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  • We talk with the creative team behind Godzilla: Dominion, the tie in comic for Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). For this session we are interviewing Greg Keyes, writer whose past work includes the Godzilla: King of the Monsters – The Official Movie Novelization and The Age of Unreason series. It’s also with artist Drew Edward Johnson, who worked on Godzilla: Aftershock and has previously contributed to comic series such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Star Wars X-Wing: Rogue Squadron.

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    Interviews // May 8, 2021
  • Godzilla & Kong. A titanic pairing not on the big screen together in nearly sixty years returns with a climactic clash available in theaters and the comfort of your own home. Does Adam Wingard’s vision for Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) succeed in capturing the spirit of the 1962 original? I’d say it does and even exceeds expectations in a few areas but not without a few stumbles.

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    Movie Reviews // May 4, 2021
  • Author: Dan Rogers | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    The sun was high above Solgell Island. The skies were clear. The isle’s native flora was in bloom. It would have been one of the most picturesque days in this island’s history were it not for the horrible pained screeches that could be heard from all across the island.

    Toward the center of the island, a Kamacarus had wandered too close toward the valley of Kumonga and now found itself entangled in the arachnid’s webbing. It called desperately to any member of its kind for assistance. It was shrieking for what felt like hours, yet its calls went unheeded. The eight-legged behemoth slowly crawled over to its victim. The mantis desperately attempted to break free of the webbing, clawing at the ground and fluttering its wings, but only found itself further entrenched. The predator was upon it now. It let out one final screech, as it felt something puncture its body. The mantis felt its limbs stiffen and lock into place, as its energy slowly drained from its body. It slumped on its side, as its bright orange eyes dimmed.

    Once the arachnid was sure that its prey was paralyzed, it began clearing some of the excess webbing so that it may get closer to its prey. The spider positioned itself atop its victim, and began spraying webbing upon it, gently rotating the frozen insect with its legs. Before too long, the mantis was encased in a web cocoon, perfectly preserved for the next time Kumonga hungered. The spider left its perch atop its food, and began crawling back to the center of its valley, so that it may lie in wait for the next unfortunate creature that wandered too close to its nest.

    A low rumble made the spider stop in its tracks. It slowly turned toward the noise. The earth began to rip and a mound of dirt began to rise from the opening. The spider was no stranger to battling burrowing creatures, so this would not be a challenge. If anything, this monster would simply serve as another meal. Kumonga backed away, taking a strategic position atop a rock, ready to fire web at its subterranean opponent as soon as it breached back onto land.

    To the spider’s surprise, it was not met with a large beetle or fire-breathing reptile, but with hundreds of scorpions. They were roughly a tenth of the spider’s size. They were hardly a meal. As they didn’t seem to be paying much attention to the spider, Kumonga did not feel the need to chase them off. It stayed atop its perch, studying these unfamiliar creatures that had wandered into its valley. They were a blue-ish black, with red accents adorning the center of their bodies. They seemed to be wandering around aimlessly, manically scurrying across the ground. Kumonga wondered what could have compelled these creatures to approach its home.

    The spider’s question was answered almost immediately, as one of the scorpions found its way over to the cocooned Kamacuras. The small scorpion turned around and called for its brethren, who all began to skitter over. Once they had all reached the petrified mantis, they began attempting to move its body toward the mound of dirt they had emerged from. Kumonga realized that it must have been its prey’s cries that brought these scavengers to its home.

    And now, they were stealing its meal.

    Kumonga fired a web into the air, the sound causing the small thieves to drop its food. They scattered, running in all separate directions. The brown and yellow arachnid jumped into the air, landing atop its food. It lifted its leg and repeatedly slammed it against the ground, crushing its foes. The spider must have crushed twenty before they regained composure and all started to head back toward the mound of dirt they had emerged from. Kumonga would not let them get away that easily though. It knew it could not kill all of them, but it could ensure that they would learn to never approach its home again.

    The spider leaped off of its food and began approaching the disrupted earth, making sure to step on as many scorpions as it could. Once Kumonga had reached the mound of dirt, it began repeatedly stabbing its leg inside of it, attempting to further frighten the intruders off. Suddenly, the spider felt a shock of pain as something clamped onto its leg. It felt its body leave the ground, as a giant claw burst from the pile of earth. The claw released hold on Kumonga’s leg, sending the spider soaring through the air. The spider let out a fearful screech, before landing on its back. Kumonga was dazed, but had the presence of mind to flip back over to view its attacker.

    The mound of dirt began to shake, slowly revealing a larger scorpion. It had the same appearance as its smaller kin, a blueish-black with red accents covering the center of its body. It snapped its claws and let out an enraged shriek. Kumonga, still reeling from the throw, roared in response.

    The scorpion quickly skittered toward its opponent. Kumonga realized that its opponent was much faster, and this would be a battle that would have to be done from afar. The spider leaped backward, creating a much larger distance between the two. The clawed creature, unwavered, continued its approach. The brown and yellow arachnid fired a blast of web, which covered the scorpion’s body, stopping its approach.

    Kumonga cautiously approached its webbed opponent. Normally, the spider would be certain that this would be the end of the battle, but this creature was unfamiliar. This had to be handled carefully. Once the spider stepped a little more closely, the scorpion fired a strange brown liquid from its tail. The spider jumped backward, but some of the liquid splashed onto its front left leg. Kumonga’s skin began to sizzle, as it roared in pain. It desperately began rubbing its leg into the dirt, trying to find some relief from the pain. Unfortunately, it did not notice that its web began disintegrating.

    In a blink of an eye, the scorpion was upon Kumonga. Its claw clamped down on the left side of the spider’s body, holding it in place. The spider let out another wail of pain. With its free claw, the scorpion began repeatedly hitting the face of its opponent. Kumonga’s vision began to blur from the flurry of blows. The scorpion opened its claw it had been pummeling the spider with, ready to snap it down on its opponent’s head.

