By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
April 6, 2021
Godzilla vs Kong is a tale of two titans that one movie cannot fulfill alone. The previous films show how terrifying they are separate, and these beasts will clash. It’s been foretold! We’ve seen this in King of the Monsters, in a very short act where Dr. Ishirō Serizawa and his pilot found an Atlantean-like ruin depicting a time where the titans ran amok, and the humans back then disappeared.
The graphic novels Godzilla: Dominion and Kingdom Kong add a layer of lore. Both of the works serve as a prequel to the showdown coming to select cinemas and HBO Max. It’s amazing that Godzilla faced many creatures in the past, but yet they don’t hold a candle to the mightiest ape.
Godzilla: Dominion is a huge exposition. What readers get is a fantastic look back at how long he survived the epochs and who he once fought. We are presented with monsters who may have been creatures from myth once. The biblical leviathan is one, and Tiamat is another. While they are nothing like the myths paint them as and if the film series can continue, I’d love to see how past civilizations worshipped or feared these titans.
Writer Greg Keyes delivers a nicely written wrestling ring style narrative that captions over the action and artist Drew Edward Johnson imagines the beast just like the last movie. Allan Passalaqua‘s colours highlight the titan’s might as the veritable demons they are. Much of the work is done with the creative team of Barnaby Legg, Josh Parker, Katie Aguilar and Brian Hoffman handling development of the lore in this Monsterverse to ensure continuity.
The pinups and concept sketches by Johnson in this book look better in black and white than in colour. The designs are terrifying! I can only dream of having the action figures, but I doubt they will be made. Not every fan will be aware of this extension to the Monsterverse. If you’re one, I recommend it for the cover art by Art Adams alone. He’s a long time devotee, and any product with his endorsement is worth obtaining.
(cont’d on page two)
Over on Skull Island, King Kong is not at rest. It should surprise no one that he’s being hunted not only by the organization MONARCH but also by other beasts still living here.
Madison Russell is now part of a team keeping tabs on all titan activities. One of the pilots, Audrey, can’t forget a previous encounter and is still haunted by memories of that moment. But when an old threat comes to the island prior to their mission to Inner Earth, she must come to terms with her fears. The crew knows the island is the closest thing to mirror the natural ecosystem hidden deep below, and when something comes flying out, the fierce bat-like creature Kong meets and its connection to local lore (or Aztec) is a lot more intriguing over what Keyes offered in Godzilla: Dominion.
A rewatch of the movie Kong: Skull Island is required to remind readers that this place is truly the Land of the Lost. It’s separated from the rest of the world with a huge continuous storm, and to penetrate it means going venturing into the heart of darkness.
The story written by Marie Anello is worthy of being a movie in itself. Malaysian artist Zid and Syncraft Studio outdid themselves in the design of the Spirit Tiger. This entity truly looks etheric and hiring a “local” to do this book is perfect to properly depict the jungle environment that Kong lives in. This graphic novel is everything that the movie should’ve been. Even better is how the lore is integrated so I knew what is going on. Unlike the other book in this series, the dossiers of who two of Earth’s mightiest titans fought are quite needed.
If I had to choose between which of the two books as the clear winner, my money is on Kong this time.