Issue number 5 of Kaijumax Season 2, Friends on the Outside, is in stores this Wednesday. Written and drawn by Eisner Award-winning creator Zander Cannon (Heck, Top 10) Kaijumax is an ongoing comic series that features the intertwining sagas of giant monsters incarcerated for the destruction witnessed in classic Toho films. For those of you who have yet to pick up any issue of the series, this issue features several primary narratives of the series hitting full speed as it heads into the Season Finale in the next issue, number 6.
While remaining as spoiler-free as possible this issue sees main character Electrogor, an insectlike giant monster, with a penchant for generating uranium, finally return home after being on the run. This is in part due to his actions at the end of Season 1 which is currently available in a single collected edition for those who want to catch-up.
The 11th issue overall, this issue also features a turning point in one of the story’s more unlikely pairings, the brother-sister duo of Chisato, the super-sized robot battlewoman and her brother the MechaGodzilla-esque MechaZon. The latter has forsworn his life of working for humans to battle the enemy he was created to destroy in favor of pursuing religion while he is in jail. The sometimes challenging ways that they relate to their “father,” and to the Ultraman inspired organizations that police the giant monsters of this world, intersect in a particularly rewarding way that has been building since the early days of the series.
That is one of the hallmarks of the series, the intense emotional connections that Cannon effortlessly establishes between the readers and the kaiju, be they inmates of the titular prison, monsters out on parole and looking to make a life for themselves, or even those still “in the game.” Not bad for a book where most of the characters are designed to look as if they could be portrayed by actors wearing rubber monster suits in a movie.
This Season has split its focus with the Science Police Team G.R.E.A.T., who has jurisdiction similar to the FBI outside the of the prison, and are often shown in briefing rooms or interrogations that feel as if they have been ripped from great crime television shows such as The Wire. If that praise seems out-of-place remember that this title was pitched as the prison-drama show Oz meets Godzilla’s Monster Island and it has never strayed far from either set of roots.
One of my favorite aspects of this series is the evolution of the character Jeong, a former prison guard who has suffered through a series of tragedies and is now almost constantly in his super-sized form. This series takes the relative innocence of something such as the teenagers from Power Rangers and asks what would happen if one of them never again wanted to leave their giant robot for fear of being squished by an enemy combatant.
Real pathos is mixed in with great, original terminology culled from the prison world and the long, storied history of kaiju film culture. Humans are called “squishers,” each gang have their own type of epithet (eg, the Cryptids and the J-Pop), and all swear by “goj” (as in Gojira the original name for Godzilla).
The previous issue had Electrogor venture into the giant monster equivalent of a ‘bad neighborhood’ when he met the Old Ones. Cthulhu makes an appearance that is unique and yet equally as unsettling as anything that H.P. Lovecraft or Alan Moore wrote featuring the character. Though each issue has its own story, when read together there is constant progression of the overall arc. The Lovecraftian sojourn through the ocean depths dovetails in the current issue’s climax which itself calls back to a seemingly unrelated scene from the very first issue.
Anyone who is a fan of giant monster movies, crime stories, or great original comics should check this book out. If nothing else you will see a giant robot using the grid projected from his torso as a prayer mat and I cannot imagine that you are going to see that in a Rebirth title.
Kaijumax Season 2 #5 is available Wednesday, October 12 at $3.99 from Oni Press.
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