Marvel properties have bookended the month of May, clearly proving superheroes are the rage right now. A small title featuring a character larger than life is caught in all the chaos, but he’s very familiar with that topic. Of course, we’re talking about Godzilla. Gareth Edwards’ reboot doesn’t come out until May 16, 2014, so Legendary has released Godzilla: Awakening a prequel graphic novel.
The story is told via flashbacks and takes place between the years 1954 to 1981. Our main character Serizawa tells his son Ishrio Serizawa – who might end up being Ken Watanabe’s Ichiro Serizawa in the film – about the existence of monsters known as M.U.T.O. or Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism. While providing aid to a downed American vessel, he encounters his first experience with a MUTO. He handles the whole ordeal so well that Monarch, a covert military group, solicits his help. His son and the rest of the world believe it’s a shipping company, but the reality is they are the ones keeping tabs on monster activity. During his search for the MUTO he hears stories of another monster one that is older and much larger; however, he can’t find any proof of the monsters existence. Monarch is already having trouble fighting one monster. What happens when this other legendary monster surfaces?
The movie is said to focus on the characters; they are the emotional pivot since the monster isn’t something audiences can connect with. That said this story does very little to connect you to the characters, which is odd, considering the story was co-written by Max Borenstein (who penned the feature film reboot). As far as the monsters are concerned, there isn’t an origin story per say, but Serizawa offers his theories on the two creatures but none of it is definitive. Aside from the titular character there doesn’t seem to be much of a connection; it’s more of a history lesson. The comic ties itself to the film through the “Atomic testing” in Bikini Atoll. A redacted Monarch report is included at the end of the book similar to the ones found on the MUTO research site. There is a twenty year gap or so between the events of the book and the movie so sightings mentioned in the Godzilla Encounter are not included, and the depiction of the “black iceberg” story would have been a nice touch. However, the story sports similar themes like man vs nature and geopolitical relationships in the face of a larger threat, and like the original 1954 film, Serizawa suspects the Hiroshima bombing is responsible for waking the sleeping giants.
The artwork is spectacular, but that’s to be expected when you have a team of artists like Eric Battle, Yvel Guichet, Alan Quah, Lee Loughridge, and Arthur Adams doing the cover art. Toho – the Tokyo-based monster movie distributor production company responsible for the classic Godzilla films – worked closely with Director, Gareth Edwards, on the design and even signed off on it. And the sketches provided are our best look to date at the final Godzilla design.
In terms of the art, the biggest qualm was the coloring; personally I would have been fine if it had been done in black and white. The first few pages introduce the deep reds we’ve seen in the posters and trailers, but the rest of the book is done with vibrant colors. It works well with the exotic locations, but tones down the devastation during an attack. Especially when compared to the movie’s concept art, which establishes a darker tone, atmosphere, and grand scale.
The other MUTO has a similar appearance to the Kaiju from Pacific Rim another one of Legendary’s monster movie titles, but it’s unclear at this time whether or not the other MUTO is the main villain of the film. It lacks the red appendages seen on the toy, which suggests it is a different monster, yet the description of the creature might explain why there are multiple enemies, so we’ll just have to wait to see.
The premiere is only eight days away! It’ll be interesting to look back and see how the comic paved the way for the movie till then I can only recommend this to the diehard Godzilla and Kaiju fans.
Experience Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla in IMAX on May 16, 2004, starring Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen with supporting cast Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, and Ken Watanabe. Did we mention that The Walking Dead’s Frank Darabont had his hand in the original script?
Take a look at the splash page by Yvel Guichet it’s breathtaking and has me excited for the movie. The image captures the sheer size and scope of the colossal lizard, and the blues and greens depict him in his aquatic element: