Godzilla resurfaces from the depths week in IDW Publishing’s new ongoing series “Godzilla: Rulers of Earth” by writer Chris Mowry and artist Matt Frank. Last seen in Duane Swierczynski and Simon Gane’s “Godzilla,” which ended earlier this year, the legendary Tokyo-devouring monster returns to take his epic fight around the world in an all-new series which includes the comic book debuts of many previously unseen Toho monsters.
Mowry, a long-time Godzilla fan best known for his writing on IDW’s Transformers comics, spoke with Comic Book Resources about his new series. We discuss the plot details of the first storyline, with the writer revealing some of the Toho monsters joining Godzilla in battle, giving his thoughts on director Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” Legendary and Warner Bros. upcoming big screen “Godzilla” reboot and more.
CBR News: Godzilla has been around for a while in the world of comics, with his last series wrapping up just a few months ago. What can we expect from “Rulers of Earth” and where does it fit into his comic book mythos?
Chris Mowry: Well, besides fitting in a hefty dose of monster mayhem, it’s all about restoring balance to the planet and seeing who the true “Rulers of Earth” really are. I like to think of it as a good old-fashioned battle royale, where in one corner we have Earth’s populace, who are on the rebound after seeing some months of peace following the previous series’ finale. In another corner, we have our monster cast — way larger in number, by the way — who are ready to rise once again when faced with a new mystery threat. It’s all about control of the planet and who will come out on top.
Where does the King of the Monsters fit in?
Godzilla is smack dab in the middle of things, but doesn’t know it right away. He’s very much the target of our new enemies, and cherished by an unlikely group on Earth, so our planet really will depend on him — but for reasons that will absolutely spoil things if I say too much. Just as our human cast is figuring things out, Godzilla will be doing the same thing. You’ll see that he’s doing a bit of investigative work on his own, but you won’t see him in a trench coat like in the old Marvel series, I guarantee you.
Do any plot points or story elements from the previous “Godzilla” series carry over here?
There are a few characters that will be appearing and events referenced, but other than that, this is an all-new storyline — just one that happens to fall into the continuity established by the previous two series. I don’t want to step on the toes of Duane [Swierczynski], Eric [Powell] and Tracy [Marsh], but there are indeed elements from their stories that fit into the overall universe of IDW’s “Godzilla” books. You’ll see some familiar faces every now and then, but we won’t be going back to “finish” up things or anything like that. We’ll just stomp on ahead and focus on our new story.
What was your inspiration for “Rulers of Earth?”
I had pitched a pretty hefty storyline back when IDW was first getting the license. The books were split up into small storylines and really told as a couple of miniseries. A lot of what I wanted to do is going to be able to be seen in this series, but getting to work with Matt Frank — artist of the series, superfan, and all-around great guy — and getting his input really helped streamline those ideas into a larger world, one that offers Godzilla fans what we feel is something they’ve been asking for.
There’s a number of ideas Matt and I had, and putting them together into a story that works is quite rewarding. Working with Matt is great on a few levels. One, the guy can draw his butt off, and especially our monster cast which is going to be larger in this series than any before. Two, he’s a super fan who knows this material. When there’s an idea that I have or some random description in the script, I know that Matt will understand it, saving me some time where I would otherwise have to get reference together. Third, he and I have worked on making a story that while is very fan-friendly, is also easy for new readers to pick up and enter the world of Godzilla. Being able to collaborate with someone that has the same vision as you and understands the need to respect the franchise, but also shape it, is quite rewarding.Â It’s going to be a lot of fun and I hope that people are going to enjoy it.
You’re bringing back a lot of classic Toho monsters for this series. Who can readers expect to see?
Believe me, expressing my enthusiasm for the list of monsters IDW has now is really hard because I want to spill the beans on this one. But in the spirit of keeping things secret and not giving away too much from the book, here goes! We’ll see some familiar faces from the previous books, heavy hitters like Rodan, Titanosaurus, Mothra, etc. Gigan will be back as well, albeit a bit different, but you’ll have to read the book to find out how. But do we ever have a number of new beasts tearing their way into things.
When IDW first got the license, I was lucky enough to be involved in picking the cast of additional creatures, so we went with a number who could lend themselves to some fun stories and possible one-shots of their own. Now, that roster is packed with nearly every creation Toho has created, so we’re really going to go all-out with this one and will be seeing some of them showing up for the first time.
