Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Comics If You're Horny For Pacific Rim

Since Pacific Rim has been described by it's director as “giant f***ing monsters against giant f***ing robots", I thought it would be appropriate to give your average American geek who isn't totally into either anime or tokusatsu a sampling of some comics they could dig up to get into gear for it. I figured it was best not to list too many comics that were adaptations or spinoffs to established franchises like Trasformers, Godzilla, Robotech, or Voltron. Some of them are taken from various games or toylines, but most are original concepts that were inspired from the mecha/kaiju genre.


ASSEMBLY
Sherard Jackson did a great job in this totalitarian future where teenage girl Shon is trying to find her place in a world where the militant government uses mechas to keep the peace and wage war against their enemies. Shon is torn between joining the army as a medic like her parents to escape her poverty, and what might certainly be her own death sentence. Very reminiscent of Gundam 0080 in the way war effects everyone, including the common man.

DYNAMO JOE
One of the first original American comics to bring the giant robot to the forefront was created by John Ostrander and later on Phil Foglio. Future human colonies and other allied alien cultures are under attack by the invading Mellenares, enormous killer mechanoids. To retaliate, humans invent giant robots called Robosoldiers. The majority of the series deals with alien robot pilot Elanian and his feline partner Pomru. The comic followed a lot of space opera tropes typical of shows like Battlestar Galactica and Robotech, but still an interesting comic approach to Space Invaders.
GIANTKILLER
This is how the movie Monsters should have been. A crack opening to an underground world erupts in San Francisco, and huge monsters of every variety escape turning a huge portion of California into Monster Territories where kaiju run wild. To keep these in line, the government sent in a monster-hybrid called Jack, and also to catalog all of them is the slightly-augmented Jill who appears to just be a well-endowed white-haired human girl. Jack travels the wastelands terminating the monsters with a large katana. But, this all comes to a halt when the granddaddy of all kaiju Rroar shows up to put it all to an end. This 6-issue series also came with a special guidebook issue to the monsters in this world.
GIANT MONSTER
One of your standard 50s sci-fi terror movie plots was having an astronaut return to Earth as some kind of destructive beast. This 2-issue series took the concept a step further by making the astronaut into a giant zombie monster that turns anyone he touches into a zombie too. The only resource the U.S. government has for this is a German scientist long left in Area 51, who creates a giant Nazi robot to stop the monster. After supposedly killing the menace from space, the Nazibot then proceeds to try and conquer the world itself. So, there's some real funny twists in this modern approach to B-movies.
GIANT ROBOT WARRIORS
Meant as more of a political satire then an explosive war drama, this was actually a pretty good comic, despite it being a product of the Bush Administration(the 2nd one). The underfunded U.S. Department of Giant Robot Warriors suddenly has to pull their crap together when an miniscule Mid-East country develops its own mecha tech. So, G.R.W. head Rufus has to pull an amazing all-nighter to have a working model ready for the President's inspection. This is for early post-911 America with giant robots what Iron Sky was to nowadays with Space Nazis!
GIGANTIC
Out of nowhere, a giant alien robot shows up in San Francisco(again!)and starts wrecking the joint. What the delusional pilot doesn't know is that he's really the star of a reality show like The Truman Show. He's caught between the citizens of his homeworld being controlled by an evil organization, the United Broadcast Company, and the safety of Earth which has U.S. Army giving him a hard time too. It's a bizarre but explosive look at how a ratings war can cause a lot of turmoil.
MECH DESTROYER
Set in the mid-21st Century, Earth has been conquered by an alien race called the Jadak Empire. The few remaining resistance fighters come up with a plan to use their battle droids in an attempt to free the planet, but it all hinges on their secret Mech Destroyer weapon piloted by the daredevil soldier Reese, who is given a special mission to rescue their fallen comrades from a nearly impenetrable enemy fortress.
MONSTERPOCALYPSE
Based on the miniature board game, this 4-issue mini-series(which includes an Issue #0)mainly centers around the special defense force labeled G.U.A.R.D. who protect mankind from giant dinosaur monsters that just mysteriously show up frequently attacking major cities around the world. The pilots of one this special divisions giant robots made to stop the monsters, called the Sky Sentinel, are trying to prove their worth as their former captain got promoted to the new robot, Defender X, while investigating the strange giant humanoid warriors which also fight the creatures.
