KAIJUBASIS: Godzilla In Hell Canto II

Last month the king of the monsters passed from one of the most ignoble deaths possible for such a important, globally recognized mythological figure towards the beginning of his katabasis, the journey downwards, finally admitted past the vestibule, through most of the incontinent sins, and across Acheron in a nontraditional - but not unprecedented - form. Now Godzilla is has arrived at a transition from the upper regions to the far more horrible depths below. Between him are a couple of rivers and a handful of monsters he's already beaten in combat plenty of times. Should be pretty simple, right?

The Book of Lies
First thing's first: the expectations were high. Stokoe handled his issue in a way that managed to do everything it needed to without being constrained by the formula, and also he's James Stokoe, auteur of the Half-Century War. Also it's Godzilla in Hell. As one often does in respect to IDW's short Godzilla series, the question "how could they possibly top this?" is asked, and the answer in this case was Bob Eggleton. Now, I'll talk more about Eggleton in the author section at the end, but if you're reading this I probably don't need to tell you that Eggleton is the first name in western Godzilla visual arts, bar none. He has eclipsed to an unfair degree all of his contemporaries and has to this day yet to be matched any non-Japanese artist and, even then, there's really only two Japanese artists that you could place in Eggleton's class. So, last issue left us of at the boundary to the lower circles of Hell, the Wall of Dis, and put this leg of the journey in the most accomplished hands in the business. Expectations were high.

Now last month I made a prediction about the next issue, as I plan do to every month, and it was based on what I knew at the time. I predicted that the indestructible city would be the wall, and that the demonic kaiju would be some sort of Demon Ghidorah replacing Medusa and Tisiphone (and the other two Erinyes), only to find out almost immediately after I finished the article that Ghidorah was already confirmed for issue 4. I was wrong on both counts, as KG did appear here, and not only was the indestructible city not Dis, but there was no indestructible city. So that teaches us that the solicits simply can't be trusted, and that what's in them was either written too early or by someone outside the loop. Which personally upsets me as you're not going to get much better in Godzilla's Hell than an indestructible city, especially when you realize this is happening during his stay in the circle of wrath.

There's a lot to praise here. The art is beautiful and the environment is grim and dark as you'd want, but there's something missing that was in abundance in Stokoe's issue. Cohesion, a clear sense of geography, any notion of justice, perverted or otherwise, and there's text. Why in the hell is there text in a story about Godzilla in Hell? Language has held back Godzilla his entirely Earthly life, why use it when there's no need? It's safe to say that this issue fails to deliver what the first issue gave us, nor was it even trying to, but a sub-par issue of Godzilla in Hell is still miles above any issue of one of IDW's longer series, which veer wildly from "pretty cool" to "whoops I forgot to read it for the fourth month in a row." So while I have to get critical here because... well, that's kind of the whole point of this series, just keep in mind that Eggleton's issue is, even with its problems, peerless.

Last time I pointed out that the conflation of greed and gluttony, the combination of the purely fictional and the meta-fictional context of Godzilla's passage through Acheron, added a question of whether or not I should just go ahead and "mark down" that circle as being passed. I chose not to because of a suspicion I had about the nature of the city that we never ended up actually seeing, but in the end I'm glad I did because this article can use all the sub-headings it can get, because we are in uncharted territory here, and I mean that in a literal sense we'll be uncovering over the course of this article.

After Godzilla's tumble, he wakes up in a cavern with a visible ceiling, something which should not be possible in the funnel of the Inferno, on the banks of a river of lava, the first legit river Godzilla has come to so far, with another city opposite. This is, for Hell, chump stuff, and it's also extremely un-diagnostic. Apart from a few key areas, you can find fire and lava anywhere, so... where is he? Is this Pyriphlegethon? Not the Phlegethon as we know it from Dante but Virgil's river of flame? Is that dilapidated pile of nonsense supposed to be the great city of Dis? I get that the pun is grating but, honestly, what the hell is this? While I expected greed to be mostly if not entirely ignored, I didn't realize that everything would be. No greed or heresy, that's normal given the territory, but not even anger? What, Godzilla's never been angry before?

This is the primary problem with the book, that nothing happening seems to matter. If Hell's attempt to judge Godzilla through Minagalos and Acheron didn't work, why not show us that? They've got a strong case for anger, even if pissing Godzilla off is a pretty stupid idea. The futility of Hell to work as a concept on these kinds of scales is an idea worth exploring if this is the case, as Stokoe has led us to believe. Instead Godzilla simply walks past each set piece which, because these are figures from his life, have no significance in Hell and who's meaning to Godzilla goes totally glossed over despite the fact that there is now text in the issue. When you do a series looking at the underlying themes and images in a comic about Godzilla in Hell, and there aren't any underlying themes or images that have a deeper significance to either Godzilla or Hell, you hit a wall, and it's not even the Wall of Dis..

So if there is a wall here it is too small to see, and I have a hard time believing that the buildings of Dis tower over the wall to this kind of exaggerated degree. There is the river of lava, however, and at its source is a huge volcano that easily doubles as the signal tower where Tisiphone hangs out, and there is a city here, so calling this Dis isn't terribly far-fetched, but then we've skipped two circles and that's unacceptable. Good thing, then, that we're in Hell, where this sort of chaotic situation doesn't feel out of place and, as I mentioned about the ceiling of the cave being visible, Godzilla has clearly stumbled into an isolated pocket inside Hell, beneath the neat and orderly structure human pilgrims often wander through. This becomes more and more apparent, and once you can accept this suddenly the narrative of the issue becomes far more intriguing. Godzilla, unable to be judged in the same way as human souls, is zig-zaging around underneath Hell in the wrong order.

If you're willing to squint, the lava could also be taken as a resemblance to the 4th circle, also this is a much larger stretch. Though in most medieval accounts the crime and punishment rarely synch up, the punishment of the greedy by means of molten gold or other metals eventually became accepted, and although it doesn't appear in Dante, with the amount of time spent in the 4th circle (less than one canto, almost an afterthought) it's not surprising that the imagery of molten gold and rampant industry has taken precedence over smashing rocks together in recent times. The video game Dante's Inferno is an example of this, but it's hardly unique. I told you it was a stretch. Speaking of medieval NDE's, one of the most classic features of those Hells is the pit of fire trope. The imagery obviously comes from the account in Revelations of a huge bit where souls are dropped into a lake of fire and sulphur, and as far back as the apocryphal apocalypses (say that 5 times fast) of Paul and Peter Hell features giant pits of this nature. Dante's Hell is conspicuously missing an actual lake of fire, but fire itself is not difficult to find. When it is, such in the tombs of the 6th circle and the reverse-baptismal fonts of the 3rd bolgia, it's again a deep pit dug into the ground. The impression here is that the rives and lakes of lava are all there, they're just far below Hell's foundation and in order to burn souls you have to dig down to get to it. So there's a precedent for what I'm suggesting. One could go further and say that the Pyriphlegethon and Phlegethon are totally distinct, and the reason Phlegethon boils is because it is being heated, caldarium-style, by the lava rivers below. This isn't a feature of the map I drew a little further down, but that's mostly because I was trying to be economical in my depiction.

