I have to say, Godzilla: The Half-Century War has surprised me. I never expected a Godzilla comic series to have such a strong narrative with likable characters and an interesting story; the first two issues set this series up to be something great. However, with too much going at once and a massive, a mostly unexplained time-gap, The Half-Century War #3 leaves the reader wanting more.
Issue #3 takes place eight years after the events of Vietnam, when Ota and the rest of the A.M.F. discovered that Godzilla was the not the only monster on Earth. In this eight year time gap the world was introduced to Angurius (from the previous issue), Megalon, Mothra, Rodan, Kumonga, Ebirah, Hedorah, and Battra, who are now wreaking havoc anywhere they go. The A.M.F. has figured out that an ex-ally, Dr. Deverich, has created a device that attracts the monsters to any location, and he is trying to sell it to governments across the world. We are also introduced to a dozen nameless soldiers who have joined the A.M.F. and are trying to put an end the madness.
This is exactly where issue #3 goes wrong: it’s too crowded. Instead of taking the time to introduce these new monsters and characters, James Stokoe decided to pack as much as he could into one issue. Sure, it was awesome to see so many iconic Godzilla monsters in one issue, but what has their impact on the world been? How were they discovered? In addition, the A.M.F. soldiers that are introduced to us are completely unlikable. It’s not that they aren’t interesting, we just don’t know anything about them. It’s explained that each soldier was picked to handle a certain monster, but what’s not explained is why they were picked to handle that specific creature. The reader is just left with too many loopholes in the narrative.
What was especially disappointing was the lack of focus on Godzilla and Ota. This series is called The Half-Century War because it chronicles Ota’s fifty years trying to find a way to defeat Godzilla, while at the same time showing his admiration of the seemingly immortal being. In this issue Godzilla is nothing but an obstacle, and Ota doesn’t even seem like he is interested in the giant lizard anymore.
Despite this issue’s weakness’, #3 does a fantastic job of showing how much Ota has changed. In the previous two issues we saw a strong and confident leader who would take any chance he could get strike Godzilla. Now, we see a frail and broken character whose battle scars have clearly worn him down. It still shows that he hasn’t given up, but it’s clear that Ota is not the man he used to be. And, as always, Stokoe’s art looks amazing. This issue certainly continues the trend of tense and action-packed sequences, but it it does a poor job of continuing the strong narrative that the previous two chapters have constructed.