Archive for Godzilla

The Owls in the Ruins

Batman #6

So it’s Batman vs. the Talon, the elite assassin of the Court of Owls. Fair fight? Probably not when Batman has spent the last several weeks, starving, weakening, going crazy, then getting stabbed through the stomach and beat like a rented mule. Can the Dark Knight survive and escape?

Verdict: I dunno. It’s written great, the art is fine, it’s dramatic, there’s lots of action and suspense and freaky stuff. But I really couldn’t get past the fact that Batman shoulda been dead by Page 5. I like Batman better when there’s an actual human underneath the cowl, not an indestructible behemoth. I wish DC would just go ahead and declare that he’s a metahuman and get it over with.

The Amazing Spider-Man #679.1

Horizon Labs is stuffed full of people doing awesome mad science. In fact, there are seven main labs. One of them is run by Peter Parker. One is run by this weird kid named Uatu Jackson. And no one knows who’s in Lab 6. At least until the day Uatu and Peter discover that the guy in Lab 6 is Michael Morbius — better known as Morbius the Living Vampire! Oh no, and he’s just gone bloodlust crazy! Will Spidey be able to stop him by himself? Or will he need help from Uatu’s mad-science monster-fighting gear?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action and dialogue and just the right amount of silliness.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Long Death #1

It’s a normal day in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense — until ghostly agent Johann Kraus suddenly finds his containment suit taken over by a terrifying monster! And then Johann wakes up — it was just a dream… but as a spirit, Johann isn’t able to sleep. Has his fancy new containment suit given him the ability to sleep and dream again? Before that question can be answered, Johann has to lead a BPRD team into British Columbia near where Abe Sapien investigated a series of disappearances not too long ago. However, Johann has his own agenda, and he leaves the team on their own so he can look for the missing Ben Daimio. And that leaves the team almost defenseless when they’re attacked by a monster. Will anyone make it out alive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Johann’s dream is as horrific as all git-out. The rest of the story is a lot more mellow, even including the attack by the jaguar demon. Excellent action and horror — yet another great story that makes you wish you could kick Johann Kraus’ insubstantial butt.

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #12

The final issue! Not a whole lot of actual plot going on in this one — just a review of the current sorry state of the planet — wrecked by giant monsters with humankind reduced to near-savagery — along with a meditation on our species’ ability to persist in the face of certain doom and thrive.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very nice ending — we get to check in one final time with the series’ recurring characters and we get some hope for mankind’s survival. It’s been a great run — glad I got to read it all.

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Praise Godzilla

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #11

Godzilla and King Ghidorah are down, but Rodan and Battra have just arrived on the scene, both mentally controlled by the evil French telepath girls. They want to control even more giant monsters, and to get Godzilla back to fighting strength, they have Rodan and Battra carry him to a nuclear power plant, drop him in, and blow it up. Godzilla is energized, but will he be bent to the twins’ wills? And is anything going to be left standing afterwards?

Verdict: Thumbs up. For the most part, a knock-down, drag-out fight between Godzilla, Rodan, and Battra. It’s good fightin’, and even though they’re all giant monsters, it’s all smart fightin’, too.

All Star Western #5

Jonah Hex and Doc Arkham are stuck underground, surrounded by — well, I think we can call ‘em mutants. They’re quickly disarmed and thrown into an underground river, where they’re washed out in a waterfall and stuck on a narrow ledge. Things get worse from there, as Arkham’s panic about dying of starvation attracts a bunch of cave-dwelling Indians who all try to kill them. Once they escape them, things get even worse when they have to climb a sheer cliff. And then things get even worse.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wow, Doc Arkham really is completely useless — amusingly, frustratingly useless. Besides that, it’s got good action, good dialogue, and it’s just all-around good fun.

Secret Avengers #21.1

The first of Rick Remender’s run on this series opens with a mission just for Captain America and Hawkeye. They’re running around the rogue nation of Bagalia. They’re on a mission to save an American politician from assassination — but he’s not even a real person, just a robotic Life Model Decoy. And it turns out the whole escapade was a test for Hawkeye to see if he was ready to take over the Secret Avengers. Cap is mad at him for flunking the test, Hawkeye is mad at Cap for treating him like a junior space cadet. They split up to go home — and then Cap gets ambushed and captured by Whiplash, Vengeance, and Princess Python — they’re working with Max Fury, a Life Model Decoy who looks like Nick Fury, so they can form a new Masters of Evil team. Will they be able to use Cap’s capture to create anti-American propaganda?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not half bad. Good art, good dialogue, good story. We’ll see if Hawkeye can actually manage to lead a covert team or not…

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Claw Marks

Avengers Academy #23

There are a trio of events going on in this issue. First and most obviously, X-23, Wolverine’s gender-swapped teenaged clone, joins Avengers Academy. After initially freaking everyone out with what an utter badass she is, the rest of the students warm to her almost immediately afterwards. Second, the future version of Reptil is mentally possessing his younger self’s body and plotting against the team from within. And finally, Striker comes out as gay to Lightspeed, who is herself bisexual. And this is all in addition to another big super-battle that leads to an old X-Men villain worming his way into the Academy…

Verdict: Thumbs up. But I gotta say, the segment where Striker comes out? I really wasn’t fond of that. I got nothing against Striker being gay, but I don’t think he’d come out to Lightspeed, who he just barely knows. I don’t buy him being comfortable and accepting of his sexuality, especially the way he aggressively hits on every other female in the series. And I didn’t see the point of the big “Oh no, I was molested, I will cry on Julie Powers’ shoulder because OMG DRAMA” moment. But other than those five pages, the issue was just fine.

American Vampire #21

Again, we’ve flashed back to the days before Skinner Sweet was a vampire, and when he and Jim Book were best friends. They’re both members of the U.S. Cavalry, and their commanding officer would like them both dead for questioning his military decisions. The problem is that the Apaches they’re all hunting are out in vastly superior numbers — and even worse, Hole in the Sky, a renegade Apache leader, has gotten himself a powerful new vampiric form. Unfortunately for Hole in the Sky, the Indian maiden who he stole those powers from isn’t happy about getting attacked by him. So how are the soldiers going to deal with a hundred Apaches and two angry monster-vampires?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice conclusion to the storyarc. Not much else to say about it — I enjoyed it. Loved the art, loved the writing…

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #10

Steven Woods and Allie have gotten control of Mechagodzilla, just in time to stumble across Godzilla himself. The president wants them to get the giant robot somewhere safe so it can be refurbished and repaired, but Woods wants to try to take the Big G down. But can all his fighting skills and all the robot’s secret weapons allow him to defeat the King of Monsters — especially with King Ghidorah joining the battle — and Rodan and Battra, controlled by the evil French telepaths, on the horizon?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Exceptional action and very strong characterization. Gotta hand it to writer Jason Ciaramella and artist Victor Santos — this is very good work.

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The Grace of Godzilla

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #9

Steven Woods and his young traveling companion Allie have a new vehicle to travel around the country in — the abandoned and battle-scarred Mechagodzilla! Woods has gotten the manual controls switched on, and he’s able to beat up on Anguirus. Woods reveals that he’s got a mad-on to destroy Godzilla, because the King of Monsters killed his whole family. Eventually, President Ogden and what’s left of the American government are able to contact Mechagodzilla and order him back to Detroit, but it may already be too late for that.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This really does seem to be the most focused issue of this series so far. Most other issues have had multiple storylines running and multiple characters, sometimes very minor ones. But this one is focused entirely on Woods, Allie, and Mechagodzilla, and it makes it a vastly stronger story. I wasn’t really expecting a lot from this issue, but I was very pleased with how it turned out — kudos to writer Jason Ciaramella for that.

Secret Avengers #19

Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, the Black Widow, and Moon Knight are in the Baltic nation of Symkaria, looking to take down a drug lord named Voydanoi, who is apparently using drugs to make his thugs as powerful as super-soldiers. But it soon becomes apparent that Voydanoi’s minions aren’t super-soldiers, and they didn’t get their abilities from drugs — they emit brightly-colored, swirling lights when they’re knocked unconscious. Will the team be able to make it past all the enhanced guards to the penthouse? Once they’re there, will they be able to handle Voydanoi himself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good but not spectacular story. Good action all around, and it’s nice to see Moon Knight do something other than be the Crazy Guy.

Dark Horse Presents #6

This anthology series stuffs another metric ton of good stories in here. We’ve got Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s “Resident Alien,” Carla Speed McNeil’s “Finder: Third World,” Felipe Melo and Juan Cavia’s “Adventures of Dog Mendonca and Pizzaboy,” Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s “Beasts of Burden,” Fabio Moon’s “Change,” Neal Adams’ “Blood,” Steve Niles and Christopher Mittens’ “Criminal Macabre,” Haward Chaykin’s “Marked Man,” Robert Love and David Walker’s “Number 13,” and Andi Watson’s “Skeleton Key.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing particularly bad, and lots of stuff that’s really good. Personal favorites included “Marked Man” and “Finder: Third World,” which both seem to get more amazing with every new chapter, and “Beasts of Burden,” which is always grand, grand fun.

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Calling All Monsters

Holy bananas, when’s the last time I did anything other than review comics? Let’s see if I can get this week’s comics reviewed before the weekend, okay?

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #8

Once again, the story is split into two parts. We get Godzilla in an epic battle against King Ghidorah for half the issue, and in the rest of it, Sgt. Woods and Allie continue their journey across the country, fighting off desperate bandits and trying to stay away from the giant monsters. But when Steven is bitten by a poisonous snake, it puts their survival at risk — unless they get rescued by an unlikely savior.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really, the most interesting part of this story focuses on the human survivors — I think the comic has actually gotten better now that we have some real protagonists. But I do think it’s interesting that King Ghidorah, normally the villain in Toho Studios‘ “Godzilla” movies, is cast as the good guy here.

Spaceman #1

A new sci-fi comic from Brian Azzarello, creator of “100 Bullets,” and it’s available for just one dollar! Yeah! Our lead character is Orson, a genetically engineered man. He was designed to live and work in space, and he looks more like a gorilla than a man. Orson hasn’t been in space for quite a while, though he still has plenty of dreams about it. Now he scrapes by working as a scrap metal collector — he sets sail in a rough little boat and tries to find some salvage out in the ocean. Meanwhile, the police are investigating an odd crime — a contestant on a reality show competing to be adopted by the future versions of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt has been kidnapped, and no one knows where she is. How are these plot threads going to twist together?

Verdict: Thumbs up. For one thing, it’s just a dollar. JUST A DOLLAH! Second, I love the future lingo, part textspeak, part weird abbreviations. It’s fun to try to decipher what’s being said. But ya know what? Even though I like it, I’m not going to keep picking it up. I collect too dadgum many comics as it is, and the last thing I need is yet another monthly filling up my shortboxes. If it keeps a good rep, maybe I’ll pick it up someday when it gets collected.

The Amazing Spider-Man #671

Well, I lost track of this one somewhere down the road, so we’re gonna review two of these. Mary Jane Watson is just about the last person in the city to get any spider powers, so she gets busy saving lives and kicking butt. Elsewhere, Spidey manages to web up the transformed J. Jonah Jameson before he can kill anyone, but his mental link with the Spider-Queen clues her in that the resistance against her is centered at Horizon Labs. Eddie Brock is letting the scientists drain him of his spider-curing antibodies, even though it means he’ll never be able to become Anti-Venom again. The Queen sends Tarantula, who used to be Kaine, one of Spidey’s clones, to destroy the pool of spider decontaminant. Spidey almost gets beat, but Horizon Labs has been working on a way to restore the Wall-Crawler’s lost Spider-Sense, which gives him the edge to stop Tarantula and knock him into the decontaminant vat, turning him back into Kaine. Unfortunately, turning Peter’s Spider-Sense back on ends up super-charging the Queen…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Tons of stuff going on, with the end of Anti-Venom, the return of Kaine and the Spider-Sense, and even some fun guest stars.

