A lot of movie tie-in comics are little more than distasteful attempts to cash in on a successful franchise. However, Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero is different. Original script writer Travis Beacham has fleshed-out the years between the first monster attack and the start of the movie, and with Guillermo Del Toro listed as a supervising editor, there’s an authority to the production of this book that lifts it beyond the simple tie-in.
At this point I ought to mention that I enjoyed the film but didn’t think it was great. I got a kick out of the Kaiju (monsters) and thought the Jaegers (giant robots) were spectacular, but I just didn’t buy the necessity of having two pilots, psychically linked, in order to drive them. How could that ever make operating a giant mechanical biped any easier? Multiple brains disappeared from evolution with the dinosaurs. It smells too much like story-tellers grasping for a human angle; somewhere to add a spark of humanity to the earth-shattering battles of behemoths. I thought it did little more than dilute the original spark of brilliance – the concept of bringing back monsters and robots to battle their way around the world’s iconic cities – with cheesy Top Gun-style camaraderie. But I digress.
In this book, Beacham uses the technique of a journalist searching for a story to draw out his characters’ feelings. In a series of interviews, the journalist teases out the characters’ personalities, as they describe their own views and emotions at the shutting down of the Jeager program. It makes interesting reading, giving us access to the thoughts of the characters in a way we don’t get to see in the film, giving them more space to live and breathe. We see Stacker Pentecost bringing up his adopted daughter; his missing Jaeger partner; the flyboy Becket twins as they work through training; and the journalist’s own back-story attachment to the program. Battles are few and far between but this is no bad thing. This is about fleshing out the story, not adding a new episode.
To that end it works beautifully. If you enjoyed the film, go ahead and read this, it will certainly add to your enjoyment of Del Toro’s movie. However, there’s still too much focus on that daft co-pilot idea for my liking.