    The spider’s vision began to return, only to watch helplessly as its fate rushed to meet it. With its last burst of strength, it shot web at the claw, forcing it shut. The scorpion let out a grumble as it attempted to reopen its grip, but the spider’s webs would not budge. It released the left side of Kumonga’s body as it took its other claw in an attempt to peel off the webbing.

    The spider, taking full advantage of the scorpion’s frustration, fired another blast of web, causing both its claws to stick together. Its stingered-opponent let out another grumble, as it attempted to pry its claws apart. It slammed them repeatedly on the ground, but Kumonga’s webs would not give way. The spider regained its footing, and began to approach its struggling opponent. It fired more webbing at its opponent’s legs to prevent it from escaping.

    It was a hard fought battle, but it appeared as Kumonga was the victor. While the scorpion could still fire its acid at the spider, it would merely delay the inevitable. The spider stared hungrily at its opponent. The spider felt pride in defending its home from this invasive species. It clicked its jaws in preparation. Kumonga proved itself to be the dominant force on Sollgell Island, and that’s the way it would always-

    Kumonga felt something pierce its abdomen, and suddenly rip back out. The spider turned away and began to stumble, slowly losing control of its legs. Kumonga had been too busy considering its stomach to notice that its opponent’s tail was still free. The scorpion lifted its tail and sprayed the brown liquid onto its claws, causing the webbing to melt away. It did the same to its legs, freeing itself from its opponent’s trap. It let out a triumphant roar.

    The spider turned to face it, but it just could keep its footing. Its body crashed to the ground. As it watched its opponent slowly approach it, it could see its kin slowly begin climbing out of the dirt mound they had escaped into. Kumonga felt its limbs stiffen and lock into place, as its energy slowly drained from its body. It slumped on its side, as its bright blue eyes dimmed.

    Now, Kumonga would be the meal.

    Winner: Ts-eh-GO

    K.W.C. Kaiju War Chronicles

    K.W.C. // April 30, 2021
  • As Legendary Pictures moves past Kong: Skull Island (2017) and looks toward the future of the MonsterVerse, naturally news is starting to build for the next appearance of Kong, as the character is set to tangle with Godzilla in 2021. This article is a news roundup for everything known related to the rematch between the two characters. It is ordered by date, with the latest news appearing first and oldest news at the bottom. (more…)

    News // April 29, 2021
  • It’s been almost two years since Godzilla: Defense Force was released to mobile devices. Now, under Toho Games, a trio of new Godzilla mobile games are coming just in time for Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). This includes Run Godzilla, available now except in Japan, along with Godzilla Battle Line and Godzilla Destruction. Dates are still loose,  but the latter two are available in “select countries” next month and worldwide either in April or May with dates subject to change. (more…)

    News // April 27, 2021
  • Over the last few years, I was teaching a class I called Japan and World Cinema, and in that class I introduced to my students many movies from around the world based on Japanese cultural properties while examining issues like Japanese stereotypes, yellow-face, whitewashing, etc—as well as just looking at how different countries and their particular cultural outlook might affect how a story is told. I made it a point last year in this class to delve deeper into movies based on Japanese video games, and thus caught up on the Street Fighter movies, the Silent Hill films, and even lesser-known fare such as the (very, very bad) King of Fighters film and Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge (also terrible). Unfortunately, most movies based on Japanese video games (or rather video games in general) tend to be quite poor, with weak stories, cheesy special effects, and an insulting slapdash quality to them. Still, recent entries like Detective Pikachu (which I reviewed) and Sonic the Hedgehog have garnered some level of financial and critical success, combining some impressive special effects with charming (if still somewhat pedestrian) plots. While I was not ecstatic about either of the above films, I enjoyed each for what they were—the Pokemon film obviously had a lot of love and care put into its fantasy world and characters, and the Sonic film showed an astonishing degree of humility and a sense of responsibility towards the fanbase when the studio actually caved-in to fan demands calling for the Sonic design to be reworked. There was, then, reason to hold onto some hope for a higher level of quality in video game adaptations moving forward based on these successes.

    Then along came Monster Hunter, and much of that hope was dashed. The film was released in the USA back in December of 2020, but not here in Japan until March 26, 2021, so I was well aware of its negative reputation before I had my chance to see it. And, even though I can say that the film has its charms, the bad reputation is deserved.

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    Movie Reviews // April 24, 2021
  • We interview the creative team behind the children’s book Kong and Me, which follows the characters Kong and Jia. This interview features writer Kiki Thorpe, who has done over 30 books including Disney’s The Never Girls series, the Meet the Kreeps series, How to Grow a Monster and more. It also features artist Nidhi Chanai, whose other work includes Binny’s Diwali, I Will Be Fierce, Jukebox and more. Chanai is also the author of the book Pashmina.

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    Interviews // April 22, 2021
  • Authors: Vincent Rodger & Matthew Freese | Banner: Landon Soto

    -Hiroshima, 1964-

    Dr. Bowen and his colleague Dr. Togami had been studying the leftover scales of Godzilla from his battle with Mothra, trying to find out how Godzilla’s unique radiation worked. With that knowledge, they could learn more about his biology. So little was known about the mutant, that any knowledge would be a breakthrough in the scientific community, for Godzilla was an anomaly to life itself. His unique mutation granted him a regeneration ability and his famous “Atomic Breath.” (more…)

    K.W.C. // April 20, 2021
  • The creative team behind Kingdom Kong is interviewed, the tie in comic for Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). Featured is writer Marie Anello, whose background includes training in opera, musical theater, jazz, pop, voice acting and drama. In addition, her writing background includes Shout Out and writing numerous articles. Also featured is Mohammad Yazid “Zid” Kamal Baharin, who returns to the MonsterVerse after previously having worked on the Skull Island: The Birth of Kong comic series.

    (more…)

    Interviews // April 12, 2021
  • Author: Andrew Sudomerski | Banner: Matthew Freese

    Torrential rainfall pounded against the ruthless waves, churning riptides in their wake. In this place, there was no light, for a perpetual storm raged across the endless sky. Blotted darkness cast its shadow, reaching to the great horizon. Erratic lightning struck the violent ocean, acting as the only illuminating source in this treacherous void no sane man would travel.

    Howling winds shrieked at an untapped volume, a deafening wail no mortal earth-dweller could hear. Yet in spite of the fearsome gale, an ethereal light brimmed in the depths of the storm. Alluring blue hues gestated above the vast ocean, warping the space around it. It tore apart at the seams, revealing an infinite pool of unstable reality. Contrasting the crimson hued bolts emitted from the storm clouds, the portal ripped apart with sky blue electricity and emanated its own artificial cloud. Pulsating with jubilation, a wrathful beast was soon to emerge.

    Swooping in from the other side of the wormhole, a ferocious wyvern spread its wings out in the presence of the raging wind. Turbulence proved to be cumbersome for the dragon, but its skill and maneuverability could perform optimally in such harsh conditions. Several flaps of its mighty wings fought against the grazing wind, traversing the expansive skies. The wyvern’s natural senses guided it through this unfamiliar territory, following the swirling path of the clouds. Destructive hurricanes such as these held a natural-born pattern, one that required a skilled eye to notice. Using this, the wretched serpent navitaged onward.

    As it presumed, the raging storm died down the closer it approached the brimming veil. Certainly, the sun had longed since dipped behind the horizon, for the sheet of light was illuminated by the rays of moonlight. When the vicious dragon tore through the layer of rainfall, what it found was nothing short of a beauty that remained undefiled by foreigners. The winged serpent slowed to a steady flight, basking in the sight of the arcane island.

    Moonlight shone upon the natural beauty of Skull Island, with jutting rock formations, steep mountains, and canyons alike. The shining gleam from the foliage rustled with the nocturnal animals that roamed the night, yet it remained relatively undisturbed. Above the highest peaks, glistening lights of wonder descended from the skies, teeming with a spiritual presence. The aurora borealis gave the island an alien green hue, further complimenting its majesty.

    Primal slits locked onto a vaguely familiar shape that caught its attention. A village, and at its heart a smoldering fire from a ritual long passed, which led to the sight of an axe. The spiked blade was embedded into the ground, the calcified hilt reaching for the sky. The select few natives stood in prayerful silence as the rest slept comfortably for the day to come.

    At the perimeter stood an erect wall of protruding spikes, soaked in bloodied ichor. In the darkness of the night, lizard-like goblins rammed their lithe bodies against the wooden pikes, all in the vain attempt to satisfy their hypervoristic appetites. What a disgusting view.

    Furrowing its brow, the draconic beast’s maw fermented an orange blaze…

    Aloft on the highest peak that towered over the rest of the island, Kong gazed at the starry display. He had long since outgrown this peak, becoming too large to sit comfortably to observe its otherworldly beauty. This was his first hike in many years, simply revisiting to reconnect with the far heavens. He reached his large, furry hand to the sky, trying to grasp the stars themselves. It felt within reach, yet it remained so distant all the same…

    His sage eyes, carrying an ancestral wisdom passed down through the generations, gleamed at the sight of the sleeping village. They were his people, the only thing on this island he needed to protect, an oath he must fulfill. For what would be left if they perished? He had lost his parents in battle, a jaded memory that stung like a wasp. He refused to lose more of his family, no matter the cost.

    He tracked to the outermost walls of the Iwi village, noticing the voracious scavengers trying to pry the wall apart. While their efforts were ultimately futile, he did not take kindly to their presence. An embedded hatred from millennia of war and conflict between the Kongs and the Skullcrawlers. A seething growl escaped his lips. Then almost as if by divine punishment or happenstance, a trailing cluster of compacted fire soared directly at the foul cretins–but at a grave cost.

    An eruption of blazing flames unfurled at the point of impact, rising to the air like a fiery mushroom cloud. The Skullcrawlers caught in the blast were incinerated without a moment to spare; those caught in proximity were blown to bits, scattering their limbs and bony armor all over. Likewise, the once fortified gate had been demolished by the fierce burst of fire, leaving the Iwi village completely exposed.

    It didn’t take long for the mythic beast to notice the perpetrator, following the approximate trail of where the fireball had originated. Sailing the nighttime sky, a fearsome winged wyvern entered Kong’s sight. Adorned with sharp ridges that protruded from its body, the wicked beast soared the skies as its domain. The membranes that stretched across its wings were dressed in distinct patterns, an intimidation display for those who saw them. Attached to its theropodic frame, the wyvern beat its massive wings, circling around the scorched earth below.

    Kong grimaced at the danger his people were in. Rising to his thick, stocky legs, the mighty guardian king scampered down the mountainside, opting to take the quickest route to the endangered natives. Much to his bewilderment, he witnessed the fire dragon descend upon the wreckage–snapping at the lesser Skullcrawlers and shredding them apart with its razor fangs. However, the gaggle of skull-faced cretins marched into the former safe haven, seeking to consume all in their path.

    As he came to the mountain’s base, Kong pushed his large body into a gargantuan sprint. Heavy rumbling was felt throughout the island, disturbing the native fauna from their humble slumber. The mighty Kong aimed for the village, seeking to protect those retreating from the stampede of lizard-like fiends. Gushing a booming roar, Kong let his presence be known.

    Coming to a gradual halt, the monstrous man-beast skidded to a stop, acting as the sole blockade between the Iwi and the voracious goblins. Bringing his massive foot up, Kong stomped on an entire troupe of Skullcrawlers, splattering under his heel. The earth shook under his godly retribution, a stark reminder of his integral role on the island.

    Fearing the wrath of Kong, the Skullcrawlers diverted their gluttony from the pesky humans to the great god-beast. Clamping their serrated teeth, the flock of lizards tried to tear a piece of flesh off the mountainous primate. With a flick of his wrist, Kong swatted the diminutive reptiles like pests. The tremendous force of the giant’s hand shot the ravenous predators onto the swampy water, shattering their bones from the impact.

