Publisher: Image Comics
Story and Artwork: Jason Howard
Release Date: 12th August 2020
All anyone knows for certain is that there was a “mistake”, in the form of a genetic anomaly which is causing children to grow to impossible sizes. Oh, and I don’t mean, like 6ft, 7ft, or even 10ft; I’m talking 300ft tall, Tokyo-destroying Godzilla size! And that’s just the females. The male children don’t even stay human, instead mutating into raging, almost mindless beasts (known as “Jacks”) that ravage and destroy everything in their path. Obviously this leaves the women to save the world and fix the mess that men are making of it (like that’s anything new.)
“You’re an idiot!” I exclaimed to myself from my corner of the sofa. “Nothing new there”, exclaimed my wife from her corner. I was about halfway through this issue, trying to work out what it reminded me of, “that’s it!’, I thought to myself, it really reminds me of a series I read a couple of years back called Cemetery Beach. I looked again at the cover page, “I wonder if that’s because it’s the same bloody artist”? Idiot!
I loved Cemetery Beach. Warren Ellis’ story was the most insane, non-stop roller coaster of a ride and the perfect vehicle for Jason Howard’s impressive artistic talents; and I still have hopes that there will be a sequel to it someday. That series was specifically written for Howard so he could show off and have fun and really deliver something spectacular. As such, it’s really, really exciting to see that this new series is something that he’s not only illustrating but writing as well. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything that Howard has been involved with that he hasn’t given 110% to, and if this first issue is anything to go by this is going to be a spectacular success for him.
The concept for this story is really good. Okay, so the basics aren’t particularly new, but it’s great fun and an interesting twist on the standard Kaiju story. I mean come on, who doesn’t want to see 300ft tall women kicking the crap out of monsters? I’ve long held the belief that if anybody is going to get us out of the death spiral that our world is in, it’s going to be women. Let’s face it, we‘ve had 300,000 years of male supremacy and we’ve not exactly done a stellar job of looking after this spinning blue ball we call home.
We get introduced to quite a few characters during the course of this issue, and while the story is running at break-neck speed, there’s still some decent plot and character development along the way. High Marshal James Tannik, for example, is charged with maintaining the safety of “The Preserve” and weeding out any potential Jacks that might compromise said safety. I’m not going to lie, there’s a moment in this issue where I dropped both the f-bomb and the c-bomb (possibly in the same sentence) in relation to this character, and while I’m sure there’s going to be some suitably illuminating flashbacks to explain why he is such a complete tool, I actually enjoy the fact that he’s so utterly unlikeable. I think it’s going to make him a really good foil for Ember (our giant heroine), who is one of those rare things – a decent human being who just wants to help.
Thankfully, there are also others out there who have just as unfavourable an opinion of Tannik as I have, and who are dedicating themselves to finding out why the males mutate into monsters while the females just grow. As yet, it’s not clear whether this is for altruistic means or not, but I think it’s going to be great fun finding out.
As for the artwork… damn, I love Jason Howard’s artwork. I love the heavy pencil lines and sketchy style, his character designs are great, the urban environments/architecture he draws are fantastic and he flat-out knows how to draw action sequences that just flow perfectly. I also love that while he has the ability to put some really good detail into a scene, he also knows when to withhold it – the aforementioned moment that made me scream expletives at Tannik being a perfect example.
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of artists try their hand at writing, some with more success than others, but I have been waiting for a while to see if Jason Howard could make that leap and based on this issue, I’m really glad he has! The narrative he has woven so far is pretty damned good and has more than enough going on to keep us going for at least half a dozen issues already.
As first issues go, this one really doesn’t give you much chance to catch your breath. It’s full throttle pretty much from the start, and from past experience I’m expecting Howard to just keep cranking up the action and excitement all the way to the last page of the series. It has great characters, great monsters, great narrative and superb artwork. Trust me, you’re going to want to pick this up and you aren’t going to want to put it down!
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek