Godzilla: Aftershock (Graphic Novel)

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Continuing the story of 2014’s Godzilla after the catastrophic events in San Francisco, the King of the Monsters finds himself once again threatened as a terrifying new foe rises from the depths of the earth, unleashing a series of devastating earthquakes and driven by an unstoppable primal instinct that will test the King of Monsters like never before.

Before Godzilla dukes it out on the big screen once again, Legendary Pictures, has launched an official prequel comic graphic novel, Godzilla: Aftershock. Is it worth picking up before heading to the theater? Check our review to see what we thought!

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am by the recent Godzilla resurgence. Between the new film and the “MonsterVerse” with more films on the way it’s a great time to be a Kaiju fan. I grew up with the original films and have had a deep love of all things monster movies ever since. As such, I jumped at the chance to check out the new graphic novel, Godzilla: Aftershock, when they asked me too.

Though it’s billed as a prequel to the new film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Aftershock actually works more like a direct follow-up to the previous 2014 film. It takes place just a few months after the events in San Francisco as Monarch has now stepped out of the shadows and working openly to track other monsters along with Godzilla. During their investigations, they discover an all new monster, a MUTO Prime that is looking to complete their primal instincts and lay eggs inside of Godzilla.

Along the way, however, we learn more about the ancient history of Godzilla, via stone tablets from the 11th century BC. These old texts emphasize the idea that these kind of monsters aren’t anything new and Godzilla’s species have been around for a while. This also provides insight on the MUTOs from the first film and how those species have evolved in tandem with Godzilla.

In this way, it feels like an epilogue to the first movie as we’re still essentially dealing with the same type of monster/problem. That said, we still get some insight regarding King of the Monsters. The comic introduces us to Dr. Emma Russell (played by Vera Farmiga in the upcoming movie) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) which gives us a bit more info on how they come to be involved in all the monster madness. Some of the characters we’ve already met make an appearance as well, including one awesome nod to Kong: Skull Island, that I thought was pretty cool.

The story itself is largely what you’d expect out of a Godzilla story, with plenty of action to accompany it. There are some interesting twists thrown in with Monarch and a mysterious mercenary with plans of his own (which I’m curious to see WHERE that plot thread will pay off), that changes things up. It’s a solid combination of classic Godzilla awesomeness and the elements that define the new, modern, era of the franchise.

Being a graphic novel, the story pretty much lives or dies based on the art. In this, you’re in luck as the book is drop dead gorgeous. The human characters are easily recognizable to their live-action counterparts, and the spreads are laid out in an easy to read format that flows off the page.

The monster designs are also impressive and look stunning on the page. I was really surprised at how well the giant monster action managed to translate in still frame form. It looks great and between the art and layout of the pages, you practically feel the impact of the blows being exchanged between the battling monsters.

The only thing I would have liked is for it to be a smidge longer. It does a good job of telling its own story, but still feels like we’re missing out on some character moments that would explain things a little better. While some of these things will likely be explored more in the film, it makes some of the scenes in the graphic novel fall flat emotionally. Regardless, it was still engaging enough that I blew through it in a single sitting.

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While you might not think that comics would be a great place for the monster action of Godzilla, Aftershock makes a strong case for continued graphic novel adventures. It works as a great endcap to the 2014 film, while introducing us to some of the new characters we’ll be seeing in King of the Monsters.

Some of the emotional moments don’t always land, but between the story, the additions to the overall lore, and some stellar artwork, Godzilla: Aftershock is still a story worth picking up. It will definitely get you hyped and ready for the new film.
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