Writer/Artist: Zander Cannon
Publisher: Oni Press
WHAT IS IT?
A thought-provoking kaiju story for all ages.
Think that Monsters Vs. Aliens meets Orange is the New Black.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In a world full of giant monsters, there exists Kaijumax, a maximum security prison facility to house these creatures. Despised by almost everyone, these monsters are seen as disposable and forgettable, making them perfect to combat an alien invasion.
UFOs have been dropping crystals around the globe to create portals for terrifying aliens, so the prisoners of Kaijumax are offered a chance to lower their sentences if they volunteer to work alongside the humans and stop the invasion. One of the inmates, Electrogor, sees this as an opportunity to see his daughter, Torgax, who lives in the women’s prison, and jumps at the opportunity. Little does he know, everything is going to be much harder than it seems.
Cannon’s story is incredibly emotionally and culturally relevant. The satirical elements ask some deep questions about prisons and those who are deemed different.
In addition, his lines are thick and clean. Readers will never be confused about what they're looking at, even with the more grotesque monsters, or what's happening in the story.
The color choices for the story’s different moods are incredible and versatile. Most panels are colorful and saturated, but the more dramatic moments use darker, more limited palettes with heavy shadows.
A variety of balloons greatly help define character voices. Square shapes are used for robots, while more squiggly shapes appear for less verbal monsters.
The world is fleshed out well and extremely immersive. The monsters have their own slang and curse words, and the cultural divide between them and the humans is very clear.
The effect of the well-crafted lettering is particularly notable. It blends into the background very well and the variety of styles used match the tone of their panels exquisitely.
Despite this being the sixth season of this story, readers won't feel lost. The dialogue and plot provide enough context to explain the setting and relationships between characters.
Each issue ends with an FAQ section from the author as well as a review of a classic kaiju film which goes in-depth about Zander’s process and the blueprints of kaiju narratives.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Some of the emotional beats would probably hit harder with more familiarity of the previous seasons of this story. It’s not so bad that it ruins any moment, but extra time with these characters would make these connect better with readers.
The story is a bit of a slow burn and doesn’t have as much action that a typical kaiju fan would expect, which could be a turn-off.
While these books are for all ages, for the most part, there are some suggestions of alcohol and drug use.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
What begins as a fun premise quickly transforms into a heartfelt story on how the world treats its prisoners. Families are broken up, characters are lied to by their wardens, and friends are lost within these pages. Through its use of monsters, Kaijumax presents these heartbreaking moments in a digestible, emotional story with some humor and fun creatures mixed in. While the kaiju narrative has traditionally focused mostly on metropolitan destruction and big, scaly action, these comics pump the breaks and allow these monsters to be relatable beings.
The art has everything a monster-lover needs; homages to famous terrors, and new, fresh designs permeate this work. There’re even some Gundam-esque robots serving as prison guards. This makes reading extremely fun as one surveys the kaleidoscope of creatures in each issue. What is truly striking is the author’s use of color. Most of the panels are a feast of lively hues, but when the mood calls for it, pages can suddenly be minimalist with heavy shading, focusing the reader's eye on emotions presented by the characters.
These books are truly for readers of all ages. While the topics discussed can be heavy, they are scattered enough between jokes and lightheaded fun to not be overwhelming. Fans of kaiju films, but perhaps with a twist or anyone who loves a thoughtful story will enjoy these comics.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Double Barrel by Kevin Cannon & Zander Cannon
The Replacement God by Zander Cannon
Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine De Landro
If you like the art:
Top 10 by Alan Moore, Gene Ha & Zander Cannon
Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards by Jim Ottaviani & Zander Cannon
Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters by Chris & Laura Samnee
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Zander Cannon (@zander_cannon) – Cartoonist
Throughout Cannon’s decades-long career, he has established himself as one of comics' most talented creators, having done work for Image, America’s Best Comics, Top Shelf, and Oni Press.
He won an Eisner in 2001 for his work on Top 10 with Alan Moore and was nominated again in 2014 for his graphic novel Heck.
Zander publishes the comics magazine Double Barrel with his brother Kevin.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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