There are two genres that I have always loved since I was a kid. One was the superhero genre. The other was Kaiju genre. So, needless to say, I was immediately excited once I heard that we would be getting a Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong comic book! Having said that, my enthusiasm was tempered. First, American entertainment companies have never properly understood the Kaiju genre anywhere near as well as Japanese entertainment companies. Secondly, DC Comics seems to get things wrong more often than they get things right. So, I was concerned that DC Comics’ editorial would understand what makes a Kaiju story work.
Brian Buccellato was selected as the writer. Buccalleto is a good enough choice. There is no doubt that Buccellato has plenty of experience writing mainstream superhero comics and has the chops to deliver a quality story. I particularly enjoyed his run with Francis Manapul on The Flash.
Christian Duce was selected as the artist. Duce has a long history of drawing for DC Comics, Wildstrom, Marvel Comics, and IDW. The Uruguayan artist has a clean and detailed style of artwork that is perfect for mainstream superhero comics.
This creative team filled me with hope that we would get a quality read with Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #1. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Brian Buccellato
Art: Christian Duce
Colors: Luis Guerrero
“The cataclysmic crossover event of the year is here as the DC Universe clashes with Legendary’s Monsterverse in Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong. Clark Kent is enjoying a night off with a very important dinner planned with his girlfriend, Lois Lane, when the entire city shudders under the weight of the monstrous Godzilla, who emerges from the bay! What started as a routine clash between the Justice League and the Legion of Doom takes a dangerous turn when the wall between worlds is breached…with Godzilla, Kong, and the Monsterverse emerging on DC’s Earth! What ensues will be a brawl of unprecedented scale and destruction!” – DC Comics
Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #1 was an absolute treat! Buccellato delivers a story that focuses on fun and entertainment designed to put a smile on the reader’s face. There is so much to love about this issue.
We get treated to the classic Justice League with the most popular line-up. Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, Hal Jordan, and Barry Allen. I love it! In addition to the big guns of the Justice League, we also get Hawkgirl and Supergirl. Even better, we get Supergirl looking fantastic in her classic mini-skirt costume. It’s so much better than what is going on in the Superman franchise right now.
On the bad guy side, Buccellato treats the reader with the classic version of the Legion of Doom with an all-star line-up. Lex Luthor, Black Manta, Gorilla Grodd, Cheetah, Toyman, and Giganta. Fantastic!
Of course, there is the kaiju side in which Buccellato wastes zero time in introducing Godzilla by the second and third pages in a dramatic double-page splash shot. Later in the issue, we get Kong along with one of those dastardly Skullcrawlers. We see several kaiju on the computer screens of the base on Skull Island. We see a Kaiju who has wings and legs like Ghidorah but I don’t see three heads. We see Kumonga which is the giant spider kaiju. These were called Mother Longlegs in Legendary’s MonsterVerse. We also see Behemoth. I always appreciate it when we get some quality easter eggs. Hopefully, at some point, these kaiju appear to wreak havoc later in this story.
Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #1 was a well-plotted and paced issue. Buccellato never loses focus and keeps the story driving forward with a purpose. The flow of the story is balanced as Buccellato knows how to slow things down for more plot-heavy and character-driven scenes and then pepper in the action so that the reader never gets bored. I appreciate the fact that Buccellato never goes too long without some kind of action and excitement.
This issue starts with Clark Kent and Lois Lane having a romantic dinner for two atop the Daily Planet building. It is clear that Clark Kent is getting ready to propose to Lois. However, this is broken up by the dramatic entrance of Godzilla in the second and third pages of the story. The character work in this scene is solid. Buccellato has a good feel for both characters. But, the real excitement of this scene was the dramatic unveiling of our biggest star of this comic: Godzilla.
We then flashback to “twelve hours ago” and get a two-page scene at the Hall of Justice. Hal and Barry carry this scene as Buccellato uses the two men as literary tools to advance the plotline of Superman working too hard in his desire to constantly address every possible threat on the Earth. This scene has excellent character work as Buccellato shows off a clear understanding of why Hal and Barry are such a brilliant duo. The two characters play off each other wonderfully.
This scene also does a nice job of establishing which version of the Justice League we will be getting in this issue. This is the beloved classic Justice League. All of our heroes are younger. Barry is not married. Neither is Clark. Hal also is younger. This version of the Justice League has a bit of a Super Friends vibe to it. I like the idea of going with this version of the Justice LEague. This is the most recognizable version and it makes this title easier to market. After all, this title is also targeting an audience who are Godzilla and/or Kong fans and do not really know the Justice League outside of the cartoons and movies.
In fact, Buccellato has a bit of fun referencing the iconic 1970s cartoon by having our Legion of Doom members bickering and then having Toyman point out that the Justice League gets along and perhaps that is why they always win. Cheetah dismisses Toyman’s hypothesis that the Justice League wins “because they are such super friends. Well played.
We then a quick two-page action scene involving Titano. This scene continues to establish the fact that Superman feels that he can do everything by himself and without the need from his fellow Justice Leaguers.
We then got two pages with our Super Friends talking about Superman proposing to Lois. We get more excellent character work between Barry and Hal and then between Clark and Wonder Woman. The panels with Diana and Clark discussing Clark proposing to Lois indicate that there were some romantic feelings between the two characters at some point in the past. At any rate, all of the character work was nicely done.
Next is a two-page scene introducing Legion of Doom and hinting at Lex’s latest plan. Buccellato kills it with the character work in this scene! Buccellato nails the various personalities of the villains and delivers wonderful sniping and bickering between all of them. This dialogue was so entertaining.
We then get a two-page scene with some action as our villains break into the Fortress of Solitude to steal with Mother Box and Orion’s Sled. Again, the character work is well done as our villains continue to snipe at each other. I loved that Buccellato weaved into the story two lovely Jack Kirby Fourth World devices in the Mother Box and Orion’s Sled. I always appreciate it when we get some Fourth World goodness.
Next is a two-page scene with Bruce Wayne and Clark talking about the marriage. Once again, Buccellato does a fine job with the character work as Bruce and Clark have nice chemistry. As one would expect, Bruce is hesitant over Clark marrying Lois since it might make Lois a target and place her in danger. Again, we see Clark’s belief that he can do anything and everything with him saying he can keep Lois safe no matter what.
We then get a big five-page action scene with Hal, Barry, Hawkgirl, and Supergirl battling Lex Luthor, Black Manta, Giganta, Cheetah, Gorilla Grodd, Captain Cold, and Toyman. The heroes were alerted to the scene due to Toyman breaking into a glass case to steal a red jewel. We get some good fighting. During the scrap, Toyman accidentally hits the Mother Box and Orion’s Sled which Lex had paired together causing an explosion. Our villains get transported away from the Fortress of Solitude in the wake of the explosion.
Next is a one-page scene with Clark and Lois arriving at their table on the roof of the Daily Planet’s building. I am not a big Superman fan so this scene felt a bit like fluff to me. But, if you love Lois and Clark then you might enjoy this more than me.
Next up is the meatiest scene in the entire issue. A six-page scene with the Legion of Doom having been transported to Skull Island on an alternate Earth. This scene delivers the dramatic debut of Kong as he battles a Skullcrawler. The kaiju action is exciting and properly larger than life. However, the best part is once again the character work. Gorilla Grodd’s reaction to seeing Kong was pure gold. Buccellato has Gorilla Grodd in awe of Kong as he calls Kong “an ape god.” After the battle, Grodd tries to connect with Kong claiming that they are kindred spirits.
This scene also delivers the bulk of the world-building as the Legion of Doom finds a base and then learns the secrets of Skull Island and the kaiju that inhabit the island. Toyman immediately sees the kaiju as powerful “toys” to be used to further their plan to destroy the Justice League. Lex disagrees which causes Toyman to use the red jewel that he stole from the Fortress of Solitude in order to wish that he could take all of these toys back to their Earth. The red jewel then emits a massive red energy blast that envelops everything.
I like that Buccellato has Toyman as the architect of this kaiju threat. This was a wonderful twist. Up to this point, Buccellato had positioned Lex as the mastermind and Toyman as the fool that the other Legion of Doom members constantly dismiss and ridicule. I dig the swerve and the decision to have Toyman be the force behind this kaiju invasion.
