February 4, 2022 Michael J. Williams
AMERI-KAIJU ISSUE #1: THE REVELATION
AN OFFICIAL PANEL’S WITH MIKE COMIC REVIEW
Writer/Letterer: Edgar Pasten
Artist: Jezreel Rojales
Colorist: Miguel Gaton
Cover Artist: Javier Giangiancome
If you’re reading this, you’re probably not five years old because, unless you’re a baby genius. That’s why comics are the perfect medium for five-year-olds, and for the first time, Edgar Pasten gives five-year-olds a reason to read. Step inside the mind and innocents of Ike, a five-year-old boy who loves video games. Ike believes his oculus-like VR headset is projecting a monster fighting simulator with a commentary cast that will have you giggling from the popcorn stands.
Edgar Pasten is a passionate toy enthusiast with influences from his childhood growing up in the ’80s and ’90s. He was so inspired that he began drawing and grew up to become a professional toy designer working with some of the most notable brands known to hit the retail shelves today, such as Mattel. His young son shares his passion, the inspiration for Ameri-Kaiju, and its main character, Ike, a concept that Edgar has been fascinated with for quite some time. A lover of mythology, Edgar spent a lot of time researching creature mythos here in North America and used those fables as the basis for creatures like Busco, whom you’ll see little Ike fight as he trains to become a warrior.
I think Ameri-Kaiju is unique because it gives a voice to the most innocent group of fragile minds screaming with exotic and fun-filled imaginations. Edgar uses the technological influence of VR to solidify the transference of dimensional power from the astral warriors that commentate and guide our young Hero into battle.
Our story begins with a familiar process that most video game players will understand, even most five-year-olds, these days. Creating the Shazam-like avatar, you’ll see fighting these Ameri-Kaiju as you flip the pages. It’s a lot of fun, and Edgar took a simple concept to explain the process to the reader. You don’t understand that it’s not a game yet because part of the fun is discovering that information later with Ike.
Here, you’ll meet the astral warriors from another place, sucked into our time by a Light Portal. It’s unclear where they came from or why they need to get back, or even how they met up with Ike, but they lay the commentary on so hard you’ll not even notice. Also, this book is for kids, so answering those questions is relevant now. Suppose I had to compare these two beings of light to a comedy duo. In that case, I’d reach into The Muppets cast of characters Stalter and Waldorf, the two older men you would often see making quippy puns, last-minute jokes, or just random mockery during the scenes of other characters.
It needs to be re-stated that Ike and Hero are, in fact, the same person, which is easy enough to put together given the character creation from the beginning of the book immediately into a conflict with the Beast of Busco, Busco. In my podcast episode with Edgar, he talks about drawing inspiration for his monsters after some American mythos from around the continent. You don’t learn too much about them other than these Ameri-Kaiju have hearts made of powerful Heart Stones which give our Hero powers. It’s unclear what the difference is between Heart Stones and Nahui Stones is. Still, it’s clear that the mightiest of Kaiju, Taggarik needs them to escape is subterranean prison of what appears to be directly below the town of Precious, right outside of Ike’s home.
You get to see other monsters like the Puks, which are weird, dark, and nefarious social slave creatures of Taggarik. Hero gets pummeled toward the end by more than several incarnations of monsters like a giant Terradon, a frog-lizard humanoid, a horned-nosed crocodile, a giant Chubra Cabre, Busco, and an Alpha monster named Rask. What was even more impressive was these Kaiju’s collective ability to fuse on a subatomic level, like in Yu-gi-oh Card Monsters, to create a Voltron-Esque type Kaiju several times larger than all of them combined. Inspired by his favorite television karate persona Chuy Chan a.k.a. Heroman, Ike (Hero) defeats the giant slushy monster using a technique the astral warriors didn’t know called “sleight of hand.”
MIKES FAVORITE PANEL’S
You know the drill, folks! I pick several panels from the issue and discuss why I like them, sometimes speaking with an editor's eye, a writer's heart, or just that pleasing fanboy tone because I like comics.
While coming a little late in the game, this panel lets us know an essential stake for the character. While the VR goggles are a fun way to show how Ike can see these Kaiju threats, also explaining where he gets his power, it shows us what could be the set-up for a weakness to be exploited later. Hero always has a weakness, and if you've watched enough television or read as much as I have, you know eventually at the top of Act Two, the antagonist of any story will play that weakness in a lasting attempt to get what they desire most often running over or conflicting the protagonist in some way. It's also a great example of exposition placement in a comic. Edgar did all this on one page in two panels, exemplary. I love the eastern dynasty attire these two characters, Sid and Van, have. While you don't learn a lot about them, their character design gives you hints into the kind of place they could potentially hail from in their dimension.