The Leviathan
So, the text. Although it gets corny after a little while, it isn't bad by any means, and as a positive it does give us a more direct window into the author's intention. Whether or not the author is dead, I happen to think that what they're trying to say is kiiiiiiiiind of important. But hey, what do I know? The issue opens with a passage directly addressing Godzilla as the Leviathan. Here we go. We all know of the Leviathan, or at least we know it refers to something really big, but there's more to this reference, not just in comparative mythology but an extremely deep cut from the glory days of the legitimate fandom. The connection is well-understood and Eggleton is not the first to make it.

The Leviathan, although being one of the most well known creatures from Abrahamic mythology, only appears in canon once, and indirectly at that. When scolding Job for having the audacity to challenge Yahweh, he describes his battle with and subsequent taming of the beast (along with another creature called Re'em which has been identified as everything from a rhinoceros to a sauropod by creationists) alongside a list of its physical attributes. Leviathan, a massive sea beast who has had every hyperbole in the book thrown at it to illustrate the size of the monster, is the direct descendant of Lotan, a Canaanite sea serpent who may or may not have had 7 heads (one for each deadly sin? ho ho, literary criticism, what fun!) originating from a people who made the mistake of worshiping the wrong storm god, Hadad. You'll probably know Hadad better as "Baal," an epithet meaning "lord" which was the honorific way to refer to deities, as this is the demonized form of the god featured in the Bible.

Lotan, along with the Leviathan, are both iterations of a pan-mythic archetype called the Chaoskampf. This is a ferocious monster, almost always associated with the ocean or water and/or a serpent or draconic figure, who's ubiquity in world mythology is borderline creepy. Wherever you go, you're likely to find more or less similar stories about the Sun or the rivers or the stars and the like, and there will probably be a lot of similarity based on the gradual regional and linguistic dissemination of myth over time. For example, you'll hear the same basic framework and major characters from the daughters of the Indo-Europeans, just as all the Mesopotamian religions are likely to have interchangeable storm gods and Venus goddesses, but the Chaoskampf transcends even this and it is a strangely specific and advanced idea regarding the triumph of Order (usually represented by a usurping king, war, or storm god) over Chaos at the beginning of the universe and/or as a challenge to be faced by a hero figure, equal parts Typhon and Hydra. This doesn't seem to be the case for cultures significantly removed in time and space from Eurasia (although the battle of Dirawong and Wagyl seems to fit) which might suggest the key here is the cultural understanding of water, which would have been affected both because of a potential source myth younger than some migrations as well as a different view of water by people more accustomed to travel by boat (casual island hopping versus the insatiable, uncaring void of Poseidon's Mediterranean). Water, as we are told by Havik in one of those terrible 3D Mortal Kombat games, is the pure essence of Chaos expressed in physical form. So naturally the initial void of the cosmos would be made up of a cosmic ocean, and the gods of this chaotic realm would have to be conquered or else there would be no Thors to pray to. Somewhere in here might be the reason why three supposedly independent mythic families (don't forget, in addition to Tiamat and Vritra there is a distinct East Asian tradition too, like Orochi) share such an oddly specific and thematically heavy story. THIS is why comparative mythology is so important, which is why you should all go out and buy a bunch of Joseph Campbell books right now. Heck, get one on Audible.com and use the promo code "HEY YOU GUYS SHOULD TOTALLY SPONSOR MAL'S BLOG." It won't work, but you can still try.

Leviathan's story doesn't end there, and it doesn't stop at "really big" either. Although the Tanakh's version of the Chaoskampf is heavily padded with the indication that the monster is simply one of Yahweh's natural wonders and, while fierce, isn't his enemy, as well as the end result not being the elimination of Chaos but the subjugation of it so that the monster is more or less Yahweh's "pet," this hasn't stopped anyone from vilifying it anwyas. In particular, despite his origin as a sea monster, Leviathan was very popular in demonology beginning in medieval times. Leviathan appears as both one of the 7 princes representing the deadly sins, here tied to envy (a sin too highly ranked to appear among the incontinent sins in Dante, and therefore not punished singularly in his scheme), and as one of the 4 princes of Abramelin in the tradition passed on to Satanism, representing the element of water and the direction east, who's respective book of the Satanic Bible is dedicated to lists of invocations and "keys" (making Leviathan one of the 42 captains activated by a specific key-signature based on the phases of the moon). Leviathan, owing to his enormous size and infernal leanings, may be the original source of the hellmouth trope, something I went over for last month's article. Even today Leviathan has a strong reputation as a demon, where his primary characteristic is his immense and unimaginable size. In Barlowe's Inferno, for instance, a pair of cities is built on two of Leviathan's teeth directly opposed to each other, upside down from the other's view. On a cyclical basis the two teeth smash together, utterly destroying each city, and the long rebuilding process begins, only for Leviathan to chew them back to dust once more.

So what does any of that have to do with Godzilla? An article in G-Fan #25 (long, long before they sold their soul to hollywood) by Peter Gilmore was my first proper introduction to the Leviathan and has resonated strongly with me ever since. It's a very short piece, about half a page, but it posits that the description of Leviathan sounds much more like an ancient account of Godzilla than a crocodile (which is, lets be honest, what Leviathan is), particularly the mention of fire-breath and how all of man's weapons are useless against it. This was quite the revelation when I was younger as even I knew Godzilla was purely fictional, and the idea that religious people actually believed in Godzilla as a theological truth was hilarious. It further associates Behemoth with Anguirus and Ziz, the third wheel of the group who is only name-dropped briefly in the Tanakh, with Rodan. The dream team, basically, and half of the monsters who appear in this issue. This is not a coincidence, and Eggleton knows exactly what he's doing.

But that was only the understanding I had when I was a child, and while the connection between Godzilla and Leviathan has remained stable (the unlicensed mutation of the Marvel Godzilla was eventually christened "Leviathan" in 2009, making the association concrete) it has less to do with vague commonalities as much as the function and purpose of the two monsters. Leviathan is an aberrant iteration of the Chaoskampf, not an evil creature but one who's ferocity and power illustrates the futility of man compared to Yahweh. That doesn't work in 1954, but Godzilla is a similar subversion in that he is still a primeval force beyond man's control, but that force is the perversion of nature into a human-created weapon that humans... well, can't control. If mankind had Godzilla on a leash, the Lucky Dragon incident would have never happened, nor Tsar Bomba, and so Godzilla, a sea monster of unthinkable size, is the post-modern iteration of the Chaoskampf. The primary difference here is that rather than his role as a metaphor to be conquered by the forces of order, Godzilla is the thing that will destroy us and the whole anthropocentric concept of "order." Towards the end of humanity's lifetime the ancient story has been reversed. Although we can't see them up-close, Eggleton is eager to point of that the fires down here are not of Hell's making, but man's, and that they are mushroom-shaped.

The Abyss
On the first page the landscape is merely described as an "abysmal plain," but on page two it's explicit: this is the Abyss, not Hell. Throughout the issue the terminology is jumbled up. Is it the Abyss? Hell? Just a generic underworld? I'm not certain Eggleton appreciates or even cares about the difference, but I do, and as previously established, the author is dead. I've already talked about the difficulties with the geography and how the circles seem to be in the wrong order (6 - 4 - 5, which should be impossible), but if Godzilla has gone beneath Hell proper and beyond the "orderly" structure of elegant contrapassos, then the only place he really can be is the Abyss. So, for those who are confused by the distinction I'm making you might be wondering "well what is the Abyss?"

