open the pages, read the words, savor the magic
More cynical readers may just accuse Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero, which serves a direct prequel to the Guillermo del Toro film, of being only a gimmick. But they’d be wrong. The Transformers movies were also preceded by comic releases but unlike them, Tales From Year Zero is definitely a part from the canon of the Pac Rim ‘verse, along with the movie and the artbook Pacific Rim: Man Machines And Mosters (which I will review later once I get my hands on them). I reckon all three form the foundation on which the Pac Rim fandom (cosplays, fanfics, spin-offs, etc.) is built.
Written by the instigator of this summer blockbuster madness, Travis Beacham, this comic book’s story took place a year (2024) before the film’s main event, in which reporter Naomi Sokolov interviewed a few key figures for her article, namely Tendo Choi, Dr. Jasper Schoenfield and Stacker Pentecost. They told her the story – presented in flashbacks – of the early years humans fought the Kaiju. The red thread that Beacham used to connect all of the arcs is the notion that everything they did in the war, using Jaegers and whatnot, is for the sake of humanity.
And this isn’t just Beacham philosophizing about humanity – he actually did write great stories about the human characters in the book. The first one, in the arc titled “K-Day”, Tendo receives the focus as one of the first few people who witnessed the rise of Kaiju on God’s Earth. He insisted on rescuing his grandfather, Yeye, whom he didn’t really know due to linguistic differences (his grandfather only spoke Cantonese). In the second one, “Turn Of The Tide”, Jaeger scientist Dr. Schoenfield revealed what happened behind the development of the mechs – a love story that pushed the invention into taking shape. Both provide great insight into the world of Pacific Rim, as well as once again reminding us that the mechs and the monsters aren’t the highlight of the story and that it is the humans that we should be caring about most.
That’s why Stacker Pentecost’s past becomes a very important part of the story. His evolution from brother to leader and finally to father is a strong arc that explains so much about him and the people around him, particularly Mako Mori. It seems that Beacham has a very clear idea on who he is, what he is and how he works in this universe. If Mako Mori is the movie’s greatest character, Stacker is the comic’s biggest personality. While the various pencillers who worked on this comic didn’t actually render him particularly alike to the actor playing Stacker in the movies, the same charisma and power shine through.
For Yancy Becket fans, there’s a small story (well, small compared to the others) about his and Raleigh’s illustrious past involving a certain young seductress. It would make you wish Diego Klatenhoff had more chance to play him on screen.
Clearly this comic book is not a “supplement” to the movie. The only thing missing from the theatrical release of Pacific Rim is depth of character and I get why GdT would be reluctant to put in so much drama in the midst of action. That’s why this comic book is important – it shows you that no, Del Toro and Beacham didn’t forget about the characters. They care about them; that’s why there’s a comic book telling their tales. Beacham did for the comic book what del Toro did for the film: put care and attention into their world until you have no choice but to admire their dedication.