La Fin Absolue du Monde
But um... that's not what happened.
What's more, the issue doesn't merely buck expectations, it causes huge gaping holes to form in the continuity of the series. Simply put, if issue 1 happens, then issue 3 can't. Godzilla doesn't fall at the end of the issue, and he couldn't because he has nowhere to fall TO, he has to climb up. This, frankly, kind of pisses me off. In maintaining the continuity of the story the various artists had ONE job, they had ONE fucking job: ask the artist of the previous issue where they left off. That's it, it really is just that simple. Want to do an issue that takes place before issue 1? All you have to do is just sort of casually ask "hey, what's going at the beginning of your issue, Stokoe?" It really is just that simple. They had ONE job.
And after you get past this, the issue is fucking incredible, probably the best so far, but some of the choices it makes are so strange and... wrong, that it's hard to enjoy. And what's more, there's way more subtext happening here than in the past two issues combined, so this isn't like they were just half-assing it, these guys really put a lot of effort into turning out an amazing, world-changing piece of art here and they SHOULD have succeeded.
Maybe there was a quantum flux event and we got another universe's Godzilla in Hell #3. Hopefully the universe we traded with also got all those people who swear they can remember the title of a shitty children's book that no one has ever thought or cared about in over 20 years. They're seriously annoying.
Phlegethon on Earth
We open on a pan across a desolate landscape. A sea that seems to stretch forever, lit by myriad embers and littered with garbage and ruins. The junkyard is littered with the remains of various robots and mechas, mankind's weapons of violence used against Godzilla and each other. Moguera is here, what's left of him,and bits and pieces of others are peeking out of the rubble. A transformer or megazord, something that appears to be the top half of Robo-Devil Dinosaur's head, and two more I can't identify, one with a three-fingered hand and another with the serial number "09." The garbage and pollution, trash fires and dirty water, all these signs tell us that we're seeing a section of the river Phlegethon on the banks of the 2nd round of the 7th circle. This place is nominally for the violent against the self, but as Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven tell us, the monsters of industry who were pretty clearly violent against nature are represented here.
villains from Captain Planet. Construction started here, as polluting your environment is absolutely harmful to yourself, but as more litterers pour in Hell's industrial park expands outwards into the desert. So, on the first page we are obviously seeing an unconventional rendering of Phlegethon, the river that runs through the circle of violence, but it's unmistakable in aspect. The last panel of the first page shows Godzilla and Space Godzilla, presumably possessed by another demon, locked in an appropriately violent struggle.
Cool, excellent, I'm so in, let's do this. Page 2:
Violent Against God
Oh fuck you. This amazing and perfectly handled misdirection is probably the second coolest thing in the issue in regards to how well it was executed. Godzilla and his opponent are NOT in Hell, they are in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, battling right under the watchful eyes of Christ the Redeemer, and as a quick zoom out shows us, the whole world is like this now.
So, I guess that answers the question about continuity. This follows after Cataclysm. How thematically appropriate, seeing as how that book was all about hope for the future when everything has fallen apart. Things looked like they would get better again after Destroyah was killed and Biollante started to grow, but just when you thought the world would continue on with the old gods more or less calmed, Space Godzilla, another damned doppelganger, has to come along and screw everything up. How did this happen?
cataclysms happened and in that time the gods had all grown dormant to a degree, to the point where the village we're shown doesn't seem to understand what they are anymore. So if a sufficiently powerful space monster were to appear, the monsters of Earth would be scattered and sleeping while humans would be totally incapable of fighting back. Space Godzilla, because of his moon crystal powers, obtains energy directly by absorbing it into crystals and transmitting it to his body, which in turn enhances his psychic powers. Basically, he's a monster that was invented in 1994. You get it. Godzilla Unleashed took this a bit further when in the flavor text, particularly Krystalak's bio, it was established that these crystals SG creates to harness energy are sucking up not just cosmic rays, but stuff from the Earth as well, making the physical integrity of the planet itself degrade over time. So give Space Godzilla all the time he needs to plant his crystal farms with little to no resistance, and have him battle an enraged Godzilla, and things are going to go real bad real fast.
