the anthology Double Barrel that later got compiled independently as Heck is top notch, and his drawings for various science themed graphic novels, like T-Minus and The Stuff of Life, have only endeared me more to his works. So when I saw that the 2-time Eisner Award winner was working on a series about one of my favorite things, Kaiju (giant Japanese monsters like Godzilla and Gamera), I was extremely interested.

Kaijumax is a look at what happens in between those classic monster movies, when the creatures are imprisoned on a special island prison. This place is not pleasant, and many of the common tropes of prison stories are in play: corrupt guards, internal gangs, trade in illegal goods, inmate-on-inmate violence, lots of double crossings, and escape schemes. The main plot focuses on Electrogor, a monster who feels wrongfully accused and is desperate to attend to his two children who have been left parentless and adrift in the world. But there are multiple subplots that propel an energetic and suspenseful narrative.
Nothing good happens to that poor goat critter in this book.
What I really enjoyed most about the book was its attention to detail in creating a fully realized world. There are many subtle (and not so subtle) touches that make the settings and characters come alive. The monsters in the yard lift weights that are in the shape of buildings. They engage in recreational drug use, but with radioactive materials. The characters speak in a specialized slang,  make references to common movie tropes, and the guards are a bunch of Ultraman-type guardians. The end result is an interesting mix of hard-boiled action, clever science fiction, a touch of humor, and real drama.
The reviews I have read about it online have been positive. Matt Peterson wrote that "you will find yourself laughing, cringing, and quickly turning the pages for the next panel. You might even find yourself briskly wiping away a single tear." Publishers Weekly summed up, "Though the story suffers slightly from its reliance on established genre tropes, and it would benefit from further exploration of life beyond the prison, it still establishes a fresh take on monsters and prison drama."

Kaijumax: Season 1 was published by Oni Press. Here is a preview from Comic Book Resources. And I should note that I know that many children are into kaiju, but this book contains some disturbing situations that make it for mature readers only.

Also, for those who get into this series, there will be a Season 2 sometime in the future.

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