Writer: James Patrick
Illustrator: Rem Broo
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A classic heist story mixed with elements of kaiju. One massive, aquatic element.
Think The Italian Job or The Big Hit mixed with Godzilla written by Quentin Tarantino.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Marco is a failed thief looking to plan his redemption heist. Trying to bankroll a job and hire the best crew under a cloud of perpetual failure isn't easy, so he is forced to seek funding from the worst of sources.
Having made a deal with a nefarious loan shark where failure means death, the motley crew prepare to pull off the job in the one place the authorities will never look: under the nose of a building-sized, tusked turtle kaiju named Mujara. Will Marco succeed this time, or will he end up kaiju kibble or tortured to death by Blackie Mendoza?
James Patrick’s presentation unfolds well throughout, and the pacing of the book is solid. Characters are fallible, which makes them emotionally approachable. Marco's desire for respect creates the inertia to help weave the narration through what is the ultimate distraction, a really big kaiju with designs on setting up camp right next to the building where the heist is planned. She is the secret sauce that elevates the concept from a standard crime caper.
Rem Broo’s pen is reminiscent of a more robust Rob Guillory (Chew) style of linework. The visual typography is a bit sharp angularly and the panel dynamics feel constrained and tight. It's rough and grimy, which is tailor-made for this story. Proportions are a bit exaggerated, giving the characters more range of expression without needing additional verbal narration.
Dave Sharpe's lettering work is compact, which works well as there are moments of fairly heavy dialogue across multiple pages. Flashbacks and cutscenes are denoted in a pale yellow, making it easy to distinguish from the main storyline. His talent and experience are on show. One scene has bubbles to the far right, denoting off-page conversation. Little tricks like this expand the visual storytelling beyond standard proportional gamuts.
The color palette feels fruity with lots of citrus- and berry-inspired tones in shades of orange, blueberry, and avocado. The book exists in perpetual twilight until the end scenes on the beach, as if Marco is stuck in a dream loop until, at last, dawn breaks on the last few pages. It's a highly stylized color range which you might expect when the artist also handles the coloring duties. That maintenance of visual creative control creates a really striking presentation.
The scale that inherently must establish the enormous size of a kaiju is well accomplished and Mujara’s inclusion moments are well-balanced enough to create a sense of impending menace, but not so much that she dominates the storyline.
Of all things, the way waves are presented is what stands out the most visually. There’s just something there that is kinetically reminiscent of the famous Great Wave of Kanagawa woodblock print.
James Patrick included an introduction for the book describing his process, intent, and the genesis of Kaiju Score. Including the whys for a story's evolution directly from the author helps make the overall experience more robust and interesting over having someone else write it.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Content Warning: Be warned: There’s a fair bit of violence, including a graphic gutshot, several shootings, a torture scene, and a stabbing thrown in for good measure. Language is consistent with what you might expect from an R-rated heist movie.
Backgrounds are a bit sparse, relying on color to fill in panel blocking. There’s enough to establish location for the characters, but it’s a little thin. A more lush environment would help the eye transition around the page better.
Four issues didn't seem like enough to cover the first story arc. Adding another two would have made it feel far more robust and developed.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
If you are predisposed to liking monster stories, you are going to enjoy this – full stop. When you take a step beyond what will be that core demographic, Kaiju Score is a well-balanced book that will appeal to a wider audience, including the manga crowd.
It has a cross-pollinated appeal with a good equilibrium between its existence as a crime and a monster story, and it successfully outstrips its pulpy roots which explains why it has been so well-received and is poised to be one of the underdog, sleeper comic hits of the year. I personally really enjoyed it and look forward to seeing where Patrick, Broo, and Sharpe take this rather unorthodox journey.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Grimm Fairy Tales by James Patrick, Joe Brusha, & Carlos Granda
Joker's Asylum II: Harley Quinn by James Patrick & Joe Quinones
Campisi: The Dragon Incident by James Patrick & Marco Locati (to be released in Aug 2021)
If you like the art:
Beethoven by Peer Meter & Rem Broo
Terminal Protocol by Jordan Alsaqa & Rem Broo
The End Times of Bram and Ben by James Asmus, Jim Festante, & Rem Broo
ABOUT THE CREATORS
James Patrick – Writer (@JamesPatrik)
James Patrick is an award winning comics writer and artist. He has written for major comic titles such as Batman, Harley Quinn, Green Arrow, Star Trek, and Angel. His creator-owned books include Death Comes to Dilinger and Kaiju Score.
Patrick did web strips for Kevin Smith's Movie Poop Shoot website.
He scored his initial work with DC Comics on Batman Confidential through a MySpace message, and he maintains active current social media channels today.
Rem Broo is a self taught Romanian comic artist who left his career in architecture to pursue his love of illustration.
Broo's first big break in comics was working with James Asmus & Jim Festante on their creator owed project The End Times of Bram and Ben for Image comics.
Smash Hit: Before Kaiju Score was released in comic form, Sony Pictures acquired the film rights.
Dave Sharpe – Letterer (@daveLsharpe)
Dave Sharpe is a graduate of the Kubert School, formerly the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. Upon graduating, he immediately went to work for Marvel where he has lettered hundreds of titles. He has also taken on lettering duties at DC, Valiant, and Aftershock Comics.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Sharpe helped run the lettering department at Marvel.
He is also the bass player for the band Dead Cowboy, a heavy metal group focused on the Central Pennsylvania music scene.
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The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Kaiju Score characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright James Patrick and Rem Broo or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED