Gamera: The Comics Collection

Gamera: The Comics Collection

Japanese Comic Title

[Gamera: Uchu no Shugoshin]


Matt Frank, Joshua Bugosh, Dave Chipps


Matt Frank, Mozart Couto
Matt Frank, Mike Sellers
Goncalo Lopez, Art Knight
Japanese / English
Phase Six / Arrow Video


Matt Frank, Goncalo Lopez





By: Andrew Sudomerski

This is a lightning in a bottle situation that, while I don’t doubt can happen again, is extremely rare in any given circumstance. A self-published comic that makes its way as an official publication as part of a set of redistributed comics in Japan, only to then be added as part of a Western release as part of a (limited time) bigger set? It’s the dream situation for any fan to be a part of, and more than glad to see it become part of the greater Gamera canon.

For this overview, I’ll be primarily covering everything relating to Matt Frank’s The Last Hope (officially registered in Japan as ガメラ:最後の希望 - Gamera: Saigo no Kibo, or Gamera: The Last Hope). That said, there are reviews for the Dark Horse limited run of Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe #1, #2, #3, and #4, which touch on the story-related matters in greater detail than what’ll be provided here.

But first, a story synopsis.

In the cradle of time, a prosperous society harnessed the Earth’s mana to cultivate their civilization. However, in siphoning the lifeblood of the world with their mighty cities, they awakened terrible serpents from the depths of the planet. War was waged against the vicious snakes, but their efforts were not enough. It was proposed by the General of the South for the creation of a fearsome creature who would consume the threat before them. Thus was born the Gyaos, the great shadow which consumed the wrathful Garasharps. But it didn’t take long for the eradicators of the Garasharp to turn on the very humans that created them.

In order to prevent their undoing, a new plan was laid out by the Obsidian Lady of the North, to create vassals of the Earth to fight against the plague. From her fruits came the absolute guardians as an army of Gameras fought against the Gyaos, burning through them until only one Gamera remained. Though victorious against the plight of humanity, it wasn’t without a heavy toll.

Comic: Gamera: The Comics Collection
Back Cover

After a time of momentary peace, the shadow of evil returned and blotted out the sun. The last Gamera stood against the ferocity of the Gyaos, but it became ever apparent this was no fight that they would win. With the emergence of the Garasharp Matriarch, Gamera was left with no choice but to destroy the ancient city to save all life on Earth. With the elimination of the Gyaos, Garasharp, and the city, a quietness took its place. The children of the ancient world went about their ways, leaving behind a record for future generations upon the husk of the former guardian.

As I’ve previously expressed in my thoughts for Gamera vs. Morphos (1999), a lot can be done with very little. And here I think we find that there’s a lot packed in 15 pages that communicates what it needs to. Likewise, the contents of The Last Hope focuses on the gradual fall of Atlantis, from the consumption of mana and the Garasharps, to the Gyaos, to Gamera’s sacrifice. Keeping true to the themes of man’s hubris–but to also never let go of hope.

What helps drive the story forward is the fact that everything that transpires is told through narration as opposed to character dialogue. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I think this style works far more favorably to the story being told. The writing of Joshua Bugosh helps sell the somber dread and uplifting hope more effectively than any stock dialogue ever could. In doing so, it helps keep eyes engaged with the imagery of Matt Frank’s art and paneling, as well as keep the story reasonably paced without blazing through it too quickly.

But to enhance the writing, the art has to be versatile and expressive. Fortunately, Matt Frank has a knack of being able to communicate the subtleties of the kaiju and human characters that benefit the writing on display, as well as not compromising the intense detail of the characters. It’s very easy to praise Matt for the stellar kaiju artwork, but his human art is also fantastic. It conveys the right emotions that it needs to convey, and even reading it on a purely visual level communicates the same story.

In addition to the art, the unique gradient to emphasize the art works wonders. Matt’s style has a lot of detail that I think would be lost without the proper colorist to convey the sense of detail and depth. And to accomplish this purely through grayscale is an incredibly tricky task, but one I feel Goncalo Lopez pulls off masterfully. It feels like the story has color without actually having color, and really goes a long way when it comes to visualizing these characters and giving dimension to the environment.

For The Last Hope, it’s all-in-all a wonderful love letter to Gamera in the best of ways, and it shows. And the fact this self-published work now exists as an official publication to this day truly leaves me speechless. The only real nitpick I have is the brawl between Gamera and the Garasharp Matriarch being too brisk–even so, it isn’t enough of a detractor to enjoy the story on its own merits.

Before we conclude, I wish to give praises to Gamera: The Comics Collection for being a magnificent release. It’s a nice, firm hardcover with large and high-quality paper and superb hi-res scans of the original prints (not to mention the eye-catching cover featuring all the Dark Horse elements). I think it’s without question an easy recommendation to get if you can, unfortunately the collection is out of print. The only way to acquire the book (or the entire set) is probably from scalpers who’ll overcharge it. However, for those wishing to read The Last Hope in particular, it is publicly available online in Matt Frank’s DeviantART gallery.

Variant Covers

Japanese Cover (Phase Six)
The Doujinshi Cover (Matt Frank)