Now, I thought this was funny as hell because it’s a call back to Marvel’s movie Black Widow on Disney Plus now if you haven’t seen it. In the film, Natasha discovers her sister Yelena who also became part of the Black Widows. Familiar with Natasha’s Avengers events like her roles in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Civil War proceeds to tease Natasha for her superhero stance, which Yelena herself attempts to try to emote during her escape from the new Red Room headquarters. It’s a string of humor most five-year-olds won’t see now but might appreciate it someday looking back on those movies and these comics. I thought I would congratulate Edgar sooner rather than later in case no one ever notices.
Finally, a unique comic page indeed. I believe it's a full-page splash, but the lettering spans from one side of the page to the other take the place of paneled borders, which I think is pretty neat. I always like being surprised by the page when I'm reading, and it gives me hope as a creator that a difference can still be made in the industry whether it's accepted in the mainstream or not. Like the lineup of Power Rangers or Voltron right before they combine their Zords to create a more powerful robot, this panel makes a much more voracious and scarier Kaiju; if you'd like to know how much scarier, head on to amerikaijucomic.com to snag volume one NOW!
But don't stop reading on my account because this review has just begun, kids--
AMERI-KAIJU ISSUE 2: EYE FOR EYE
Writer/Letterer: Edgar Pasten
Artist: Jezreel Rojales
Colorist: Miguel Gaton
Cover A: Javier Giangiancome
Cover B:Ryan Tumalluan
Cover C: Bon Bernarde
Cover D: Enrique Lopez/Becky Fuller
Cover E: Niall Westerfield
Monsters at School?
In this informative book number two, Van and Sid, the astral warrior guidance counselors, are back to their word fumbling ways. Coming off the heels of Hero, A.K.A. Ike, it's time for school from his last encounter with the first massive collective Kaiju fusion monster, nay mega-monster. It's interesting to see the everyday grind of meticulous routine happen in light of the looming danger surrounding the town of Precious. No rest for the wicked at school either. It would appear that Ike has to make some critical decisions about life so young.
The dark and terrorizing king of monsters sends his mighty Puk's to attack Ike. Despite Van and Sid's cries for retreat, our Hero does what Chuy Chan would do instead, FIGHT! The clunkiest of the cluckers, Kaiju, General Clucks, that's what I'm going to name him, is sent to stir things up. It's up to Ike to lead these monsters away from the school and keep his class safe. There seems to be a paradigm shift in this issue from issue one that sees Ike's astral friends place extreme doubt on his ability to combat these beasts. The warrior brother's doubt has a lot to do with the personal appearance of Taggarik, whom I didn't realize until this issue could project a version of himself into the body of a fused mega monster from his underground prison.
We learn that Taggarik needs a plethora of blue heart stones to leave his subterranean prison, but he didn't mention he needed anything to project his spirit to the surface. That makes sense because Van and Sid have done the same thing to Ike, which I figured out by paying attention to the types of dialogue balloons used throughout the sequence. The flow of the dialogue could improve some, but after a few minutes, you can put together what goes where in which direction. I wish the warrior brothers would be able to finish a sentence without cutting each other off sometimes, but it's part of their charming personality. I do hope to know in the future if the author will ever tell us how Ike discovered Van and Sid and how they talked a five-year-old boy into being their host and champion until they find a way home through the light portal. It seems like a vital part of the story, I think, eventually. I say this because there is an awkward moment after Ike defeats the new camera, Kaiju, where Sid acts strangely to Van, telling him to give Hero the stones, but Sid ignores him, and Van doesn't press the issue.
The issue didn't disappoint, though, and Ike learned a valuable lesson about believing in yourself and multitasking as he did get a chance to finish his class assignment. I thought the male teacher who gave him a pass for understanding that Ike was struggling doesn't happen often enough in our school systems these days. It was sweet and heartwarming. This whole dynamic of fighting monsters while being a five-year-old, going to school, and staying on a schedule adds depth to a character in many ways. It's definately a pre-school throwback to Spiderman from back in the day. How many of us try to balance the never-ending list of wants and needs only to fail succeedingly well before the reflection in the mirror. Well, if we keep following Ike, we might figure out how to redeem ourselves.
