This review was published on KaijuRamenMedia.com on April 18, 2022. To read the original, click here
“The apocalypse, it seems, was never canceled… only postponed”. So opens Cavan Scott and Nelson Dániel’s Pacific Rim: Blackout, the latest original graphic novel from Legendary Comics. Pacific Rim: Blackout follows Jaeger pilot Herc Hanson as he and other Jaeger pilots attempt to slow the spread of Kaiju in Australia. Things don’t look good, however, and fans of Pacific Rim: The Black will certainly recall how this story ends.
Pacific Rim: Blackout takes place just a few days before the opening moments of Pacific Rim: The Black, detailing the story that led up to Herc’s final battle. Breaches are opening at an alarming rate in Australia and the Pan Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) is losing. Fans of Pacific Rim will no doubt be excited by the prospect of seeing more from Herc Hanson since he was absent from Pacific Rim: Uprising. While it doesn’t explain why he was absent in that film, it is nice to see the character return. The book is also filled with some engaging new characters, most notably Herc’s copilot Cooper and his estranged niece Olivia.
Herc is now an old Ranger who’s too stubborn to not get into his Jaeger, Striker Berserker, and defend the country he calls home. When the frequency of Kaiju attacks begins to overwhelm the PPDC, they decide to initiate Operation Blackout and evacuate the entire country. The comic has no shortage of action, but Cavan Scott is still able to bring some surprising emotional character work. One of the more surprising aspects of the book is how well-paced the story is. Often original graphic novels (OGNs) find themselves struggling, but Scott and Nelson Dániel were able to give the story a brisk forward momentum that creates a quick, yet satisfying, read. It’s unlikely you’ll find yourself wanting more.
Scott is able to use the limited real estate afforded to an original graphic novel to his advantage thanks to the Drift. Since Herc has very little backstory given to him in Pacific Rim, Scott uses the Drift to show us more of Herc’s past and how it relates to his niece Olivia. Make no mistake, the relationship between Herc and Olivia is the emotional core of the book.
Nelson Dániel brings a kinetic energy to the artwork that complements the story being told. The action scenes are easy to follow and flow nicely from one panel to another, making it nearly impossible to get lost in the action scenes. His Jaeger designs rival those from the larger franchise, and his character designs sell the emotionality of the characters. For example, you can truly feel Olivia’s frustration at her stubborn uncle or Coop’s fear for his endangered family. What’s more, the interpretation of the drift mixes elements from the films and the water-like effect of the show to create some beautiful moments.
Sadly Nelson Dániel’s Kaiju designs stumble to make the same impact as the more iconic creatures from the films or show. While the stylized artwork works for the characters and Jaegers, the original Kaiju designs don’t feel as menacing and come off more cartoonish. Dániel introduces three new Kaiju to the universe, Jawhide, Hammerhorn, and Frightcrawler, but outside of a cool gimmick from Frightcrawler, they don’t make the same impact as a Kaiju like Acidqull, who was introduced in the show. While they are fun Kaiju designs, they look more in line with something you would see in Godzilla: The Animated Series and not Pacific Rim. That being said, Dániel’s artwork compliments Scott’s script in the best way possible.
Oftentimes, these sorts of tie-in comic books don’t do much to add to the story of the show or movie it’s attached to. Something to ignore or write off by the general public. But Pacific Rim: The Black is a best-case scenario for tie-in media. It’s able to stand on its own as its own story as well as enhance the media it’s connected to. If you love the world that began with 2013’s Pacific Rim and for those who are excited for the second and final season of Pacific Rim: The Black, Pacific Rim: Blackout is a must-read.
4.5 out of 5 Godzookies!
Pacific Rim: Blackout is available at your local comic shop, bookstore, or here and the second and final season of Pacific Rim: The Black is available on Netflix starting April 19, 2022.