Review: Godzilla in Hell #2

'Hell is other kaiju'. - 50-foot tall radioactive SartreThere’s something really entertaining about properties whose titles describe them perfectly. Snakes on a Plane, Alien vs Predator, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians…if you know the 90s-era British phrase ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’, these titles are the perfect embodiment of that saying. What you see is what you get – the description sums up everything you need to know. Godzilla, King of the Monsters, has found himself in Hell (the actual, real hell, complete with a swirling cloud of lost souls that threatened to overwhelm him in issue #1) and is wandering the abyss, trying to find a way out.

The thing about comics is that as a medium, you can get away with just about anything as long as you sell it convincingly. Batman being shot with a time-traveling bullet that sends him back to prehistoric times, Superboy punching the walls of reality itself, Deadpool’s fourth wall breaks: if you really sell it, you can do anything you want. So Godzilla ending up in Hell, while causing some serious confusion to me as a lifelong Godzilla fangirl, is a concept I’m capable of rolling with as long as the writers make it work.

And do they ever. The first issue of Godzilla in Hell was interesting in how experimental it felt: with no speaking characters at all and no narration, all we saw was wordless panels as Godzilla tried to get his bearings and did battle with some monsters that would have fit right in on the set of John Carpenter’s The Thing. 

Where the first issue felt looser due to the more cartoony art style, the disorienting imagery of Hell and its denizens, and the lack of explanation as to what was happening and why, issue two feels more like an adaptation of some ancient fable. The narration is going for the sort of gravitas and solemnity you expect to hear from a voiceover at the beginning of a blockbuster fantasy film, and the art… wow.

So here’s the main thing that caught me about this issue: while Bob Eggleton‘s writing is strong, and moves the comic in a much more clear narrative direction than James Stokoe‘s wordless panels in issue #1, Bob’s art is phenomenal and lends the proceedings an almost Biblical feel. This is the recounting of an epic from generations ago, a story told by a wizened priest to awestruck students. Every page and panel of issue #2 is an actual painting by Bob, and it pairs with the narration to make something that I initially thought of as very silly feel serious and intense. In this issue Godzilla faces some of his classic foes, either demon-possesed or being impersonated by demons, and then – as the narration tells us – he runs into the reason he’s been brought to hell in the first place: his old nemesis King Ghidorah.

We’re only on issue #2 and we have a basic idea of why Godzilla is in Hell now, and we’ve seen his mortal foe either masterminding this whole thing or being used as a pawn in some greater scheme. We’ll probably have to wait a few more issues to get all the details, but I will definitely be there. Issue #2 of Godzilla in Hell ups the ante considerably, with a major upgrade to issue #1’s excellent art and a tighter plot now that there’s an unseen narrator setting the stage. I do still have my concerns that this is going to end up being all a dream or something equally frustrating and I always find myself wishing for more because these issues seem to end way too quickly for my tastes, but seeing Godzilla fight his way through Hell the way he’s already dominated planet Earth is incredibly fun, and the paintings that show us three amazing kaiju fights through one fast-paced issue are more than worth the price of admission. If you love Godzilla, you’re probably already finished reading your copy of this comic book, and if you aren’t or only have a vague interest in kaiju, you still owe it to yourself to check this comic out.

Story: Bob Eggleton Art: Bob Eggleton
Story: 7 Art: 10 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

IDW provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review. Daphne bought her own copy anyway.

3 comments

  • I enjoyed issue two; however it felt like a series of illustrations to a non existent novel, while issue one silent as it was, seemed like a kinetic story happening on the page. Issue two merely seemed a process of moving Godzilla from one place to another without any actual story taking place. Still this is an awesome artistic experiment and I really hope it all comes out in a oversized hardback in the end.

    • Yeah, that’s totally fair. I think the novel illustrations thing is what gave it that “I’m being told a sprawling epic tale or reading from an ancient tome” feel which I enjoyed, but I can totally see it feeling a little slow. I love issue one feeling looser but more fast-paced, and I love how you described it as kinetic. That is a great word for it. I do feel like it set the stage a little better because now we have the framework of an actual narrator and a better idea of why Godzilla is there, but still. If each issue is written and drawn by a different person the trade paperback I hope gets released someday will be amazing.