Godzilla: Awakening Graphic Novel Review
Posted by Jeffrey Harris on 05.05.2014
Prepare yourselves for the return of the King of the Monsters, Godzilla to the screen with this prequel graphic novel story, Godzilla: Awakening. Featuring a new story by the film's screenwriter, is the graphic novel worth a look? Jeffrey Harris checks in with his official review.
Written By: Max Borenstein and Greg Borenstein Artwork By: Eric Battle, Yvel Guichet, Alan Quah, Lee Loughridge (Colors), and Arthur Adams (Cover Only) Published By: Legendary Comics
Godzilla, one of the most iconic figures in cinematic history, returns to theaters this month. And just in time for the live-action big screen rebirth of the iconic kaiju, Legendary Comics brings to us a new comic story to expand upon the new universe established by the upcoming film. Legendary Comics was nice enough to provide 411mania with an advanced copy of the prequel story, Godzilla: Awakening. Taking place before the events of the new movie, Awakening features an original story written by the movie’s screenwriter, Max Borenstein, and his cousin, MIT technologist Greg Borenstein.
This new story follows the father of Ken Watanabe’s character from the new movie, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa. It begins in 1945, Serizawa and his infant son are barely able to survive the bombing of Hiroshima. After the end of the war, Serizawa becomes a sailor and his ship is called upon to lend assistance to a US Navy vessel that hit land on a remote island. The ship was basically ripped out of the water and dumped on the island. Serizawa and his shipmates lend assistance, but they are attacked what appears to be some type of large parasitic organism. Serizawa helps an American intelligence agent, Shaw, from the wreckage and they witness a large flying creature leaving the island, after it drops the ship down a mountainside. Shaw and Serizawa survive, and Serizawa is recruited by the US government to join Monarch. Monarch is the organization founded to track and hunt down MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms), basically this universe’s version of kaiju.
Over the course of the story, Serizawa and his colleagues discover that nuclear weapons have awakened prehistoric creatures that previously existed hundreds of millions of years ago, when the earth was more heavily radiated. The use of nuclear weapons allowed them to resurface. This also awakens Godzilla. Throughout the story, Serizawa attempts to track down the parasitic flying creatures, dubbed “Shinomure,” and the large reptilian creature that stands like a man, “Gojira.” Serizawa surmises that Gojira is the Shinomure’s natural predator. Most of the destruction across the Pacific coast is caused by the Shinomure, before Gojira intervenes to kill them. Serizawa believes Gojira is not an enemy and he can be used to combat the Shinomure. Of course the military thinks the atom bomb is the best answer, despite being shown proof that radiation merely causes the Shinomure organism to grow and expand. Serizawa spends years tracking down Gojira and trying to prove his existence to his superiors, but is unsuccessful.
Now I will admit to not being hardcore fan of the Godzilla series. I am more or less a casual fan, though the original film is an all-time classic for me along with various other entries in the series, such as Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla being a personal favorite. This story works as a good primer to the new film and setting up the world in which this new Godzilla or Gojira exists. He’s presented here as prehistoric creature, awakened by the follies of man, that’s also an apex predator on the hunt for his prey. Godzilla’s interactions civilization are brief here, but Serizawa believes Godzilla is not mankind’s enemy. It hints at interesting potential for how Godzilla’s relationship will be represented in the upcoming film.
The artwork is a mixed bag. The colors and ink work pop really well and are well done. I wish the pencils had a bit more consistent style, though. At times, the artwork sort of muddles what’s meant to be depicted in the story. There is one instance where a creature gruesomely impales one of Serizawa’s shipmates. The dialogue suggests the man’s leg is only broken and he will live. He’s then dragged off with no sign of his gruesome like he will simply be fine. It was a very odd panel sequence.
The depictions of Godzilla and the splash pages of his fights are where the story and art really shine here. The story mostly focuses on the human element of Serizawa, and the battles are mostly seen from his perspective. So there are no big knockdown, drag out monster brawls, unfortunately. Those are likely being saved for the film.
Besides the main story, there’s also a neat little redacted Monarch “Atomic Deployment Report” at the end. There are also some character designs and sketches by the artists, along with some commentary by Arthur Adams on designing the graphic novel’s cover.
The 411: Godzilla: Awakening works well as a nice companion piece to the upcoming movie. It does add a good deal of dimension for Godzilla's origin and sets the stage for future events in the film. The artwork is a bit sloppy at times, and there are some sequences that are poorly depicted. Overall, it's a good, quick solid read. I would recommend to fans of the Kaiju genre and Godzilla fans, especially fans of the recent IDW comics.