Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Club: Giantkiller

Here we are, the very first edition of Book Club, where I talk about amazing books that you should drop everything to go read and support. Seriously, what are you doing? Go buy this book already. What, you want a synopsis? Dammit. Well, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to explore the obvious fact that giant monsters aren't just a movie staple. No, they infest the realm of fiction in animated form, toys form, and it printed form. Today we're going to talk about the latter. We're also going to be talking about one of my absolute favourite artists, Dan Brereton.

This guy right here is the shit. Trust me on this.
Mr. Brereton is a master of monsters. His comics work is quite honestly legendary and he has done work for nearly every company you can think of. But where he truly shines is when he handles monsters. He doesn't just bring them to life perfectly through his artwork, he understands them. You can read his work and find yourself wondering if he actually lives among them himself. How else can he handle them so well in fiction? We may never know. But what I do know is that in his time focusing on original projects, he managed to squeeze a very special project in. A work that is very appropriate for Kaijuly. That work is Giantkiller.

If your pants are getting tighter, don't worry. That's a normal reaction.

Yes, this book right here is exactly the sort of thing this month is all about. It's the story of Jack, a genetic hybrid of human and kaiju DNA who was bred to protect us by battling the massive monsters. Wait, how did kaiju come into the picture, you ask? Well, you see, in the wake of a massive eruption from California's Mt. Diablo, giant creatures came traipsing down into the landscape known for beaches and celebrities. Understandably, people were a bit less than enthused about this whole thing.

This traffic jam escalated rather quickly.
Add to that the fact that the entire landscape becomes incredibly poisonous for normal folks, so yeah, it's evacuation time. Get your shit and get out. The government decides they need to handle this problem, thus they hire one Dr. Azuma, a brilliant bio-engineer who is supposed to create a monster of their own to take the other monsters down. So, he gives them Jack, who he affectionately calls "Yochu", which apparently means 'larva'. But Jack is quite big and burly for that nickname and he definitely lives up to the title of this series. Even though he's not quite as big as the kaiju he fights, he's more than a match for them. He was trained in the use of the sword and carries one that Azuma gave to him to help fell his brethren.

General Ross's racist cousin here needs to back off and let the man do his job.
But Jack isn't alone, as he has a "sister" of sorts in the form of Jill, a woman who went through experimental procedures that allow her to survive in the treacherous new world the kaiju have created via their arrival. Her main job was to document and catalogue the various kaiju that wander the hellish landscape that was once California. She also named most of the kaiju herself, which are all listed in a field guide that Jack uses to get info on his enemies. There was one she didn't name though. You know why? Because a death cult named it instead, as they looked upon the creature as a god to sacrifice themselves to. You can likely guess that this didn't end well for them. But hey, cults are like that from time to time.

Yeaaaah, being eaten by a giant three-headed wolf monster isn't as appealing as eating wafers & drinking wine.
Jack and Jill eventually manage to find one another and she helps him out, giving him first-hand knowledge of things out there. All the while, Jack grows and finds that he's not so certain he wants to live his life being a living weapon. The story leads to a great climax that leaves you wanting more, which is something the author is very good at. This book was actually originally a mini-series published by DC Comics, but thankfully it was creator-owned. This meant the creator could get it re-published in trade form at another publisher if he pleased, which he did. It's a good thing too, as this book needs to be preserved for future generations of kaiju fans to enjoy.

Of course, it may also appeal to some Lovecraft fans too.
Now, it goes without saying that I adore this book. I wouldn't even be talking about it here if I didn't, as the idea of Book Club is to promote works I enjoy rather than to simply review it. Brereton's story feels like a much better written kaiju film straight out of the 60s and his art is, as always, a true splendor to behold. Visually striking in almost every way. His designs for the kaiju run the gamut of both fitting into the stereotypical monster types while also managing to be so excessively creative that it becomes hard to believe he himself didn't inspire the medium all on his own. His colours are surreal and beautiful, which just serves to bring the creatures to life and highlight how otherworldly they're supposed to be. The inclusion of the field guide in the back of the book is great too, as you would otherwise not get to see all of the beasties he created.
 
I don't think this is what I had in mind when I decided to take up 'butterfly watching'.
If you're a comics fan and a kaiju enthusiast, you should definitely go track down this book. Hell, don't stop at this book, go check out everything Dan Brereton has done. I have yet to find a single bad book. I will likely cover more of his work in the future just because it is so great. Now, I'm going to go get some breakfast. Later days, Bleeders.

Always remember to keep your hands to yourself too. No means no.

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