Publisher: Oni Press
Story: Zander Cannon
Art: Zander Cannon
Release Date: 8th June 2016
Right off the bat I’m gonna admit that season 1 of Kaijumax was my favourite new title of 2015, although in writing this review I really feel for whoever has to market this at Oni Press as “kaiju in prison” doesn’t even begin to describe it or do it proper justice.
Our story follows new inmate Electrogor’s internment at Kaijumax, an island prison created for the detention of giant cryptids, mythical beasts, robots and nuclear “eco-parables.” Torn away from his children and desperate to get back to them, he strives to avoid the usual pitfalls of prison life, from vicious shankings and drugged-out cons to corrupt guards and a nightmarish warden.
Escaping the prison at the end of season 1 with unstable stoner The Green Humongo, the two are crashing at the hangar of his parolee-brother The Red Humongo as season 2 begins. Recent police recruit Chisato is on the case but starting to question her human masters brutality towards the monsters, and bent prison guard Jeong becomes increasingly drawn into the web of mob boss Victoria Von Vilestra after the death of her son.
Cannon has taken two wholly disparate genres [ Japanese Kaiju and prison drama ] and mashed the two together to create something totally unique and singular. Satirising, or homaging, any genre is often a tricky balancing act, and it must be doubly so when doing it to a genre so entwined in a culture so fundamentally different to its Western counterparts. But he completely understands the different functions these monsters have in their filmic incarnations; they can be villains and heroes and sometimes both at the same time.
A large part of what makes this series is Cannon’s wonderful art, which balances both the pathos and cartoonish elements perfectly, able to nimbly go from silly to heartbreaking to unsettling in a matter of panels, not pages. Admittedly it is packed with lots of really esoteric references, lots of which undoubtedly went over my head, but that doesn’t detract from the sheer enjoyment to be had in this wonderful series.
The writer of this piece was: Chris Downs
Chris Tweets from @ChrisDownsy