By James Stokoe
From the man who delivered Godzilla: Half Century War, comes another story about the Big G himself, cast into the bowels of the Inferno. It’s no doubt a fascinating concept that delivers exactly what the title says, Godzilla is in Hell and must traverse what we can only assume are something reminiscent of the Nine Circles.
James Stokoe thrusts readers right into the thick of it. The book opens with Godzilla falling into a deep cavern. No explanation for how the King of Monsters arrived in this place, which only fuels the mystery. Soon after, it becomes very clear that Stokoe is using Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy as a key point of reference, which is no surprise since it’s the most well-known fictional depiction of Hell. This issue seems to focus on the entrance and vestibule. Of course, there is no dialog since the kaiju can’t speak and sadly, he has no guide which is potentially a totally missed opportunity. James adds his own elements to change things up and give Godzilla some real challenges along his journey, but the problem is that he uses the same trick twice. It became a bit of a gimmick.
Stokoe does have a unique art style that seems to complement the ancient look the setting calls for. His take on Godzilla is also a design that pulls from the Heisei and Millennial periods, which is arguably when the character appears his best…definitely a plus! The demons are interesting, but the designs aren’t anything fresh. His varied layouts serve the story well since there is no dialog. Godzilla’s actions and movements are depicted with great reverence. It is also a neat contrast of Big G’s green scales against the orange, brown and red of the background. He is always front and center.
This is no doubt an amazing idea, but unfortunately this debut issue doesn’t deliver. Godzilla has three obstacles in this book, but there is no real sense of danger or stakes. Yes, this is Godzilla, but he usually doesn’t come out of his fights unscathed. Perhaps, Stokoe is saving that for later issues, but one needs something to maintain readers for the follow-up. It’s recommended that fans give this one a chance and issue two as well. Fingers crossed that when he actually enters the first circle that things start to heat up!