James Stokoe

Aliens: Dead Orbit 4 (December 2017)

Aliens: Dead Orbit #4Stokoe finishes up Dead Orbit with an awesome all-action issue. There’s very little in the way of story. There’s very little in the way of characters. There are characters–it’s been so long since the last issue, I only remember the lead and don’t remember how the bookends work–but there’s no characterization.

It’s about Aliens after all, and the Alien action is phenomenal. Stokoe’s pacing is wondrous. He doesn’t do all the Stokoe detail on Orbit, he’s more concentrated on movement and the threat of the aliens.

I’m going to have to read Dead Orbit in a sitting (or a trade); the experience is what Stokoe’s going for. He’s making an Aliens comic as unnerving as an Alien movie, versus making an Aliens comic expanding or exploiting the franchise.

The issue’s a short “read,” but a longer visual experience. The Stokoe art is just so good, the eyes have to linger, even when the pace is amped.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, and letterer, James Stokoe; editors, Rachel Roberts and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens: Dead Orbit 3 (June 2017)

Aliens: Dead Orbit #3This issue finally delivers Stokoe action violence with Aliens. There’s not a lot, he mostly goes for the terror of the crew, but it’s also terrorized crew members by Stokoe. This issue is exactly what Dead Orbit has always promised. And it’s still just an Aliens comic. Stokoe needs more room, he needs more pages. He feels too confined. He’s got his visual poetics, very much in line with the original Alien, but he can’t get their pace right. He can pace the action and gore right; there’s just not enough room for both. It’s too bad. But still awesome.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, and letterer, James Stokoe; editors, Rachel Roberts and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens: Dead Orbit 2 (May 2017)

Aliens: Dead Orbit #2Dead Orbit continues–James Stokoe drawing chestbursters alert!–without any bumps. Stokoe’s script is solid; most of the issue is flashback explaining how the aliens got onboard, then the aliens finally show up at the end. The issue leaves the protagonist in a precarious situation but it doesn’t really matter. Stokoe, even in his reduced, licensed-title friendly level of detail, is the draw. And there’s a cute nod to Alien3.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, and letterer, James Stokoe; editors, Rachel Roberts and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens: Dead Orbit 1 (April 2017)

Aliens: Dead Orbit #1What’s Aliens: Dead Orbit about? Too soon to tell. Aliens, most likely. And a refueling station in a dead orbit. Maybe. It’s really all about James Stokoe doing an Aliens comic. There aren’t even aliens in this issue–not really–just that wonderful Stokoe art. Great detail for the spacecrafts, great detail for the cast. It’s not all out Stokoe detail, but it’s good Stokoe detail. And he gets in plenty of cute Alien visual homages without being dependent on franchise familiarity. What happens next? Who cares so long as it’s Stokoe.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, and letterer, James Stokoe; editors, Rachel Roberts and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Godzilla in Hell 1 (July 2015)

Godzilla in Hell #1I’m curious how writer-artist-colorist-letterer (hah to the letterer credit but more on it in a bit) pitched Godzilla in Hell to IDW. Or did they ask him to pitch?

If so, did they ask him to pitch a comic with nothing but Godzilla walking around and fighting. If so, did they ask anyone else to pitch it, because I can’t imagine anyone but Stokoe making Hell a workable prospect.

The comic consists of Godzilla arriving in Hell. He walks around. He fights a couple monsters. He has to weather a huge storm of human bodies (presumably souls). He’s Godzilla. He kicks butt, he takes names, he uses his atomic breath.

There’s no narrative–it feels like a level in a video game, actually–but there’s gorgeous Stokoe art. Whether it’s the highly detailed damned storm or just Godzilla in a long shot, it’s a gorgeous comic book. Goes nowhere, doesn’t have to.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, James Stokoe; editor, Bobby Curnow; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Godzilla: The Half-Century War 5 (April 2013)

270212 20130409213428 largeAdequate is probably the best word for this issue. Stokoe doesn’t actually do much with the idea of space monsters. It’s just a big monster fight issue–Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, Ghidorah and Gigan–with a little of the protagonist. He pilots Mechagodzilla, which should work but he’s too busy fighting monsters to narrate.

And Stokoe doesn’t do much interesting with the art. Giant monsters fighting in Antarctica actually doesn’t give him a lot of opportunity for his level of super detail.