The Amazing Spider-Man #672

So what’s the Spider-Queen do, now that she’s got a steep increase in power? She turns into a giant spider-monster to attack the city! Spidey loans Kaine one of his fancy high-tech spider-suits, Mary Jane shows up to help fight, the Avengers, the X-Men, and most of the other heroes in the city have trouble slowing the Queen down, and Peter realizes how to cure everyone in the city of their spider powers and stop the Queen at the same time. Can Peter and Mary Jane save the day?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s big and crazy and overblown and a bit goofy, but I liked it anyway. So sue me.

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The Adventures of Sherlock Hex

All Star Western #1

The Rebooted version of Jonah Hex has some very good points in its favor — specifically, that Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, longtime writers of the previous “Jonah Hex” comic, are again in charge of this one. It does lead to an odd question — when the series is set in Gotham City, long considered to be the DC version of New York City, is it really correct to call it “All Star Western“?

Jonah Hex rides into Gotham City in the 1880s and is soon entangled in an investigation into a series of serial murders, partnered with Dr. Amadeus Arkham. While Arkham knows a lot about psychology and book-larnin’, Hex is the guy who knows where to find trouble and how to get people to tell what they know — and how to hurt anyone who gets in their way. But do they have a chance at uncovering the fiend — or fiends — behind the murders?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So much to love in this one. You got scarred, violent, rough-mannered Jonah Hex as Sherlock Holmes and brainy, sophisticated — and also probably completely insane, if I read the conversation with his mother correctly — Amadeus Arkham as Dr. Watson. You got Gotham City at its grimiest, at least as dangerous and lethal as anything on the frontier. This one is definitely, right now, a keeper.

The Amazing Spider-Man #670

Everyone in the Big Apple is getting Spider-Man’s powers — and after a certain period, they actually turn into giant spiders under the control of the Spider Queen! The Spider-King makes an appearance before her — but it’s really Flash Thompson, the new Venom, in disguise, while Eddie Brock, Anti-Venom, does all he can to use his powers to cure everyone with spider powers. Spider-Man teams up — gleefully — with Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, who’s gotten his own spider powers — but JJJ starts to lose control when he gets near the Spider-Slayer, who killed Jonah’s wife. Will anyone be able to find a cure in time? Or is it already too late for New York?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice, crazy story in all the right ways. Love the writing by Dan Slott, love the art by Humberto Ramos. This has been a pretty fun series.

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #7

After the MechaGodzilla disaster from last issue, the U.S. government — heck, pretty much every government on Earth — has called it quits and gone underground while Godzilla destroys Washington, DC. Sgt. Steven Woods and Allie, the orphaned girl he’s watching after, are able to continue avoiding the monsters and scavenging food. The creepy twin girls in France discover that they’re able to control all monsters when they stop Battra and Rodan from fighting. And an old Tibetan monk has a plan to save the world using… King Ghidorah? Uh-oh…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m liking seeing more focus on Steven Woods and less on the government’s (and everyone else’s) response to the monsters. It’s long passed the point where the planet’s going to come back from this, so it’s more interesting to see how a few people deal with the end of everything.

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Blood and Fire

American Vampire #18

Not much I can tell you about this one without spoiling it — but it’s the final fight, the battle to the death, between Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones. Who wins? That’d be too much of a spoiler, sorry. You’ll have to go read it for yourself.

Verdict: Thumbs up. All the usual things you expect from this comic — great writing from Scott Snyder, great art from Rafael Albuquerque, and more shocks and surprises than you’d expect. This is clearly going to be a turning point in the series, with one major character gone (at least for now), the status quo shaken up good, and another unexpected character in the wings ready to join the cast. If you’re not reading this, you’re missing out on the best horror series in comics.

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #6

Former soldier Steven Woods is traveling with Allie, a little girl orphaned in an attack by Godzilla. They have to dodge attacks from survivors because Woods has figured out how to track the movements of the monsters. They also narrowly escape when a new monster makes its appearance — Kumonga, the giant spider. What of the rest of the monsters? Well, President Ogden and his advisers decide the best way to beat a monster is with another monster — in this case, a giant robot, built in Detroit, called Mechagodzilla! Oh man, let’s hope there’s not a design flaw that’ll corrupt its programming and send it on a rampage against humanity…

Verdict: Thumbs up. At this point, I think there’s absolutely no hope for getting rid of the monsters. I don’t know if the rest of the series is going to be about the monsters stomping out every last scrap of civilization… but if it is, I’ll probably keep reading it, ’cause there’s a really nice mix of tragedy, humor, and action going on here.

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Vampire Wars

American Vampire #17

The military squad from the Vassals of the Morning Star are trying to escape the monstrous vampires of Taipan, but they’ve just discovered something even worse — the Japanese have filled bombs with the Taipan vampires’ blood, and since their blood acts as a high-speed vampire transformation agent, it’s clear that they hope to turn a vast section of the planet into vampires. Not much time to escape now — they’ve got to call in an airstrike to destroy the blood bombs as quickly as possible. Will any of them, including Henry Jones and Skinner Sweet, have a chance to survive the coming chaos?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action, drama, artwork, and a great cliffhanger, too. You know this one won an Eisner Award, right? It deserved it, too.

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #5

The war against the monsters continues to go horribly. Godzilla and Anguirus tear up Los Angeles, and the US decides to kills Anguirus with heavier-than-air poison gas. The gas kills many people, but Anguirus survives the attack by… standing up. D’oh! The Germans try to kill Rodan with lighter-than-air poison gas, but are foiled when the monster flaps its wings and blows the gas right back at them. D’oh! Battra begins to metamorphose into a new form. And people trying to escape California are trapped in a traffic jam with Godzilla on the way.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I gotta say, this is a pretty weird series, mixing politics, horror, and farce — but as the last pages show, it’s all wrapped around a core of complete tragedy. This may not be the end of the world, but it’s certainly looking like a mass extinction event for humanity.

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In the Name of Godzilla

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #4

We get introduced to a new spotlight character this issue — Steven Woods, depressed Gulf War vet. He’s down about how shallow society has gotten — and then the rise of the monsters starts to upset almost everything. In France, we see Battra laying waste to the countryside, at the behest of two creepy twins with psychic powers, who soon crown themselves the new Queens of France. Meanwhile, Godzilla and Anguirus are heading for a showdown in Los Angeles.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Part of what has been most interesting about this series has been writer Eric Powell’s extremely cynical outlook on modern society and pop culture. He’s not a fan of Lady Gaga, Jersey Shore, news anchors, or materialism — is this series his attempt to take what he sees as a corrupted, decaying society and wipe it out with giant monsters? Or is all of this just funny background for the story?

Rocketeer Adventures #2

We get some fun stories from Mark Waid and Chris Weston, about the Rocketeer saving an actor posing as a superhero and inadvertently making him even more successful; Darwyn Cooke in a story appropriately titled “Betty Saves the Day!”; and Lowell Francis and Gene Ha, about Cliff Secord taking on a far-stronger and better equipped opponent in a desperate aerial battle.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But far and away the most awesome thing in this issue is the Darwyn Cooke story, which is every bit as awesome and fun as everything else he’s ever done.

