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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 39,266
Subj: Godzilla In Hell - A visual Tour of the Underworld.
Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 at 02:18:48 pm EDT (Viewed 330 times)

In the history of the modern-age of the comics medium experimentation as to the limits of storytelling craft tend to shy away from releasing 22 pages of pictures without words. The idea of a comicbook that relies on the skill of the artist-as-storyteller over that of the writer is such a fear inducing thought to modern publishers that examples of such a release in the modernday American market are exceedingly hard to source. Only a creatively minded soul would want to produce a commercial comicbook that uses just the art to tell a story, editors and publishers certainly will balk at the mere suggestion of it. Hence therefore Godzilla In Hell being a brave and commendable attempt from IDW to trust in the creators vision and bank on the name recognition of Godzilla to be enough to sell the product.

The equivalent of a concept album Godzilla In Hell is one example of the comicbooks purest form of storytelling, writer/artist James Stokoe using his own talent and skill to enable a story-without-words and instead use the blank empty page before him to arrange his story in purely pictorial form, exacting just the right panel arrangement and using scale to produce an end result that while a thin exprience on first looks goes on to stay in the mind replaying itself for days after. Certainly that was my own experience upon reading the first issue - as in its simplest form Godzilla In Hell is tale with no point or purpose, we open with Godzilla falling down through a huge gash in the earth above and watch as the creature finds itself in a strange featureless desert vista. Attacked by strange manifestations we then end the book with a replay of the opening page as the creature again falls down another gash opening up in the earth. And so while it may at first glance seem a pointless exercise this usage of a cycle for Godzilla, of the beginning being the ending, actually ends up being a powerful device to get the story to stay in the readers mind.
As a cliffhanger it is both cannily judged and very successful in its aim, to get the reader to think on it and be here next month for the next installment in this strange fate Godzilla finds itself in.

With narration vetoed, and script non-existent, it is picture arrangement that has to tell the tale. James Stokoe does this with an impressive technique of using the mute but intractable Godzilla to contrast the environment around it, the environment is inhospitable and dangerous, but then so too is Godzille, and as the creature intuitively ploughs ever forward towards the horizon the tale at hand is actually not at all different to any other Godzilla tale when one looks past the strangeness and horror - James Stokoe delivering another example of nature versus order. If Godzilla is representative of the forces of nature abroad in the world then 'Hell' which he finds himself caught in is just the latest landscape for him to tear across and by doing so test the mettle of whatever things live there. This time at least the challenge set before him is more amorphous and sinister, but as the landscape seems to come alive to challenge him that challenge is met head on and in the end routed in impressive fashion by the King of the Beasts. If the intent of those forces here is to test the notorious destroyer of cities then that test may well be one to destruction if the first round here is any indicator... as one level of hell is tested and surpassed the next awaits... with no doubt greater challenges to come...

Above:Godzilla Vs. Godzilla? With each page filled with an incredible level of detail James Stokoe's finest moments for the first issue are difficult ones to select. Certainly the sequences of Godzilla being swamped by a vast swarming cloud of what are then glimpsed to actually be a seething mass of distressed figures of the damned is a supeerb piece of work. But so too is the initial opening sequence of Godzilla picking himmself off the ground and heading off into the distance, leaving dust spelling 'Lust' behind him - a clever method of clueing the reader into what it is they are seeing occuring in subsequent pages. Stokoe's work here is sublimely competent, despite the content and setting being so desperately limited in its emotional range he still manages to engage the attentive readers interest by asking them the unspoken question - Why? How? What For?

And Who?.

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