Godzilla, Rulers of Earth #1
Writer: Chris Mowry
Artist: Matt Frank
Word on the street is Godzilla: Rulers of Earth may already be in trouble, as the sales for the first issue weren’t up to snuff. That’s a shame, because this represents perhaps the best combination of creators on the ongoing Godzilla title yet.
When it was first announced that IDW had the Godzilla license, and that it would be written by Goon creator Eric Powell, I can’t say I was that enthusiastic. I was glad Godzilla was going to be in comics again, but I wasn’t sure how Powell’s style would translate to a license like this. What’s more, at the time the Godzilla comic started, Powell was only a few weeks removed from his “manifesto” fiasco where he decried superhero comics in his typical over-the-top fashion. Given what seemed to be a general dislike of corporate greed, I wondered how he would react to writing a licensed comic.
As it turned out, I was right to be worried: Powell’s run on Godzilla was dreadful. It was immediately very clear Powell not only wasn’t a fan of the character, but thought the entire concept was stupid. He used the platform of writing a Godzilla comic as a place to stick terrible, uninspired parodies of already-dated pop culture phenomena like Jersey Shore and Lady Gaga. Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters was awful, and the only reason I kept buying the comic was to help keep IDW interested in the license.
Fortunately, elsewhere IDW was doing great things with Godzilla. The three miniseries, Godzilla: Legends, Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths, and Godzilla: Half-Century War, range from good to great and are highly recommended, especially Half-Century War, which is probably the best Godzilla series (from any publisher) to date. My favorite IDW issues, however, are Godzilla: Legends #1 and #4. The former was drawn by Matt Frank (whom I interviewed here on PG); the latter was written by Chris Mowry.
After Powell’s Godzilla arc was over, there was another rather forgettable run on the ongoing comic (which also restarted the numbering), and now the reigns have been handed to Mowry and Frank. Both are diehard Godzilla fans and are dedicated to given us as authentic a Godzilla experience as they can.
This first issue spends some time getting us oriented to this new storyline, introducing us to the characters of the book while dropping a lot of hints as to where it will go. There’s a new, previously unknown faction at play. Meanwhile, the main story features the American Godzilla (who is now officially a separate monster in the Toho pantheon, known as “Zilla”) showing up in Hawaii and threatening the lives of our protagonists, Lucy Casprell, an aspiring “megazoologist,” and Steven Woods, a leader in the mysterious “CKR” military organization. The comic sets up the battle between Zilla and Godzilla in issue #2.
Future issues look promising, particularly with issue #3’s appearance of fan-favorite monsters Gezora and Manda, who haven’t gotten a whole lot of love in any other media (though both show up in the old Nintendo game).
I will say I think Toho is hurting themselves with their severe restrictions on the license. According to Mowry during a recent appearance on Kaijucast, Toho won’t let IDW use Godzilla in any of their crossovers, and so we’re robbed of Godzilla vs. Cthulhu (as part of Infestation 2) or Mars Attacks Godzilla – both of which would have excited comics fans and possibly brought them on to the main title. Toho won’t let IDW use any characters or monsters from Toho’s movies, Godzilla-related or otherwise, unless IDW specifically licenses them separately.
Perhaps worst of all, Toho won’t let IDW’s writers revise the monsters’ origins or even explore those origins – the monsters have to more or less just exist, which severely limits the story potential. That Mowry and other authors like Half-Century War‘s James Stokoe have been able to tell any decent stories at all is a credit to their skill.
Don’t wait for the trade – there’s no time. I’m buying all the covers for each issue (I keep one in my collection and one in the bathroom – for re-reading purposes, gutter-mind). If you have any interest in this at all, pick up this issue now – or maybe even request a subscription, if you’re feeling generous. I want this comic to succeed.