Monsters, aliens from outer space, aliens from under the sea, Mother Nature going out of whack, more monsters– the comic book universe's take on Godzilla is a rip-roaring series.
If you recognise that sound effect, then it’s clear you're reading or have read IDW’s line of Godzilla comic books. Because that’s how The Big G expresses himself in those books, which is as close as you can get on paper to the battle-cry the King of Monsters has made since he first appeared in a 1954 movie by Toho Co Ltd – and is making again now in the new Godzilla movie from Warner Bros.
The current IDW comic-book series is Godzilla: Rulers of Earth, written by Chris Mowry and drawn mostly by Matt Frank and Jeff Zornow. And it’s pretty awesome, mainly because of the sheer number of monsters – called kaiju in Japanese – found therein. “One of the things that makes IDW’s run with Godzilla so much fun and so unique is that we have the rights to nearly every other monster owned by Toho,” Mowry says. “No other company has done this in the past.”
So there are a lot of kaiju in Rulers of Earth – a “tonne of them”, Mowry says – many of them familiar faces, fangs and wings from the many Toho movies. As Mowry, a long-time kaiju-maniac, knows very well. “I’ve been a fan since I can remember,” he says. “It all started with dinosaurs, but lucky for me, I grew up when they used to still show monster movies on the weekends. So, I’d watch anything and everything I could.”
So Godzilla: Rulers of Earth features not just the title monster, but Varan, Rodan, Gaira – even kaiju of artificial origin, like Gigan, Jet Jaguar and Mechagodzilla. Oh, and did I mention the alien would-be conquerors called the Cryog? Or the hostile undersea race called the Devonians? Yeah, there’s a lot going on here!
“The premise of Godzilla: Rulers of Earth is that we’re continuing the story set in the IDW Universe (with the two series that came before ours, Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters and Godzilla), but starting to explain why the monsters have returned (or awakened) and what may be causing the Earth’s natural balance of nature to be so wacky. Although the monsters are the ones causing a majority of the damage, they might also be our only hope in saving the world. It’s got some of the elements of the classic films with some sci-fi alien plots and a heavy dose of monsters doing monster stuff!”
Looking ahead on Godzilla: Rulers of Earth, Mowry is hoping to go big and, well, bigger.
“One long-range plan that I’d like to see is Rulers continue for a long time,” he says. “There’s so many things the team would like to do and we’ve really started touching on some of those. But in regards to something special coming up... there’s going to be a pretty large (pun intended) character returning, and we’re sure that fans are going to love how we make it happen.”
In the meantime, there are the two previous series Mowry mentioned – Godzilla and Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters – that are also packed with gigantic monsters throwing down with each other, and are available in collections. Those are joined by a couple of other IDW miniseries, Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths, and Godzilla: Half Century War, which aren’t really related but are still pretty fun reads.
And before that, Dark Horse had the franchise for about 10 years (1988–1998), and published a number of series worth reading. And before that was the first ongoing Godzilla series in comics, published by the biggest publisher, Marvel Comics, from 1977 to 1979. That was a fun little series where Godzilla was pursued for 24 issues by SHIELD Agent Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan and a heli-carrier (you should know all these concepts from the Captain America movies), plus a giant robot named Red Ronin.
Again, these series can be found in collected form, some pretty cheaply.
And if that’s not enough, there’s a prequel graphic novel for the movie from Legendary Comics, which went on sale May 6 in hardback. Godzilla: Awakening is
written by Max and Greg Borenstein and drawn by Eric Battle, Yvel Guichet and Alan Quah. Max Borenstein is one of the writers of the Godzilla screenplay, so you know the GN will tie into the movie faithfully.
And the art, mostly Western with some manga influence, is pretty good. (It’s published by Legendary instead of IDW because Legendary is a subsidiary of DC Comics, which is a subsidiary of Warner Bros, which is producing the movie.)
It seems to set up the film nicely – which is pretty much all I can say about it, without giving away too much. I will say that the premise has more in common thematically with the IDW comics than it does with the 1984 Godzilla movie starring Matthew Broderick. And the special effects look to be even more sophisticated than that cinematic misfire, with Godzilla himself much, much, much bigger! So fans of the comics, even the old Marvel ones, shouldn’t be disappointed.
Not that there’s any chance of that with Mowry.
“I’m absolutely looking forward to (the movie),” he says. “I think it’s in very capable hands as well as being with a studio that really takes pride in getting things right. I own all of the other movies in everything from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray... any format and I’ll get them. I even have a few on laser-disc, but no way to watch them! But yes, I’m looking forward to seeing it in theatres and then on my movie shelf.”
To which we can only reply: “Skree-onnnk!” – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
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