The recent release of Legendary’s Godzilla Vs. Kong sparked a debate about how much screen time humans should share over the titular monsters, if any. Done well, human segments can ground the destruction caused by the kaiju fights and say something about humanity. But often, you just get a bunch of characters you don’t care about, delivering exposition and contriving reasons to be near the life-threatening monster fights.
Kaiju Score doesn’t even try for a grander point. This isn’t a comic about the atrocities of mankind’s self delusion or the harms we inflict on each other. Humans here repeatedly throw themselves into danger because they’re idiots: Criminal protagonist Marco goes up to a kaiju and takes a selfie with it. More than the puny mortals in the movies, Marco has a good reason for being so close to something that could easily eat him: He wants to pull off a heist during a kaiju attack in south Florida.
It’s a dumb idea, but Marco is desperate. While desperation is a commonality he shares with his three-person crew, it still doesn’t bring the quartet of crooks together. No Leverage cast or Ocean’s crew to charm here, via sharp dialogue or fun personalities; there’s only so much character given to each of them. Pre-release, the book was hyped up as being similar to Quentin Tarantino’s work and the aforementioned Ocean’s films, but the cast here isn’t nearly as charming. Where there should be banter, instead there’s constant sniping and bickering that borders on overdone. Whether intentional or a bug that these characters are relatively thin doesn’t really matter—anything else would get in the way of the monsters and the heist.
What the characters lack, the book makes up for in other areas. Writer James Patrick gives Kaiju Score a breezy pace that keeps it from dragging. Watching Marco and crew manipulate kaiju biology to their advantage is satisfying, in a way heists can only be once the plan is underway. Instead of the present day’s vibrant colors and stylized expressions, artist Rem Broo goes for simplicity in the flashbacks, heavy on the red and orange and giving a little flair to the thievery.
The actual heist doesn’t entirely seal the deal. Broo makes the kaiju look plenty big and monstrous, but encounters with them lack as much danger as they should (save for an amazing kill toward the end). A certain spark is missing, possibly because of Kaiju Score’s eyes toward the silver screen. Kaiju Score has a lot of potential with this mix of screw-up thieves and gigantic monsters: Whenever it returns for its second run, here’s hoping its creators have learned what they want the book to be before the crew tries to pull off another big job.