ROBODOJO
Hoping to cash in all the anime-styled comics back in the early 2000s, Wildstorm did this 6-issue mini-series spearheaded by Teen Titans veteran writer Marv Wolfman. Set in the future, two sections of the Mega Mech Science Academy are competing for the spot of top spot on the secret mecha-designing Platinum Project. Team Alpha and Team Omega have a fierce rivalry which comes to the forefront along with some typical anime highschool hijinks. Each issus also has a backup feature titled Nanobots which are kind of like a Tiny Titans version of the Metal Men.
ROTOGIN: JUNKBOTZ
Underground robot fights! Beats cockfighting. Set 2079, this is set in a future where mecha fights were a national sport called Rotogin, but because of a fight that lead into the destruction of a major city, the sport was banned. Now, there are illegal battles held in abandoned areas, and the mechas a specially modified for combat. This ain't like those "robot wars" fights you see at cons between remote-controlled cars with robot claws. You get to see the real criminal element involved with thugs running the bouts, plus how the star pilots are a savage divas who will do anything to win. This series went on for 4 issues including an Issue #0.
SANDSCAPE
Taking hints from both Gundam and Desert Punk, Dreamwave took another dive into the mecha genre in this sci-fi tale set on the alien desert world of Dessica. The story centers around Valeri, a lone robot pilot/ace mechanic, is stuck between two warring factions as her home town is the center of an all-out mecha brawl. She has to escape with a lone mercenary who uses her for his own ends. Most of the actual mecha action is over by the first half of this 4-issue series, but is still makes for a decent space military story, especially the detailed artwork.
SHOGUN WARRIORS
Okay, I plan on getting into this in another blog sometime, but this is probably the head of the hill of mixing giant robots with giant monsters. Shogun Warriors was an American re-release of several giant robot toylines from Japan from various anime titles like Getter Robo and Mazinkaiser. This even included some live-action movie monsters like Godzilla and Rodan! Marvel Comics got the rights to take three of these robots: Brave Raideen(here called "Raydeen"), Combattler V(here called "Combattra"), and Danguard Ace into the regular Marvel Universe in a 20-issue series in the late 70s. This was shown as a being in canon with the Godzilla comic series they did which had already wrapped up just prior to this, with mentions of their giant robot, Red Ronin, plus occasional appearances from their token supervillain, Doctor Demonicus. The story involved three random specialists being chosen by a group of scientists to pilot their trio of giant robots to fight alien threats, like the evil Lord Maur-Kon and his crew. This was an intensely cool comic, and great for fans of 70s super robots. It's weird how Cobattra which was one of the first combiner robots could be operated by one human pilot, while the other four vehicles that made it up were controlled by miniature robots. Marvel fans will like guest stars like Nick Fury and the Fantastic Four.
TIGER-X
Another mixing of two genres, this takes the original version of Red Dawn(the good one!), and the anime mecha classic Gundam. The comic came out in the mid-80s, but the story takes place in the "future" of 1993 where Russia invades the United States and takes over the entire heartland within a matter of weeks thanks to their advanced battlesuits. The only hope to save the rest of the country is the prototype mecha, Tiger-X. The big problem is the creators are suffering from mental tempering and don't know where they left it. It's up to some ragtag survivors to find it and pilot it. This series went on for two mini-series and a one-shot special by American-manga godfather Ben Dunn, so it's worth a look to see one of the first original western attempts at doing a mecha war story.
TOKYO STORM WARNING
Warren Ellis did his take on Godzilla with this mini-series. Set in an alternate history, the U.S. first bombed Tokyo in 1945 instead of Hiroshima. Fast forward to modern day, where Tokyo is constantly harassed by giant monsters. Zoe Flynn joins the Tokyo Storm crew, who defend the city with mecha called ARCangels which also just showed up and the Japanese modified for Tokyo Storm to operate. The secret behind all the giant robots and monsters is tied to a St. Elsewhere-styled ending, but definitely worth looking up. It's available as its own trade, and as a double-feature with Ellis' other title, Red.

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