    After picking off the freakish ghouls, his wrath stared at the dragon that initiated this insurgence. Beating his chest with his fists, Kong boomed a deep bellow, proclaiming his status to the enemy.

    Kong, King of Skull Island!

    Slurping another of the hypervores into its jaws, the wyvern locked eyes with the magnificent deity. Shrieking a hellish screech, the beastly dragon returned the favor, spreading its wings out in an impressive display.

    Rathalos, King of the Skies!

    Flapping its membranes, the Greater Rathalos leapt into the air and circled around, tracking the man-beast’s every movement. Kong likewise vexed his frustration with a grunt, ready to throw down with this colossal invader.

    Fierce slits narrowed in on the beastial biped, flexing its talons. Compressing its wings, the vicious wyvern extended its claws in eager savagery, screaming as it dove toward the legendary titan. Raising his muscular arm in defense, Kong braced for the incoming strike, steeling his resolve. Like a bird of prey, Rathalos inevitably collided against the massive wall of shaggy fur and rough flesh, tearing its bladed talons into Kong’s musculature.

    A booming cry resounded from the mighty guardian of Skull Island, feeling the gushing ichor pour from the gashes left by the wyvern’s talons. Blood splattered against the swampy waters as Kong clasped onto the winged serpent’s hind legs, engaging in a violent tussle. Twirling around, Kong swung the ruthless tyrant into a nearby cliff face, its head carving a trail in its wake.

    Flapping ferociously, Rathalos tried to break free from the towering ape’s clutches, only instead to be overwhelmed by Kong’s brute strength. Heaving the squirming dragon over his shoulders, Kong slammed the vicious reptile into the odorous swamp, erupting in a splash of roaring tidal waves from the sheer impact.

    Without giving the extradimensional invader a chance to retaliate, Kong swooped his mighty hands around Rathalos’ beaked jaws, prying them apart. Another round of talons slashed at Kong’s gut, while its powerful wings slapped against the gargantuan ape. Yet before the pivotal moment, a sudden surge of dizziness overcame the guardian beast. A light-headed ringing disrupted his concentration, losing his once firm grip over the crimson dragon.

    Taking the chance, Rathalos slipped from Kong’s grasp, whacking the gorilla-beast in the face with its clubbed tail as it took to the skies. The hairy ape-man was thrown off his balance, sluggishly collapsing into a nearby mountainside. Erratic breath overtook the mighty king, trying to intake enough oxygen to remain conscious. Bringing his hand over to his wounded arm, he pressed against the gash with his pads. It stung, irritating the mighty ruler, but it was necessary. He held his blood-covered fingers to his face, struggling to focus on the abnormality present.

    Using the moonlight above, Kong saw his blood was an abnormal color. Rather than the crimson ichor that would leak from injury, what stained his hand was intertwined with a deep purple. The sensation felt vaguely familiar, recalling his many spats against the Mother Longlegs that injected him with their bambooed spurs. In that moment, it clicked to what this was.

    Poison.

    Its potency was far more intense than that of a Mother Longlegs, however. This was evident as he struggled to rise to his feet, stumbling over himself to maintain balance. Even so, he couldn’t back down; not in the face of this invader from beyond the storm. Gritting his teeth, Kong pushed on, grabbing hold of a large boulder nearby. The side-effects from the dragon’s poison made it difficult to determine spatial distance, but Kong knew he had to try. Catapulting the boulder with a heaving throw, the large rock soared through the night sky.

    Rathalos was quick to swerve out of the line of fire, allowing the boulder to harmlessly sail until it crashed onto the rocky shores of the island. Keen eyes observed as Kong readied another boulder, showing clear signs of fatigue. The beaked wyvern snorted, content with letting the poison do the rest of it. The more he fought, the more he would inevitably wear himself out. Then, he would be easy pickings.

    Shifting trajectory to the highest peak the great ape came from, Rathalos perched atop the mighty cliffs that peered over the mountains of the island. Snake-like eyes glared at the mighty Kong, who in kind responded with immense vitality. Kong unleashed a warbling cry, beating his chest in a display of dominance. Rathalos likewise returned the favor, screeching with a howling blast of air, claiming supremacy in their fight.

    Yet in their war cries, aside from disrupting the harmonious ecosystem with the swarms of the feathered and reptilian avians, sinister cackles responded in kind. The source came from neither Kong nor Rathalos, but instead the devils that dwelled beneath the island. Popping out of their dug holes like varmints, the Skullcrawlers emerged en masse, the hordes split between devouring Kong and ascending the heavenly mountain to confront the faux demon.

    The King of the Skies boomed another hellacious roar, so loud and pronounced that it popped the auditory receptors of the Skullcrawlers closest to the fearsome dragon. But even the momentary delay of the horde didn’t stop the army of fiendish lizards from swarming the magnificent reptile. Gnawing at its crimson scales with their inward curved teeth, the Skullcrawlers tried to tear it piece by piece. Yet the hard scaly armor made it nigh impossible for them to pry it apart, only irritating the draconic beast at most.

    An irked growl rumbled from its jaws, twisting around and trampling the insignificant pests. The lizard-like ghouls were splattered into paste under the dragon’s tremendous weight, smearing their mangled corpses along the rocky perch. A swing from the large barbed tail skewered the bone-faced cretins without remorse, leaving them shish kebabed against the bulbous tip.

    Scissoring with its beaked snout, Rathalos plucked the ravenous hypervores off its body, crunching their miniscule frames between its bony fangs. Reptilian eyes kept a passive eye on the ancient primate, seeing him struggle with the pests all the same. Kong tore the pint-sized lizards with his massive fingers, crushing their bodies in the process. As Rathalos slayed the horde under its might, a booming roar from Kong caught its attention.

    But it wasn’t what it expected.

    In tandem with the bellow, the shadowy shape of a large boulder blotted out the glimmering moonlight. Rathalos grunted in frustration, realizing the ape’s tactile thinking and taking advantage of the situation. Nearly the size of the dragon’s head, the boulder slammed against its crest-like crown, smashing it against the nearby rockside. Emitting a guttural growl, Rathalos clumsily rose to its feet as the reptilian swarm continued their relentless siege.