The final three-page scene with Clark and Lois on the roof of the Daily Planet as Godzilla makes his dramatic appearance. Clark rips off his suit, the couple says I love you to each other, and Superman flies off to battle Godzilla. This is a nice bookend ending that fits with the opening of the issue and sets the proper tone for the massive conflict that is to come in the ensuing issues of this story.
Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #1 ended with a gripping hook ending that gets the reader anxious for the next issue! After getting a bit of kaiju action involving Kong the reader is pumped up and ready for that sweet Godzilla action that we are going to get with the next issue.
All throughout the issue, Buccellato delivers solid character work. All of the characters have their own well-defined personalities. What is so impressive is that Buccellato gets across these nicely fleshed-out personalities in just a few panels. That is so hard to do for many writers.
Buccellato also whips up some snappy dialogue from start to finish. The banter between Hal and Barry is pure gold. The sniping and bickering between the Legion of Doom members is fantastic! This is why I love these villains so much! Even the more restrained and serious dialogue between Clark and Wonder Woman and Clark and Bruce Wayne is well crafted. All of the character work and dialogue lead to all of the various characters having impressive chemistry with each other.
It is obvious that Buccellato loves and respects these characters and wants to treat them right. This is not a given these days. It is also clear that this story is all about Buccellato trying to please the fans and not just writing a story for himself. Readers always enjoy a comic book more when it is obvious that the writer respects the reader and loves the characters and genre as much as the reader.
Christian Duce delivers gobs of gorgeous artwork. The action scenes are dynamic. The best is the kaiju battle between Kong and the Skullcrawler. Strong artwork. I knew that Duce could serve up fantastic-looking superhero artwork. However, what I did not know was if Duce could whip up kaiju-worthy art, too. Well, have no fear. Duce delivers some jaw-dropping kaiju artwork. The double-page splash shot of Godzilla in the beginning and the single-page splash shot of Godzilla at the end are both poster-worthy artwork. Duce knows how to draw Godzilla and the big G looks as imposing and badass as ever.
Of course, Duce also does an excellent job drawing the quieter dialogue-heavy scenes, too. All of the characters have excellent facial expressions. This helps to further the emotion and character work in Buccellato’s writing.
The Bad: I had no real complaints with Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #1. I will say that if you are not a fan of either mainstream superhero comics or Kaiju stories then your enjoyment may differ from mine.
My only slight quibble with Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #1 was the heavy emphasis on Superman at the expense of the other Justice Leaguers. Buccellato goes out of his way to show that Superman is superior to all of the other heroes. We see it in how Superman easily defeats Titano off-page before the other Justice Leaguers can arrive at the scene. We also get it in how the other heroes talk about Superman as if they are just the support staff.
This veers into the territory of many older comic books where Superman was presented in a fashion that always made the other heroes look weak, irrelevant, and pointless to the story. This is why I always hated Superman when I was a kid. I disliked how every other Justice Leaguer came across as mere window dressing.
Now, it is just the first issue of a seven-issue story. So, I am going to withhold judgment to see where Buccellato goes with this approach. Buccellato could be presenting Superman as the biggest gun in the Justice League so that when he gets taken out by Godzilla this puts Godzilla over as a monstrous threat that is going to be hard for our assembled heroes to defeat.
Also, Buccellato emphasized throughout the issue that Superman is pushing himself too hard and is burning the candle at both ends. This could be setting the stage for Superman having to learn that he cannot tackle everything threat by himself and that Superman must rely on his teammates in order to defeat the assembled forces of Godzilla, Kong, and the Legion of Doom. This would make sense since Buccellato goes out of his way in this issue of having the villains comment on how it might be the fact the Justice League might always win because the heroes are all friends while the Legion of Doom members are not.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall: Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #1 was a blast to read. Buccellato delivers a compressed story that perfectly blends world-building with character work and action-heavy scenes. It is impressive how Buccellato accomplishes all of the necessary tasks of a debut issue of a new title. Buccellato quickly establishes the superhero faction, the supervillain faction, and the Kiaju faction. Buccellato installs several plotlines including Superman putting too much on his shoulders, Toyman’s desire to use the kaiju to destroy the heroes, a possible connection between Grodd and Kong, and then Godzilla as the preeminent threat. Buccellato clearly announces the title’s mission statement: pure superhero and kaiju fun and action. Sign me up!
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