Set twenty years after the world was decimated by a string of savage kaiju attacks, Godzilla: Cataclysm #1 by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Dave Wachter is a moody and promising first issue in IDW’s latest Godzilla miniseries. The first issue opens with a flashback/nightmare of an elderly man remembering the attack that destroyed Tokyo. The narration really hits home one of the major themes of the Godzilla franchise and views the monsters not just as animals, but mythological figures. Godzilla is not simply a monster. He’s a force of nature that is far greater than the human mind can comprehend.
After the prologue the Old Man wakes up alone in his tent. He walks outside and we’re first exposed to the post-apocalyptic Tokyo and the District 9-esque slums the survivors are now living in. No monsters have been seen in twenty years, but the Old Man has a constant sense of dread that they will return. For a monster-ravaged Tokyo, the world Bunn and Wachter create is a believable one, albeit not the most original take on the post-apocalypse.
The narrative switches gears to the man’s grandson, Arata, and his friend Shiori as they venture out into the city looking for goods and supplies. They walk through giant footprints and downed fighter planes, which only adds to the idea that Godzilla is a legendary figure in the world and has left his mark. This is where the sense of dread returns for the diehard fans of the film series as Arata points out the large amount of overgrowth that has appeared in the few months since he last made a trip out. If you’re a fan then you can probably surmise what the quickly growing plant life really is. The group has a deadly encounter with a pack of miniature (and by “miniature”, they’re the size of semis) Kamacuras, Arata, and Shiori flee for their lives, but they don’t realize that they’re about to run into the midst of something far larger and more dangerous.
Cataclysm #1 is quick read that gets the big picture ideas of Godzilla right. On top of Bunn’s interesting examination of kaiju as godlike figures, the issue is a fun one that should appease fans of Godzilla. Wachter definitely knows how to draw monsters as shown in the big two-page spread early on of Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra, Anguirus, and Manda battling it out. The early flashbacks are soaked head to toe in red, while the rest of the issue consists of yellows, grays, and sickly greens, really selling the vibe of the dead world. Though maybe not as good as the magnificent Godzilla: Half Century War or Godzilla: Awakening, Cataclysm #1 continues the trend of IDW’s high quality Godzilla comics and it is certainly worth a look for fans. With a great cliffhanger, it will be exciting to see where the series goes next.