Still, Half-Century War is now the stick by which to measure Godzilla stories, comic or otherwise. Stokoe cracked the formula. Danger and fear. He doesn’t even worry about scale–why would Stokoe’s somewhat realistic Mechagodzilla have glove attachments instead of the systems being internal?.

As for the ending… Stokoe goes for cinematic and doesn’t have the pacing. He wastes pages, doesn’t have good time progression.

Like I said, adequate.

CREDITS

The End of the World, 2002; writer, artist and letterer, James Stokoe; colorists, Stokoe and Heather Breckel; editor, Bobby Curnow; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Godzilla: The Half-Century War 4 (December 2012)

264115 20130104011230 largeStokoe turns it all around. He brings in two of the silly elements–Mechagodzilla and Space Godzilla–but sells them through a combination of great art and great characterization of the protagonist.

The protagonist is now bitter and middle aged–a “glorified weather man” who anticipates the monsters’ landfalls and tries to get people out. Stokoe does contrive a way to combine the two monsters appearing opposite Godzilla. All he had to do to make it sell better was make the Godzilla appearances rarer.

It’s a small compliant though. Otherwise, he turns in a fantastic issue. And he’s got a great soft cliffhanger.

Stokoe does two things with Half-Century–he streamlines the Godzilla franchise (it’s like Ultimate Godzilla for the familiar fan) and tell the story of one guy’s experiences with the monster. Marvels for Godzilla.

Sometimes he gets the mix wrong, but not here. This one’s perfect.

CREDITS

Bombay, 1987; writer, artist and letterer, James Stokoe; colorists, Stokoe and Heather Breckel; editor, Bobby Curnow; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Godzilla: The Half-Century War 3 (October 2012)

259013 20121018061418 largeStokoe plays up the human element too much here. He’s got a bunch of monsters–it turns out Godzilla was the only one until last issue–but they’re not getting the attention. Instead, the issue’s more a combination of exposition about what happened at the end of the last issue and off-panel after the first issue and then a human chase scene.

The characters are all weak and there are a lot of them. Almost uncountable but probably fifteen, with five or six having significant speaking parts. It’s just too much for the comic, which doesn’t really have a narrative purpose.

Stokoe draws a bunch of monsters should be great and it is when he draws them, but they don’t get too much intention. Solving the mystery he created this issue is a lot more compelling,

It’s still okay and the art’s fantastic, but Stokoe really fumbles the story.

CREDITS

Ghana, 1975; writer, artist and letterer, James Stokoe; colorists, Stokoe and Heather Breckel; editor, Bobby Curnow; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Godzilla: The Half-Century War 2 (September 2012)

257404 20120920051856 largeWow. Stokoe does great work here. Except for the ominous soft cliffhanger, this issue of Half-Century War speedily surpasses what I thought was possible for a Godzilla comic.

This issue is set in 1967, in Vietnam. Though Godzilla (and possibly other giant monsters) roam the planet, the U.S. is still trying to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. They just have to do it around Godzilla and Anguirus.

Stokoe does get in some giant monster fighting–probably three or four full pages of it–but he’s got lots of human stuff. There’s the funny scientist who makes the silly weapons to fight Godzilla. He introduces the idea of trying to bore through his hide to cause damage makes a lot of sense; I’ve never heard it before.

The protagonist doesn’t have a lot to do. Stokoe’s just using him for narration and that move’s perfectly fine.

CREDITS

Vietnam, 1967; writer, artist and letterer, James Stokoe; colorists, Stokoe and Heather Breckel; editor, Bobby Curnow; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Godzilla: The Half-Century War 1 (August 2012)

255116 20120808132433 largeJames Stokoe starts Half Century War with an adaptation of the original Godzilla. A tank commander keeps the monster busy while people evacuate. It’s an interesting approach and really does humanize the whole thing. Later, the tank commander gets the chance to fight giant monsters exclusively, hence the title.

But the concept, while good, isn’t as good as the execution. Stokoe mixes styles a lot. Everything is exceptionally detailed, of course, but his protagonist is a traditional manga standard and his Godzilla is nineties style, not fifties. The issue’s action is quickly paced, which is totally different from the source film. Stokoe’s going for breathtaking action.

There’s some humor, a little drama, no real horror. Stokoe raises a lot of questions but they aren’t about the protagonist. Rather, one wonders how he’ll continue the series.

The series is off to a strong start. It’s already better than I ever expected.

CREDITS

Japan, 1954; writer, artist and letterer, James Stokoe; colorists, Stokoe and Heather Breckel; editor, Bobby Curnow; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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