Review by Woodrow Phoenix
With Kaijumax, Zander Cannon performed the impressive feat of taking a ridiculous high-concept idea and turning it into a very well-realised series about a prison for monsters. This collection combines the first two books in a hardcover volume, presented in the popular ‘Absolute’ format that showcases the artwork twice as large as regular comics size.
Kaijumax Deluxe Edition Volume 1 contains all the pages from Kaijumax Season One: Terror and Respect and Kaijumax Season Two: The Seamy Underbelly, accompanied on many of the pages by footnotes written by Zander Cannon explaining details of plot points or story ideas, art choices and hidden jokes. He discusses his inspirations for stories and homages to a wide variety of source materials in his author commentary, adding greatly to your appreciation of what he has achieved. At the back of the book, the extras include all the cover art for the individual issues of the original comics, design sketches, conceptual work, excerpts from scripts, and a look at art produced for the series by Ryan Browne, who was originally intended to be the artist on Kaijumax. He wasn’t able to take on the assignment, so Cannon was pushed to both write and draw it himself. This turns out to have been a blessing in disguise. Browne’s drawings are detailed and beautifully finished, ideal for tense and exciting science fiction, action comics. However, being more conventionally ‘mainstream’ they also lose the tension between bright, open cartoony images and grim, closed, dark plotlines that makes Kaijumax what it is. Without the unique balance of silliness and grimness would it have worked? Impossible to say for sure, but the very different vision of what this series would have become is fascinating to see.
There is a second monster-sized collection: Kaijumax Deluxe Edition Volume 2 which features books three and four of Kaijumax with more author commentary, plus movie reviews, production material and other extras.