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Comic Book Throwback Review – Godzilla: The Half Century War (IDW Publishing)

Godzilla: The Half Century War (IDW Publishing) oversized hardcover - cover (detail) by James Stokoe
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Godzilla: The Half Century War

Writer: James Stokoe
Artist: James Stokoe
Color Assist: Hether Beckel
Maturity Rating: Teen
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Godzilla and other giant kaiju wage battle as Lieutenant Ota Murakami fights the monsters and himself in Godzilla: The Half Century War.

Go Go Godzilla

Here I am coming back at you with another Comic Book Throwback Review! Now, for today’s installment, we are not going that far back, just a few short years ago in 2012-2013, to what I will call the best Godzilla comic ever published. Yes, hands down, the best. I do not think there is even an argument that it is not. So, this may not be much of a review, more of a plea to you that if you even have an inkling of Godzilla love you have to check this out! Without further ado, let’s dig into James Stokoe’s famed Godzilla: The Half Century War (with color assist by Hether Beckel).

Gojira 

Godzilla: The Half Century War (IDW Publishing) oversized hardcover - cover by James Stokoe
Godzilla: The Half Century War (IDW Publishing) oversized hardcover – cover by James Stokoe

Again, the format is a little different for these “throwback” reviews and I am cheating and just throwing the whole 5-issue mini-series in here instead of just the first issue. So, what makes Godzilla: The Half Century War so epic? Well, I am glad you asked. I think first and foremost it somehow brings together every “era” of the Godzilla films perfectly. It has a little bit of everything in it. From storylines to monsters, somehow Stokoe fits it all in.

Somehow he puts everything a Godzilla fan could want into one story. We get tons of fan-service moments, from giant battles to small little Easter eggs throughout. There is really nothing left out that any fan of the irradiated lizard could want. Stokoe impressively showcases everything fans of the kaiju could want.

While it has tons of fan-service moments and plays off just about every movie from every era, Godzilla: The Half Century War is an incredible, original story all in of its own. We follow Lieutenant Ota Murakami as he first comes in contact with Godzilla in 1954. From then on, we follow Murakami as he battles Godzilla through the different eras.

Destroy All Monsters

Telling the story through Lieutenant Ota Murakami is a delightful play by Stokoe. We not only get to see the monster through his eyes, but how his thoughts and mind change through the series as he grows older battling the beast. It builds that human connection that kaiju stories need. We build a strong connection to the cast in Godzilla: The Half Century War.

There is a fantastic cast of human characters as well. The monster hunter division that surrounds Murakami after his first in-counter is full of delightfully oddball people that are dedicated to the monster fight. We also get the classic villain that may be worse than the monsters we are fighting. It all comes together for a fantastic read.

All Monsters Attack

This all would not come together so perfectly without the masterful artwork by Jame Stokoe. It is a treat whenever he has a book on the shelves. I think the last thing I reviewed of his was Aliens: Dead Orbit a few years back. Stokoe’s art is almost indescribable. It is hyper-detailed, yet full of wonderful motion and “weight”.

Somehow Stokoe captures that awe-inspiring image of a giant kaiju on the comic book page. When Godzilla or any other giant monster shows up it is a spectacle that Stokoe captures masterfully on the pages. The weight and size of the creatures is fully realized in his art. The perspective he puts on the pages captures everything from the battles to the damage. 

Atomic Breath

Again, with all of Stokoe’s work, there is just a massive amount of detail in every page and every panel. From backgrounds to vehicles, to characters’ clothing, everything is fully realized. You could spend hours on each and every page just soaking up everything Stokoe has put in there. He also gives a wonderful sense of movement and action of the pages. It doesn’t feel static or motionless. Everything has this sense of energy and flow.

Stokoe’s does a great job of capturing emotion on characters faces. At times he has a bit of a “manga” type facial expression with some over-exaggeration, but it works well within the confines of his work. But he does an excellent job of conveying the characters’ feelings through his art. Whether it is sadness, despair, fear; whatever, Stokoe shows it in the characters.

Final Wars

If you are a Godzilla fan and have not read this series then just stop right now and get it. The whole five-issue series is on comiXology Unlimited, but I also suggest the deluxe hardcover to get the full scope of James Stokoe’s art! If you have never watched a Godzilla movie, this is still a great series and honestly a great introduction to the character. It combines everything there is to love about Godzilla in one nice package! It is also just a great story in and of itself.

Obviously I love this series and I can’t praise it enough. It is one of my all-time favorite comic books and love to go back and read it from time to time. This is a 10 out of 5 atomic breaths!


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About the author

Brent Jackson

Brent is happily married and an avid comic book consumer who loves nothing more than the smell of comics in the morning and diving through a long box of back issues. By day he is a nutritionist and has also been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 10 years. He is probably not the coolest person you have ever met. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @brentjackson30

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