If you’re a Godzilla fan and you’ve missed out on the wild world of Godzilla comics, there is no time like the present to jump right on in. Godzilla is one of those characters whose stories swing wildly from action-packed ‘70s manga to the bizarre world of Marvel superheroes and beyond, which means there’s no bad place to start. Some of the best comic creators of our times have worked on various Godzilla stories, and I for one am a huge fan of our justifiably angry Kaiju.
Case in point, Godzilla in Hell, which is a very cool extension of the Godzilla mythos that doesn’t require any kind of a deep dive into the franchise to enjoy. Initially a response to the horrors of the bombings of Japan by the U.S. during WWII, one of the plus sides (for the casual fan) is that Godzilla’s premise is nebulous enough that its easy to place him in any number of environments. For instance, literal Hell.
Perhaps the most important thing to note about this series is that it is low on plot, high on metal riffs and Kaiju fights. The first issue sees our Godzilla dropped unceremoniously into the netherworld. He immediately comes face to face with an enormous sign that reads “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!” which he promptly destroys (you show that ancient tablet, Godzilla! You don’t need those negative vibes in your life!) Godzilla continues onward, and that is more or less the whole story here.
Yet, there’s more to it than that, or why would I be here, recommending it to you? The fact is that Godzilla In Hell was entirely dependent on (its highly rocking concept, and) the incredible artists that were chosen to work on this book. Each story features a master of their craft, drawing or painting their whole hearts out and bringing us a visual smorgasbord. Again, this approach isn’t going to be everybody’s jam, but if you like pouring over each panel and letting your eyes feast, then you’re going to have a lot of fun with this.
The first artist to appear is James Stokoe, whose hyper-detailed linework and attention to every corner of every panel makes for a gorgeous and thrilling fight with a demonic Kaiju. When Godzilla rips the monster’s throat with the teeth, it simply goes full Eldritch Horror and transforms into a gory, tentacled mess. Godzilla falls through another floor in Hell, leading him to the next issue, written and painted by Bob Eggleton. This story returns us to a slightly more standard Godzilla feel as our guy goes up against demonically possessed versions of Rodan, Anguirus, Varan, and, of course, our friend, Monster Zero.
The third issue is brought to us by storytellers Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas, alongside the art of Buster Moody. The visuals here are key as Godzilla fights a monsters, encounters a mountain of souls, and then finds himself barraged by thousands of fairies that insist that he “serve peace!” As he fights his next demonic foe, the fairies enter his throat and nearly defeat him, but he atomic breathes his way right on to the next fight in a story by writer Brandon Seifert and artist Ibrahim Moustafa (with some impressive colors by Marissa Louise.) This is mostly a Kaiju brawl over a decayed, apparently empty city. The fifth story is by Dave Watcher, showing Godzilla as he fights, not against any monster, but against the weather. Extremes of fire and ice attack him as he struggles to move forward. Finally, he is attacked by a swarm of winged demons with sharp teeth, and they consume all the flesh from his body, only to see him rise again, using them in place of his flesh as he climbs atop the throne of Hell. Yes! You rule, Godzilla!
One of the great strengths of this story is that it makes no attempt to get into Godzilla’s inner workings. He’s a creature of pure Id, dropped into Hell for a reason we aren’t privy to. Likewise, this is also a rare Godzilla story in which humans don’t make an appearance, so nothing here is supposed to serve as a morality lesson. While there is plenty of room for those in the Godzilla mythos, it’s pretty refreshing to read a story that doesn’t go over the top trying to anthropomorphize the big guy. Here, he is allowed – nay, encouraged – to do what he does best (destroy things that annoy him in highly epic ways.)
It isn’t a fully wordless comic, and indeed, the second issue features a compelling, pulp style narrative over Godzilla’s journey through the netherworld, but the words are sparse. Again, there is very little development, and the main premise is just that Godzilla fights Hell demons and other Kaiju. The plot of this comic is defined more or less in full by the title of the series, so if you’re looking for a complex conversation about the effects of humanity’s hubris on the natural world, this might not be the book for you. Fortunately for you, there are many, many other Godzilla comics to peruse! However, if you are here for great art, metal vibes, and Godzilla going sick house on demons and monsters alike in a trek across Hell, this book will not disappoint.