Nutshell: Cataclysm is old-school Kaiju meets Young Turk apocalyptic fiction. And it totally works. This is the kind of comic book that screams for a big-ass tablet, so you can enjoy all the full-page awesome at once. Or, you can skip the electricity and go straight to the TPB. Not quite as pretty as Half-Century War, but you’ll get over that quick. Old-school or new-school, if you’re into Kaiju, get your hands on this book. Grade: A-
Story: What happens after the monsters throw down? When the world is left with huge chunks taken out of it, and there’s smoke, ash and debris where civilization once stood? It’s 20 years after an epic Kaiju battle, and the world looks like a squatters camp. Most people now think of the monsters as gods, but old-timer Hiroshi knows better. He also thinks they haven’t left for good, but will be coming back. Guess what? He’s right…but how could he possibly know, or is he simply resigned to the end of the human race?
Thoughts: Let’s get this out of the way quickly; Godzilla: Cataclysm stands in the shadow of IDW’s magnificent Godzilla: The Half-Century War. Then again, a so do a lot of other horror comics that have nothing to do with Kaiju. Half-Century War was magnificent, from it’s breathtaking art to it’s across-the-years-and-wars storyline. James Stokoe is a helluva tough act to follow. In Cataclysm, Dave Wachter’s art is good (and lord knows his work on Night of 1000 Wolves is absolutely beautiful) but even with the similar color palettes in both, I miss the sharpness, the focus, of Stokoe. Side-to-side, Cataclysm feels a wee bit rushed in comparison.
Still, the post-apocalyptic vibe is nice, and even my zombie-lovin’ tuchas can appreciate the new spin on the old Civilization Went Bye-Bye backstory. And Wachter does have a nice way with depth and large panels; page 8’s walking-in-a-footprint and page 48’s Godzilla-as-Chinese-Dragon panels are extremely cool. His ability to draw you into the story with his pacing is top-notch, not to mention his way with building tension by onomatopoeic lettering as an integral part of the panel. And Cullen Bunn’s writing works hand-in-hand with Wachter’s art, drawing readers in. Really loved his description of the “pantheon” of kaiju. Bonus: Chris Mowry’s gorgeous lettering (that I’ve loved in Rot & Ruin and V-Wars).
As someone who thinks Destroy All Monsters is one of the best Kaiju films out there, you know I’m loving some monster-on-monster action. Cataclysm brought it to me. Yes, I will always have a special place in my heart for Half-Century. But I can definitely dust off a little space in for Cataclysm as well. A definite must for kaiju fans, regardless of how much (or how little) you’ve read before. A film fan can easily snap this up and happily dive in. I’m hoping that the final print will include all the covers, and perhaps some storyboarding extras. Didn’t get that with the advance proof, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come standard once it hits shelves. Still, I’d have liked a touch of backstory to the development of the series, as IDW has been rollin’ most excellent when it comes to Godzilla. Getting a taste of life behind the pulp curtain would have been sweet.
Publication 411: Collects the complete miniseries (issues 1-5) of Godzilla: Cataclysm. This TPB hits stores March 31, 2015 (per IDW on NetGalley)
[NOTE: I received a copy of this title pre-publication via Netgalley. I received no compensation for my review. Not even a Biollante rose.]