I barely ever read comics anymore. And even when I did, I almost never read movie tie-in comics. So I guess that makes me the perfect person to review this Godzilla prequel graphic novel. I'm practically an expert!
I honestly don't know what I expected to find when I opened up Godzilla: Awakening last night, but, oddly enough, a massive, concrete origin for this new Godzilla was not on the list. If you read this book (which comes out today both online and in the physical universe), you may feel like you learned a bit too much about this upcoming film, which is weird since it's a sanctioned bit of merchandise released to gear people up for the film. I'm not sure any of it counts as spoilery. But it has that feel.
So I'm going to try and walk around the details, story wise, except to say that Godzilla's ad campaign, while very well executed, seems to have really created a false sense of dread and a supposedly heightened disaster movie narrative tone. According to the origin proposed in this comic, Godzilla is going to be a lot more pulpy and cool than many of us expect.
While that's all very exciting, it also kind of disguises the graphic novel's poor overall quality. The origin story takes place over a great number of years and often moves so fast I had a hard time keeping up with it. To make matters worse, the artwork (penciled by Eric Battle, Yvel Guichet, and Alan Quah) often feels obscure and unclear, particularly when it comes to physical movement. I'm not a comic book reading pro, but trying to understand events in this book felt far too frustrating. There's a frequently present non-Godzilla kaiju in the book. I saw it in dozens of panels and yet have little idea what it looks like.
Comic book artwork seems pretty subjective, so I can still imagine people enjoying Godzilla: Awakening on a visual level even though I didn't enjoy looking at it much. Unfortunately, the script (written by Greg Borenstein and Godzilla writer Max Borenstein) has too much origin work going on to actually tell a human story worth any emotional investment.
But then again, it's not really about people; it's about Godzilla. The book is an astounding success when it comes to raising excitement for the film. In fact, I highly recommend it as a method for discovering Godzilla's true narrative tone. But I also believe Godzilla: Awakening's value will drop to almost nothing once you actually see the movie.