When people commit crimes they get sent to prison. When monsters rampage through cities (or simply chew through a wire because they eat electricity and their children are hungry) they get sent to Kaijumax in Zander Cannon’s Kaijumax #1 for Oni Press. A maximum security prison for kaiju movie monsters, Kaijumax’s design is as atypical as its prisoners.
Overcrowded. Crushing. Almost all of the words we use to describe prison involve some reference to being made to feel small. It’s in our visuals, of the barbed wire fences, and solid walls that restrict and enclose, and it’s in the fear that comes from imagining being sentenced to stay there for years at a time.
Kaijumax’s inmates are larger than the average prisoner and to accommodate them the prison is located on an island. There are no buildings and the monsters mingle in general population like they’re on Oz, pledging loyalty to different factions. Craters in the Earth substitute for cells. There’s an illusion of freedom, of being able to walk around freely, but they’re as trapped as they would be behind bars. For anyone who’s seen the latest BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, to accept being thwarted by water is confounding in ways that are different from staring at concrete.
This isn’t the only way in which Cannon has to work against associations between prison and size. Issue one opens with Electrogor’s arrival at prison, as seen through his eyes, and one of the first things you’ll notice is there’s something wrong with this picture. How does a tiny human on a barge manage to chain and bring in the huge Electrogor?
Nothing less than capture, though, would prevent Electrogor from returning home to his kids, who he begs his freedom to return to. “You’re the monsters!” he despairs at humans and we’re not predisposed to argue. If mentioning kids was a ploy to invoke sympathies he would’ve dropped the act after intake, but getting word and food to them continues to be his one thought.
Cannon doesn’t go for the heavy hitters [no Godzilla] but makes a volcano who speaks in pictograms leader of one of the gangs, his lackey a baboon looking fellow with lobster claws for hands. Wingjack, a vampire reminiscent monster, has a backstory waiting to be told. Did he escape or was he released, before getting sent back to Kaijumax? Cannon also has a great way of editing, so that the last sentence of one scene leads into the next, creating a story that feels whole and connected. Some of the slang takes getting used to but for fans of the genre, Kaijumax will be hard to resist.
Buy the first issue for a dollar starting 2/1/17, along with other, select Oni Press first issues.