Created by Zander Cannon. Published by Oni Press.
I love comics and I love giant monster movies. Somehow, Kaijumax appeared on my radar. A comic series about an island prison where all of those giant monsters are kept after crushing cities. The art is ridiculously detailed, but looks bright and dare I say “cute”. I went in expecting a story just as bright and cute set in this high concept world.
My expectations couldn’t be more wrong and I couldn’t be happier. It is brightly colored. It is high concept. It is also graphic as hell, constantly disturbing, and deeply engrossing.
The story starts with our reluctant hero, Electrogor, brought into Kaijumax. It is total first day of prison. You’re scum, you’re nothing. Here are the gangs. Here are the drugs. Here are the guards. What the hell did you do to be here? Everything is familiar but also blown up to giant monster levels. The guards are robot mechas. The drugs are smoke stacks and power plants. The gangs are monsters and cryptids of all sorts. Electrogor is just a huge electric powered insect armored father. While trying to get “food” for his kids he was caught, lost, and shipped to the big house island. All he wants to do is get back to his children. They’re all alone. Monsters yes, but juvenile ones. Despite him being maybe 100 times my height and weight, this is an empathetic character. I would do anything to get to my kid if I felt he was in trouble.
Again I’m fooled into thinking this is a simple story. Just one father trying to help his kids. Then comes the prison fights, the schemes, the corrupted guards, the rapes, the PTSD. This is one of the best Trojan horse stories in all of comics, and the entire tale isn’t over. Open the book for the crazy kaiju, but stay for a tale that explores not only the culture inside prison, but also the racism and prejudices on the outside.
I can’t give too much detail of the story, because the surprises are what sent me back for volume 2, with the other volumes on order. The father/son relationship between Ape-Whale and Whoofy is heart breaking and then disturbing and then a mystery. Mecha-Zon is the robot monster who found a higher power in prison, and the most intriguing supporting character. Zonn becomes the most hated character in the book in about 3 pages if that. The Creature from Devil’s Creek is a slow burn story that I can’t wait for. Finally, Electrogor’s arc quickly becomes a story lacking in comics today. The tale that there is no return from. There’s no going back, no Crisis or reboot. The decisions he makes forever change the character into something unrecognizable from the first page.
Seasons 1-4 are collected in graphic novels that you should get from your local comic shop or book store. Season 5 issue 1 debuts October 23, 2019. Expect to see it on the Fantasy Pull List later this week.