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Review: Pacific Rim: Tales from the Drift #1

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If you’ve spoken to me in person, seen even a glimpse of my social media presence, or followed me on my journey through the Godzilla in Hell series, you know that the kaiju genre is one of my favorite things. I was first in line on opening day for Pacific Rim, and this series is something I’ve been hoping for since we found out ages ago that Guillermo del Toro planned to continue developing the franchise between films. The Tales from Year Zero collection is still safely shrink-wrapped in my room, carefully guarded by my twenty-something kaiju figures, and now at long last I have a copy of Tales from the Drift to kick off my next series of kaiju-related comic book reviews. So, how does Tales hold up compared to the decades-long history of kaiju stories that have come before it? Let’s find out.

Travis Beacham wrote the screenplay for Pacific Rim, as well as the Tales from Year Zero prequel, and he returns to write Tales from the Drift joined by Joshua Hale Fialkov and cements his position as the man who makes this world work. Marcos Marz and Marcelo Maiolo provide illustrations and color, respectively, creating a gorgeous world of massive jaegers and hulking kaiju. Both kaiju and jaegers are drawn with bold lines and bright, solid backgrounds to make them really stand out, making for dynamic and easy to follow fight scenes. In the early stages of the series it isn’t entirely clear where the focus lies – we don’t know much about the human pilots we’re seeing aside from they met when one of the first kaiju exited the Breach and attacked a submarine, and now they’re a married couple taking on alien monsters together. Many kaiju stories leave the humans as relatively undeveloped characters, basic ciphers that hit the plot points they’re required to hit so the story can progress and we can get back to kaiju action, but in these early stages I’m not sure which way Tales is going to go. The first issue opens with an introduction to the married couple who pilot Tacit Ronin, one of the very first jaeger, and spends quite a lot of time on flashbacks explaining how they first met.

The flashbacks are interspersed with present-day monster action but while both timelines are interesting, I found myself wishing the comic would focus on one and stick with it. The problem with exploring a story by alternating timelines is that when in the present day, characters are in danger of drowning, sometimes it’s hard not to think “Do you really have time for a flashback right now?” And then there’s the risk that if the flashbacks don’t make a viewer care about the characters in question, they’ll feel like a waste of time.

At this point, Tales from the Drift is in such an early state that it’s impossible to tell how in-depth it will go when it comes to human character development. Whether we’ll see favorite characters like Mako Mori or Newton Geiszler as the comic progresses is anybody’s guess, given the time jumps we see in the first issue, but the kaiju-versus-robot action is well worth the price of admission and hopefully the human drama will either be just as interesting or mercifully short. Pacific Rim is at its best when a balance between human drama and monster action is found, and if this team can manage that in the comic book series as well then Tales From the Drift will be in great shape.

Story: Travis Beacham, Joshua Hale Fialkov Art: Marcos Maz, Marcelo Maiolo
Story: 7 Art: 9 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

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