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Kaijumax #1

Zander Cannon, writer & artist
Oni Press

Review by Jon A. Adams

What a fun book! The writer takes two sub-genres that I have no interest in; movies about giant, rampaging monsters and tv shows about life in prison; and smooshes them into a cute yet poignant mash-up.

I quote from the inside front cover: “On a remote island in the South Pacific lies Kaijumax, a maximum security prison for giant monsters. We humans don’t care if these creatures are metaphors for man’s scientific hubris – they need to be contained!”

The lead character, Electrogor, was out foraging for food for his children when he was pinched. The poor guy is more concerned for his family’s safety then himself, which leads him to make a few very bad decisions. You don’t want to give neither the guards nor your fellow inmates anything they hold over you. We soon learn the prison yard is divided between the Kaiju and the Cryps. Kaiju are reminiscent of Japanese movie giant monsters and Cryptids are legendary monsters, like Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster. (Neither of whom actually appears; they are just the best examples.) There is also a third group of inmates: neutral, ultra-religious giant robots, who bide their time with their own sinister agenda. The guards are humans in power-armor. In the event of a riot or escape attempt, they can power-up into giants like Ultraman or Spectraman, to equalize any battles with the inmates.

There are many humorous interpretations of prison movie clichés, like the exercise room, which has replicas of large cities for the monsters to stomp. And there is an aging mafia don type who thinks he’s still on top, with a claim over Tokyo. This creature; a giant, bipedal, barnacle-crusted whale who stands like a gorilla; has a goofy-looking, idiot son. Then it hits me – I once read that the name “Godzilla” was derived from the Japanese words for “gorilla” and “whale.” Now I get that character and who he represents. I think the more you know about these types of films (and I know almost nothing), the more you would appreciate this book.

My verdict: Recommend, with the disclaimer that it is best suited for fans of the genre than for those going in cold, like me. It charmed me, and is refreshingly silly at times. And definitely not for children, despite the over-all look and feel of the artwork.

September 10, 2015
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