(Alterna Comics, 2013)
Kill All Monsters Volume 1: The Ruins of Paris
Written by Michael May
Illustrated by Jason Copland
Lettered by Ed Brisson
Last year, Pacific Rim was number 16 worldwide in total gross income according to Box Office Mojo. Giant Monsters vs. Giant Robots. The concept seems so simple. And yet, there have been few movies that have done it successfully.
The giant monster film is no new and fresh idea. Fantastically animated by Willis O’Brien, King Kong was released in 1933. The Japanese made a gargantuan splash in the pool with Godzilla in 1954. Numerous films in both franchises followed, to more or less success, leading up to last years’ Pac Rim and the reboot of Godzilla that came out this year. (What’s that? No…I don’t think Mathew Broderick was ever in a Godzilla movie…) The essential question in all of these movies is “How do we stop it?” Pacific Rim had an answer, one that resonated with writer Michael May.
May released his first volume of Kill All Monsters! as a web comic he began publishing online and then took to the Kickstarter community to get printed. The result was a slightly-larger-than-a-Garfield-trade size book full of the greatest Monster vs. Robot story since Godzilla vs. Megalon.
This story takes place in a different future, one that experienced the explosion that created Godzilla and spurned hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other giant-sized monsters, all of them bent on the destruction, or at least the digestion, of the human race. The infrastructure of the world was crippled. What began in Asia in 1954 was, by 1959, happening around the world, and the humans were losing. (As we all know they would.) Cut to the present day, where a group of people has been concentrating their power on the continent of Africa, and has finally managed a foothold, provided in no small part by the existence of giant robots that they control a la Voltron.
The Ruins of Paris begins in the aforementioned city, with a tentative excursion force moving in to see if a base can be established in Europe, and to see what the lay of the land is with their neighbors to the north. There are rumors that a group has been active here already, the Pax Monstorum, and our heroes are tasked with rooting them out and recruiting their help.
Spence, Akemi, and Dressen are the pilots, and waste no time as they splatter monster parts across the city, smash ancient buildings to pieces, and rip the top off of the Eiffel Tower to use as a spear against one particularly nasty beast. We are also introduced to Archer, the first complete robot on the team, a giant automaton who will soon be merged with the team despite their misgivings.
I love this book, not just because it delivers on the title. There is constant monster bludgeoning and robot smashing, with explosions and drippy monster tentacles ready to rip you to shreds. May also instills the human element into the story quickly; taking the team outside of their machines and making them fend for themselves against the other beasties that roam the Parisian streets. He creates a realistic future, where people were cut off from each other and advanced or declined depending on their situation. Those that advanced did so in different ways, without the ability to share discoveries, things like computer connections are different. Those that didn’t have a stable environment reverted to a more primitive state, more of a warring culture.
Jason Copland (Masks and Mobsters, Hoaxhunters) has a tough job with this book and comes through with rocket boots on. The task of not getting lost in the fight scenes would seem insurmountable, just because they’d be fun to draw. But because each of the background pieces is, to us, full size thing (building, tree, etc.), he still adds a tremendous amount of detail to the buildings and landscapes. (Right before the monster, or robot, walks across, falls through, or generally destroys it.) Copland easily shrinks the view so that when the humans are the focus the robots are forgotten. There is a mix of mechanics and biology that could be hard to accomplish. To be blunt, the robots and monsters all look frickin’ cool.
Kill All Monsters: The Ruins of Paris was Kickstarted for printing, but I don’t think the second volume will have to be. May and Copland have a great story built around classically fun characters. I’d be happy to see more of this destruction and carnage making its way to the comic stores soon.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.