Kaijumax: Season Three #6 (February 2018)

Kaijumax: Season Three #6

I’m not sure Cannon would want the compliment, but Kaijumax: Season Three just duplicated the feel of a problematic third television season perfectly. After stumbling through the first half of Season Three, Cannon rallied. That rallying has led to this issue, which is a great comic.

It’s an action issue. There’s a prison riot. The warden is out of town. The prisoners are trying to settle scores–including Electrogor, who’s far from the lead, but clearly needs to be in the comic–and all the plot threads get completed. Including some leftover from Season One. It’s an awesome, awesome finish. And one where Cannon could take however long he wants before Season Four, frankly.

Some great art. Cannon does big action real well–he also gets to play with his visual pacing, as they related to narrative reveals. Everything going so fast–monsters to guards to monsters to interlude to monsters to guards–he’s got rhythm. The issue flows.

I can’t imagine it’s going to seem such a victory in trade as it does in this one issue, where Cannon doesn’t exactly save Kaijumax (clearly it wasn’t in any real danger), but he does resurrect it.

Of course, Season One and Season Two didn’t have cliffhangers anything like this one so hopefully he starts next series as strong as he finished this one.

CREDITS

Consequences; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editors, Charlie Chu and Desiree Wilson; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Three 5 (November 2017)

Kaijumax: Season Three #5

If it were any other comic right now, an issue like this one would seem like a major course correction. Cannon talks through most of Kaijumax’s outstanding issues–with talking heads scenes–but really well. He manages to make the prison doctor in love with Zonn work. He’s never been able to do that one. But now there’s crisis and it’s working. Maybe because it’s crisis the reader cares about.

And there’s resolution to the giant goat arc. It’s got some surprises in it, little ones, but also just great comic book pacing.

Some of the problem with Season Three has been Cannon’s fixation on the prison as a whole and that whole is where the problems come in. Is Kaijumax on Antarctica? Where else is big enough. It’s got to be crazy big.

Anyway. It’s a very solid issue. It’s just not enough to convince me Cannon’s going to have a good way to wrap it up next issue.

CREDITS

The Standoff; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editors, Charlie Chu and Desiree Wilson; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Three 4 (October 2017)

Kaijumax: Season Three #4

If Season Three had gotten off to a good start, Cannon might have some leeway for this issue. He’s ambitious and absurdly overindulgent; it’s the perfect example of creative lane changing. The issue has a framing device. The Kaijumax Musical Theater group is putting on a shoe. Their performance cuts to various other activities going on, which all happen to have something to do with a subplot. No one involved in subplots is watching the show. They don’t like musicals, I guess.

Cannon’s not a lyricist. He’s gimmicky. Kaijumax is already pushing it with the gimmicky dialect for the prisoners. The more he expands the world, the less likely his stuff makes sense.

The rest of the comic’s pretty darn good. The subplots aren’t exactly interesting, but they’ve got a pulse. And Cannon executes them all well. There’s an awesome Kaijumax moment with the doctor, where Cannon’s art and writing perfectly intersect; it’s been a while since he’s had one of those moments. Kaijumax used to be full of them.

The return of old characters either hint at a different last two for this series or maybe the Season Four plot. Either way, it’s too late to even be too little. Even when the comic’s good, it’s still lost.

CREDITS

A Special Effects Fantasy Series; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editors, Charlie Chu and Desiree Wilson; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Three 3 (September 2017)

Kaijumax: Season Three #3

Electrogor returns to Kaijumax–figuratively and literally–but as a supporting player. The goat monster and the human doctor split this issue; his story is a tad more amusing than hers. There are hints of intriguing revelations for him, while she’s just doing more of the same with her kaiju lover. Cannon doesn’t recapture the magic–this issue reads like it should’ve been number one, not three–but he seems like he’s back on the right track towards it. Hopefully Electrogor’s season-long odyssey in Season Two wasn’t all just filler.

CREDITS

Rock Solid Rep; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu and Desiree Wilson; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Three 2 (August 2017)

Kaijumax: Season Three #2

Gangsta bunny kaiju who live on the moon.

What am I even reading? It looks like Kaijumax–it’s not like Cannon’s art style has changed at all–and it has a bunch of Kaijumax characters, but it’s like the worst Kaijumax characters with the worst stories. It’s half about the little Minya taking over his dad’s gang only to discover he’s not tough enough so his imaginery human friend has to goad him and it’s half about the human doctor in love with the evil, abusive kaiju.