Then there's Jesus. You may remember Jesus from that religion that preaches intolerance, hatred, and corporal punishment. Or, if you haven't read the actual scripture of the religion and just kind of got your theology degree from television, you might know Jesus as a proto-hippy who was all about love and peace. Yes, Jesus has a lot to say about loving your fellow man, but not so your fellow woman or anything in-between. Jesus was awesome if you're a straight, white, cis male, otherwise he wants you beaten for not being an obedient slave or just fucking stoned to death. Real nice guy. Look it up, it's pretty terrifying.
Modern and Post-Modern forays into Hell usually dispense with the religious aspect or simply handwave it, but Godzilla is not a chump or a fool, and Godzilla in Hell does not shy away from the connection, but addresses it directly, and we're going to be examining what this issue has to say about the place of the Abrahamic pantheon in the Tohoverse as well as its attitudes about the various themes of religion, particularly the Abrahamic ones. Christ the Redeemer, completed in 1931, is, in addition to being an absolutely gorgeous and awe-inspiring statue, is a symbol of Christ as a hippy figure. He stands with his arms open overlooking the world, accepting, forgiving, and protecting all. That statue, as it stands now, is between two monsters about to literally destroy the entire planet. Nice job, redeemer. The statue is 30 meters high which matches the assumed height of Godzilla I made for my calculations on the size of the ABANDON Tower in issue 1. In the end, giant hippy Jesus was just an effigy, and although it would have been SO AWESOME if the statue got up off its pedestal and shook hands with Godzilla, nothing of the sort happened. Keep this in mind. Space Godzilla destroys the statue by accident, shattering it with excess, uncontrolled energy emissions while charging up a larger attack. The impression here is two-fold: the triune christian god is impotent, and love and peace simply don't work.
The two battling monsters create such an enormous output of energy that the Earth, already weakened by prolonged degradation from SG's crystals, just explodes. Like, the whole thing just goes boom.
So, you see what I mean now about this issue being so... like... wow? Good, because it's just getting started.
Shore of Purgatory
It took Dante 32 cantos to get from the Inferno to Purgatory, but Godzilla did it in three issues. Part of me is a little bummed because I was hoping for a sequel, but this is so much more interesting than just retracing the same steps. So first a little bit about Purgatory:
Far from the post-modern version, the original conception of Purgatory was of a temporary place of punishment. Actually, the original original conception of Purgatory wasn't even of a place at all, but of the act of purgation itself, which took place in Hell. Unlike permanent residents (who, by the way, aren't actually permanent because they get sent to the Abyss at the end of the world), repentant souls still had to suffer for their sins, but got out eventually. One interpretation of christian eschatology has all souls ultimately basking in the warmth of god, but those who refuse it are burned by the heat, so we can imagine Purgatory as a middle ground where repentant sinners welcome it, but it still burns them for a period as it strips away their sins. Got it? Cool, now let's talk about Dante's Purgatory.
The notion of Purgatory being a separate, "Hell minor" was already established by the time of Dante, but it was still new. It is also the only one of Dante's three major afterworlds to not have a precedent in scripture. So while there was a very recent sense of placing and describing Purgatory, Dante basically had to come up with all of it on his own. His idea is quite literally a "reverse Hell," where roots of sin are purged in reverse order (based on the ordering of the incontinent sins in Hell) on a tiered funnel, only this time the funnel is in positive space, a huge mountain as tall as the radius of Earth, formed from the material ejected from the crater of Hell. And it is this mountain that Godzilla stares down after dying.
Hell's Dantean division is pretty simple, but you'd be forgiven for not understanding there are actually 10 "circles." All of Dante's cantiches are organized in a number scheme of 7 + 2 = 9 + 1 = 10. For the Inferno, the 9 are obviously the 9 circles, but two of those do not fit the theme of division of punishment as Virgil explains in canto 11; the 1st, Limbo, which is not technically part of Hell, and the 6th, which although it seems redundant (sorry, I mean IS redundant) compared to the 7th circle's 3rd round, and therefore should probably be considered part of the violent sins, is intended to be a thematic reflection of the first circle. Limbo is for virtuous non-christians and Dis is for heretics. How in the hell these two are supposed to be different in the eyes of one of the most jealouse and petty gods ever created is beyond me. In addition to the 9 circles, there's an area on the shores of Acheron called the vestibule, or fore-Hell, or sometimes ante-Hell. This is for indecisive, uncommitted, middling souls and neutral angels who refused to choose sides, and as a result they can't get into Paradise and the Inferno doesn't want them. This area, too, is not technically Hell, however whether or not it's in the Inferno (which encompasses Hell and Limbo) is debatable. I say it is because it's part of the Inferno cantiche, and it's on the shore of Acheron.
Purgatory works the same way, only its structure was ordered by angels rather than demons and devils, so the 2 aren't split up and placed at opposite ends in a chaotic fashion, everything is neatly placed and aligned. The 7 are the cornices of Mt. Purgatory, each one devoted to purging a different root of sin, rather than the sin itself. These roots are, you guessed it, of the deadly variety; pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust, in that order. At the top of the mountain is what remains of the garden of Eden, where the spring Salsabil flows (not named in Dante, Salsabil is the name in Islam). Souls in Eden have finished purgation and drink from the river Lethe before moving on to the celestial Paradise (Eden is actually part of Paradise, but it's the "Earthly Paradise" as opposed to the spheres of Heaven, and Heaven actually begins at St. Peter's gate which means ALL of Purgatory is in Heaven, sorry I know it's a little complicated but don't worry about it).
So why is Godzilla here? First let's look at what ante-Purgatory is for. Rather than punish the deeds themselves, ante-Purgatory deals with those with "dogmatic imperfections." That is to say, rather than following the behavioral rules outlined in the religion these folks are wandering around on the count of meta-rules about the religion that they somehow disobeyed. The first of these, where penitent souls wander around on the shore without climbing the actual mountain itself, is for the excommunicated.
Now this is an extremely difficult concept for me to both understand and explain. I don't know what this is. The punishment here is to spend 30 years the time of your excommunication on the shore without advancing, which sounds like a hawt punishment insofar as being trapped on a tropical beach is somehow confining. So it's neither all that exciting nor is it terribly brutal, basically boring in both respects. So excommunication, then, can't be all that bad, but if this is the case then why was Manfred, King of Sicily, killed because of it by an invading army, and even had some of his own men turn against him? Excommunication has something to do with being "revoked" or "banished" from the church. The only churches I know of that have membership cards are either pagan or anti-religion in nature, and while wiccans and other new-agey types are a little more stringent about this, Satanism and Luciferianism don't require anything of the sort and are completely transparent about the membership card being strictly about making money and looking cool. Christian churches, which are strictly religious affairs, do not require any such membership. In fact, those who hide behind the good aspects of their churches are adamant that literally anyone can walk in at any time with no questions asked. How in the actual Hell can you banish someone from a church that openly accepts anyone at any time without a membership card? Explain this to me. Please. In my head I know the wording is wrong and what this is really about is a different flavor of Jihad, a religious condemnation of an individual rather than the technicality of "church membership" which is again not even a real fucking thing, but because Dante's Purgatory has gone so criminally overlooked over time, there has been no modernization process and the terrace remains here for some unknown and outdated concept.
Purgatory is unlike Hell or Heaven because rather than the place itself being the consequence of your actions, Purgatory is sort of the reverse. The people here are being nominally punished for sins, but the difference is that they aren't sinners, they're penitent. No one in Purgatory is being physically punished more than their own guilt hurts them. The real horror of Purgatory is simply being there, because it is - again unlike Heaven and Hell - entirely of your own volition. If you want to get into Purgatory you have to specifically ask for it. Whether or not Godzilla has technically repented under monster law is debatable, especially in this continuity, but as we can tell from his final moments in life we was, more or less, still doing the right thing i.e. defending Earth from space monsters whether or not there was anyone left to defend. If we think of Godzilla's greatest sins as gluttony, wrath, and violence then any action where he used his energy, anger, and power to fight off another monster does the job pretty well. So okay, Godzilla can be allowed onto the shore. As far as excommunication is concerned, Godzilla was never religious in the first place, so again we're kind of in a lawless monster zone here. Technically, I guess, Godzilla should be able to march right up to St. Peter's gate and fight Medieval Pyramid Head or w/e. However he is confronted on the shore by a host of angels and the mountain itself who feel the need to explain the rule of the mountain to him.
First of all, it looks like an Outer God, like Azathoth or maybe a giant Shoggoth or something. You've got your eyes, of course, but there are other appendages protruding, things familiar to Godzilla. Ghidorah/Destroyah wings, various horns and frills, and a couple of patches which resemble Anguirus' carapace. So right away the impression is that this is a mountain composed of the flesh of hundreds of dead kaiju, and when you consider Dante's origin story for the mountain and place it in the context of the Tohoverse, this would imply the mountain is made of the bodies of ancient/alternate universe kaiju who were forced up from Hell. I mean, that's just a reading, I don't think it's really that literal, but the impression made by the design is unmistakable. Especially powerful is the notion that, should Godzilla attempt to climb the mountain and reach "redemption," whatever that is, he's climbing up a pile of corpses of all his defeated foes. As the angels swarm around him, suddenly the eyes on the mountain SNAP OPEN and all of them stare directly at Godzilla. This moment, despite it being on the opposite page of the introduction of the mountain as a character, is legitimately chilling and the first time in the series I've been seriously shocked, and it happened in Purgatory.
I mean you can kind of start to see now why Purgatory is a way better setting than Hell, right? I don't need to continue to harp on this for the whole article? Cool.
Another interesting detail is that rather than being marked by cliff ledges, the cornices are visible from this distance by something that appears to be a wall or maybe a fence wrapped around the mountain. This is clearly a secondary installation. While it's always assumed that the cornices proper (the seven in the middle, between ante-Purgatory and Eden) are later additions carved out by angels rather than natural formations, this takes it a step further with the contrast, presenting the mountain as an enormous, protean, eldritch abomination being colonized by angels with a sort of winding thread binding it. It's hard to tell from this distance if the structure is meant as a platform or as a fence, but it's a great detail that makes the cornices *pop* from the background of the Giger-esque landscape. Basically, everything about the portrayal of Mt. Purgatory in this issue is perfect.
The angels that swarm around Godzilla have Mothra's wings. Hmm. Mothra's power was never based on hard science (then again monster movies don't really stick to "hard science" that often anwyas) but the exact nature of her deification is rarely touched on. When it is, the best answer we get is that it's tied to the natural life-force of the Earth, like a literal/mystical interpretation of the Gaia theory. This is similar to the Heisei Gamera trilogy, where Gamera was a vessel that mana - the name of the kind of energy responsible for the mystical life functions of Gaia - manipulated as the instrument of its will. The problem here is that we then have to ascribe a will to Gaia, when the only impression we get from the Mothra movies is that it just wants to continue being a living planet, and if that's threatened it makes a monster to fight for it. But these are animals we're talking about here and animals have wills of their own, to the point where Mothra became so enamored with mankind in the past that Gaia had to create another Mothra, a more heavily armored one, just to take out the one that was slacking off. So the ultimate source of Mothra's spiritual energy definitely appears to have some sort of ability to judge when there are threats, but it doesn't have direct control over what happens once it expends said energy.
So Mothra is Jesus. Sort of. We still don't really know who's the "behind the scenes" deity, but it's obviously not Yahweh. Nevertheless, even if this deity sounds completely reasonable by my standards (you want me to work towards peace AND sub for you? Yes please~) Godzilla can't be told what to do to a fault, you can't really direct him anywhere without him being pissed off about it. At least usually. Also, keep in mind the guy just lost an entire planet because some fucking asshole with the worst design and concept in Godzilla movie history started making a bunch of crystals. Like, to be honest, if you want him to serve peace, maybe give the guy his planet back or maybe you could have given him something to fight for besides absolutely nothing. Godzilla doesn't serve anyone, least of all some faceless jackass who let THE WORST monster destroy everything and then talks about peace. Fuck off, even the Nebulans would call bullshit on this.
At the end of Inferno, Dante and Virgil climb down/up Lucifer's legs and emerge on the other side of the Earth, flipping as gravity reverses at the core. From here, they follow a small stream, Lethe, up through a long, winding trail that takes them out to a cavern opening up to, you guessed it, the shore of Purgatory. Inferno and Purgatory are upside down from the perspective of each other, but because the 9th circle is at the core of the Earth, going through it reverses gravity and from the perspective of Purgatory you'd be climbing up from the summit of the Inferno to get to the shore. So a continuous journey is possible starting from Inferno down/up, but if you went (for whatever reason) from Eden downwards the first circle of Hell you'd encounter is the last one. So when Mt. Purgatory decides Godzilla needs a little more persuading to fight for peace, he drops him into Hell right there from the 1st terrace downwards into the 9th circle.
Obviously, for those of you who've been following along, this is fucking wrong and the first issue unmistakably shows us:
1. Godzilla plummeting downwards into the Inferno, presumably from a hellmouth, down onto a flat, beige, rocky plain wherein he sees a massive tower that greets him with the message "ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE," the words written over the gate of Hell. This is 100% absolutely certainly the vestibule.
2. Godzilla confronts a massive cloud of souls being blown around in an enormous storm. This is 100% absolutely certainly the 2nd circle.
3. Godzilla confronts a giant demon who attempts to swallow him whole. This is 100% absolutely certainly the 3rd circle.
Hell is not a physical place and the only real rules it operates with are more or less dream logic. You see what you need to see because that's where you, mentally, need to be. Your mind directs your journey more than the physical space. So if Godzilla fell into Hell the wrong way, but his main sins are wrath, violence, and gluttony, two of those are incontinent sins and he's not climbing all the way up just for that, right? So somehow you channel him back upwards, either with some sort of hellstorm or a shortcut through the Abyss or maybe he exploded and reformed above the vestibule. I don't know what happened but I do know there's an enormous plot hole here and there's a part of the story we don't have yet. I don't think we'll be getting it, either.
There is an interesting characteristic of the 3rd round, traitors to guests, that some commentaries mark as being exclusive to this round or even ubiquitous to this round as all of its denizens fit the bill, but neither were explicit originally. Here's the thing: you don't have to be dead to go here. In Ptolomaea, as it's called, Dante meets a soul named Alberigo, whom he recognizes as still being alive on Earth. Don't be fooled, that is the real Alberigo, or at least his soul, but at the moment of his transgression he was deemed so fucking evil and completely without chance of redemption that a demon came in and ripped his soul out, through it down into the lake, and then proceeded to take over the day-to-day functions of his body. So Alberigo is on the surface, sure, but he's nothing more than a vessel for demons. In the 2007 animated film based on the Birk/Sanders adaptation, this character is swapped with Dick Cheney, who presumably was sent down there after the hunting "accident."
Even in the bowels of Hell where demons are free to take any number of imposing forms, it seems, possession is still rampant. We learned from DOOM II that Baphomet needs another creature's brain in order to function correctly, and by the time we meet her in that game it's John Romero, however way back at the inception of the demon there were accusations that the Templars were keeping some sort of artifact, said to be variably the head of John the Baptist or a... a cat, that was central to their demon worship. This is all bullshit and slander and the defaming of the Templars is a story for another time (or you could read about it yourself), but the mythology of using damned souls as a power source for a larger demon has a long history. It could very well be that the possession of Anguirus and Rodan by Behemoth and Ziz respectively is less about them being used as tools to combat Godzilla because of a perceived inferiority and more about them being their current avatars based on how this works for larger demons.
War in Heaven
As the crumbled remains of Christ the Redeemer slowly pull themselves together (why is that here? If it had an individual will, why did it sit there and do NOTHING while the Earth was about to explode?), the host of angels from earlier burst onto the scene to aid Godzilla in battle. They do this by... swarming into his throat en masse. You know, because angels are totally different from demons. This gives Godzilla a glowing aura which protects him from the possessed Space Godzilla's zig-zagging variant of the Corona Beam, and he simply struts right up to the traitorous monster and cracks his crystals with his bare hands. A retaliatory beam actually bounces off and reflects, blowing Space Godzilla into a pile of blue space-gore. So, I guess that's it. I don't know if a hollowed-out soul can heal like a normal one can, but if there's any chance of Space Godzilla returning to normal, it'll have to be here, and he'll have to heal with his heart intact. Personally, though, I doubt it. I think he's just gone. Thank fucking god.
A portal opens from which Mt. Purgatory is able to speak with Godzilla again, and uses the aid as leverage to get Godzilla to "serve peace." Look at all that peace which those angels just exhibited! Surely they're not a bunch of filthy, two-faced, manipulative liars! Specifically, Mt. Purgatory and the angels want Godzilla to serve peace in the form of battling the forces of Hell. So, they want him to serve peace... by fighting a war. That's literally what they're asking Godzilla to do. "You must serve in my army of peace" it says, completely without self-awareness. We're also given a name now: God. Submit to God. Who's that? The most active role this "God" character has ever taken on Earth - which is the part that mattered and is gone now - was to make Mothra (and Battra) and that's kind of it. I mentioned earlier that whatever will this thing has it isn't very sophisticated, as it made two monsters that came into direct conflict with each other ostensibly protecting the same thing. When something that stupid happens, you're bad at your job, period. This obviously isn't Yahweh we're talking about because if it were Godzilla wouldn't even be IN Hell, let alone Purgatory, and the complete and total lack of power, both on Earth and in Hell, of this 30 meter tall Christ statue seems proof enough that Christ has nothing to do with God or his will or his power either.
We don't really know anything about the deity called God in this series, and that means they are completely powerless. If you won't intervene when the Earth is about to explode, yet you clearly have the ability to manipulate a 30 meter tall statue, you're both grossly negligent and impotent. Maybe this God fellow wanted to teach by example, and that's fine, a hands-off deity is at least a characterization, but this fucking hypocritical nonsense about how Godzilla should "submit" and start a war in order to serve "peace" is transparently manipulative and dishonest and Godzilla isn't falling for it. God acts through intimidation, but when cornered all they can do is just sort of... hang around.
Godzilla, as always, completely defies expectations and writes his own chapter. Whether the angels or the demons had any good points to make isn't important now, because they lost their one chance of making their case to the king of the monsters because their blind faith was so overpowering they failed to respect the ideals of their audience and, more importantly, they focused on this to the exclusion of everything else, including the fate of the entire planet.
Look, I'm not going to say the subtext is subtle or perhaps even "handled with dignity," but with such a broad point to make, it doesn't really need to be. Religion is the obvious stance here, faith vs. free will or christians vs. muslims or whatever else, but it could be any number of other things. Broken down to the most basic level, we have the concerns of the world going up against two sides of an ideological war bickering over abstracts. Godzilla here is the reality, the threat of nuclear weapons, or war, and the life of the planet we actually live on and not some sort of mythical fantasy land that only exists in poems and comic books. The peace/strife these angels/demons are talking about aren't real, they only think it's real because they don't know anything else. But Godzilla, who carries on his shoulders the weight of all of the horrors mankind does to nature, has no patience for or understanding of fantasies. By turning this into a dogma, forcing fiction over the real creates wars over phantoms, zealots burning down imaginary houses filled with real people, and that's not cool, dude.
It is a very broad and simple point this comic book is making, but it's a good one to make, even if it is heavy handed. We've all got our own stuff going on... but I mean... if the Earth is literally going to explode, we need to stop fucking around and do something about it. Godzilla can die, and by all accounts he already has. So don't you dare fucking talk to me about "peace."
I've never heard of any of the three artists involved with the issue before. They've certainly never worked with Godzilla before. Also, why are there three of them? Part of what made GIH so great is the ability for one artist to go crazy with the material, but with three people you're creating a scenario where someone is going to step in and say "woah, calm down buddy." I'm not into that. Moreover, how do you go from Stokoe, to Eggleton, to... three guys no one's heard of before? I mean, in the history of underwhelming follow-ups...