It Can’t Get Any Worse?
Hero (Ike) leads the Kaiju Chups away from the school and his gangly goober friends, the Puks. We learn that they can be dangerous in large numbers, but Hero takes care of business. Chups is a weird-looking chicken monster with feathered wings and a tentacle tongue. Nothing like a mega monster to raise the stakes of the conflict, but it won’t be thanks to the Beast of Busco; no, Chups fuses with a leshy-looking fish crocodile, a were-chupacabra looking thing, a dog-face lizard with fur, and humanoid goat brute. Monster mash-ups are fantastic, are they not?
After a few good hits that put Hero on his keester, what turns the tide of this battle was the reveal of the Sword of Souls, but I was a little perplexed when Van spitefully decrees to Ike that he isn’t carrying the actual sword. I don’t know why because it seemed pretty effective against the mega monster in the end. So it bears to question. Where is the real Sword of Souls? Furthermore, if the Sword of Souls is real, what role does it play in Ike’s destiny to defeat Taggarik?
While the uncharacteristic attitude shown by Van isn’t weird enough and the mystery of the real Sword of Souls is left to the wind, Taggarik gives us an even more profound reveal about Ike himself.
Let’s put that panel in the spotlight:
I wonder what Taggarik meant about Ike giving power to him in this world. Does this mean that Taggarik doesn’t need the stones to escape? Or worse, does Taggarik intend on staying in the peaceful Town of Precious? I guess you’ll have to pick up Issue #3 to find out if all of these questions get answered.
PANEL’S OF THE DAY
Chickenzilla, on the run, takes the gold at panel number one. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this, but it’s a brilliant angle because it shows off all the characteristics that make this Kaiju dangerous in an alleyway encounter. What adds to this comical relief is the taunting of Van in this same shot daring Ike to pull his tale for ten points teasing his video game tendancies. This chicken run didn’t last too long but was long enough to get Chups away from his schoolmates.
Those of you who backed the Kickstarter campaign for volume one, last year might have purchased this lovely Taggarik figure. What you might not know is how this mega version of Taggarik got the pointy crab-like poker. Well, here it is, the origin of the poking pincer! All thanks to the false yet functional Sword of Souls. Taggarik didn’t have enough energy in this encounter with Ike (Hero) to sustain his true power or keep control over his Puks which led to the loss of limbs. I hope Taggarik has good insurance; oh, wait, the mega-monster explodes soon after this, never mind. Why wasn’t that panel number two, lol?
I find when Ike undergoes this transformation process of transdimensional and intergalactic kinetic energies from his powers always leaves him punch-drunk in some random setting. It was in his father's garden in the first issue and now in the school's server closet. Where next? It's like a cute mini-mystery adventure. I thought this was super funny and adorable from the child's perspective. I can't wait to see where he ends up next. Maybe one day, Taggarik will pick up on the pattern, and he'll wake up in his creepy underground lair.
As we close the pages on another fantastic issue of Ameri-Kaiju, let's thank the creators of the universe for giving us all hearts to love, eyes to see, and fingers to draw, Draw, DRAW more of those; colorful and visually addicting comics BAE-BAE!!! Thanks to the creators of this book for making this review possible, and thanks to all the wimps in the world afraid of the dark. Without your fear, monsters like Taggarik wouldn't be possible. Kids, folks, fans, and giant man-child comic collectors until the next issue. Keep CREATING!!!
AMERI-KAIJU ISSUE 3: UNLIKELY FOE
Writer/Letterer: Edgar Pasten
Artist: Daniel Caval
Colorist: Miguel Gaton
Cover A: Javier Giangiancome
Cover B: Butch Adams
Cover C: Chloe Sanchez
Cover D & E: Kayro Rocha (H&A Comics)
Cover F: John Ottinger
I have to say. I told you guys. But before we dive into the final issue of Ameri-Kaiju in this here, Volume One. Volume Two is available now by visiting inked.pub/amerikaiju, AND you can add Volume One to any tiered purchase of Ameri-Kaiju Volume Two set to be delivered this May at the creator's discretion. A heads up, kids, this review might contain a FEW spoilers, but it is done so in the interest that you'll go support Edgar and his creative team so that he may keep giving us more of Ike's story. Now, you can tell the first two issues had some first-time trials and errors, especially with the flow, but man did Edgar, and the gang, knock this issue out of the ballpark. Put your grown-up pants on, readers; we're going to the panel board with this issue!
TWENTY FEET OF HERO
That's right; you read the sub-title correctly. Ike doesn't even know it, but he grows twenty feet tall while practicing his fighting. Edgar might be hinting that Ike (Hero) might hold some kind of more profound or more substantial inner power. This potentially greater inner power is seen when Ike summons the false Sword of Souls again, with Sid reconfirming its deceptive appearance. I'd like to know how Sid knows this about the sword. We will hold onto that for now, but let's shift the focus. We find our poor Ike set upon by the ravaging and terrible King Skunk, but he isn't alone. Thanks to Ike, really, and his twenty-foot-tall beacon of heroism, the monsters come crawling out of their crevices, and portals, for a monster mashing. Again, we find Van and Sid at opposites about Ike's ability to handle his power in combat. Van feared that Ike wasn't ready, and even with a false Sword of Soul's he's only been lucky the last couple of encounters.
On the other hand, Sid feels they should let Ike play in the arena with lions allowing him to toughen up. The size doesn't last forever as Van and Sid use the power of the stones to teleport a short way away, where we learn that Sid has been keeping a terrible secret. Well, I suppose Van has been subjectively keeping Sid's secret on a need-to-know basis, but thank goodness the heart of a child is so easy on forgiveness. The bloodlust for power stones or heart stones gives the entry into the next turning point of the story in the issues to come when Sid approaches the dark throne of Taggarik, and we'll wrap it up here because the fun of it is in the mystery I leave for you, the audience, to discover for yourselves. Also, you should support your independent creators. You can't do that if you're reading me telling you what happens. Get a book, download a pdf and find the joy on a page turn as I have.
MIKE’S BIG THREE OF ISSUE THREE
If I haven't said it enough, I'll repeat it; these Kaiju mash-ups are just a lot of fun to see on the page. The nostalgia I get from reading this is like rediscovering classic Godzilla all over again. I mean a giant skunk with teeth, humanoid arachnid, Ameri-Mothra, and a large version of what appears to be Sully from Pixars Monsters Inc., but if a demon cursed him and around twenty stories tall with a raving urgency to eat you. It's just a joy to see these big hulky, ugly, yet marvelous monsters come to life again in the imaginations of our current generation's youth.
After reading all three issues of Ameri-Kaiju Volume One, I can’t honestly understand how this full-page splash of Taggarik didn’t get its own variant holo foil issue. This splash page is my favorite from the whole book for the simple fact that this is the best depiction of Taggarik you’ll get throughout the series thus far. He’s perfectly enraptured in clarity; of course, I’ve blocked out the lettering, so I don’t spoil endings, but he’s never more dangerous than he looks in the previous issues than he is on this page. I said that so I could say this, and that is because as our hero slumbers, our antagonist discovers his confidence. Nothing is more dangerous than a confident villain comfortable in his mind-space. Don’t believe me; read the Killing Joke from DC and find out what confident villains can really do.
I thought this was cool because of how reminiscent of He-Man, an excellent call back to the decade when toys came into their own in the market. I didn’t mention this above in the review, but what’s also really interesting is not only does Ike summon the false Sword of Souls again, he grows the pommel into the staff from the first book. This battle feat adds to the mounting evidence of suspicion, from me, of course, that Ike is more powerful than even Ike realizes. The sword/staff is also a call back to history’s metallurgy from the far east, like the odachi design with the extended stern pommel. It’s a very fitting moment in issue three that is going to help our hero out of some sticky situations in the future. If you made it through to the end of this review, I bow to you, the reader, for showing me your undying loyalty to the comic. If this review has you slathering and drooling for more, then have no fear your Hero is here. Just visit inked.pub/amerikaiju to get Ameri-Kaiju Volume Two to complete your collection today. Don’t forget to stop by amerikaijucomic.com to check out other great offerings, including the Taggarik toys. My name is Limitless Mike, and this is Panels With Mike; hoping you’ll come back for more reviews and some amazing podcast guests episodes. Shout out to all the talent that contributed to this book. The colors are vibrant, the artwork is fun, the panels are dynamic, it’s an amazing comic. Thank you to Edgar for allowing me to review his work, I’m honored, and I’m sure you won’t see the last of Ameri-Kaiju after Volume Two wraps up. Keep creating, everyone!!!