    With a vexing exhale, misty green gases slipped between the gaps of its teeth. Parting its mandibles, a sudden rush of incendiary smoke flowed from organic exhaust ports located in its lower jaw. The back of its throat illuminated with a fiery light, acting as the trigger to ignite its most lethal weapon. In a snap, the gases erupted into a stream of superheated flames, washing over its area of influence into a torching hellscape. Charred rock withstood the searing heat, though the gluttonous Skullcrawlers popped and melted into fleshy slag and stripped bone. With a clean sweep, the Greater Rathalos purged the mountainous cliffside of the pests–leaving only Kong and the residual Skullcrawlers on the slope to deal with.

    Crushing one of the many devils under his heel, Kong’s attention was diverted to the mountaintop, focusing on the explosive burst of fire and the plum of pitch-black smoke that came from it. Anger flowed in Kong’s veins, his territory–his home–being defiled by this invasive hunter and his enemies. So when he saw the dragon peer down the mountainside, the two titans locked eyes.

    The fearsome dragon screeched with malicious intent, brewing flaming heat in its maw. Flapping its gargantuan membranes, Rathalos lifted its massive form, several of the still-living Skullcrawlers falling onto the scorched mountaintop. Gliding from the peak, the crimson wyvern spewed an endless wave of sweltering heat upon the droves of ghoulish lizards. Their frail flesh blistered under its fiery wrath, and their calcified faceplate barely held under the torrent of fire. The mountain of the far heavens burned with a hellish light, tainting the sacred grounds and purging the devils that dared to climb its slope.

    Snorting his building rage, Kong braced his bulky arms around his head, shielding it from the living hell that was inevitably due to arrive. As Rathalos flew overhead, hellfire accompanied the winged demon. Scalding fire washed over his thick fur and rugged skin, eliciting a godly scream from the indigenous deity. Though Kong fared far better than the diminutive devils, the blistering pain proved to be relentless and overwhelming for his poisoned state. With the stress coursing through his body, so too did the poison kick into high gear, forcing him to lose breath.

    Even through the suffering, Kong persevered. As the inferno died out, the ape-beast kept himself supported by the nearby rock wall, trying to maintain consciousness. Glancing at the village, he found that the dragon had reduced even the nearby Skullcrawlers to cinders–incidentally saving the village in the process. Likewise, laid the scepter embedded in the heart of the settlement; his best chance at beating this monstrosity. However, before he could even move, Kong was suddenly pelted by successive bursts of coalesced flames, erupting into plumes of fire upon impact. A resounding scream echoed across the island as the guardian god succumbed to the wicked wrath of the Greater Rathalos.

    The burning flames combined with the lethal poison was what finally brought him down. Losing consciousness, the mighty king slumped to the ground, crashing with a splash of swamp water. His eyes closed, unable to muster the strength to keep them open. Seeing this from above, Rathalos circled the fallen god, awaiting the moment of his death. The winged serpent cried a victorious shrill, its dominion almost guaranteed.

    That was, until another roar emanated from deep within the island.

    Rathalos recognized it without a shadow of a doubt. The screech originated from another member of its kind, indicative of extradimensional subspecies across different universes. However, this did not leave the lethal dragon with any semblance of joy; rather, a primitive territorial urge. No other Rathalos would claim this island as its own, and having taken down the apex predator, the wyvern would be sure to do the same with this intruder.

    Swooping over the lush jungles, Rathalos unloaded a payload of condensed fire, setting the dense foliage ablaze. The native wildlife and florofauna scattered from their midnight sleep, fleeing for their feeble lives from the all-consuming flame. Yet the call continued to emanate a pained shriek from a distance, echoing from the heart of the island. Perhaps it had been injured by the native protector? Then disposing of it would be easier than anticipated.

    Finding itself honing in on the source, the mighty dragon hovered a graveyard, littered with bones which told of an ancestry that had long since perished. Upon hearing the resonant cry of the lesser Rathalos, the wyvern scanned the surrounding skies for it… And found nothing. Snarling, the fire demon churned gaseous mist that ignited into a searing blaze. Pumping out one fireball after the other, the Greater Rathalos bombarded the valley of the fallen gods into a fiery hellscape–hoping to silence it once and for all.

    Decayed bones shattered from the kinetic force, then reduced to charred stumps in the aftermath. The anguished souls cried out in misery as the land of the dead became defiled by torching flames. With the screeching silenced, Rathalos descended upon the burning landscape, hailing another screech of dominion. Frothing at the mouth with stewing flames, Rathalos reared up and unleashed a fiery display into the night sky, illuminating the darkness.

    This island had been besieged by the King of the Skies!

    A rumble caught its attention. Ceasing fire, the vicious wyvern peered at the ground below it, then it heard the noise; the cry of Rathalos buried beneath the ground… Then a sinkhole collapsed in on itself. Without giving the fire demon a chance, a bleach-colored skull emerged from the pits of hell, lunging straight for the dragon’s neck. The cry it emanated was one of Rathalos, yet its visage was anything but. The enlarged Skullcrawler clamped its curved teeth into the armored neck, applying as much pressure as it could.

    More of the two-legged lizard’s body slipped out of the subterranean tunnels, firmly gripping Rathalos’ torso with its claws. The lithe tail coiled around the dragon’s legs, binding them together. The crimson wyvern tried to take flight, but he added weight brought the magnificent reptile down, restrained by a ghoul that the Iwi natives refused to speak its name:

    Ramarak, the Devil of the Underworld.

    Left to the vile mercy of the underground monster, Rathalos squirmed under the giant Skullcrawler’s clutches, losing precious oxygen and strength in the process. Its winged claws battered the hypervore, yet no gash deep enough could pry the devil off it. Time was a wasting; the beauty of the moon veiled by torrent clouds of despair. Trickles of water evaporated against the scorched earth, followed by more in the process. If the dragon didn’t act fast, death would certainly come for it.

    Running low on options, Rathalos’ maw began to glow…

    Rain poured from the rolling storm, the dark heavens filled with illustrious red lightning. Exhausted eyes peeled open, stirring from his bout with unconsciousness. He twitched his fingers, numb from the poison that spread throughout his body. He could barely feel the rainfall bounce against his skin. Once blood circulated back into his arms, the mighty titan heaved his colossal mass until he oriented himself in a sitting position.

    Taking in and exhaling deep breaths, Kong oxygenated his blood to maintain consciousness. He brought his hand up to his forehead and rubbed against it, relaxing his overloaded nerves. After a time, he regained the strength needed to stand on his feet, cascading swamp water and raindrops rolling off his furry form.

    Peering over to the village, Kong sloshed through the rippling swamp before entering the riverside, crushing the corpses of Skullcrawlers on his way. At the heart laid an ancestral weapon, one forged in the midst of countless wars amongst titans, acquired during his escapades beneath Skull Island, where the devils resided. However, he saw miniscule movement out the corner of his eyes, and from the foliage came the Iwi tribe. In solemn prayer, they remained drenched in silence. In that moment, Kong felt the hope of his people and their belief in him.

    Kong nodded in understanding, then reached down and grabbed the calcified hilt. The residual radioactive stimulated the Royal Axe upon contact, which was revived in a reddish glow from the handle before the embedded spike illuminated a bright blue. Pulling the weapon out of its earthy altar, Kong did not proclaim a challenge; rather, he sluggishly moved in stride to where the demons of the sky and earth were fighting, hoping to fulfill the wishes of his people.

    Ushering a guttural cry, Rathalos exhaled a ferocious burst of searing flame in desperate hopes of freeing itself. Washing over the gluttonous dweller, Ramarak’s skin blistered and popped from the sweltering heat, forcing the deranged reptile to uncoil and release its hold. Scampering away with fumbled footsteps, the fiendish lizard scowled at the burning wrath of the flying wyvern. Tortuous and unbearable, the enlarged Skullcrawler cut through the flames with its serrated tail, thwacking the angular jaw of the Greater Rathalos with a bone-cracking smash.

    A freakish yell echoed from the skull-fiend’s throat, immediately sprinting into a stumbling charge. The rain stung its melted skin, but the disgusting fiend pushed on. Grunting from the sudden whiplash, the crimson wyvern heralded a rage-fueled scream, spreading its powerful wings out in an intimidation display. Standing its ground, Rathalos baited its enemy, waiting for the gap to be closed. In eager anticipation, Ramarak shrieked in gluttonous delight. But before it could once again attempt to pry the carmine armor, a swift and sudden twirl had the Rathalos’ barbed tail clobber the ravenous predator, throwing the fiend off-balance and near the outskirts of the boneyard.

    Slamming its serrated tail to regain equilibrium, the massive Skullcrawler quickly tried to reorient itself, but the winged enemy would give no such time. Rathalos charged headfirst into the lizard’s side, pushing it farther inland and grinding foliage in their path. Splintered trees crunched under their tremendous weight, their bark embedding into the crack of their armor or the outermost layer of flesh. Yet this did little to deter either monster, who only sought to conquer the other for dominion over the island.

    Ramarak paused, suppressing its urge to feed. This creature wasn’t going to be mere prey; rather, a fellow apex beast able to compete with its might. Focusing its eyes on the prize, the deranged lizard opened a mocking cry to the crimson wyvern, awaiting what it would do next. Almost as if following through with that taunt, Rathalos charged and heaved its body into the air with powerful flaps, but kept low to the ground. Outstretching its talons, the flying wyvern sought to rip the skull devil’s face clean off–its intentions made clear with a shrilling warcry.

    Poison-dripping claws bare and outstretched, the transdimensional dragon swooped over the grounded Skullcrawler, digging its claws into the bony faceplate in an overpass. Deep grooves embedded into the calcified armor, trickling with purple ooze over the vacant false eyes. Though such a fierce strike was unable to inject the toxins into the voracious ghoul’s bloodstream, the subterranean reptile could feel the strength behind its talons. This foe was nothing short of dangerous.

    Yet the instinct to kill it was all the more enticing to the devil of the underground.

    Bursting into an immediate sprint, Ramarak pursued the airborne dragon, the latter who was making a gradual ascent. Parting its cone-like jaws, the Skullcrawler shot a lithe tongue from its fleshy sheathe and wrapped it around the base of the spiked-tipped bulge on the dragon’s tail. Anchoring itself to the ground by slamming its tail and burrowing its claws, Ramarak readied itself to use all the strength as its disposal.

    In an instant, the fleshy tether halted the winged dragon’s flight path, coming to an abrupt stop. Trying to keep orientation in the sky, the Greater Rathalos flapped its mighty wings to maintain airlift, feeling the weight of its foe being dragged with it. The two great beasts vied for supremacy and entered a temporary gridlock in a conflict between land and sky.

    Before Rathalos could regain full control, a rumbling that overpowered the drowning rain caught both of their attention.

    The fire demon quickly located the source, and was immediately both infuriated and confounded by the sight before it. Rushing to battle, with a bluish bioluminescent axe acting as the sole light source, the large figure used a small ledge as a springboard. Soaring through the air, the bipedal ape brought the glowing axe up, screaming in furious determination.

    Then bringing it down, Kong cleaved through the membrane of the dragon’s right wing, shredding it apart with an atomic afterglow.

    Rathalos struggled to stay afloat, yet nothing it could do to remain airborne as it made a gradual descent until it crashed into the dense jungle below. Ramarak was quick to uncoil and retract its long tongue, peering at the sight of its ancient arch nemesis. Crashing with a tremendous explosive impact, Kong clumsily landed onto his legs, taking a moment to regain his breath. Rising to his feet, his fearsome eyes scanned the ravenous lizard and the wicked dragon, clenching the battle axe.