"Abyss" traces its origins all the way back to the waters of Abzu, sometimes Apsu, who is the mate of Nammu and her cognate Tiamat. You know, the Babylonian Chaoskampf. Here it's the primeval chaos itself, the world before creation, the ultimate source of sea monsters and by extension everything else, since everything came from the sea. Typically once the world is made from the Abzu or one of its cousins, the "Abyss" ceases to be a proper place name and instead takes on a historical connotation, although it is theoretically possible to travel out to the ends of the Earth where chaos still lingers, something epic heroes tend to do with regularity.

This is what it would have stayed if it weren't for the intervention of Abrahamic eschatology. While we all understand now that in christianity and islam there's a simple binary system of Heaven and Hell, this A.) isn't actually true and B.) wasn't the case in the beginning. Islam, as the youngest of the three major Abrahamic religions, already started with a dichotomy and judaism, as the oldest, really only has a single underworld for the time being, but christianity occurs between the two and it's here that we find the Abyss and Tartarus as distinct regions. As with judaism, christian eschatology's primary focus is the resurrection, not the temporal death, and where your souls ends up ultimately is something totally different from the temporal "holding pen" before the resurrection. The Tanakh only has its underworld, Sheol, which is basically the standard Proto-Semitic Irkalla model which is a dumping ground for corpses (it means "grave"), but you don't have to wait until the end of the world for judgement if you follow Christ, he wants to put you in Hell right the fuck now. Revelations, an account of the future, a prophecy, tells us that the ultimate location of the entire human race save for 144,000 specifically chosen jews isn't Hell at all but the Abyss, the same gaping, bottomless pit ruled over by Abaddon, an angel (not a fallen angel either, it's his job to be down there), who sends armies of horrible monsters from his domain to assault humanity in the end times. In canon, the Abyss is a place of primeval chaos, much like the original waters of Abzu, full of horrible chimeric monstrosities with no spacial boundaries where all of Yahweh's mistakes will ultimately be thrown into once he's done playing god. Hell, by comparison, is of limited size, is temporal, and is reserved primarily for fallen angels, with humans being the "summer population." The distinction is real and it is necessary for understanding the christian afterlife.

Where is the Abyss in relation to Hell? It might sound a little absurd to ask such a question when dealing with these kind of "anti-space" dimensions, but there is an answer. In Milton's Paradise Lost Hell is moved from the interior of the Earth (it was long since realized that a cavity that large in the Earth would be structurally impossible and collapse in on itself, meaning any Hell in positive space must be outside the planet, and potentially outside the universe as we know it, a concept that some people still believe even today) to somewhere... else. When Lucifer loses the war in Heaven (the conflation of Satan and Lucifer also traces its roots back to this poem, which in practice openly defies the canon by placing Satan's fall in the past, directly opposed to what the Bible says) he is somehow magically transformed into Satan and cast down into the Abyss. He and his fallen comrades, once there, decide to begin building Hell right where they are. Hell, then, is an artificial structure created by devils on the remnants of the Abyss left over from creation, separated from creation proper by an empty region of nebulous matter called Chaos. Barlowe's Inferno follows this set-up and details Hell not as an organized structure but a diffuse nation of multiple cultures spread out in a highly developed area inside the much larger infinite Abyss, and draws a thick line between the indigenous fauna of abyssals and the devils who colonized the frontier. If we combine this with Dante, as I have done here, we'll get a giant funnel built on top of the Abyss with dimensional portals to the world of the living, making it possible for Hell to be simultaneously under the Earth and inside the Abyss. Naturally, if you drop something as massive as Godzilla from a cliff as high as those in Hell, at some point he's going to crater so hard that he sinks beneath the organization of Hell and into the backstage area of the Abyss, where nothing makes sense, morality is void, lava rivers feed into lakes of ice, and numbers don't go in the right order.

The Nature of Souls
Let's hold on Barlowe for a little longer and look at the way he handles souls. For Barlowe, they are every bit as physical and tangible as the living, but of a homogenous substance. Because of this, souls can be sculpted, formed, mashed up, cleaved apart, and used as a building material without worrying about instantaneous healing and with no regard for internal structure since they don't have any. A soul can be squashed into a brick with nothing left but a single eye (compare Barlowe's soul bricks to Ramjet's colonials) or transformed into mounts, but their primary usage has nothing to do with punishment, out in the Abyss they serve a purely practical purpose.

Dante treats souls differently depending on where they end up as a function of what souls actually are. So now we have to ask the question: what the hell is a soul? A soul is the end result of the notion that consciousness is not physical. No, it doesn't make any sense, and this is the easy part. Souls are the popular, conspiracy-theory-style mechanism used to explain ghosts that shoulder the entirety of the blame for ghosts going almost completely ignored by actual scientists. So, when you think of a ghost as being a dead person, maybe a white, transparent person wearing an American Civil War uniform, that image you're seeing is the soul, it's that white transparent dead person. GMK explains souls as a form of energy which can be recorded in rocks in the same way data is recorded in the grooves of a CD, and thanks to E = mc2 we know that energy is still matter, and the process of thinking is an energy intensive process. So the soul is a "copy" of the energy of our brain, recompiled into matter based on its self-image. Or something like that. It's difficult to wrap your head around because the idea is logically impossible (if the soul was your consciousness, it would be conscious, right? But if souls are immortal and can never be created or destroyed, something we already know is true about matter, then we already know this. So how can we be a thing but not know it if the thing we are is a state of knowing regardless of our state?), but as long as we think of it as a copy of our raw data reconverted into physical form, we can make it out okay for our purposes in this article.

Dante says our souls are tripartite, built up from three "classes" of souls layered on top of each other, but inseparable, probably as a mirror to the triune god he worshiped. Soul creation begins at conception (just like personhood AMIRITE LADIES!?) with the vegetative soul in what is something of a medieval version of recapitulation theory. Vegetative souls are alive, but not conscious, like plants (because everything is nice and black and white in Dante's time). At the onset of the development of differentiated tissues and organs comes the animal soul. Rather than being a separate thing stacked on top of the vegetative, this is further development, an Ivysaur to the original Bulbasaur. Animalistic souls are conscious and active, but aren't humans and are therefore are big dumb dummies. Not all parts of the poem have aged well. The final part of the soul, the self-conscious part, is as Averroes noted not evident in any special organ so it must therefore be that all of humanity is part of the same cosmic sheet. Dante frowns on this through Statius' fictionalized mouth and clears everything up by declaring "god did it" and "stop asking questions." The method of conveyance of a physical soul after the death of the physical body, then, is purely based on this third unquantifiable soul and because of this the mechanism through which souls create ghosts is that this is simply what they do, and what they were always intended to do, and are created with the purpose of becoming ghosts as their unavoidable destiny. The best we get to a physical process is that the soul "remembers" the body and creates that impression in the air around it, which explains why ghosts are transparent, because they're just full of hot air. It's also nice in that it creates a measurable difference in the composition of damned, penitent, and saved souls as the air in each of these environments is totally different, although this isn't said in Dante directly, instead once again leaving the reasoning behind why penitent souls can feel hunger pains when none of the other souls can up to "god did it." Personally, I like my explanation better.

Combining all these ideas leaves us with a "snapshot" of brain activity mined for raw data. The data is used to create a new physical body either at the shores of Acheron or Tiber, where they are formed either from the dense, hot smoke of Hell or the ash raining down from the fires atop Mt. Purgatory, both of which are capable of being tormented physically yet possess no vital organs or metabolisms, just will and consciousness. One thing this doesn't address is, if only human posses the self-conscious soul, how did Godzilla and Rodan get here?

