"Godzilla: The Half Century War" #1 is a very impressive looking comic. James Stokoe illustrates as well as writes and the result is a set of pages scratchy and dynamic in flow. The story centers on Lieutenant Ota Murakami, who has only been enlisted in the armed forces for less than two years. Many years ago, his world was changed when Godzilla appeared in Tokyo and he was swept into destruction and heroics.
James Stokoe has an arresting art style that immediately reaches out from the pages and wakes even the surliest reader from apathy. The combination of detailed lines and nigh-emotional coloring choices makes this book feel personal. Stokoe's style becomes doubly impressive when considering the scope of destruction he brings to cartoony life in this book. There is obviously a lot of love and time spent making the series so kinetic and engaging.
Ota's story merely begins here as he recounts his first encounter with Godzilla. The events depicted here firmly establish character as Ota puts everything on the line to protect civilians and do the right thing. The sense of serving a higher duty is evident from the very start and so it will be interesting to see if such a magnanimous outlook will hold over 50 years of battling a giant monster and his friends.
Stokoe balances the emotional back beat of the story against an action-packed narrative as Ota and his tank driver, Kentaro, use everything they've got to wage a David and Goliath battle in the streets of Tokyo. Tank shells smash into Godzilla with ferocity and the giant lizard replies by knocking down buildings with its tail causing smoky chaos at a street level.
"Godzilla: The Half Century War" #1 is a very tantalizing taste of what this miniseries holds over the following four issues. There is a major league action story being presented but it hinges on the personal journey of one man. Thinking about one person constantly raging against this elemental force of nature, and how this must feel to push the tide back, is a very interesting take on the mythos. It also stands out as unique compared to the current "Godzilla" ongoing from IDW. For an exceptionally cool take on Godzilla and how the beast affects the man, pick up this book.