    The sleek reptilian shifted eyes from the fallen dragon to the weakened god, astutely noting Kong’s exhaustion from his bout with the invader; a toll that would cost the apex guardian his life. Shifting gears, the devil of the underground maliciously bolted for the weary king, eager to consume the carcass that awaited after the fight.

    Firmly anchoring his feet into the wet earth and spreading them apart, Kong readied his weapon. Swinging in a lateral chop, the azure hue blurred as the blade nicked the narrow snout, chipping bony fragments. Though this did not stop the relentless killer, who sought to use the opening before it to pounce against the large figure of Kong, toppling the hairy giant onto his back. The only barrier that kept the ravenous ghoul at bay was the bony handle pressed against the fiend’s neck. Slobbering jaws snapped shut directly at Kong’s face, resisting the vile demon with waning strength.

    However, when push came to shove, the gluttonous appetite of the Skullcrawler proved to be too much. In an effort to protect his face, Kong released his grip on the handle and blocked it with his scarred arm, allowing Ramarak to clamp onto the wounded limb. The seminal reminder stung with a burning sensation, as the poisoned blood dribbled into the maw of the wicked lizard. Kong felt the pressure, screaming in agony as the bite pressed against his firm muscles.

    Then off in the distance, Kong saw a hellish light soaring right for them.

    A massive fireball collided against the scrawny hypervore, tossing it off with an explosive blast that dispelled the rain. The result forced the skull devil to release its grip, lacerating Kong’s arm in the process with its curved teeth. Using his strength, Kong propped himself up and traced the source, finding Rathalos in the distance. The crimson wyvern’s yellow eyes gleamed from afar, screeching in utmost fury as droplets pelted its draconic form. Slamming the claws of its damaged wing against the earth, the Greater Rathalos vexed its frustration as its mouth glowed with an orange blaze.

    Pelting one after the other, the winged wyvern belched a burst of superheated spheres at the apex guardian, who could only react by blocking the incoming blasts with his arms and axe. The first came with an explosive ring, charring the calcified handle and the ape-beast’s thick fur. In the brilliant flash, Kong sealed his eyes shut as he endured the scorching blaze of Rathalos’ wrath.

    The second came as quickly as the first, hurling into the great behemoth at astounding speed. A monstrous, booming cry resounded from the beastly deity, one heard across the island. This triggered an awakening within the battle axe under Kong’s possession, an ethereal blue glow emanated a brilliant light, almost as if responding to his will. Taken aback by the events that transpired, Rathalos shot one more burst of fire to see if its suspicions were correct.

    Realizing the onslaught had ceased, he took the brief moment of levity to observe the battleaxe’s newfound power. With an assured grunt, the mighty king rose to his feet, regaining his breath. Instead of pulverizing the man-beast in a flurry of searing fire, the entire sphere was instead annihilated by a swing of the atomic axe. Resulting, in turn, was a sight nothing short of majestic; a rigid cleaver that trailed with the eccentric trail of an ancient lifeforce, with the core of the Royal Axe brightening like that of a blue sun.

    No matter the case, no matter the cost, the fearsome scream of the Greater Rathalos made its fury known. Lowering itself to the ground, the fire-breathing wyvern made a mad-dash toward the colossal primate, rapidly closing the gap between them. Baring its vicious fangs in a sneer, the bellicose dragon howled in fierce contempt.

    Responding in kind, Kong charged into a heavy sprint, armed with his enhanced weapon. Meeting head-on in their stampedes, Kong readied to bring his axe down, but Rathalos was quicker to the draw. With a hasty twirl, the clubbed tail swooped at the behemoth’s feet, toppling the island god mid-swing. A resounding thud echoed across the trampled tropical forest, with Kong on his side. Willing to take the risk, Rathalos used this chance to lunge toward the fallen beast and tore into his furry hide with its beaked maw. An agonizing bellow emanated from the god-king, who retaliated with a slash from his charged battleaxe.

    The dorsal ridges found themselves embedded into the scaly hide of the crimson dragon, instantaneously crackling from the tremendous overcharged force of atomic energies. Sweltering and expanding in an instant, the explosive blowback threw the gargantuan wyvern off the mighty king, left with a massive crater in its side. A thunderous yelp made it clear of the Rathalos’ dire situation as it mercilessly rolled and flipped over, crushing all the foliage in its path. When it came to a skidding stop, the ferocious dragon weakly got back on its legs, disoriented from the blast that occurred. Not only did it hurt to move, the great dragon could also feel its armor rattle as if it had been fractured. Even in its damaged state, Rathalos would push on; and wouldn’t stop until it claimed superiority over these apex predators.

    Kong was likewise in a similar predicament. While the burst was more than enough to toss the Rathalos off him, the encompassing explosion left his head ringing and his fur singed. He also felt the axe missing from his hands, only noticing it out of arm’s reach. The Royal Axe no longer glowed with the majesty it held, drained of the power it needed to sustain function. His numbed body made it hard to move, but he tried to crawl to where his weapon laid.

    Then, a pair of claws pressed against his weakened form.

    One against his elbow joint and the other on his head, Ramarak asserted its dominance over the downed guardian. Though it desired to kill Kong, the enlarged Skullcrawler instead crawled over his body and smacked Kong’s face with its serrated tail. Ramarak eyed the legendary scepter with a sickening curiosity, knowing full well what it intended to do. Its flexible and lithe tail coiled around the calcified hilt, clenching it tightly. Though awkwardly imbalanced, the Skullcrawler wielded the battleaxe as its own, the dorsal blade only emitting a faint glow. With a sadistic sneer, the ghoulish lizard cried out in mockery.

    Kong would suffer dearly.

    The great ape’s eyes widened at the horrific sight before him, panicking and screaming at his nerves to move. Pushing his mass to the side, the legendary ape rolled just in the nick of time–with the atomic cleaver scraping a small chunk of flesh and hair. Kong winced at the pain, but he knew stopping would certainly be a death sentence. For every time he pushed, he would barely avoid another handle strike from the axe-wielding Skullcrawler as it dug into the wet earth. All this came to a close when Kong found himself pressed against a massive cliff face, leaving him nowhere to move.