But having low expectations means it is far easier to be impressed, a problem Eggleton's issue definitely had as the hype was off the charts. With three unknowns teaming up there was nothing to lose and everything to gain, and holy shit did we ever gain. Conceptually this is absolutely the best issue so far, and although the writing falls short in a number of places, the art is fantastic throughout. So who's responsible for the art? I don't know. The most info I can find on the guy is his "about" blurb on blogspot which claims he's "just some guy," so that's a dead end. He apparently isn't "notable" enough to be on wikipedia (well, that's pre-Godzilla vs. Mt. Purgatory), and all I can dig up with internet searches are his arts and credits. I don't really know anything substantial about the guy, which is shame because he really is a fantastic artist, and one who should be spending way more time working with Godzilla than, say... well, you know who.
His art borders on a kind of rude 'tude '80's, almost R. Crumb-ish vibe without ever seeming to get too explicit. Like it's just subtle enough that you get the same impression but with a little more dignity. I'm into that. Further, you can tell by his material that classic 80's pop culture icons such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Garbage Pail Kids (maybe that's where he's getting his "rude 'tude") that the guy's probably an 80's kid who is reveling in the way hauntology has mushed everything up together and made any and all nostalgia profitable again. This is good news for a guy who's main skill is drawing really intense pictures of Donatello, and it's also good news for people who follow comics, particularly start ups like IDW, with a close eye. Keep in mind, this guy is a total unknown, unless you happened upon one of his comics you'd never know he existed, his entire presence online is a twitter, blog where he posts drawings, and a soundcloud, oddly enough, where he posts phat beats (here, have a listen). None of these are what I would call "informative" or "autobiographical," so I'm in the dark here. The height of humility, maybe, or perhaps he's just bad at PR. And by PR I mean Primal Rage, of course. Whatever's going on with this dude, his contribution to the Godzilla myth cycle is clearly immortal and he's not going anywhere.
Now I'd LIKE to not have my section about the artist(s) not be a bunch of sycophantic asskissing every time, but as the issues have been showing more and more blemishes over time - and I'm not shy about pointing them out - I feel like it's a nice counterbalance to heap on as much praise as criticism because, really, despite their flaws these comics are amazing. Now with that out of the way, we have to talk about the centerpiece of the issue: Godzilla in Purgatory.
Bob Eggleton is a classically trained painter, and his issue was fully painted, each page was its own piece which I'm sure at some point he'll be selling. There is not a single signature visible in any of the 20 pages. Think about this for a second. Back to Godzilla in Purgatory or Godzilla vs. Mt. Purgatory, the piece is signed, quite proudly, by all three of the names attached to the issue. There comes a point where asskissing falls short of the reality, and it's apparent that everyone involved understands how important this piece is. 100 years from now, if anyone still remembers Godzilla, it will be through the first film, Biollante, and this.
Now Farinas is a visual artist in his own right although he's not credited as having worked on the visuals for this issue. It seems likely that he probably threw his weight in on it, though, because with something this huge, why wouldn't you? There is also a subtle stylistic change on this page, regarding the texture of Mt. Purgatory, especially near the summit, that isn't quite matched elsewhere. Now I have been scoping out Moody's other art and this isn't out of character for him or anything, but it's just different enough from the rest of the issue that I have to wonder. If the other two contributors had nothing to do with this piece other than writing "Godzilla vs. Mt. Purgatory" down, then this strikes me as credit hogging. However, if you think of it from the perspective of, well, maybe this is the only thing that will survive the hollywood apocalypse of the entire series, then yes, you want all three credited on there. Because it's important, and while I can't say for sure who did what, I'm inclined to believe the credits on the inside cover at face value. So, really, everyone has a stake in this and I shouldn't really be playing favroites.
Although this does leave me at a loss to what I'm supposed to be saying here. Farinas is a comic artist but he didn't draw anything? It took one person to make the last two issues completely, and at a "whopping" 20 pages, do you really need to have two people strictly dedicated to the story? No, of course not, that's ridiculous, and therefore it couldn't have happened that way. I'm instead pretty sure that the kernel of the idea, when presented to either Moody or Farinas individually when considering which artists should tackle which issues, may have hit upon the same idea, and so with only 5 issues they probably collaborated in order to flesh it out some. I'm guessing Erick Freitas came in later, as clearly the original intention was to have all 5 issues done by a single artist, and he probably acted in the capacity of fleshing out the dialogue and other plot details.
