This week, Zander Cannon returns with the latest volume of his acclaimed Kaijumax series. On the surface, a series about giant Japanese monsters imprisoned on a maximum-security island, policed by a staff of Ultramen and women sounds like rousing comedic fare. How many chuckles can Cannon elicit with a seemingly ever-expanding lexicon of kaiju-fied prison slang? Answer: many. (“No! Marianas no! I say smooth white balls to that.” Freaking love that.) But this book, like all of Cannon’s work, delves into so much more and, as he explains himself in this issue’s afterword, there is no other medium that allows for truly bizarre explorations of serious subject matter.
“Being bizarre and audacious right from the start gets readers off-balance and gets them to examine a story and forces them to admit they really don’t know how this is all going to play out.”
If you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and pick up the Kaijumax: Season One trade. Then, meet back here for the Season Two opener. You’ve now experienced the brilliant audacity of monsters painfully addicted to uranium, and the crooked prison guards who deal in suffering. You’ve wrinkled your brow at brutal assaults and illicit, improbable affairs. And you realize that, despite maybe loving giant mechamonsters and tokusatsu antics as a kid, Kaijumax isn’t for children. And, as a result, you love it all the more. Because now you expect something more.
Green Humongo and Electrogor broke out of prison at the end of volume one, and this first issue of volume two opens with the fugitives on the run, seeking aid from another Humongo on parole. The former guard who left Kaijumax in disgrace, feeding his depression with booze, receives an interesting job offer. And the sister of one of the incarcerated robotmonsters, begins her noble career as a member of law enforcement. That’s all in the first issue, team.
The themes of loneliness and alienation are ever-present, just as they were in Season One. But in the character of Red Humongo we get an intriguing new allegory. It is a difficult reality that too many former prisoners feel that the mental scars of their experience – both as transgressors and convicts – are somehow physically visible for all to see. There is a complicated societal reaction to shame and shaming that few of us will ever fully come to terms with. Now imagine visualizing those self-conscious anxieties as a giant irradiated freak trying to fit in among, and bow down to, all us tiny squishies. Brilliant, Zander. Our expectations continue to rise.
Because we’re continuity addicts, I feel obliged to remind you that it’s Week 32 of the All New All Different Marvel era, and it’s a good one. Our top-rated ANAD book, The Vision, begins a new arc this week with issue #7. Sadly, this is also the last arc for writer Tom King (whether the series continues after his departure is TBD). The new story, featuring guest artist Michael Walsh, pulls back the veil on Vision’s past, specifically as it relates to his romance with The Scarlet Witch, illuminating facets of his romantic present. It’s heartbreaking and electric, like an empty toaster.
DC is ramping up for its big Rebirth event (and, yes, we’re going to read n’ rank the hell out of that too) and this week brings us Action Comics #52, the final issue of the series prior to its relaunch in June. This is also part 6 in the cross-title “Final Days of Superman” storyline, which seems to be integral to the Rebirth business. Supes certainly looks like he’s dying; that Kryptonite cancer eating him away from the inside is in its final stages. So to make matters interesting (or confuse the hell out of you if you’re peeking in on the DC maternity ward prior to delivery date), d-bag Solar Flare Superman is joined by alternate universe (and pre-New 52) “Clark White” Superman. All hands, neo-natal staff: these cords are tangled and labor is going to be intense! Side note: I’m looking forward to making many more tasteless birth-related puns in the coming weeks.