April 18, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Bento Review: Kaijumax

Giant monsters in prison on an island. That's what this is.

Oni Press does some interesting stuff, to put it mildly.

Like, I think that’s about the only way to introduce Zander Cannon’s Kaijumax.


Kaijumax combines the general goofiness of giant monster stories with the standard prison drama cliches.  Our entry to this world is probably new inmate Electrogor, who, despite his name, seems to lack any and all electrical powers.  Electrogor was captured doing the sorts of things giant monsters always do, but now he’s mostly worried about his two kids, left behind when he went out looking for food.  As a single parent, he probably should be concerned.

Essentially, the story follows the premise that after years of doing otherwise, one day humanity developed the means to bring down various giant monsters.  Afterwards, the monsters were all sentenced to the Kaijumax prison, where apparently escape is impossible.

I’m assuming that.  The book doesn’t really go into why, for example, winged monsters don’t just fly away.  There’s a mention of a potentially island-wide forcefield by the book’s end, but that’s about it.

On the island, the monsters split into gangs and do the sorts of things you expect from a prison drama, such as find religion, engage in contraband trade, work out, and occasionally get abused by crooked guards.  The guards all have the ability to become giant-sized Power-Ranger type fighters, and the warden dwarfs even the largest monsters.  One guard, Gupta, is on the take and selling drugs to inmates in the form of smokestacks, virgin princesses, and uranium when he can get it, while also needing to keep the Queen of the Moon’s inmate son alive and off the drugs.

I’m not sure how well this worked.  Zander Cannon’s artwork is rather cutesy.  Electrogor is a giant yellow grasshopper with a pair of baby-blue eyes.  He looks less like a dangerous monster and more like a cartoon character.  That would be fine if Cannon’s story matched the artwork.  But this is a prison drama, so of course there’s a prison rape.  It’s not really played for laughs unless you’re the type that thinks its funny when giant monsters are the only ones involved.  Cannon also uses a lot of invented slang to stand in for the sorts of words you might normally hear in a story like this, and I’m just not sure how it all works.  The series did get better as it went along, but it didn’t grab me.  It ended on a high note and Cannon’s characterization largely works, so let’s say eight out of ten giant goat-men.

NEXT BOOK:  Normally, this would be where I’d end the month’s Bento reviews, but Comic Bento sent an extra book for the whole “giant Titans” theme.  It’s a magazine-style reprint of five issues of the 70s Marvel superteam The Champions whose original line-up has to be the craziest line-up they could have come up with.  Be back for that soon.