Across all forms of fictional media, no genre or subgenre is quite as intricately plotted as a heist. Even the most paint-by-numbers, archetypal version of a heist still has many layers to it, and a wealth of opportunities for plans to change or go awry. That is the beating heart of The Kaiju Score, Aftershock's newest series debuting this week. Both in its unconventional concept and in its spirited execution, The Kaiju Score #1 subverts expectations in some delightful ways, teeing up a saga that will entertain as much as it piques readers' curiosity.
As the name might suggest, The Kaiju Score takes place in a world similar to ours—albeit one with giant monsters being a normalized part of life. Once a kaiju makes landfall, the government puts its full resources into controlling it as the areas in its path are evacuated, something that career criminal Marco seeks to use to his advantage. Marco recruits a ragtag group of fellow criminals to team up on what could be one of the most profitable art heists ever, if they can pull it off in the middle of a monster attack.
From the jump, the world of Kaiju Score feels cinematic (so much so that the series was already optioned for a movie months ago). Some of this is arguably due to it resting on the laurels of the heist genre—particularly the frenetic work of the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright—but not in a way that detracts form the reading experience. The series' roster of characters—Marco, a glamorous safecracker named Gina, a no-nonsense bodyguard named Pierson, and an unlucky heist veteran named Palmiero—each receive an all-too-brief introduction, which range from intriguing to predictable. Nevertheless, there's a sense that each character contains much more than meets the eye, and those proverbial layers will be uncovered as the series continues. And even when the characters fall into familiar tropes, the monster-themed crux of the series itself still makes it all seem fresh, enough that the series could continue long after this initial heist is over.
When it comes to the actual kaiju, Kaiju Score showcases a surprising number in its first issue, while still leaving a lot to be explored. Even with multiple Western Godzilla movies (including Warner Bros.' currently ongoing "Monsterverse"), the idea of kaiju crashing into modern American life has been left largely unexplored in popular culture. There's clearly a wealth of worldbuilding that can be done within Kaiju Score, and the first issue does just enough in its very limited space. A series like this could have easily rested on its laurels and only addressed giant monsters in the abstract taking a few issues to really showcase their threat and their impact on society. Instead of pulling a Cloverfield, James Patrick's narrative showcases the threat of monsters directly in a way that's both exhilarating and oddly charming. If the rest of the series maintains that energy and momentum, it could easily be one of the most human, original stories of a kaiju attack published in recent years.
Complimenting all of this is Rem Broo's artwork, which helps the reader fully dive into the series' strange world. Every visual essentially knocks it out of the park, between the sartorial flair of the ensemble of human characters, the detailed work on the monsters, and even the in-universe depictions of valuable pieces of art. When combined with the warm bath of colors Broo uses—including lots of oranges, yellows, and purples—the issue establishes a grounded, earnest tone. To an extent the visuals of the issue feel akin to Riley Rossmo's work on DC's recent Martian Manhunter maxiseries, both in the heightened borderline-cartoony proportions of the characters and that this is an incredibly human story in fantastical circumstances. Dave Sharpe's lettering ties it all together, ensuring even the most threatening line of dialogue has an upbeat edge to it.
Based on its concept alone, I was incredibly excited for the debut of The Kaiju Score—and it has exceeded my expectations. The debut issue brings a fresh, spirited take on both heist and monster stories, all while setting up a world that readers will anticipate diving into every month. From the charming narrative and worldbuilding to the chaotic and nuanced artwork, The Kaiju Score is a comics that feels effortlessly fun—even as you wait for everything in it to inevitably go sideways.
Published by Aftershock Comics
On November 25, 2020
Written by James Patrick
Art by Rem Broo
Colors by Rem Broo
Letters by Dave Sharpe