    A cackling cry of pleasure, Ramarak raised its tail above its body–eager to execute the heraclean behemoth once and for all! It emitted a deep laughter, one reminiscent to that of a Kong’s vocal patterns. A mocking taunt to the fallen king, for his title would be usurped!

    Kong watched on, falling into a pit of despair. He had failed his people, defending his home from wretched devils that came to defile it… Yet, in a stroke of fate, the mammoth reptile froze in place. Stomach-retching gurgles foamed from the depths of the demon’s disgusting throat, upchucking bile from partially digested meals. The tail fell limp, losing its grip as the axe handle slammed into the mushy ground. Its equilibrium was thrown in disarray, barely able to keep itself planted on its two forelimbs.

    Not wasting this second chance at life, Kong heaved himself off the ground, keeping a firm posture as to remain imposing. Yet before he could dive in to retrieve the battleaxe, a piercing scream closed in on the two. Kong saw the limping Rathalos barrel through the wreckage, the fierce determination in its eyes. The winged creature leapt atop the vulnerable Skullcrawler, pinning the wobbling fiend under its weight.

    When Kong tried to move, without even looking, Rathalos retaliated with a swing of its barbed tail, smacking him directly in the ribs, hurling the giant to the ground. Overtaken by the poison and exhaustion, Kong collapsed under his weight, barely holding onto consciousness. However, seizing the opportunity, he clutched the hilt of the axe and limped away–hoping the wyvern wouldn’t take heed.

    The subterranean devil squirmed at the mercy of the vicious wyvern, whose talons were pumping toxins into the malnourished flesh of the gluttonous reptile. Adding insult to injury, the sharp jaws scissored into the shoulder joint of the predator’s right arm, tearing at the frail flesh. Even when encountering bone, the strong jaws were enough to crush it with ease, and continued until the entire limb was severed from the body.

    Time passed as the tyrannical dragon tortured the horrid pest. Then, with wings spread out, the Greater Rathalos proclaimed to this world’s heavens, awaiting the deaths of the island’s apex predators. Then, the gases flowed from the organic exhausts, the back of its throat glowing in an orange blaze…

    The rainfall drowned out the dying shrieks of Ramarak and the heavy footfalls that sloshed through the mud. With the demonic dragon occupied with the deep-dwelling devil, the colossal beast used this chance to refuel his ancient weapon with a nearby source. The axe flickered a dim light when he closed in on the charred boneyard, more specifically the massive entranceway excavated by the large Skullcrawler.

    Muzzling the axe into the edge of the complex catacombs, the dorsal ridge began emanating a glow, soaking in the radioactive presence that laid beneath the island. As it recharged, Kong sagged in the heart of the boneyard, feeling only the hardened glass from the immense heat and the ashen bones. Water drenched his singed fur, the island god feeling uncertain how long it would be before the dragon would track him down.

    However, his exhausted eyes saw the remnants of his fallen forefathers–blackened and shattered from Rathalos’ rampage. A sting unlike any other irked the mighty god-king; not from the poison that flowed through his veins, but the fury that raged in his heart. Seeing his parents desecrated long after their deaths awakened the traumatic memory of their dying moments. A child mourning the loss of his family amidst an ever growing conflict; a child isolated to be the lone ruler of a forsaken island, where God didn’t finish creation. He was left time to mourn, patching the torn scars from the past.

    When he finished processing, he saw that the axe was at ready capacity to carry on the fight. Pulling it out of the ledge, Kong trudged to where the Rathalos had been, provided it was still there…

    The beast indulged in the cretin’s misery, but never once did it let its guard down. Its mouth brimmed with immense heat, but the target wasn’t intended for the poisoned devil. Turning around, Rathalos unloaded a hellish blaze that streamed from the back of its maw. Confirming its suspicions, the large frame of Kong was illuminated by the fiery fumes that rushed to consume the primal nephilim. Baptized by hellfire, Kong’s bellowing screams resounded across the island, the relentless onslaught ongoing. However, the searing flames were parted at a single point, splitting like a fork in a river against the radioactive axe.

    Sluggishly charging in for one last hurrah, Kong boomed a mighty roar as he marched on, readying his weapon. Seeing its combustible flames shredded by the ancient axe, Rathalos could only watch in predestined horror its final moments. As the atomic source began to overcharge once more, Kong swung it down directly at the dragon’s head.

    Then, a massive burst of fiery destruction overtook the landscape.

    Consumed in a growing mushroom cloud, the island fell silent. In the midst of the carnage, a limping Ramarak–carrying itself with only one functional arm–wheezed and fumbled toward the first corpse it could find. Its flesh was scarred with nasty boils, yet its demented mind lived on. Flickering its tongue, it found the slumped body of the crimson wyvern that had invaded the island. The headless stump was all that remained, its body busted and armor shattered from the aftermath. However, what the creature couldn’t find was its arch nemesis.

    Suddenly, Ramarak received an answer–with an unceremonious hack into its neck.

    It felt the intense heat steam off the dorsal ridge, but that was all it could register before its perceived world was turned upside down. For the last twenty seconds of its existence, it saw its headless body spastically twitch and contort as it violently keeled over. Its eyes intensely focused on the bipedal hominid, registering only hunger and hatred… And finally, Ramarak was consumed by a darkness unfamiliar to it, one unlike the dark subterranean tunnels to the Hollow Earth.

    Succumbing to the poison corroding his bloodstream, Kong limply staggered back to where the Iwi village resided, in hopes that they could cure him of these ailments. Taking one last glance upon the burned and ruined battlefield, he saw something in the distance. The storm warped unnaturally, with unstable tears in reality that struggled to sustain form. He grimaced, but proclaimed one thing to the threat that was soon to come with a booming bellow.

    He was King Kong.

    Winner: Kong (Legendary)

    K.W.C. Kaiju War Chronicles

    K.W.C. // April 10, 2021