Reading Pile: Godzilla Cataclysm TP
I've recently been in a Godzilla type of mood (I mean, more so than usual I guess), so I pulled this fun mini-series out of my to-be-read pile to scratch that itch and talk your ear off (or write your eyes out?) about the art of Dave Wachter. Because seriously, I love me some Wachter. And Cullen Bunn's here too and he's great, but you can't throw a rock in this industry without hitting something he's worked on so I won't go on about him.
Cataclysm fits into my personal preference of Godzilla fiction where you can tell little stories like this and continuity doesn't really matter. In the grand multiverse of Godzilla stories, this one takes place in a world that's been utterly destroyed by the kaiju wars. Mankind lives on the scraps of what's left of civilization, and because we haven't seen monsters in a while they've taken on a more mythic and godlike presence in what's left of our scattered society. This makes for some interesting quick takes on how desperate we become after such an devastating event, as kaiju worship and human sacrifices are totally on the table.
Most of the story hinges on the elder Hiroshi's POV as he laments the past and his role in what came beforehand. It's your standard 'The hubris of humanity brought this shit upon us' kinda arc, so nothing too new there but it's well handled. The story also spends time with his grandson Arata and his friend Shiori, a pair that goes out with a scavenging party only to be the first to witness the return of the monsters.
There's some good buildup and pacing throughout , but it is a bit light on characterization. A bit of that is because it's a little too broken up as Hiroshi can't really partake in the action parts of the story and the kids don't really offer much for the thematic elements of regret and responsibility that his arc offers. There is a generational quality to it though as it focuses a little on humanity's responsibility for destroying the Earth and tempting fate with our delusions of control, but it's all lightly touched on as you gotta keep the pace going for all the cool monsters killing humans.
And then we need space for the big monster battles, which there are plenty of and they all look great. Plus the fights are fairly spread out over different monsters, so you get some great match ups like Mothera VS Megaguirus.
A lot of why this all works so well is that nicely detailed Wachter art. He's great when it comes to monsters so it's a bit of a smorgasbord of engaging looking creatures. I think the first time I really caught on to his work was back in 2012 with his Night of a 1000 Wolves. Elements of his linework and attention to detail reminded me of Bernie Wrightson and I was instantly hooked. If you get the chance I highly recommend working through a lot his older work, including his current contributions to the IDW TMNT series. Lots of great mutants for him to draw over there, plus it's just been a really fun series.
Another plus for this package is that it gives you a bunch of the variant covers as well, and the reason I want to highlight that is because of the utterly amazing Bob Eggleton paintings. He's a pretty prolific science fiction, fantasy, and horror artist and a huge Godzilla fan, and it's great to see his contributions to this series.
Currently it seems that this edition is out of print as I see some pretty ridiculous prices online. You may just want to spring for the digital version, because while I enjoyed it I wouldn't drop $100+ on a print copy when the digital is like $5. Alternatively, the single issues shouldn't be too difficult to track down, plus if you like that Eggleton art you can have fun hunting down the variants.
As I said, I like little dips into Godzilla that don't have to take place in a set timeline or continuity. Having a more post-apocalyptic tone made this feel fresh, plus it left you wondering about what other parts of the world might be like in this kind of reality. The human element wasn't the most engaging as 'Old man has beef to settle with Godzilla' has been done before and with greater success (see Godzilla: Half-Century War). The story still did what it needed to do though, and that was deliver enough kaiju on kaiju action for an amazing artist to go crazy with.