Godzilla: Awakening review

With less than two weeks to go before Godzilla stomps into theaters, this graphic novels brushes up on the big green guy’s history.

Legendary Pictures’ publishing arm, Legendary Comics, has released an 80-page graphic novel this week titled Godzilla: Awakening, which acts as a print prequel to the new Godzilla movie that arrives on May 16. The book is co-written by Max Borenstein – the credited screenwriter on the movie – and Greg Borenstein, and delves further into events that took place largely in the 1940s, paving the way for the emergence of Godzilla into the modern world.

I’m hesitant to get too deeply into details of the story for anyone who wants to go into the movie cold, because the book does get into the history of Gojira — as he is referenced here — his origins and purpose, and his relationship to the other creatures, known as MUTOs, that also appear in the film and have a long history as well. I don’t think that reading the book beforehand necessarily spoils anything for you – it may in fact give you a leg up while watching the film in case any details or exposition fly by on a first viewing (that’s par for the course with any movie, not Godzilla in particular). For me, having seen the movie before reading the book, it enhanced certain plot details while providing back story for not just the monsters but one of the film’s major characters. But you still might want to watch the film first, which is an appropriate choice as well.

What’s also interesting is that the structure and art in the book actually mirror the structure and visual esthetic of the movie in a subtle way. Godzilla is only fleetingly glimpsed in this story (although you do see much more of him in the movie, don’t worry) and many of the panels that feature Godzilla or another monster are drawn from very specific points of view that only help in creating the impression of sheer, incredible size and power. Godzilla: Awakening goes for and often achieves a cinematic feel to match its bigger celluloid incarnation.

Kudos to illustrators Eric Battle (X-Men, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman), Yvel Guichet (Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero, Superboy Annual), Alan Quah (RageThe Vampire Diaries) and Lee Loughridge (Batman Adventures, Arkham Asylum: Living Hell) for an often luscious palette of colors and evocative images that certainly complement the movie while providing just a slightly different look for the monsters. The cover art by Arthur Adams (Godzilla, Fantastic Four, Uncanny X-Men) is quite striking as well. As I hinted above, Godzilla: Awakening can either serve as a nice appetizer for the epic main course hitting theaters a week and a half from now, or a pleasing side dish once you’ve sat down for the meal – and probably returned for seconds, as I intend to do.

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Godzilla: Awakening is available at comic book retailers now.

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3.5 out of 5