So far, Season Three has been every bad impulse from Season One without any of the narrative ambition of Season Two. It’s confusing, sure, but mostly just disappointing.

I never thought I’d question reading Kaijumax but I’m getting real close.

CREDITS

The Bad Place; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Three 1 (July 1)

Kaijumax: Season Three #1

For the third season, Zander Cannon returns Kajiumax to, well, Kaijumax. He’s now following around the Monster of Devil’s Canyon or some such creature–basically a giant goat, raised by religious humans (or at least he calls them Mom and Dad). He doesn’t fit with the other mammalian monsters, but at least they’re not always beating on him like the lizard ones. Or are they? There’s also a bunch of intrigue and foreshadowing involving a volcano monster–who stars in the opening prologue, hinting at great import. It’s okay. It’s a lot of talking monster heads without any narrative or information. It’s all atmosphere and not particularly compelling. Fingers crossed it’s just a slow start.

CREDITS

The Bad Place; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Two 6 (November 2016)

Kaijumax: Season Two #6

Season Two wraps up pitting the two “heroes” of the comic against one another. It’s dramatically successful and (albeit horrifically) exciting as Electrogor defends his kids. Cannon pushes too hard at the end, however, and endangers the nuanced characterizations he’s been doing lately. Worrisome, but otherwise excellent.

CREDITS

Above 9000; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Two 5 (October 2016)

Kaijumax: Season Two #5

It’s a decent issue, but it’s unclear if Cannon’s building up a new subplot or if he’s just letting something resolve itself here. And there’s the return of awkward, possibly physiologically impossible romance; it seems lazy. It’s like a talking heads issue in a series without them.

CREDITS

Friends on the Outside; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Two 4 (September 2016)

Kaijumax: Season Two #4

Cannon doesn’t offer a breather after a heavy previous issue. He sends Electrogor under the sea into the old gods’ territory (with Cthulhu showing up at the end) and it’s a real downer. I feel like it’s the first time he’s branched into different monster mythologies to this degree in Kaijumax–I mean, Cthulhu’s never been a kaiju (right?). Most of Electrogor’s half of the issue is spent with him feeling terrible, which is sort of his thing, but for really good reason as he meets the residents of this hidden, undersea slum. It’s heartbreaking and horrifying, but not in for any predictable reasons.

At the same time, Chisato the good mecha, gets herself a new partner and has to work vice, which provides Cannon the opportunity to do some mixed size action sequences. It doesn’t necessarily seem heavy, but then Cannon sticks the reader right at the end of the issue. He’s heavy on the “real life, real crime” parallels, which isn’t as successful as just when he sticks to the complicated world of Kaijumax.

Season Two is working out to be far more successful than the previous one, which is no small feat. Between Chisato and her character development–it’s not like the humans in Kaijumax have ever been particularly sympathetic so seeing someone try to be more like them is rather effective; her new partner–the burnout human–is a wonderful contrast, of course.

It’s such a good comic. It’s just brutally downbeat.

CREDITS

The Seamy Underbelly; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Two 3 (July 2016)

Km23

This issue of Kaijumax might be my favorite. It’s sort of talking heads–the warden faces off with a bureaucrat about how the prison is run–but there’s also a whole subplot for the robot cop. There’s a lot of humanity to the issue and it’s mostly ugly. Even when it’s not entirely ugly, it’s ugly. It’s harsh and depressing and hopefully it’ll be Cannon’s legacy for Kaijumax.

The warden and the bureaucrat grew up as the kids in a Showa-era kaiju movie. They loved their giant monster until something happened. Cannon’s flashback is perfect, down to the maser cannons. Kaijumax’s version of pulling on the heartstrings lately has been to make readers question their sympathies and this issue is no different. Cannon’s got a complex resolution to the bureaucrat and the warden’s conversation, juxtaposed against the odd sadness of the robot cop.

It turns out the robot cop has her human-sized body too and this issue Cannon introduces a lot of her backstory. He also addresses with the brother issues (her brother is Kaijumax’s version of Mecha-Godzilla) and makes some disturbing observations about people (and kaiju movies) with in regards to her upbringing.

Kaijumax takes a serious look at movies never intended to be serious, which is great and relatively important (relatively because how many English-speaking devote kaiju fans are there out there and how many of them read comics). It’s also really depressing.

CREDITS

Old School; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Two 2 (June 2016)

Kaijumax: Season Two #2

Kaijumax. For when life isn’t depressing enough, you need to have your favorite Saturday afternoon kaiju make you want to cry. This issue has multiple tragedies, both for good kaiju and bad, good humans and bad. Though it’s hard to have a good human. Even when they seem like they’re all right, they really aren’t. It’s endlessly pessimistic.

Maybe it would help if Electrogor didn’t look like he was always about to cry.

In addition to being depressing, this issue of Kaijumax is also pretty good. Cannon goes down the rabbit hole into some of his “world” details, like the rap battle. The rap battle, while well written, has zero narrative effect. It’s like Cannon wants Kaijumax to be one thing but knows he has to give the reader kaiju action.

The kaiju action here is quite good, with the giant robot good kaiju trying to talk down a mutated bad kaiju. There’s great visual pacing, there’s wide scale destruction, there’s a King Kong ’33 reference. Cannon can do it all.

Kaijumax is a relentless book. It requires steeling oneself before reading–there’s magic and the world is still crap.

CREDITS

Nuclear Hearts; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Two 1 (May 2016)

Kaijumax: Season Two #1

Because if there’s one thing Kaijumax needs to be, it’s more depressing. Only this time it’s not prison depressing, it’s out of prison depressing. And Zander Cannon is exploring what it’s like to be a monster on the outside.

This issue has three storylines. First, the Kaijumax escapees holing up with a known associate who’s on parole. Cannon’s got a wonderful amount of detail for these scenes, how a giant monster goes about his or her daily life. Very sad stuff. Apparently Season Two of Kaijumax is going to address the bigotry against giant monsters, which seems slightly problematic. The regular people in Kaijumax are problematically portrayed in general, but in Season Two they’re basically all complete asshats. They abuse the paroled monsters, relishing in humiliating them. Like I said, not a happy book.

Then there’s the giant monster fighting robot whose brother is on Kaijumax and she’s writing him a letter about her human pilot. Cannon tries to do a whole lot as far as introducing new elements (life on the outside, life as a regular kaiju hunter, man or machine) and it’s not always successful. The art helps with a lot, but Cannon’s relying a lot on phrase references to Godzilla movies and so on. It’s just a lot, with characters blathering just to blather and to drop a Godzilla: Final Wars reference.

And that reference is fun and cool, it just doesn’t do anything for the book.

The third storyline is the disgraced prison guard. He has a decent enough scene, not too expository even though someone’s trying to tell him about life, but it doesn’t resonate. Nothing resonates yet. It’s all just histrionics and great art.

CREDITS

Same Ambergris, Different Day; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax 6 (October 2015)

Kaijumax #6

Strange thing about this issue of Kaijumax… Cannon coasts. It’s a good issue and he even reveals an unpleasant reality for Electrogor (in addition to some setup for the Minya stand-in), but it coasts. Cannon’s set up a strong enough comic, he doesn’t always have to excel. In fact, he’s even able to coast past a few things here.

For instance, there’s a big plot development and it’s got a truly bad visualization. One panel from an odd angle to move the plot, then Cannon goes into a–quite good–rap from one of Electrogor’s new buddies. He sets the rap against Electrogor’s flashback, which is problematic, but he gets through it. Even if the flashback is a little rote.

The rap sort of sums up Kaijumax and its self-aware kaiju and their place in the world. Electrogor’s stoner buddy reflects on it in a rather good sequence, the rap coming in and solidifying the idea. Considering this issue is the last of the “season”–the series returning in six months or so–it’s Cannon telling the reader what to expect and declaring his intentions for the comic, maybe for the first time. Before, you had to grok it on your own. Now, Cannon’s telling you his expectations for his readership.

There’s some really good art, in both big and human-sized settings. It’s a good comic. But it’s not an ambitious one. If Cannon really wanted to be ambitious and not pick up pace towards the season finale, he’d have split this issue into two. There’s more than enough story for it.

CREDITS

Into These Forcefields; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax 5 (August 2015)

Kaijumax #5

It’s a thoroughly okay issue, but there’s way too much information about the setting. One of the prison guards gets in a fight while off duty–so think Ultraman fighting a bunch of fighter jets and mecha-whatevers–and the boss shows up and clears things up. During that clearing up, lots of exposition.

And Kaijumax all of a sudden feels like Pacific Rim. Cannon’s been mixing sixties and seventies kaiju movie visuals and silliness with extremely difficult prison stuff. Then he brought in Pacific Rim and he loses his footing.

The slipping continues as Electrogor is in therapy with his shrink (the human woman who’s in love with his assailant). The scene seems too forced, with Cannon going too hard for the emotional devastation for Electrogor.

Minya’s poisoning of Godzilla is similarly problematic. Cannon’s pacing for it (and the issue) is off.

The issue never connects like it should.

CREDITS

The Mega-Monster Battle at Home; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax 4 (July 2015)

Kaijumax #4

Cannon goes the extra step this issue, time and again. By extra step, I mean he distances himself from the gimmick–Monster Island as a prison–and it becomes a prison drama. With all the hard things a prison drama entails.

Sure, there’s the mystery of the kid from Godzilla’s Revenge trying to coax Minya into assassinating Godzilla, but it’s a heavy sequence (full of emotional abuse). It would be the lightest of the four subplots. And there’s a half subplot about one of the Ultraman guards finding he enjoys having the power over the prisoners.

It’s a disturbing comic book.

Cannon’s style, ready for Saturday morning cartoons, along with the wide open vistas of the island (logically, isn’t the island a little small for all the monsters), go against the grit of the story. It just makes the comic all the more affecting.

Kaijumax is rewarding, just difficult reading.

CREDITS

Mutated Out; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax 3 (June 2015)

Kaijumax #3

This issue of Kaijumax is the best so far. Three issues in, Cannon hasn’t really established how the comic reads yet–is it more humans or more monsters, for example. The balance will be worked out eventually. But not yet.

So this issue being the best so far can be something extremely fresh. And it is. It’s Mecha-Godzilla becoming a pacifist and arguing with his father (a human inventor) and older sister (a humanoid giant robot–well, shrunk down this issue) about his past mistakes during a prison visit. And then, lo and behold, the Godzilla stand-in (at least for the Mecha-Godzilla’s story) appears.

Meanwhile, the human guards are on an illegal mission to find a monster and have some crises, physical and emotional. It’s cool stuff from Cannon.

In addition to the great plotting, there are great kaiju movie references in the issue. It’s all fantastic.

CREDITS

No Such Thing as a Halfway Monsta; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax 2 (May 2015)

Kaijumax #2

Kaijumax is something else. It’s so uncomfortable. This issue’s entirely about the corrupt prison guards exploiting the prisoners. Oh, and there’s something with the giant goat monster being in tune with the mountains. It’s unclear where it’s going to go. And there’s a little with the protagonist kaiju bonding with one of the okay prison guards.

But it’s mostly just the bad Ultraman guy shaking down prisoners and abusing them, all while the humans joke about sending them to extinction. And Cannon’s art is so jovial and friendly, it makes Kaijumax such an uncomfortable read.

Cannon’s almost entirely past the “Monster Island as a prison” gimmick just because the evil acts of the humans does so much to, well, humanize the monsters. They’re not just caricatures, the personalities he’s giving them are rather affecting.

The issue doesn’t have much of an ending, which would be nice. It’s still real good.

CREDITS

Ten Thousands Years to Life; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax 1 (April 2015)

Kaijumax #1

My friend summed up Kaijumax for me before I read it. Monster Island is a maximum security prison. Ultraman is the guard. He neglected to tell me there was bickering between classes of monster, silly cameos from an Aliens alien and a whole bunch of Mecha-Godzillas. Because Zander Cannon loves this stuff. It’s clear. He loves it.

Kaijumax is perfect for a certain audience, one with nostalgia for afternoons spent in the seventies and eighties watching Godzilla movies on TV. Of course, Cannon makes Kaijumax tougher–it’s a prison after all (and one of the only real problems is how much he wants to make it “Oz”). It doesn’t cause a disconnect between story and art, it just makes it hard to know how to take the comic.

Should any effort be spent trying to see all the sense in it?

Who knows. Maybe I’ll find out next issue.

CREDITS

Error & Respect; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

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