Godzilla: Monsters and Protectors offers plenty of thrills for young readers that feels like a classic Saturday morning cartoon.
Kids love dinosaurs and giant monsters, so the appeal of Godzilla to young readers is self-evident. To satisfy that itch, IDW Publishing has delivered a kid-friendly outing for the classic King of the Monsters in Godzilla: Monsters and Protectors #1. Following the smashing success of Godzilla vs Kong, Godzilla has returned to the pages of American comics in a middle-grade adventure written by Erik Burnham and drawn by Dan Schoening. The first issue is an exposition-heavy debut that nonetheless offers plenty of thrills for young readers that feels like a classic Saturday morning cartoon.
Godzilla: Monsters and Protectors #1 introduces the series’ lead point of view character, 8th-grade boy genius Cedric Nishimura, declaring through his “MeTube” channel that he has saved the world. He continues on to describe the launch of a new experimental power plant from the Unival corporation that awoke Godzilla, who is presented here as a defender of the Earth’s ecosystem. Godzilla destroys the Unival power plant while Cedric hints that the king of the monsters has more in mind than smashing a few buildings.
Burnham’s story is straightforward: a corporation has harmed the environment, and Godzilla has risen to correct the imbalance, but the setup to get there feels unnecessarily padded out to get to 5 issues. The choice to spend the first 7 pages on the specifics of the power plant makes the beginning of the book a chore that seems liable to lose the intended audience. Much of the explanation could have been omitted or presented more naturally. Nonetheless, Burnham effectively introduces Cedric and his classmates as genuine characters and the device of the character speaking to his camera invites the reader directly into the lead’s headspace. Cedric is not exactly a likable character, coming across both boastful and self-absorbed. Nonetheless, he provides a wide-eyed window into the world of kaiju that speaks directly to a younger audience.
Schoening’s art carries the book through some of the script’s pacing issues. He provides clear and dynamic layouts that keep dialogue-heavy scenes lively, and he plays with the MeTube screen in some interesting ways in the panel design. Characters are expressive and their personalities come across in both body language and facial expression. The book truly shines in scenes where the titular monster is on display, and Schoening sells Godzilla’s size and power, smartly pulling out to provide a sense of scale. There is an impressive double-page spread that a young audience, in particular, is bound to love, and the action is clear and bold and uncluttered.
It is worth talking about the design of Godzilla itself. This is not a frightening creature like most modern films in the franchise but a far more expressive and cartoony depiction and the thick lines help to sell the sheer weight of the monster. The style makes Godzilla appear more friendly, even as he smashes without mercy. It works, considering the series appears to be setting up Godzilla working with Cedric and his friends in some capacity. Schoening strikes a balance between imposing and lovable that leans into a more heroic take on the character. One could imagine a student drawing and redrawing this version of the monster in their notebook during class.
Luis Delgado’s colors are bold and bright, helping to set the cheery tone and making Godzilla’s appearance feel more heroic and exciting than scary. Nathan Widick’s lettering keeps things clear and leads readers effortlessly across the page, which is especially important in this dialogue-heavy issue. The book is never difficult to read or confusing in regard to who is speaking.
Overall, Godzilla: Monsters and Protectors is a solid start that delivers some fun Godzilla destruction for kids who might be hankering for monster action. There also seem to be some positive environmental themes for young readers that invokes the franchise’s long history. While this issue, in particular, spends too much time explaining the specifics of fake science, there is plenty to look forward to once the setup is out of the way. Adult kaiju fans will not find much here storywise, but as an introduction to both the world of Godzilla and comic books, Monsters and Protectors is sure to spark young readers’ imaginations.
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