The Definitive Telling Of The Godzilla Story? Half Century War covers all the bases.
Despite being one of the most famous monster tales in history the Godzilla story has almost entirely passed me by. The only engagement I’ve had with Godzilla was Roland Emmerich’s 1998 big screen version starring Matthew Broderick. I didn’t mind it as piece of throw away entertainment.
With a new big budget Hollywood re-telling of the Godzilla story about to hit cinemas my interest has been piqued by the behind the scenes images coming from the social media feeds of production company Legendary. Now, it seems, is as good a time as any to jump on-board and I’ve chosen IDW Publishing’s collected edition of Godzilla Half Century War from James Stokoe.
Don’t expect high art. The illustrations throughout are bold and vibrant with colour. Godzilla (the monster) is wonderfully drawn where other aspects lack a little in refinement, but the style suits the rag-tag characters being portrayed.
23 months into his enlistment in the Japanese Self Defence the story follows the life of Lieutenant Ota Murakami, at this point a headstrong and fearless young man perched atop a tank seeking adventure. His wish is granted as his first encounter with the monster from the deep, Godzilla, leaves a deep impression on him. Alongside his partner Kentaro the pair realise that their weapons are powerless against the great beast but are able to distract Godzilla away from central Tokyo, saving thousands of inhabitants. As Godzilla retreats into the sea forces fire upon him, the creature is believed dead.
Murakami is left with a mix of relief and emptiness fearing he may never experience anything of such a scale again. But just a couple of months later their bravery finds them enlisted into a the AMF, Anti Megalosaurus Force as Godzilla is sighted once more. And this is where his fifty year obsession with Godzilla begins.
The story follows Murakami as he dedicates his life to tracking Godzilla’s movements around the globe, limiting the carnage as much as possible whilst testing the latest weaponry in a plight to bring Godzilla down, Kentaro begrudgingly in tow along with an unlikely team of misfits. A sub-plot plays out where we discover that scientist, Deverich, is manipulating not just Godzilla but other sleeping giants too. Always one step ahead of the AMF, Deverich must be stopped.
The Half Century War moves at a satisfying pace with plenty of action, quirkiness and excitement. What stands out most is Murakami’s respect and dependence upon his foe. Seemingly powerless to defeat Godzilla you sense that if that were to change Murakami would lose his purpose in life.
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