So as an artist maybe we can ascribe to Farinas the layout of the panels, and maybe some of the details of the setting? It might have been his idea to have the final battle on Earth take place in Rio de Janeiro, as well as the detail about the demons/angels needing to pour into a monster's throat in order to control it. Visual ideas about the story, is what I'm saying.
I know a tad bit more about Farinas thanks to some short bios, including that he either lives in Portland or New York. Two bios state two different things. I also know that he's the writer of something called Gamma for Dark Horse and Amazing Forest, as well as an artist on a number of IDW books including the Transformers one where they land on Earth in the 1800's and they all transform into steam engines and dirigibles and the like. Steam-Punk Transformers.
I can't seem to find any visual art by this guy and that gives me the impression that his credit in the signature of Godzilla vs. Mt. Purgatory is there simply because he worked on the issue at all. What's more, because non of these guys are apparently "notable" enough to have a wikipedia page or even just an interview with some other comics website, there's really nothing more to learn about them. Moody and Farinas at least have websites where they can post their drawings, but without that Freitas seems to be a non-entity.
Also, because this issue has two writers, I really don't know what he contributed specifically which makes it really hard to pick out his work and praise it. Another thing? If he's one of the writers there's a good chance I shouldn't even be doing that at all. The art is pretty amazing, but remember the story has Godzilla entering Hell backwards from the 1st terrace to the 9th circle, while issue #1 has Godzilla drop into Hell the old fashioned way and crash into the vestibule. That's not... ugh. Again, you had ONE job. It wouldn't even bother me so much, knowing that Hell has plenty of strange ways to get souls to where they're going, if the discrepancy was at least addressed in SOME way, but no. Nothing. And what's more the opening of issue #1 is peerless, that's how you're supposed to introduce Godzilla to Hell. When you add all this other stuff on top, it takes away that feeling of this jarring, sudden drop. The impression is Godzilla died, opened his eyes, and was already in a huge crater, and to add this story about him having a bunch of angels and Space Godzilla tell him all about how Hell is bad and this and that and the other... I mean Godzilla doesn't need to know these things. Keeping him in the dark and letting him discover how fucked up shit is down here on his own time helps the narrative flow of the series. Think about his arc over the first two issues, and how he hadn't seen a familiar face until he got to the 6th circle. I mean... guys, storytelling is happening over here. Why throw that away?
At the very least, Freitas may be responsible for the admittedly ingenious idea of having Godzilla fall backwards, which allowed us to see both Godzilla in Purgatory and reinforce the rules of Dantean Hell in the series. Nailing down the geography created a plot hole, sure, but this is definitely something I've never seen before in the Hell genre and that's saying something. I wish that the previous issues could allow for this clever travelogue to work, but they just don't. So, you know, cool idea, amazing execution, probably the best issue on its own merits... but holy shit did you guys fuck up the story.
Like seriously, all you had to do was double check how the first issue started. Why was this so hard? A ridiculous and pointless blemish on an otherwise perfect issue.
Issue #4 Predictions
Now that I'm working again, I have no time to work on this site, so rather than 4 days it took me more like 4 weeks to finish this fucking article. Because of that, issue #4 has already been out for some time before this is finished, and so this section seems rather pointless, especially since I am writing it after #4 has already been out for some time. Nevertheless, I actually did have a prediction in mind that I wanted to make here: I was totally sure that issue #4 would deliver 100% on the solicit that was provided. My reasoning for this was pretty simple: the blurb about issue #2 was basically totally wrong, but what was supposed to happen in #3 actually did happen, and the cover that Zornow drew shows all three of Godzilla's opponents - King Ghidorah, Destroyah, and the Flesh Wall - and he's the guy who should know. Frank's cover made an accurate monster roster for #2, so why should this be any different? Clearly KG and Destroyah would not be enough to carry an entire issue of Godzilla in Hell either.
Of course, this prediction was, to my incredible disappointment, wrong. And unlike the past two issues, its faults aren't really... um... well, we'll get to it in the next article. Which should hopefully be out in time for Godzilla's birthday. At least I hope so.