In Japan it’s called Kaiju, roughly translated to “strange beast” or generally just referring to “monsters.” The genre has been made most popular in tokusatsu entertainment in one of the longest-running film series of all time, Godzilla. It’s essentially a story where a monster taller than skyscrapers goes tearing through said skyscrapers for some reason, until humans or another monster of epic proportions battle it to the death.
Two years after creating and writing the vampire tale 30 Days of Night, Steve Niles took a stab at Kaiju with the aptly titled Giant Monster. It takes place in the year 2013, with astronaut Don Maggert wrapping up his first solo space flight. He’s eager to get home to repair a damaged marriage with his wife and get his name in the history books for his historic part in an international space mission.
But then horror strikes. Maggert is attacked by some sort of parasite upon reentry, which instead of killing him outright takes over his body as he begins to morph into a giant red monster. When his ship lands in the Pacific Ocean, he begins to feed by fighting, killing, and eating a shark. That’s only the beginning of his path of destruction. As the monster inhabiting Maggert feeds its hunger, it also makes a war-path for the West Coast of the United States, growing with every meal.
And, of course, science and the military find themselves at odds once again. A general is quick to call in his troops in an attempt to annihilate the creature, while the NASA crew recognizes Maggert’s heart still beating inside of the monster and tries to reach it first to bring things to an alternate close. With a duo of funny teens who find themselves in the mix, Maggert’s wife trying to talk to the beast, and a giant Nazi robot comparable to the giant monster’s stature, the tale told by Niles and artist Nat Jones is an entertaining one.
Definitely more entertaining than scary, Niles’ dialogue gives it the feel of a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, with pseudo-witty one-liners and a great sense of humor. The art of Jones does just as much to give it this feel. The action is all very big, and Jones draws the scale of it all well, again creating very cinematic shots of the big reveals, and using the panels incredibly well to help Niles tell the jokes of the book. Despite its quick ending, Giant Monster is a blockbuster of a comic.
The Deluxe Hardcover Edition collects Giant Monster as it should be, in a large, sturdy format. Both prestige format issues are present, as well as Niles’ complete script for Book One. Along with a few pages of reprinted art, it’s not the best set of special features for a comic, but aspiring comic writers will like the opportunity to see how it was penned, and the hardcover binding, cloth bookmark attached to the spine and dust cover are all very well done, meaning newcomers and old fans shouldn’t feel too cheated by the $24.95 price tag.
Reviewed by William Jones on March 23, 2010