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Book Review: Godzilla Awakening

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GODZILLA hits theaters in just a couple of days but you can already begin to delve into the prequel comic, GODZILLA AWAKENING, which is available today from Legendary Comics. Written by screenwriter Max Borenstein alongside Greg Borenstein, GODZILLA AWAKENING gives the background tale of the monstrous origins of the creatures to be seen in the long awaited reboot of the Japanese franchise. It should go without saying that this review will contain spoilers for GODZILLA. If you wish to go into the movie fresh I would not continue as GODZILLA AWAKENING clearly lays out exactly what the monsters are and how they came to be.

At a spare 80 pages, GODZILLA AWAKENING is not the most in depth or action-packed comic I have ever read, but it does lay out the origin of the lizard monster in a way that would definitely slow the pace of a feature film. Not having seen GODZILLA yet, I cannot say for sure if any of this information is repeated in the film, but at the very least it should give a better understanding of which side the monsters fall on. I can say without a doubt now that Godzilla, or Gojira as he is called in the comic, is a good guy and not a foe.

Told as a flashback from the perspective of Japanese soldier named Serizawa, father to Ken Watanabe's character in the film, GODZILLA AWAKENING takes us all the way back to the bombing of Hiroshima which awoke not only Gojira but his mortal enemy, the parasitic monster Shinomura. According to the comic, Gojira and Shinomura have existed for hundreds of millions of years. Gojira serves as the predator that keeps Shinomura in check. They remained dormant for millions of years until the radiation from Hiroshima awoke them and their battle recommenced.

We also learn of the existence of an organization that exists between the Americans and Japanese known as The Monarch Unit, headed by General Douglas MacArthur. The sole purpose of the unit is to find the M.U.T.O.(Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) known as Shinomura and destroy it. We learn that Shinomura is actually thousands, maybe millions, of gigantic single cells that work together as a swarm to create a super creature. This explains why the beast is able to be almost destroyed and still survive for another battle. Serizawa believes that Gojira exists despite no one else having seen the beast. The Monarch Unit then tracks the creatures for years through the islands of the Pacific, trying to find a way to defeat them. In the end, MacArthur orders a nuclear bomb to be dropped on the two monsters, effectively destroying Shinomura and potentially Gojira as well. But, as we all know, these two are just going to be dormant to face each other again in 2014.

GODZILLA AWAKENING is a quick, self-contained read, that doesn't do a hell of a lot aside from give a long explanation as to what Godzilla is and that he is a misunderstood champion of the Earth, here to keep his monstrous opponent Shinomura in check. It also serves as a basic introduction to the Monarch Unit which will also play a significant part in the film. Shinomura is clearly a different M.U.T.O. than the one seen in the GODZILLA trailer, so how more creatures appear will remain to be seen.

Overall, the artwork in GODZILLA AWAKENING is nice if not terribly unique. It is cool to see the multiple artists contribute to the look of the newly redesigned Gojira even if the human characters are basically interchangeable and generic in appearance. The story is definitely what makes this comic worth reading. Having the screenwriter of the film involved means this will have a direct connection to the film itself. Early reactions to GODZILLA have said that director Gareth Edwards doesn't always show the action directly and instead makes the viewer draw their own conclusions and the comic does the same. We see still shots of Gojira in battle or the aftermath of those fights rather than witnessing the brawl first hand. This makes for an entertaining experience, although not terribly exciting. But, I am glad to have read this prequel and am now fully pumped to see GODZILLA when it opens on May 16th.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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