Godzilla is a franchise that has had many different identities over the years, and whilst it might have began as a horror film abut the awful reality of the nuclear attacks made against Japan, it’s become something that has appealed to audiences of all ages over the decades since its creation. Whether it’s the inclusion and focus on children in the films, animated series for kids, or Godzilla himself advertising things like the Game Boy, he’s become something that kids love. As such, it’s lovely to see some of the comics being produced by IDW Publishing focusing on younger readers.
Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors tells the story of Cedric Nishimura, a tween geek who hosts his own MeToob channel where he wants to tell the tale of how he helped to save the world from Godzilla. These internet video segments act as bookends to each of the issues collected in the book, provide us with extra context, and allow the reader to get to know Cedric in more detail. Between these segments, however, we get the real meat of the story.
It all begins when the Linival corporation tries to make history. Out in the middle of the ocean, on their floating island, the company switches on a new kind of reactor, one that they promise will provide the world with limitless clean energy. Whilst the reactor works fine, and the launch goes well, there is one unkown side effect. The energy hurts krill. Now, this might not seem like much, but this upsets the important ecological balance, threatening thousands of species, and the planet itself. And this is something that pisses Godzilla off. And so the giant lizard begins a campaign of destruction to stop Linival. However, when it looks like he may carry on his destruction, fed up with humanity as a whole, Cedric finds himself being drawn into a plan to prevent total destruction, thanks to two tiny fairies from Infant island.
I first started reading this series when it was released monthly, and stopped after the first issue. The first issue of the story isn’t hugely exciting, and is just Godzilla stomping around on this floating island, wrecking stuff. However, collected together into one volume, where I didn’t have to wait for the next issue and could read the story in one sitting, made this a much more enjoyable story. The first issue is very much stage setting, and once the second begins the story really fills out and expands into some interesting directions.
Fans of the Godzilla franchise will find a lot of stuff to enjoy here, not just down to the titular creature. There are other places, characters, and creatures taken from around the Godzilla franchise, mixed in and reworked into this story. For the most part there’s not much that happens here that feels out of place or contradictory, although there is a monster that appears later on in the book who has their origins slightly tweaked in order to provide something of a surprise inclusion, but it still feels true to the creature, and made for a delightful appearance.
As said earlier, this book is designed for younger readers, and is definitely in the middle grade category. The main characters are young, barely into their teens, and other than one or two adults, they’re the only people in the story. Whilst this works well and I had no problem with kids getting to save the day and be the focus, there were a few things that felt slightly weird or silly. There are times where the writer, Eric Burnham, seemingly wanted to include certain things but had to change the name. That’s why we get MeToob instead of YouTube, Nottendo instead of Nintendo, and Super Smash Sisters in place of Super Smash Brothers. I don’t know how this kind of thing would read for kids, whether it’d be funny or entertaining for them, but these references always felt weird and jarring as an adult reader.
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The art on the book, by Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado, is really nice. The drawings are bold and simple, and filled with bright colours. Being designed for a younger audience the book has a somewhat stylised look to it, with characters feeling less focused on being realistic or anatomically correct, and more geared towards being bold and easily identifiable. It looks really nice throughout, and works well for the human characters. The monsters look really good too, and have a more Saturday morning cartoon vibe to them over a more frightening, realistic approach. The whole thing just pops..
Whilst I’m sure that there could be some readers who find the book too simple, and the story too child-friendly to be entertaining, I really enjoyed Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors. It showcased how this is a broad franchise, one that can appeal to a wide range of audiences, and can be approached in a number of different ways. Yes, it was simple, easy to read, and had lower stakes than some Godzilla stories, but sometimes that’s just the kind of thing you want to read.
Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors is out now from IDW Publishing.