There’s a rumbling in the San Francisco Bay. Ships rock fiercely against the current. A giant form, impossible in its size, rises out of the water. With a shattering bellow a great green monster writhes and smashes the Golden Gate Bridge! Oh, huge monsters, how I love you all! Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero is the official comic book prequel to the upcoming Guillermo del Toro-directed blockbuster Pacific Rim.
The movie follows humanity as it struggles under the weight of giant monsters (or Kaiju as they’re called in this world). All’s not lost though, daring co-pilots strap their neural system into a giant robot called a Jaeger, and Ultra-Man-style beat the snot out of giant monsters. This graphic novel, written by the film’s screenwriter Travis Beacham, shows us how humanity got to the point where the movie kicks off. Earlier this week Alyse got a chance to chat with Travis about the graphic novel, and now I’ve got my hands on a beautiful hardcover copy to review and tell you all about.
The narrative is framed around a reporter, Naomi, trying to get testimonials from people integral to the early fight against the monsters. The reader gets a picture of the early events of the disaster as Naomi interviews bureaucrats, ace-pilots, and the researchers who were there on “K-Day” and soon after.
The thrilling opening story depicts the first emergence of a Kaiju. It plays out exactly as I wrote in the introduction, and it goes exactly as well for humanity as you’d suspect. After that story of running and survival, we meet the man who founded the Jaeger project. We see how a simple idea sparked the one hope for mankind: giant mech-suits controlled by two mentally linked pilots. After that story, we meet two would-be star pilots who blew their shot at glory (and will most likely play a prominent role in the film). As the stories wrap up, we learn that the world seems to be giving up on the Jaeger project and is resigned to build a giant wall to keep the monsters out. But no one wants to go down without a fight, right?
The illustrations in this comic are evocative and modern. The characters look like their filmic counterparts, but the whole piece has it’s own unique feel. The look of this world - the Jaegers, the Kaiju, the buildings - are unique and distinct. The real stars of this comic are the colorists. Their careful attention to detail makes this comic burst from the page and stand apart from a lot of other books coming out. In the first portion of the book deep blue and green hues fill the pages. There’s a “rainy day” feel to the world as it’s illustrated which perfectly matches the dark days of the early attacks. As we move into the development of the program and humanity begins to see some hope, we have brighter hues - sometimes even blindingly bright and filled with sunbursts of yellow and white. The cavalcade of pencillers, inkers, colorists, and the letterer really made this graphic novel something special.
This is such a fun book. It’s in hardcover right now (at $24.99 MSRP) but I don’t think that should deter you. This is a great read for those of us chomping at the bit for the film’s release. This will definitely tide you over, and it will totally inform your movie-watching experience. This comic made me laugh at times, it was thrilling, and in a hundred short pages I grew attached to these characters and their motives. Wish I could say that for more comics I review. This comic is how all movie tie-ins should be. Written by the writer himself, supervised by the director (you can practically see Guillermo del Toro’s fingerprints all over this awesome comic), and full of rewarding world-building. Check it out before you get squashed by a Kaiju.