For over half a decade, gigantic monsters have been trashing major cities in Japan throughout pop culture, so it’s been difficult for more recent writers to wring out new ways to freshen up the idea. Joshua Fialkov and Brian Churilla introduce a clever update in “Godzilla: Oblivion” #1, where a group of scientists on one alternate (and apparently monster-free) Earth develop a portal that allows them to cross into another. Needless to say, the world they venture to has been decimated by said monsters — and it doesn’t take long to figure out that humans aren’t the only creatures able to traverse this portal.
The first issue is largely setup for the monsters to invade a world previously bereft of such menaces, and it shows glimpses of some promise. Getting there, though, is rather pedestrian, as Fialkov’s cast is populated with oft-used character tropes; there’s the exec who wants to carelessly push new technology past its limits regardless of consequences and hapless scientists trying to convince her otherwise, as well as the military tough guys trying to contain a situation with civilians in the way. Fialkov plays these cutout characters as well as he can before he gets to the trope readers want to see: big monsters fighting each other.
Churilla seems to be waiting for the same moment, as his monstrous creatures carry far more impact than all of the humans crawling around on the ground below them. Not that the rest of his pages are all that bad; the characters are all rendered competently, if a little coarsely. The large teleportation device — which gets its own two-page spread — is similarly rough, and it seems odd to draw attention to it like that and then do so little to show it off. The device, though, only serves to get the characters from one world to the other, so it’s a forgivable shortcoming. Similarly, the decimated city on the other side looks convincingly destroyed but is shown only in broad strokes. Churilla seems to be coasting until he gets to draw the big monsters, and — once he does — his pages finally develop some pop. Colorist Jay Fotos largely hangs back and lets Churilla’s art speak for itself, avoiding any kind of bright or distracting colors throughout the issue.
“Godzilla: Oblivion” #1 is very close to being Just Another Godzilla Story, despite the fact The Big G himself doesn’t even make a direct appearance. Fialkov, though, gives the issue enough oomph to at least tease the promise of something better to come, and Churilla demonstrates that he’s equipped to choreograph an epic monster battle.