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Review: ‘Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero’

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A clever and entertaining read, “Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero” boasts a colorful cast of characters and epic-sized monsters versus robots battles. Designed by nature, this prequel gets readers geared up for the highly anticipated Pacific Rim. I’m even more excited about seeing Guillermo Del Toro’s movie because of this graphic novel tie-in.

WRITTEN BY: Travis Beacham
ART BY: Sean Chen, Yvel Guichet, Pericles Junior, Chris Batista, Geoff Shaw
PUBLISHER: Legendary Comics
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE: June 5, 2013

Naomi Sokolov, a disillusioned news reporter, has been granted special access to the over-budgeted Jaeger Program. The Jaegers are giant-sized robots designed to fight the city-stomping monsters, known as Kaiju. In her interviews, Naomi revisits the first Kaiju attack in San Francisco to the first Jaeger being manufactured. With the funding of the Jaeger Program being threatened, Naomi must write a convincing puff piece to remind the world why they must keep fighting. But, why should she finish the article on time when the monsters keep growing in numbers?

Writer Travis Beacham clearly has a loving fondness for monster movies, such as “Godzilla,” and “Cloverfield.” What’s really impressive about Beacham’s writing is how he underlines the unbreakable spirit of human nature. The Kaiju attack on San Francisco is a smart metaphor for post 9/11 commentary; how human nature copes after a tragedy. When I first saw the giant robots in the trailer, I thought the movie was headed into Transformers territory. Beacham reminds his readers it’s really about the person and relationships behind the suit, much like the anime series, “The Big O.”

Some parts of the narrative are left open-ended on purpose. Readers only get a taste of who Raleigh Becket (played by “Sons of Anarchy” star, Charlie Hunnam) really is. But I figured we’re going to get the rest of Raleigh’s story in the movie. After finishing the prequel, I feel like I’m going to have a better understanding about a few characters, such as Marshal Pentecost and Mako Mori. I’m interested in seeing how Beacham continues to explore the character arcs of these three protagonists in the movie.

With a slew of artists working on this project, the imagery here is quite memorable. There is one particular scene recreated from the trailer, which then kicks off the action. We have jet fighters flying around, shooting missiles, while the Kaiju is bleeding on top of a demolished building. What I particularly liked is how the illustrations focused on the facial expressions. In close-ups, we see detailed reactions from the Jaeger pilots through their glass helmets. When the Jaeger is in trouble, the pilots feel the pain as well. Unfortunately, there are so many different artists on the book that the pages are inconsistent. It’s frustrating to see character’s change looks halfway through a book. I understand the reason for multiple artists was likely to get the book out on time, but nobody likes artist changes mid-story.

Let’s talk about how awesome the Alex Ross cover is. The sky is burning as the Jaeger tries to hammer its fist at the Kaiju. You, the reader, are the spectator watching these two giants duking it out in the foreground. The artwork just screams out epicness and draws you in. It’s amazing how Ross is able to tell a whole story in just one frame.

Readers are in for a fun treat with “Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero.” I’m never thrilled to hear about movie tie-ins, but this one took me by surprise. If you’re into “Godzilla” movies, you’re definitely going to enjoy this.

Pacific Rim will be released in theaters on July 12th.

3.5/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis