I've been quietly curious about IDW's Godzilla monthlies for a while now. I would say I'm a casual G-fan - I can name about 90% of the Toho monsters on sight, but I can't identify Godzilla by the periods identifiable in his many costume changes. I know more about Godzilla than some, but considerably less than the hardcore fans. It's just something to consider as I give my two-cents on IDW's latest, Godzilla: Rulers of the Earth. I'm no expert here, but I like fun comics and I like Godzilla. This first issue seems to land right in the middle of that Venn diagram.
Artist Matt Frank's cartoony figure work shares a similarity with Todd Nauck, but you don't buy a Godzilla book for Hogarth-level renderings of the human form - you buy it for the big monsters, and that's where Frank really shines. His kaiju are big and mean and have a life to them that draws the reader's attention. We need the humans to propel the story, but every page without a monster is practically begging to be turned as quickly as possible.
Most of the action here centers around a conference in Hawaii, with scientists trying to make sense of the recent influx of "megazoological" findings. Some of the big guns are off the map (Mothra, Rodan), while others, notably Gigan and giant spider Kumonga, are still tearing things up without interference from modern military forces. Of course Godzilla is in here as well, and he squares off against a monster I really didn't expect to see in one of these comics.
More faithful than Marvel's late 1970s attempt at Godzilla comics and more sci-fi fun than Dark Horse's Godzilla from the 90s, writer Chris Mowry and Frank are making the best of the license. Rulers of the Earth is supposed to be ongoing, and there's a level of untapped potential in long-form serialized Godzilla stories. The creative team has enough time on their hands to make the human characters worthwhile, yet it's the biggest challenge ahead of them because few are buying these books for interpersonal character drama. They already have the monster-smashing down - is it asking too much for more? Maybe so. This is Godzilla: Rulers of the Earth after all, not Random Scientists: Watchers of the Rulers of the Earth. Who needs people, anyway?