At issue three, the Gangsters & Goliaths mini-series has officially reached its halfway mark of its five issue run. Author John Layman keeps up the interest in this comic, continuing to craft a pretty original monster story, while once again the art is the comic's major drawback.
In terms of plot, the issue opens with an attack by King Ghidorah that happened twenty years ago. A young Makato Sato is trying to protect a crowd by ordering them away from the monster, while he comes into conflict with his wife, taking priority for his job over his family. Back to modern day, Sato warns one of his sons of his actions, of using Mothra to attack the Takahashi crime syndicate, and that they will likely seek revenge. Sato, meanwhile, attempts to coax the Elias into letting Mothra finish off the syndicate; however, Godzilla arrives to prove the Elias right about the shift in "balance" while the crime syndicate has discovered the detective's location.
Layman's story has hit full gear here, producing mostly stellar results. To start off with the downside, Sato has been revealed to not be a loose cannon afterall or the dark anti-hero he seemed earlier. The Elias, effectively, call his bluff and his inability to hurt innocents. In a way, this works with the character development seen in this issue and his extreme dedication to his service as a law enforcer, even at the expense of his family. However, it takes the edge off Sato and in many ways makes the story far more predictable. Despite some lost potential, the story is still pretty solid with excellent pacing. Layman's style of jumping to flashbacks from the present feels very well constructed and thought out. In effect, he's making the most of the comic medium to tell a story quickly with a lot of detail. Sato's son, who is introducted and has his relationship with his father developed, is already starting to play an important part by the issue's end and will likely be a key figuring going forward.
This comic also ramps up the monster angle, although without the impact that Mothra had in issue #2. Her actions here are all seen briefly in flashback, while King Ghidorah's role at the start could have been interchangeable with just about any kaiju. Godzilla does make a nice appearance toward the end though, making his real first impact in the series so far.
In relation to the monsters, although the human cast suffers far more, the drawback of this issue is the art by Alberto Ponticelli. His style is distinct and loose, to be fair, but sadly suffers too much of the latter. The human characters in particular change in appearance dramatically from panel to panel, to the point where one is thankful for their clothes to help tell them apart. Colorist Jay Fotos doesn't help matters either, getting sloppy with a character bleeding from the face in one panel and then clean the next, or white bandages being colored a flesh tone by accident. While he did okay with the other issues, his work here feels rushed and a little sloppy, outside of some excellent work in crafting King Ghidorah's gravity bolts at the start.
As for the covers, there is one by Dan Brereton of Godzilla and another by Alberto Ponticelli of Sato, his son and Mothra. Both are decent, but as far as covers go neither packs that punch that a good cover should. Ponticelli's had potential, but the strange angle of Mothra's wing and the odd placement of the boat and cars make it seem more like a metaphor for the issue's contents rather than an action scene.
Overall, its not as solid as the first two, but then halfway points rarely are in a mini-series. It does a good job of developing the cast more and still maintains the reader's interest for the next issue. Layman is proving that he is more than up for the task of infusing some creativity in a genre often plagued with feeling very similar. Now if only the art would match the writing quality...
You have to wonder while reading this series how they can mess up the ongoing so bad. Gangsters and Goliaths has been a far superior series to Kingdom of Monsters so far. Does it continue to be, or does it go down? Read on.
It feels like they really sat down and scripted everything out beforehand, whereas Kingdom of Monsters feels like they just throw in whatever comes to mind each issue. The latest issue of this mini-series is a step-up from the last two, (I know, right? It's hard to imagine.) The issue was just PERFECT.
The comic plays out like a Heisei film. There are so many moments, Godzilla's rise out of the sea, the destruction, it's just too awesome when you've been a fan for so long.
How would you start a Godzilla comic? With King Ghidorah attacking the city of course! The flashback in the beginning was a nice touch, it also shows what a lot of the films don't really show: How the humans are surviving the destruction of these beasts.
The story has a deep ongoing plot that reads like a classic Godzilla film mixed in with a mafia story. Detective Sato continues to impress as a character, and the Cosmos do a good job of explaining the balance and order of things. How the plot progresses with Sato understanding that is great and comes off natural. But of course, things turn for the worst for him soon after he tries to leave his apartment.
The only thing I can say that is negative is the art. The monsters look great, (we get some impressive shots of Godzilla and Mothra looking plain epic) but a lot of the time the humans look just too sketchy.
There are good character driven moments here. Of course, the best come with the monsters, with the most impressive being Godzilla's eye staring at a shocked Sato.
In closing, this is the best issue yet for the big G. It's got everything you want: A good plot, good characters, and great monster scenes. Basically, it's everything Kingdom of Monsters fails to be. Also, I thought I'd die from joy at the cover for the next issue. The next issue has the chance to be the BEST COMIC ISSUE EVER!
I give this issue a 9/10.
BW Media at Comixology wrote:What they got right: Godzilla finally has a featured appearance, although now that he's here I have to remind myself that even in the movies there's often a good reason to hold off of bringing in the big guy. I may have been too harsh on Layman previously if that's what he was going with.
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