Some of those (and there are many more to come) include the stars of “War of the Gargantuas,” Sanda and Gaira, the robot Jet Jaguar and quite possibly the fan-favorite Biollante. There are a number of other ones, but I’ll hold off on that for risk of spoiling things!
Is “Rulers of Earth” an ongoing series? How far out do you have the book mapped out?
Yes, it is. There’s enough material with the monsters and their interactions to go well past what we’ve done in the previous books. You’ll find after the first arc that there are a number of sub-plots and things we’ll be doing to give readers some requested “one and done” types of stories. It’s all planned, though, so you’ll be able to pick it up at any point and join in on the fun. It’s a pretty ambitious story with a number of elements, so I’m hoping we’ll be doing this for a long time to come.
Do you prefer stories where Godzilla is the protagonist or antagonist?
I actually like the approach they’ve taken in the Heisei and Millennium series where’s a bit of both. The “force of nature” description really applies well to his appearances and he should be seen as a major problem for our world’s populace because of all the devastation he brings. But when he takes on a monster that’s threatening our world (his world), he’s not so much of a hero, but more of a guardian who just does what he does, and us tiny humans just have to get out of his way. I think that if he could understand the English language (I know he “spoke” before), then he’d be a big supporter of the term “acceptable losses.”
What are your favorite “Godzilla” movies?
While my favorite is “Destroy All Monsters” simply for the amount of monster action we see and the always-cool sci-fi aspects, I grew up with the Showa films of the ’70s. While those are pretty crazy at times, they’re also a hell of a lot of fun. For the Heisei era films (1984-1995), I’d have to say “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla” was my favorite, simply because I’m a big Rodan fan and I was able to see that film in a Japanese theater since I lived there at the time. For the more recent ones, I’ll have to go with “Tokyo S.O.S.” because I thought it was so much fun. “GMK” is a very close second, though!
How excited are you for the upcoming “Godzilla” film reboot?
I’m really, really excited for it. I missed out on the teaser they showed at Comic-Con International last year, so I’m getting more and more anxious to see something from it. I’m sure we’ll get a teaser before “Pacific Rim,” but that’s not until July! With the cast and crew they’ve brought into this film, I’m already sold. Just showing that Legendary and Warner Bros. are really putting an effort into this is rewarding and could be the closest thing we’ve seen to the original ’54 movie, in my opinion. So yeah, bottom line? I’m beyond pumped for this.
Speaking of “Pacific Rim,” what are your thoughts on that film? It seems to borrow very liberally from the “Godzilla” mythos.
I’m really looking forward to it. From everything we’ve seen so far, it’s just gorgeous. I’ve always hoped that giant monsters would be the “next big thing,” you know, when things went from monkeys, to pirates, to vampires, to zombies — now I think that time has finally come. “Pacific Rim” followed by “Godzilla” in less than a year? My butt will be firmly planted in the theater for a few showings each.
In regard to borrowing, I think that when you can take a concept or franchise and really put some love into it, that “borrowing” turns into something more like respect. Hearing Del Toro speak about the movie at WonderCon was really inspirational because you could tell how much he loves this genre and respects it. I expect nothing but great things to come from the film.
You’re a letterer for IDW as well as a writer. Do you prefer that or writing?
When I was hired by IDW, I was just excited to be able to work in the comics industry. Lettering books was/is a lot of fun, and because of that, I’ve been able to meet a number of great people in the industry. I was offered the opportunity to write some “Transformers” movie-related projects and then finally a “Godzilla” book. But while lettering is very rewarding and my usual job with IDW, writing definitely gets the nod. Sharing my ideas with readers and being able to create new things is just the greatest feeling to have. I’m truly “living the dream,” as they say, and I couldn’t be happier to be involved in this project.
What other projects do you have coming up?
I have a story I’ve wanted to do for a while that I’m working in my spare time — of which there isn’t much at all. It’s a horror story, but one with a message. I’m a fan of redemption stories, and this is one of those where it seems every other day there’s a new idea that I want to add to it. It’s been a lot of back and forth with the manuscript. Other than that, I’d love to finally tell a “Transformers” story I wanted to do for a while.
But for right now, I’m loving the “Godzilla” series and putting all of my time into that.
“Godzilla: Rulers of Earth” #1 is available now from IDW Publishing.