Sometimes, ideas infinitely improve if monsters take the place of people. Suburban life, for example, becomes more distancing when THE ADDAMS FAMILY live it than when normal people do. By creating this zany situation of gothic individuals living in suburban culture, it allows audience members to find the flaws within their preconceived notions of normalcy and attempt to rectify it. The same goes for the prison drama. KAIJUMAX SEASON 3 #1 reimagines the incarceration facilities housing various monstrosities. Created by Zander Cannon, KAIJUMAX reframes serious issues of the prison system. He does this by putting his story it in a setting where people might actually see the problems real people face and attempt to change it through exposure.

Say “Hi” to the Kaiju

The issue opens up with two kaiju (or monsters) getting arrested. One of the kaiju rambles on about this “bad place” and how the location made him commit a rather gruesome crime instead of it being on his own volition. Fast forward, we see the social dynamics of the prison system. A kaiju, known as the Creature from Devil’s Creek, appears to get pushed around by a big mountain-like fellow, as well as almost every other gang in the system. Yet the Creature from Devil’s Creek’s luck may change. For he discovers a secret about one of the other, more powerful inmates that possibly raises his station within the prison.

KAIJUMAX SEASON 3 #1
Courtesy of Oni Press

Since KAIJUMAX SEASON 3 #1 appears as the first issue of six, a ton of narrative set-up occurs. We see how the monsters act around one another and what their relationship is with the prison guards. One of my favorite things in this series is the slang. KAIJUMAX reworks well-known curse words and makes them fit within the context of the universe. While most should not be repeated; one, in particular, that of the “zeitgeist” as a term for a neighborhood made me chuckle outright.

READ: Interested in the mind behind KAIJUMAX? Check out our interview with the creator!

Bold and Beautiful Designs

The overall designs for the kaiju appear very cartoony. Which is not an insult to them, merely an observation. It makes the comic feel almost duplicitous. As though the content within the pages should read as more childlike than it actually does. Yet at the same time, it adds to the overall zany vibe the comics create with the language and prison culture.  It almost appears like a classic Saturday morning cartoon might: overly bright and simplistic figures fighting the forces of good. Yet the guards’ behavior reveals that maybe those fighting for justice might not truly believe in what their uniforms stand for.

KAIJUMAX SEASON 3 #1
Courtesy of Oni Press

KAIJUMAX SEASON 3 #1, Showing Monsters Feel Too

The previous season of KAIJUMAX gained acclaim through its handling of prison politics in a sympathetic way. It’s too early to tell with this season, yet it seems as though the creators will attempt to do that once more. The Creature from Devil’s Creek, for example, shows real vulnerability. He yearns for the freedom he once had and even breaks down in tears at the sight of his mother, showing real emotional weight. The Creature from Devil’s Creek did awful things, yet appears to show true sadness for his actions. His behavior shows that even the mightiest men can show fear and they deserve sympathy even if they’re gigantic goat-men. This situation does illicit some fear, and that’s okay. For this is a prison through and through. No amount of scary monsters hides that.

READ: Want to know about the previous issues of KAIJUMAX? Check out the review of the first issue. 

One of the more notable features of the KAIJUMAX series as a whole is how they handle the justice system with monsters. KAIJUMAX SEASON 3 #1 has yet to really dive into the flaws within the prisons of America. Here, only glimpses of it appear, like when The Creature from Devil’s Creek successfully gets drugs off the prison doctor. Although the analogy is more obvious when The Creature from Devil’s Creek gets harassed by the other inmates. The prison guards merely turn a blind eye since it does not suit them to get involved.

Using Fiction to Relate to Reality

Making prisoners monsters might at first seem like the author’s attempt once more demonize felons. Yet by making the criminals familiar and cartoony monsters, they almost appear more sympathetic. Funny how audience members find it easier to empathize with murderous kaiju than their neighbors, yet it works in this case. It adds a level of distance to the subject matter so people might begin to realize the same flaws seen on the page occur in the real world. Only this time, they tend to be as large as a skyscraper.

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KAIJUMAX SEASON 3 #1 BY ZANDER CANNON
Plot
Art
Characterization
Summary
By recontextualizing the prison system with monsters, the creators still hit home how damaging this institution is while appearing fun and interesting to readers.
82 %
Hugely entertaining, a smashing success

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