Best Graphic Novel of 2013 – Godzilla: The Half-Century War

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Godzilla: The Half-Century War is IDW’s retelling of Godzilla’s first terrifying reign of destruction, by writer and artist, James Stokoe. Collected in a graphic novel earlier in June, Godzilla: The Half-Century War undoubtedly proved itself to be one of the best comics of the year.

The story follows young lieutenant Ota Muramaki, who obsessively chases the King of Monsters around the world for almost 50 years. Joined by his friend, pilot Kentaro Yoshihara; they both work alongside the ‘Anti Megalosaurus Force’, in an attempt to thwart the formidable force of nature.

One thing is clearly evident when reviewing Godzilla: The Half-Century War; James Stokoe is obviously one of the finest artists working in the industry right now. His earlier work, such as Orc Stain and Wonton Soup, have previously showcased his great talent, and this comic is no exception.

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Stokoe manages a level of detail which is unparalleled, with artwork that is extremely meticulous and hyperkinetic. Right down to the monsters scales, to the collapsed buildings and even the enormous explosions, there’s not a single panel in this comic that is devoid of intricate detailing.

There’s a hell of a lot commitment put into these pages, and it has a true cinematic feel to it. The splash pages in particular are stunning, and it helps that Stokoe adds hand-lettering into the wonderful mix, as it provides just that little bit of added character.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a typical Godzilla story without any appearances from various other Kaijus in the series. Familiar faces turn up throughout, and Ota Muramaki is faced up against some classic monstrosities, such as Rodan, Mothra and even Megalon. Their appearances add a nice dynamic to the story, making it clear that there are varying amounts of benevolence and antagonism here.

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The story’s length isn’t necessarily long, but the transgression of time works well with each chapter. Ota looks more and more grizzled and worn with every Kaiju encounter, and the clear destructive scope of Godzilla is recognised through some great sequential panels.

Stokoe clearly has a lot of love for the character and the lore here, as he provides a story worthy for any diehard Godzilla fan. It has a wonderful narrative throughout. Comics shelves have been without any memorable Godzilla comics in recent years, but Godzilla: The Half-Century War changes that completely.

Admittedly, it’s a surprise that James Stokoe completed Godzilla: The Half-Century War before the end of the year. Orc Stain hasn’t been completed after four years of its publication, and there was a little ‘furore’ over Sullivan’s Sluggers. Hopefully he finishes more projects just as quickly in the future, because his work is just too damn good.

He is undoubtedly one of the best artists working today, and Godzilla: The Half-Century War could even be classed as a comic book masterpiece. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable reads of 2013, and it’s the perfect comic to discover just before Legendary Pictures long anticipated Godzilla reboot. If you haven’t checked out one of the best graphic novels of the year yet, then do so. You won’t regret it.

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