One last thing: The opening paragraph singles out the souls in this area being thrown here "...not as participants, but as witnesses..." So that, at least, settles the issue about this being Hell or some bizarre pocket beneath it, no souls in Hell are mere spectators, Hell is for punishment. It does beg the question of how being put in between two battling giant monsters doesn't count as participating in punishment, or even how the inability to prevent the city from being destroyed is any better since that's such a strong beat for so many characters who've had the misfortune of dealing with Godzilla over the years. At the end of the battle we're even told that the city was doomed from the start, and so all of these "witnesses" were absolutely intended to suffer. It may be that I'm reading it the wrong way and not being "participants" doesn't exclude their role as spectators being another means of torture, but so far off the beaten path how can we even tell what sin the inhabitants of this city are even supposed to be guilty of? And Minos (or Minagalos) sure as hell didn't toss them into the cave. Whatever is going on here, the human souls are nothing but an afterthought, unlike last time when Godzilla battled the winds from the 2nd circle head on, we don't see a single human soul the entire issue.

Rodan is dead, and I don't know why. I've seen Rodan die on screen three times yet I've never been under the impression that he was really dead, not like Godzilla. If Godzilla dies, does he take the entire Toho pantheon down with him? Is this specifically related to the possible gino-fication of him in the rumored gino 3? It doesn't seem fair to me that Rodan should have to die to, but as we move on we'll see that it is very much the case that the whole Toho pantheon has fallen with the king. Now I haven't spent any time at all on this because it couldn't possibly be less important, what with Godzilla being dead, but outside of what Godzilla in Hell means there is the raw fictional story and therefore some sort of continuity in play. The story isn't about the abstract representation of Godzilla after death, not at face value, it's about a specific individual after death, and individual with his own history and motivations. So while it's clear that his death doomed every major player from the Godzilla mythic cycle in the immediate, the fictional rather than the allegorical, Godzilla, Rodan, and Anguirus all died, and they died by violence, since there's no other way to kill a monster.

Though born underneath one, both of the original Rodans were killed during the eruption of Mt. Aso, and the first time we see Rodan's shade it's circling an active volcano. Could this be one of the two original Rodans? The possibilities for the placement of this story within an existing continuity are pretty wide open, even with the possible inclusion of Destroyah, as is the possibility of a totally new continuity which, of course, is undesirable and totally pointless. Being that there's no reason to consider such a thing, the most obvious place to look for pre-existing continuities is the other IDW comics. It could be the overarching KOM/HGM/ROE timeline of the sub-par longer series, since we at least know King Ghidorah is dead as we know him, but that would take another force to kill the other monsters since more than likely they won't be dying of old age anytime soon, and you're not going to top the final battle of RoE. The unaligned continuity of G&G and Legends offers up a cosmopolitan "assume everything happened until told otherwise" which gives us plenty of opportunities to kill off a Rodan or two, but none of those comics show us a plausible scenario for the death of Godzilla, Anguirus, or King Ghidorah. Worse, if we tack on Cataclysm to the end, while Anguirus and Rodan and possibly King Ghidorah could be dead, Godzilla's not going anywhere for a long time, not with Destroyah desposed of. Cataclysm as a whole acts as a companion piece to Godzilla in Hell, a "what-if" storyline where history took a totally different path and Godzilla survived as the chief god of the post-modern pantheon, outliving all of us and carrying on to the last days of the human race. If the Godzilla we're seeing here came from a previous IDW comic, the only reasonable choice is Stokoe's previous entry, the Half-Century War. We do know that Godzilla survives the dimension tide, but he's at least tentatively declared dead. KG is gone for sure, and the absence of any other monsters standing up to him and Gigan after all the damage they caused is pretty suggestive.

So Godzilla is still killed by another monster, which according to the solicits shouldn't be KG or Destroyah. The solicits might be wrong, and issue #2 is evidence for this, and if that's the case then it can't be the HCW timeline in play based on what we're told in this issue. If it is, then the possibilities open up again because said monster would probably go on to murder the other parts of the dream team as well. Another possibility is that Hell transcends these multiple realities somehow, that no matter what universe you're from you always go to the same Hell, and there's some sort of mechanism in place to make it so that there's only one of each individual... somehow.

The terminology used to refer to Rodan is confused, beginning by calling them a "possessed effigy," implying that this isn't Rodan at all but some sort of facsimile. The copy is a little too perfect, though, with the only difference being the glowing eyes, and "possessed" is hardly ambiguous even if "effigy" is. Rodan is already possessed by the time Godzilla wakes up, but we do see this process take place with Anguirus, so this is absolutely what's happening to Rodan. Later he's called a demon outright, which will continue for each subsequent monster encountered, even though we're shown Anguirus being possessed by something. So, yes, this is really Rodan. He's really, really dead, being controlled like a puppet to attack Godzilla for... reasons. As the battle is a totally transparent match-up between Leviathan and Ziz, there is little doubt here as to the identity of the demon possessing Rodan. After all, who else could possibly hope to dominate Rodan? A flying monster filled with the fury of demons soaring with membranous wings over a city illuminated by burning embers. Am I talking about Rodan or Tisiphone? Does it matter?

Ziz is the odd man out of the group as he is not described in canon and for more information older sources have to be consulted. As with the others, Ziz's (try saying that 5 times fast) description mainly emphasizes the sheer size of the monster, whose wingspan shrouds the sun and, when standing erect, their head grazes the sky. This maybe isn't the best metric for determining their height as ancient peoples didn't seem to know what the sky was let alone how high up it was, but if we try to imagine how someone with that frame of reference would describe Rodan it sounds about right. Ziz has a cousin and ancestor in the form of Anzu, the Sumerian version which is about as far back as we can trace it, although the giant bird archetype is hardly rare. Anzu is most famous for stealing the tablets of destiny, and as a result is killed by the storm/war god Ninurta.

Infernal Rivers
Hell is not Jigoku, although there is a second place where temperatures are cold enough for hail to form (acid rain in modern depictions, but that discussion is better left for issue 4), when one talks about "Hell freezing over" there's really only one place that fits the bill, and that's Cocytus. In order for us to understand why this is a problem, and so I can wriggle into a position where arguing for the next segment being somehow in the basement of the 4th circle, we'll need to look at all of the rivers of the underworld as a whole.

Dante's primary source for his Inferno was the Roman epic of Aeneas, by Virgil, and the Roman afterlife was cut up into more or less three slices as per the Divine Comedy, but each of these pieces still fit under the category of "underworlds." For those familiar with the doctrine of Limbo, this is the way things are expected to be. The entrance to the underworld was very much the Grecoroman Vestibule, beyond that Cerberus guards the gate to Hades proper, where according to the Bronze Age depiction of death as an equalizing force (before the concept of punishment and reward had become common place in eschatology) all of the dead ended up. In Hades, there were still further sub-divisions based on the circumstances of death, such as suicides, warriors who died in battle, or those executed under false witness. In addition, there was a field of Asphodel where souls who were lukewarm (boring) would end up and just kind of wander around. Beyond that was an area that may or may not be referred to as Erebus (the primordial darkness, Virgil was very loose and "poetic" with his place names) where we have the court of the three judges of the underworld: Minos, Aeacus, and Rhadamanthus. The court was set up at a crossroads and depending on their judgement the soul would head either to Tartarus or pass the temple of Hades himself on the path to Elysium. Tartarus is the Grecoroman proto-Hell which fulfills the same purpose, but only for particularly evil people who offend the gods in some remarkable way, such as attempting to abduct the queen of the underworld, and is located as deep below Hades as Hades is below the Earth. The bottomless pit (ala the christian Abyss) is surrounded by three iron walls and a large watchtower guarded by Tisiphone, the eldest of the Erinyes, who spurs the souls given to her onward by whipping the shit out of them. On the other end, you head uphill to the garden of Elysium, which has been compared to Limbo but is more accurately a version of Paradise or Eden. This is a proto-Heaven where only those possessed of extraordinary glory and fame are chosen to reside. There is an additional level, totally above the surface, called the Isles of the Blessed where those who reach Elysium three lifetimes in a row will be granted entrance to, so that we can see clearly how Elysium is mere Paradise compared to the pure Heaven of the Isles.

The underworld is absolutely underground, but depending on the source it doesn't stay there, and entrances vary from caves in Italy to islands out past the pillars of Hercules. The Hesperides share more geography with Eden but are not truly considered part of the afterlife, which makes sense when you consider that until Christ no one would be admitted into Eden again. Souls leaving for Purgatory gathered around the banks of the Tiber, which is in Italy, and traveled across the ocean to get to the mountain. Every Abrahamic version of the garden has a spring from which issue four rivers, two clearly identified with the Tigris and the Euphrates and two others, Geon (not that Geon) and Saihon (among myriad other spellings), with less certain characteristics. The fours rivers are composed not of water, but of milk (Tigris), honey (Euphrates), oil (Geon), and wine (Saihon). Dante does away with this since he was certain Eden laid nowhere near the Persian Gulf, so instead he has only two rivers stem from this spring (called Salsabil in the Quran), Lethe (oblivion or forgetfulness) and Eunoe (memories). In Virgil, Lethe encircles Elysium, and is used by the souls inhabiting it to erase the memories of their former life before reincarnation. Virgil also has a 6th river of the underworld, Eridanus, something that went ignored by Dante, which has its source above ground (the source of Lethe is not well documented in Grecoroman tradition) but flows from there down into the underworld and cuts through Elysium. This river, sometimes associated with the real life Po and an ancient river that once existed in northern Europe, is the resting place of Phaethon after losing control of his father's chariot, which is why the river is filled with amber.

The four primary rivers of the underworld are Acheron, Styx, Pyriphlegethon, and Cocytus. Again, the sources in Grecoroman tradition aren't clear, but the courses they take are equally muddy. Virgil, in Georgics IV, says that Styx spirals around all of Hades 9 times, which may or may not have played a role in Dante's 9 circles, and the shores of the dead are a toss up between bordering Styx and Acheron. Homer said that there was an area beyond the grove of Obrimo where Odysseus comes to a large rock, and here the Pyriphlegethon and Cocytus meet, which in Dantean terms would be the Well of Giants. Virgil took this up a notch in the Aeneid and has all the rivers chaotically feeding and flowing from each other. They all intersect at the churning, bubbling, black Stygian marsh. Acheron reaches the shore, winding around outside of Styx and spiraling into it (making the spiral have 10 loops, one distinct from the other 9, again as in Dante), and on the other side of the marsh is the Gate of Hades guarded by Cerberus. Cocytus encircles the valley of lamentation or wailing, which befits it as the river of lamentation/wailing, and from there collides with Pyriphlegethon, which is the only one of the rivers with a different composition, being composed of fire, and encircles the tri-fold gates of Tartarus. The Pyri-Cocytus then flows into Styx. Lethe never touches any of them.

Dante sticks to this as best as he can, but his Inferno is a funnel, not a flat plane, so the rivers only really have a chance to meet once while flowing downwards. In canto XIV of Inferno, Virgil finally tells us exactly where the rivers come from in the first place. He says the gigantic cosmopolitan statue known as the Old Man of Crete, with a golden head, silver upper torso and arms, bronze lower torso, iron legs, and a single clay foot, is cracked at every place except the head. From these cracks flow the collective tears of mankind, which coalesce into Acheron (river of woe and sadness), Styx (river of hatred) and Phlegethon (river of boiling blood, wildly different from the original river of fire). These three follow their own courses downwards through the circles of Hell, Acheron encircling the 9 circles at the top then flowing down into Styx, a huge marsh encircling one of the remaining walls of Tartarus (we now know it as Dis). Styx first arises from a small spring in the 4th circle, which Dante and Virgil follow downwards, the spring being not much more than a crack in the rocks. Phlegethon lies further down in the 7th circle, which empties out into the great cataract of blood, finally meeting at the bottom as a frozen lake of tears where the combined infernal rivers intersect a trickling stream of Lethe coming from the other side of the world.

Milton does something totally different and way more organized. Lucifer lands in a great lake of fire, from which flow four rivers (Acheron, Styx, Phlegethon, and Cocytus). This area is your standard fire and brimstone hell, but is surrounded by a moat, Lethe, beyond which is the "frozen continent," the realms of the Abyss outside of Hell proper. It is on the banks of Styx that Mulciber builds Pandemonium, and now we're cooking with gas. In order to not merge with Acheron before the 5th and 7th circles, Styx and Phlegethon (or Pyriphlegethon, even) must flow far deeper underground before leaking back into the funnel at points such as the black stream from Inferno. Because outside Hell it gets far colder, we don't need to have a tributary of Cocytus in order to see ice so early, it simply needs to be far enough outside the funnel, or beneath it. So Godzilla plummets underground, and discovers the long buried Pyriphlegethon (which comes up to the surface at various locales in Hell, such as the 6th and 8th circle), bounding one shore of the city of Pandemonium. Pandemonium is a city for demons, not lost souls, not participants in Hell, and on the other shore of Pandemonium is a river that generates no heat and would therefore be frozen, and that's the Styx. Godzilla is now quite literally backstage with regards to Dante and Virgil's journey. If only Dante knew Anguirus was right behind that black stream...

Ship Graveyard
Accepting that the last city was Pandemonium suddenly puts the bit about "witnesses" into perspective, but the text tells us totally the opposite regarding this strange pseudo-Cocytus. There are no souls here, those are reserved for their respective circles, but the broken vessels in this frozen sea aren't here by accident, this is where they belong. It's a strange notion to think of inanimate objects being judged, but Godzilla has already seen mushroom clouds and nuclear reactors, so why not? Because a Hell for ships is pretty unique in and of itself, no further elaboration is given, but there's a tad more hiding in the details.

Most of the ships can only be pointed out by their masts, the tall wooden variety you might expect from a pirate ship. Okay, so that's a leap perhaps. If there are German U-boats here you can't get a good look at them, but one iron-clad on page 11 is clearly a war ship of some kind. Some of these ships have to be military vessels, and it just so happens they're frozen in the river of hatred. Frozen war ships are not new to Godzilla; episode 3 of season 2 of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon told the story of a German submarine from the Great War that was transporting a sort of super-torpedo when it got frozen in an iceberg... somehow. I realize the evidence is thin here and I'm looking for something that's probably not there, but stick with me for one more tangent: Gotengo. We know well the Gotengo of Toho, who paradoxically only shared the screen with Godzilla once, but Atragon is based on a series of juvenile sci-fi/adventure novels from the turn of the century. The original, Undersea Battleship, was from 1899, and told the story of two war machines (one submarine, the other airborne) built by the Japanese to combat Russia in an imperial war. For reference, the actual real life Russo-Japanese war which gave the world a chilling preview of the role technology would play in the Great War didn't begin until 1904. Although Japan didn't build a Gotengo, they were greatly aided by their powerful navy.

