Comic Book Review – Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero

Luke Owen reviews the prequel comic for Pacific Rim…

Don’t miss the exciting sci-fi prequel graphic novel of the highly anticipated movie, Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro! Chronicling the very first time Earth is menaced by incredible monsters known as Kaiju, these inhuman beasts rise from the ocean depths and threaten to extinguish all mankind! Witness the race to develop massive robot fighting machines called Jaegers in an action-packed tale featuring many key characters from the film as we follow them in their early careers.

Anyone who listened to the Flickering Myth 2012 Review podcast will know that Pacific Rim is my most anticipated movie this year. As someone who loves kaiju-eiga cinema, this is everything I could ever want from a movie: giant monsters having fights with giant mechs while causing as much damage as possible. Tales From Year Zero, written by the movie’s co-writer Travis Beacham, gives us a little glimpse of what we can expect from the mind of Guillermo del Toro and the world of Pacific Rim.

The comic is set during a period where the Jaeger Program has been shut down and The Wall has begun to be built and gives us three stories which are bookended by reporter Naomi Sokolov who interviews principal characters from the movie. It’s a nice way to give us an introduction to these characters, their histories and emotions, while never feeling like it would alienate the movie’s audience should they not read the comic before hand. It gets the balance just right.

Our first story, K-Day, centres around Tendo Choi and it gives us a good view of a scene I very much expect to be in the movie’s opening moments: the first Kaiju attack on San Francisco in 2013 (the one in the trailers). The stunning artwork here leaps off the page as this unnamed beast roars out of the ocean and wrecks all kinds of havoc across the town. The military are unable to stop it and we see first hand the casualties that can be caused by these creatures. Simply put – it’s awesome.

This introductory story, like the other two stories, is incredibly well written and if the movie captures just some of this brilliance, we are for a real treat. Beacham has a real knack for science fiction dialogue and his narration uses are just excellent.

We then move onto the creation of the Jaegers in a story called Turn the Tide, which goes into great detail about the mechs inception, creation and just how they work. While I expect the movie to cover some of this, perhaps it’s a better use of screentime to gloss over the “science” with some simple Basil Exposition as this comic covers everything you need to know – and if fans really want to find out after the fact, they can read it here. However the best thing about this story is the incredibly well told and sweet love triangle story that, at times, gets quite adult.

This section of the comic does make me wonder whether del Toro and Beacham had a more adult movie in mind when they were putting Pacific Rim together only to have the studio’s hand lead them down the 12A path (which I fully expect it to be classified as). The partial nudity, sexualised imagery and adult themes from Tales From Year Zero do suggest that they wanted to originally make Pacific Rim a 15 rated action movie. But this of course is all just pure speculation, but I can’t see the actual movie having a gratuitous shower scenes…

Our final story, The Bond, focuses on Stacker Pentecost (who will cancel apocalypses soon) and the Becket Brothers and it delves into how important trust is when operating the Jaegers. I get the feeling that this will be a major driving force of Pacific Rim‘s plot as it has the potential for some interesting themes – as evident here. This story is probably the weakest of the three, but it is still fascinating to read.

If you’re really looking forward to Pacific Rim and you want to know more about the backstories, possible plot themes and just how everything works, I can’t recommend Tales From Year Zero enough. Those who aren’t quite as passionate about the project may struggle to take something away from all the science aspects of it, but the action, dialogue and emotion should be enough to carry you through to the end. The writing is ace, the action is fantastic and the designs are just superb – this is a great comic.

For me personally, this has made me even more excited for Pacific Rim.

Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors and the host of the Month in Review show for Flickering Myth’s Podcast Network. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.

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