Giant monster alert: 'Kodoja' #1

I like interpersonal melodrama and physical conflict between people possessing fantastical powers and wearing unusual costumes as much as the next guy, even here on ROBOT 6 at Comic Book Resources, where pretty much everyone likes such things a whole lot.

As fond as I am of the superhero genre, however, there's room in my heart for other genres, like that of Giant Monsters Wrecking Stuff. Obviously, there are many more superheroes comics than giant-monster comics, as comics are the superhero's home medium, and the giant monster belongs first and foremost to film. That said, there are still a goodly amount of giant-monster comics, many of which are good giant-monster comics.

Here's one, for example: Kodoja Terror Mountain Showdown #1.

Kodoja is a super-slick, self-published, black-and-white giant-monster comic by writer Keith Foster and artist Rory Smith. The title character is the monster, a 15-story-tall man-made "mondroid" (as one character calls it, only to be told, "Technically, the correct term is 'DNA Droid'") that was apparently built by the United States military and then decommissioned for being a little too good at destroying things.

The first issue opens with Kodoja on a rampage, having somehow been reactivated.

Big-haired, pupil-less Major General Jennifer Cruz talks on the phone, looks at monitors and tries to crisis manage.

The secretary of defense tries to spin the rampage in a pair of dramatic press conferences, taking an action during the second one that's been used by at least one other American politician in history, which provides the cliffhanger ending to the first mission.

Most intriguingly, a college professor gives a wordy lecture linking evolution, astronomy and geology, suggesting that continental drift and at least some forms of life on Earth might have something to do with prehistoric asteroid impacts.

And, between these scenes, jet planes and tanks try in vain to stop Kodoja, a roughly humanoid monster built in the shape of an ape, with huge forearms and fists, a mouth full of teeth and a cartoonishly large chin.

It's always difficult to offer too fair an assessment of a comic book's story based on only the first issue, but, as a distinct unit, this debut features decent genre writing and does its job of introducing a cast of characters and conflicts, setting up some questions and hinting at the future availability of answers and ending with a climax that makes the reader eager to hear those answers.

Easier is assessing the artwork, of which Kodoja boasts particularly high quality. Behind Elroy Jenkins' more design-oriented cover, Smith's art has a great tactile, hand-made quality. The character designs are all exaggerated and highly animated, and they and their world are rendered with an assured but sketchy line. Smith shows his work, drawing all of the lines absolutely necessary and quite a few that aren't, but suggest a level of wiggly, jittery energy. Your eyes might race around the panels, as it appears his pens did. Shading was seemingly done with gray and black-toned markers, the sound effects seemingly drawn right into the art and if computers were used in the dialogue lettering, it doesn't look like it.

The look and feel of Kodoja evokes late-'80s self-publishing, although the paper stock and production values are slick and modern. The style of the art is somewhat suggestive of old-school Sam Kieth, and the scribbliness reminds me a bit of poster artist Derek Hess, but those are just suggestions, not really descriptive comparisons.

This is the first of five issues, and it's a good first issue, one that makes me want to read the second one, and makes me curious about the rest of the series. If you're curious, you can apparently order the first issue here.

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