In 2009, writer/artist James Stokoe knocked me off my feet (as well as all other observers, no doubt) with a four-page comic he was “messing around with” called World War G. At the time, no American comic bookcompany had the rights to Godzilla at the time, and they weren’t sufficiently interested to acquire them. Well, after obtaining just that in 2010, IDW gave Stokoe a five-issue book in 2012… and he turned out what is, in my opinion, the best Godzilla comic ever published in English. There’s a reason why Godzilla’s face on the cover of issue #1 has been my avatar for well over a year now.
Each issue chronicles a separate adventure in the life of Ota Murakami, longtime member of the Anti-Megalosaurus Force, from Godzilla’s first rampage in 1954 to a desperate battle in Antarctica against Gigan and King Ghidorah in 2002. That span of time allows The Half-Century War to evoke damn near the entire series, though it maintains its own serio-comic tone throughout.
And - let’s face it, Godzilla is a pretty cryptic character, as far as cinematic icons go. Speaking only with roars and grunts (the famous exchanges with Anguirus in Gigan aside), we can hypothesize his various motivations throughout his long history, but never know for sure. Accordingly, Murakami spends most of his life trying to understand Godzilla, and eventually realizes that his inscrutability is the point. In issue #4, he even gets a bit meta on us: “Godzilla was still here, destroying everything he touched. It had finally occurred to me that he’d be here long after I was gone.” As the King of the Monsters (savior of our city?) enters his sixth decade of life revitalized as a Hollywood star, it’s easy for us to ponder the same thing.
Finally, the artwork is unbelievable - hyper-detailed with a distinctive color palette dominated by blues and reds, and top-notch character and mech designs (although there are once again almost no women). But I’m not explaining this book sufficiently. You’ll just have to get it and see for yourself