Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: James Raiz (p), Andrew Currie & Trevor Scott (i)
Since the middle of the 20th century gigantic monsters have been mysteriously appearing in and around Tokyo. Luckily, gigantic weapons (usually in the form of robots) have been appearing as well. In this issue American fighter pilot Zoe must adjust to piloting the Archangel robot while fighting a three-headed dragon-looking thing.
Hmm…giant robots fighting giant monsters in Japan. To my mind, Ellis could’ve approached this title many different ways, from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to classic Japanese monster films. Thankfully, he took a bit of each and combined them with his own overactive imagination to create a compelling East meets West story with generous portions of action.
I can’t talk about the issue without first addressing the bigass fight that we were promised at the end of issue #1. Ellis delivers in his typical style with clever ideas and the right amount of gore. The fight is nothing less than spectacular, and I’d love to see it portrayed on the movie screen. Ellis is credited with starting the trend of cinematic comic book writing, and this fight shows that reputation to be well deserved. This being Ellis, he has to be clever about his story, so we see the effects a fight of this scale would have on the city. People die because Zoe crashes into buildings with her robot while other people must deal with a Biblical flood level of blood after she cuts the monster open.
Unfortunately, James Raiz isn’t quite up to the task of conveying the fight, and it’s there that the issue suffers. For some reason, Raiz refuses to use any kind of action lines to communicate the movement of the combatants, and that left me wondering just what was going on more than once. In addition, it was hard to tell robot from building every now and then, and I had to really study every panel to fully understand anything. This is a comic predicated on a big fight, so I shouldn’t have to do that; if I wanted to study, I’d go back to school.
While this issue is dedicated to Zoe’s fight with the big nasty thing attacking the city, that doesn’t mean there aren’t enough character driven moments. Ellis knows that big action scenes can only hold our interest for so long, so the dialogue and exposition in the last few pages is the perfect denouement to the issue. I like the mystery surrounding the Archangels and the monsters and was intrigued by the attitude of the Japanese citizens towards their plight. Kishitani, a new character introduced in the final pages of the book that happens to be the last original pilot, fascinates me even though he’s a typical Warren Ellis Elijah Snow/Spider Jerusalem/Jenny Sparks bastard.
According to my local comic shop owner, “Everything Warren Ellis writes turns to gold.” This issue proves her assessment correct, and fans of the writer or the genre should take notice. Don’t let the muddling art or apparently clichéd premise stop you from picking up this very entertaining book and saying “To hell with the Power Rangers.”
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