Super Dinosaur #3

Super Dinosaur and Derek Dynamo have the Exile on the ropes, but he manages to make an escape, submerging his entire base under the Arctic ice. While the heroes return home, we get introduced to one of the Exile’s allies, a great-looking character called Squidious — and Terrordactyl really dislikes being cooped up underwater, so he eventually busts out so he can get some air-time. And once he leaves the base, the Dynamos can track him, so Derek and Super Dinosaur pursue him in a fancy jet-rig. But can a couple of newcomers to the world of flight hold out against a dinosaur who’s used to the air?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Actually, this issue is much improved over previous issues, mainly because Derek quits pronouncing everything as “AWESOME!” That really got extremely tiring, and removing it makes the comic much more fun to read.

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Tatters of the King

The Tattered Man

Interesting little horror/superhero story here by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, with artwork by Norberto Fernandez. We start with a trio of junkies on a Halloween home invasion. They’ve picked out an old man’s house because they assume he’s got something valuable stashed somewhere, but he doesn’t — all he has is a box marked with a swastika and filled full of rags. He tells the junkies about the box — he was a Jewish boy during World War II imprisoned in a brutal death camp, and at the end of the war, the Nazis decided to kill all the prisoners. He was the only survivor, and all those deaths summoned a monstrous spirit, clothed in the rags of the prisoners, that killed all the Nazis. Of course, the junkies don’t believe him, shots are fired, and a rag-draped spirit of vengeance is released on the modern world.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good writing and excellent art. Palmiotti and Gray say they’d like to write more stories about the Tattered Man — hopefully, they’ll have the chance to make some more. Goodness knows, we need more worthwhile horror in comics.

How to improve this series: First, I’m not all that thrilled with the Tattered Man’s origin — the rags and Jewish background ended up reminding me of DC’s Ragman character a couple times, despite the very obvious differences. So yeah, the Nazi concentration camps were some of the most evil and death-shrouded locations in history, but there have been plenty of other places around the world where injustice and genocide were blots on history — why not use Rwanda, Bosnia, or Darfur? All would make for an interesting twist. In addition, I’m not real thrilled with the idea of the character as a vigilante superhero — it tames the concept too much, for something that should be wild and uncontrollable. Still, it was good fun, and I’m looking forward to more.

American Vampire #15

The squad of military vampire hunters sent to Taipan have gotten ambushed by hordes of the native vampires — blind creatures far more savage and less human than any they’ve ever encountered. The squad member who has fallen has already been fully converted to vampirism — a process that normally takes hours. And even Skinner Sweet is in over his head. They’re barely able to escape into the hidden basements under the village. Their only chance is to make it to a Japanese base on the island where the vampires seem to be coming from. Meanwhile, Pearl, concerned over her husband Henry, has convinced the Vassals of the Morning Star to send her to Taipan to try to help out.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, Scott Snyder’s writing and Rafael Albuquerque’s art are killer. The Taipan vampires are pretty creepy — nice to see that there’s still something out there that can put the hurt on a super-badass like Skinner Sweet.

How to improve this series: Can’t think of much — this is still one of my favorite comics out there. Maybe more vampy goodness with Skinner and Pearl, but that’s really just nitpicking at near-perfection.

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #3

While Anguirus tears stuff up in Texas, Godzilla makes his way into the Korean DMZ, and a Lady Gaga clone called Girly Yaya advocates for Monster Rights, most of the action takes place in France, where a couple of creepy telepathic twins nurture a giant monster egg of their own, eventually helping it hatch into Battra, one of Mothra’s siblings. Does humanity have secret allies in the Mothra priestesses?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m entirely in favor of giant monsters, and the heavy doses of political and pop culture humor that Eric Powell is plugging into this series is keeping the atmosphere fun to read. Love the creepy twins — hope they stick around for a while instead of just getting crushed under some monster’s oversized foot…

How to improve this series: There are still some weird writing quirks going on here. The way the UN representative just picked all the monsters’ names out of the air kinda yanked me out of the story. And I’m having trouble believing that so many completely normal people would think they have a shot at taking down a giant monster all by themselves.

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