This official graphic novel is a companion piece to Legendary Pictures upcoming “Godzilla” film, the studio has released, through their Legendary Comics line, the hard cover story Godzilla: Awakening. Max Borenstein (“Godzilla,” “Seventh Son”) and Greg Borenstein co-wrote the story while Eric Battle (X-Men, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman,) Yvel Guichet (Pacific Rim, Tales from Year Zero) and Alan Quah (Rage, Vampire Diaries) provided the pencils with Lee Loughridge (Arkham Asylum, Marvel Zombies Return) adding the colors. The cover features artwork by Arthur Adams (Godzilla, Uncanny X-Men, Hulk.)
The Borenstein’s story takes place in 1980 and follows the father of the present day Dr. Serizawa (played in the movie by Ken Watanabe,) while he reflects on his younger years of regretfully ignoring his role as a father in order to pursue the MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) a.k.a. the giant parasite Shinomura and the lizard-like Alpha predator Gojira a.k.a. Godzilla after the war until their seeming nuclear destruction at Bikini Atoll in the 1950s.
At the close of WWII, when the world was officially ushered into the nuclear age with the detonation of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima, the explosion awakens two monsters (Shinomura and Gojira) who’ve remained ancient enemies throughout Earth’s history. 250 million years ago Earth had high levels of radiation, which the MUTO thrived on, but when an asteroid struck the Earth in an extinction level event 65 million years ago both creatures were driven underground due to dropping levels of radiation and laid dormant sustaining themselves near thermal vents until they sensed high levels of radiation which were released on the Earth’s surface from the Hiroshima bomb.
The graphic novel bases its story in reality. General Douglas MacArthur, Hiroshima, Bikini Atoll and the U.S.S. Nautilus lend a bit of credibility to this non-realistic fiction piece. The plotline itself provides a good lead into the film without spoiling any key movie plot points. The read is easy and fast paced with a confidential Atomic Deployment Report from the unit known as MONARCH to button up the last page of the story revealing a frightening fact.
What was nice to see was a nod to the classic 1954 “Godzilla” film in the name of the character Dr. Serizawa. Serizawa was the scientist who invented the oxygen destroyer which killed the first Godzilla in Tokyo Bay. As for the MUTO, it represents an all too constant and present danger in the story due to its’ ability to suddenly appear and attack various sites around the Pacific Ocean in search of sustenance. The only disparaging thing about the illustrations is that the MUTO creature lacks any clear detail. In essence, it does not resemble the MUTO from the movie at all. In contrast, Godzilla clearly resembles his new incarnation from the upcoming film. One frightening illustration shows Godzilla swimming up on the tail of the submarine U.S.S. Nautilus as it surfaces. (The Nautilus was the first operational nuclear-powered submarine put into service by the United States.)
The last few pages of the graphic novel are devoted to the preliminarily pencil work from all four artists involved with the book. The final page sports the “Godzilla” film poster. Overall, it is a decent appetizer before seeing the movie. Be aware, the book showcases more of the human and MUTO element than Godzilla, who basically shows up to kick MUTO’s tail.
Godzilla: Awakening is available at www.amazon.com, selected bookstores and at your local comic book shops.
The action/sci-fi/thriller “Godzilla” is scheduled for a Friday, May 16th release. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, Richard T. Jones, Brian Markinson, Patrick Sabongui and Akira Takarada. Max Borenstein, Frank Darabont and Drew Pearce wrote the screenplay based on the story by Dave Callaham and David S. Goyer. Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) directs.