But this is supposed to be the 4th circle, right? So what about examples of greed? And as a pseudo-Cocytus, surely some of these ships must be traitors, correct? Pirate ships would fill both niches nicely, especially those taken over by mutineers. Two ships in particular have that kind of giant, 18th century "transom" (a large flat area of the stern, or back, of the ship), which may be call signs to their history as pirate ships, but it's not enough to positively identify them. There's a popular story about the death of the Queen Anne's Revenge, which evidence of the wreckage doesn't support but which witness testimonies reported in court, that Blackbeard intentionally grounded the boat in order to horde all of the booty from their recent adventures for himself and his most loyal crew-mates. Regardless of the truth of that scenario, one thing that is clearly documented is the Queen Anne's Revenge's former life as a French slave ship.

The only ship readily identifiable by name is the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker which, in March 1989, struck a reef in Prince William Sound and caused one of the worst oil spills in history. Clean-up efforts by Exxon were both late and pathetic, nothing more than a circus played out for the media with little real effect on the area. A huge number of people were brought in, owing to the difficulty of getting resources and machines to the area, who slept in "hotel boats," and by July Exxon was hiring locals to participate in the efforts. The circus itself became a miniature economy, generating an embarrassment of riches while failing to get the job done. To this very day Prince William Sound has not recovered, although some populations have come back, such as otters, and there is still oil on the beaches. Although a court case (lasting years) managed to win punitive damages for the inhabitants of the town, Exxon has battled it for decades now and has still, to this very day, not paid the full amount it was ordered too. The community, totally dependent on fishing, was completely destroyed, and human lives were lost alongside the seabirds, otters, orcas, and invertebrates. The mayor of Cordova at the time committed suicide a few years later.

Greed, wrath, and treachery, it's all here. So whether we're in the 4th, 5th, or 9th circle may not be terribly important at the moment.

So why is Anguirus here? There can be no doubt that this is Anguirus, for real, as we can see his eyes change after he thaws into the glowing orange variety of the possessed Rodan. We talked already about how the other monsters could end up here, but while the text assures us the last area was devoid of any specific sins, the graveyard of ships isn't here by accident, so why should I assume Anguirus is? Greed doesn't work, monsters don't value abstract concepts. With wrath we do better, because Anguirus' (often only) defining personality trait is his tenacity and stubbornness. Maybe he was dumped into Styx because of this, sure, but in practice this is less "rage" and more "determination," so he wouldn't stay there. So he gets swept away from the 5th circle proper and frozen in some strange graveyard which is a combination of three disparate sins, a sort of dumping ground for complicated incontinent sins, something Dante didn't nominally address in his scheme.

For that to make sense, Anguirus would have to be guilty of some sort of betrayal and that's way harder to prove. Anguirus and Godzilla are best pals, this is directly stated in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, so a betrayal of Godzilla would count, but has that happened? He battled the second Showa Godzilla for sure, and may have died there, but this would make him nothing more than a foe and, even if it's the same individual, you can't retroactively betray someone who wasn't your friend at the time, right? That just leaves us with GFW, but in that case he was being controlled by aliens, so that probably doesn't count either. Looking at IDW's previous comics again, we see two battles between them without an established friendly relationship. The only way we could really pin treachery on Anguirus is if we go with the "multiversal Hell" theory I proposed before and show that because Anguirus in the Showa timeline was best pals with Godzilla, any subsequent battles would then count. This is a stretch though. I'm kind of at a loss with this, I don't really know why Anguirus is here.

I started working on my Anguirus article a few days ago, and while it's nowhere near done, I think it's interesting that I was just writing about the possibility of Anguirus being in some sort of suspended animation before getting thawed out by a classified Tsar Bomba-class nuclear test in Siberia, and then he shows up frozen in some sort of Cocytus tributary. Weird. I probably shouldn't date myself so hard by alluding to articles that will be finished in the future, but I already did, so whatever.

As with Rodan, the identity of Anguirus' possessor isn't hard to guess, it's the Behemoth, the land monster of the land-sea-air triumvirate. Behemoth appears in the same braggart rant where Yahweh goes on and on about how he kicked Leviathan's ass one time, throwing Behemoth under the bus too and again focusing primarily on the size of the monster, noting that it can drink entire rivers. Unlike Leviathan, who is obviously based on a crocodile, Behemoth is a little more nebulous and in fact the bulk of his physical description in Job might actually be talking about just his genitals. Yeah. Popularly a consensus has been more or less arrived at depicting him as an elephant, but this isn't universal and a strong 2nd place is a hippopotamus monster. Creationists think he's a Mokele-Mbembe, because they're insane. Outside canon (by the way, this word is of religious significance, alright? Stop referring to movies and video games as "non-canon." You don't know what that word means. Stop it.) Leviathan, who is said to be currently living in the Abyss, and Behemoth, who is currently hanging out in Eden, will clash with each other in a titanic battle at the end of time, like a sort of Jewish Ragnarok or Godzilla Raids Again. Being possessed by Behemoth is the only thing, at this point, which could get Anguirus to attack Godzilla.

Bottomless Pit
Last issue transitions from circle to circle occurred by Godzilla walking away in one panel and approaching in the next. We aren't given any sort of indication about how much time or distance is being crossed in this manner. To the reader, it seems quick, but if the journey between the circles involved nothing more than just walking around, there would be no reason to detail that, and so there's no way to really know if the distance between page 6 and 7 is 5 minutes and 5 miles or 5,000 years and 5 AU. This issue the space covered and the time it occurs is shown and spelled out, and all three "circles" here are traversed one after another and are within (Godzilla's) walking distance. This is not exactly what we should expect from the limitless Abyss, but it makes sense in the context of a realm where spacial distances are kind of... um, irrelevant. Also, putting that much ice next to an active volcano implies that, just as in video games, convection doesn't exist down here. What's more terrifying, the endless hordes of Hell's demons or a universe where basic laws of thermodynamics don't work? I'll say this much: a Hell without convection is totally devoid of the ability to intimidate anyone. What the hell kind of pansy-assed fire doesn't burn you unless you shove your face right into it?

The Deluge
"The Deluge" refers to the heavy rains that brought about the flood present in all Indo-European and Mesopotamian myth cycles, but the version from the Tanakh in particular, and is the title of a great number of works from the late 18th and 19th centuries which reflected the growing influence of modernism with humanism and reason as its core tenets. The Modern Age, like all the other "Ages," can be subdivided into three sub-periods, with the first of these, the Early Modern period, beginning from the outset of the Renaissance. The "boundaries" of the Renaissance are extremely fuzzy, especially since Italy, and Florence in particular, had such a head-start on the rest of the world, with Dante himself being one of the initial founders of the Florentine Renaissance. It picks up later and a neat cutting point, though maybe not the most accurate one, is the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, just as the fall or the original Roman Empire marks almost unanimously the end of the Iron Age. The Early Modern period concerns the initial scientific revolution, the age of discovery, neoclassicism, and of course the pirate times, the time of the pirates, like Blackbeard. Historically, from our vantage point, it can be clearly seen how the era is a time when humanity more or less "woke up" from the horrors and insanity of the dark ages, and enters a new time of telescopes, chemistry, and even a little dash of basic human morality.

The bounding line between the early and "middle," or just plain "modern" period is equally fuzzy, transitioning between the late 18th and mid 19th centuries, with the roughly simultaneous spread of industrialism and the "revolutionary" period, which would be when all the revolutions happened, hence why I called it that. The transition is a huge deal because it marks passage between theory and action. What I mean by this is that your average "Renaissance Man" had a lot of big ideas, but he'd probably never replaced a corrupt monarchy with a democratically elected parliament. Humanism, the idea that maybe treating your fellow man like expired dog shit was not the best way to go about things, becomes so potent in this transition that vocally calling out Yahweh for being a horrible, sadistic monster was, although not widely accepted, pretty common place among the more enlightened thinkers of the time. Neoclassicism brought a resurgence in admiration for the great works of the Greeks and Romans, who's gods and heroes were both refreshingly human and fallible as well as champions of reason. Odysseus and Hercules used their noggins to get out of scrapes (Hercules had some serious guns to back him up, though). But rather than outright atheism, which was back then considered to be a serious negative accusation, humanist philosophers and artists of the day fell more in line with deism, the belief in cosmic powers beyond human understanding which are not necessarily aligned to the deities of the bible or any other major religious dogma. Today we call this sort of thing the "god of the gaps," but back in the infancy of the scientific revolution these gaps were HUGE, and what little our scientific probing could make out was still shrouded in mystery, like a Damon Lindelof script. And like Lindelof, far from simply throwing up their hands and going "god did it" this spurred on inquiring minds who thought they were reading the mind of god. We know enough now to eliminate the concept of any possible anthropocentric force being responsible for the mechanizations of the cosmos, but the question was still open in the 1800's, and if there was such a being progress up to that point meant there was a strong optimistic current that held he could be understood. Now I don't care who you are, that kind of knowledge is exciting.

And frankly the god of the romance scientists was way better than anything from the canon. The deluge "fad" reflects this turning point in its depiction of the punishment of the evil and depraved people of Earth. In the deluges of Doré, Darnby, Turner, and others we see not selfish dirt-bags but scared and humbled folks working tirelessly to save anyone they can - even non-human animals - from the horror that unfolds all around them. No just god would allow this, and that's not just the dead author talking, that's a real sentiment from the time. From the 1800's deist view, this tells us that, if the deluge is unjust, then it can't be an act of god at all, and is instead a show of fury by the unaligned Earth itself, totally natural and devoid of meaning or purpose, an obstacle of chance. A flood is no more punishment from above than a shipwreck. The basic ideals of modern humanity grew and strengthened over the years until its practical application was tested. By 1914, in the era of German U-boats and proto-Gotengos, mankind began to learn some very tough lessons about greed, wrath, treachery, and karma. Looking back from a post-WWII world, the so-called "Age of Enlightenment" appears not much better than the Spanish Inquisition, yet even today the underlying message of the various deluges is unmistakable: the cruel and unjust judgement of god is nothing compared to the love of the innocent for their fellow man.

Godzilla, the Leviathan, the chaos monster, has crashed through a wall of treachery and into a 19th century romantic painting where the cries of mercy from selfless humans are drowned out by the deafening roar of a hateful god who tortures out of spite and, you guessed it, wrath. This is not your grandma's river Styx. You've got one guess as to where the classic "black" coloration comes from. Oh, it doesn't look black to you? Good eye, you've got a promising future ahead of you at Exxon. The sole inhabitants of this leg of Styx are giant monsters, and we've been told from the beginning that human souls are either not there as participants or simply not there at all. Why is this? There is real evil in the world, and the crew of those ships probably count, but the scorching fires, freezing ice, and furious storms don't seem to serve a purpose here. All of Hell's wrath is on display for no one in particular, just Godzilla. Who's running this show, I wonder? Just who decided that this is where Godzilla belongs? Why? Morally, Godzilla has always been a confusing beast and the questions he raises from both existing and not existing don't have easy answers. Recently we've not only stopped trying to figure them out, but we've decided to burn all our homework. What the hell are we even doing anymore? Latisha King gets shot twice in the back of the head by a remorseless Nazi youth, but when Godzilla goes to hell the only one waiting for him is Varan. There's no real answers here, there's no meaning to any of this other than what we ascribe to it, and ultimately all we have is each other to depend on. Then again, if that were true, Godzilla the Chaoskampf directly challenging the concept of moral relativism would make way too much sense as an interpretation and would then in fact be an answer. So whatever, I guess. What the hell do I know? Besides Godzilla, not much; nothing else is really important to me.

I've been avoiding mentioning Varan until now because he doesn't really fit into the Leviathan - Behemoth - Ziz triangle I've been going on about so far, and it's more than just his triphibian nature and there not being a fourth example. It's more than just an inconvenience, though, there's a crucial word missing from the text in regard to Varan. That word would be "possessed." He is still "the Demon Varan" but he is not possessed. As one of the first preview pages shown from this issue that fact, as well as the allusion to the deluge and Leviathan, has had me thinking about for a long time, and the conclusions it has led me to are far less "undergrad philosophy student" and more just really dorky. But then I was always a better Godzilla dork than I was a philosopher, so that's hardly surprising.

Varan is overlooked a lot for two primary reasons: 1.) he's easy to overlook because he's boring and 2.) there's nothing to look at anwyas. At the risk of duplicating a potential future Varan article, some history: The debut and so far only film appearance of the monster, 1958's Varan, began life as a U.S.-Japan co-production for a made for TV movie, a sort of "store brand" alternative rushed out as part of a business venture that was, from the beginning, a hollow attempt at creating a market for Toho monsters on television, particularly American television. As so often happens with Toho's dealings with U.S. companies, this didn't pan out and instead of dumping the project they went ahead and turned it into a theatrical feature. The monster, Varan, is a conscious attempt at combining Godzilla and Rodan, and... well, that's it. The movie isn't very good, frankly, although the first half featuring Varan's attack on the peaceful mountain village is really gorgeous. Varan himself is given two different origins in the film, one told by the villagers who call him "Baradagi" and claim he is a god - or demon - of the lake who hates trespassers, which is immediately and angrily ignored by the protagonists who insist the villagers stop being such idiots. So right away you hate these guys, but then when a kid disappears into the forest around the lake, superstitions cause the villagers to just give up on them and our "heroes" selflessly go to the rescue, ignoring the warnings. Just when it looks like they've redeemed themselves, Varan wakes up and... oh, well I guess the lake god is real.

Or not? A brief expository scene attaches a potential prehistoric origin for the monster by claiming Varan to be a "Varanopode," a clade last known from early Jurassic rocks 185 million years old. I mean, in the movie, no such real life clade is known to science. When we think "varan" the first thing that comes to mind are actual varanids, not so with the monster named "Varan." His ancestry is far too old to be a proper varanid, which were new in the late Cretaceous, nor a varanoid or platynota (if the two are synonymous, which they might not be) which are slightly younger. Tracing all the way back up the tree we find a diversification of toxicoferans (the venom clade) occurring around the TJ boundary, and one of those daughter clades would be anguinomorphs, including anguids (slowworms, snake-like animals that give birth to live young, among others) and pythonomorphs. Pythonomorphs are a varied group containing mosasaurs, varanids, and of course pythons. So if Varan and varanopodes have any connection to true varanids, they would have diverged there. So, a gliding anguimorph. You have to admit, this isn't quite as gripping, dramatically, as an amphibious/deep-sea basal theropod or an armored pterosaur. The end result is that what Varan is exactly is very confused, and when his only subsequent film appearance was a cameo that lasted for all of 2 seconds (combined, he appears twice for about 1 second each), you end up with nothing so much as a "me too" with a cute gimmick.

This wasn't supposed to be the end of Varan's film career, though, and he made it to development and even pre-production for later Godzilla films. The first of these were the early treatments of the story that would eventually become Godzilla vs. Gigan, where he teamed up with Godzilla and Rodan to fight a squadron of flying space monsters being controlled by the space brain Miko. In this case, he's not much more than another Earth monster who would have at least had some sort of personality developed, possibly, but it wouldn't have told us much about what the hell Varan's even supposed to be. The next chance got him through a number of scripts and even got a marquette made. This story, which was an early draft of GMK, put Varan in the place that Mothra occupies in the finished film, an ancient monster quelled by the spirits of the dead who, conquered by good magic and sworn to protect the land he once tried to destroy, rises from a lake to defend Japan from Godzilla. Both Anguirus and Baragon had the addition of an ancient defeat by onmyoji turning them into magical guardians to their origin as well, and we know for sure they were totally natural creatures before. The final film, however, replaces Varan and Anguirus with Mothra and King Ghidorah respectively, and King Ghidorah is said to be a premature Orochi still regenerating from his ancient battle, so Varan's inclusion in the story comes between something natural and something supernatural.

In the "New Era" stories of C. L. Werner, Varan is imagined as unambiguously a demon, a lake demon who is selfish, territorial, and devious. And now, again, there comes a story which tells us that Varan isn't possessed, he's just a straight up demon. Is it possible to balance his history as a supernatural creature and a prehistoric survivor of some strange forgotten branch of lizards? Maybe. While I'm a little wary of skipping ahead, I'll bring it up now since we already got to see a sort of Cocytus tributary, but there's a special rule that allows souls to enter Hell before they've actually died. Dante noted this when he got to the 9th circle, 3rd round, called Ptolomaea, that some of the souls here weren't even dead yet. It seems at the very moment of the betrayal of a guest, the soul is immediately thrown down into the ice, with a demon taking over the rest of the individual's Earthly life. In the animated version of Birk & Sanders adaptation of Inferno, the individual used as an example is Dick Cheney, just to give you an idea of the kind of evil you have to achieve to be in this position. Maybe this is a clue about Varan. Perhaps the reason why there's a kaiju-sized, early Jurassic gliding anguimorph putzing around on Earth is because, although he may have an ordinary natural body like any other Earth monster, there's something... else in there. Why such a thing would happen is beyond the ability of human morality to guess at, but maybe the reason isn't any more complicated than Dinosaur Satan simply needing an avatar on the surface world, and Varan was just unlucky. In any case, the conclusion the text gives us is that the Varan seen in Hell isn't any different that he was on Earth, he's a demon down here just as he was up there. Perhaps this makes Varan interesting enough to explore further in some medium? Maybe. I think it's obvious, however, that Varan's time on Earth is over. Varan is in Hell now because he's been dead for over 50 years and, let's face it, he's not coming back. And why would he? Hell's a better fit, he actually gets to do something down here.

Scylla and Charybdis
Just when you thought the remixing of Hell's established geography was over, we get a passing reference that ends up confirming Godzilla just lost a fight to, of all possible things, Charybdis. Scylla and Charybdis, despite being major monsters in both the Odyssey and Aeneid, as well as being the source of the enduring colloquialism "between a rock and a hard place," have been pretty heavily glossed over compared to their more popular counterparts like cyclopes, gryphons, minotaurs, hydras, etc. Ray Harryhausen intended to bring the two to life in heavily altered forms for one of his Grecoroman fantasy adventures, but the furthest they got were some drawings. Really fantastic drawings, I should add. Dante, who worshiped Virgil and peppered his inferno with minotaurs, centaurs, harpies, and Medusa among others, left Scylla and Charybdis on the cutting room floor as well. They aren't all that obscure or anything, so its struck me as a little odd that in modern times far fewer artists are banging down their door. Still, if you're a Greek monster you can only avoid getting sucked up into Dantean Hell for so long, and eventually someone went ahead and gave them a place, but it isn't in the 5th circle. I'm getting ahead of myself, let's just talk about who these two are first.

Scylla and Charybdis were both once normal women, Scylla the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto (which is a bad omen, consider how all of their children are monstrous, even if they start out normal; see Medusa) and Charybdis the daughter of Poseidon and Gaia. As is so often the case in Greek myth (and here I was just a few paragraphs ago describing the heroes of Greek and Roman legend as examples of enlightenment, yet Medusa becomes what she becomes as punishment for being raped, like some sort of Bronze Age gamergate) both are transformed into horrifying monsters by associating with even more horrifying men. Scylla rejects the advances of a creepy old man (usually Glaucus, sometimes Poseidon) who is desired by a jealouse bitch (Circe or Amphitrite) who slips some sort of T-virus or The Thing blood into her bath water turning her into what is easily one of the most inventive and incredible monster designs of the "golden age" of European monsters. From the waist up she's still basically human, but in place of legs she gains a petticoat of 12 cephalopod tentacles overlaid with 6 dog heads supported by long, serpentine necks. Charybdis, who did nothing but follow her father's demands, pissed off Zeus, who turned her into a bloated sack-like creature with flopping fins in place of limbs. Sounds bad, but keep in mind her other option was pissing of the god of the sea in a time when daughters are apparently property, so... you know, there's no possible way this could have ended well. Charybdis is cursed with an insatiable thirst for seawater, and when she drinks it she creates huge whirlpools, which according to some probably shady math on wikipedia have a diameter of about 23 meters. Over time she gradually lost her core physical body and became the whirlpool itself, and because of this the far more exotic Scylla stole the spotlight from her "sister."

The only time the two have appeared in Hell, to my knowledge, was in the game 魂の門 (Tamashii no Mon, lit. Gate of Souls) for the Japanese computer/console thingy NEC PC-9801, which adapts, at least in some form, the entire Divine Comedy, although only Inferno and Purgatory are actually playable (Paradise is just the slideshow ending sequence). It's a kind of adventure/platformer hybrid, where you move through the various circles of hell collecting items and negotiating with characters while occasionally fighting off some demons. Along the way you help 7 souls leave the inferno, and when you arrive at Mt. Purgatory you see them engaged in a corresponding penance to the sins they were punished for in Hell, at which point the gameplay part of the game devolves to just kind of walking around. Based on the need to have the levels be a tad more fleshed out than what the needs of an epic poem require, the circles of the inferno have been populated with more of the same in regards to Dante's own stylistic choices, and the result is pretty flawless and filled with "well duh" moments, such that if you haven't read the poem you'd have a hard time picking out what they added. Scylla and Charybdis are both characterized by their insatiable hunger, with Scylla's fate being all the more horrific as she has absolutely no control over the ravenous dog-hydra monstrosity she wears for a skirt. This puts them firmly in the 3rd circle, where Scylla's "amphibious super-cerberus" design and Charybdis' association with water make them fit in seamlessly. Given how nerdy this bit of info is, I wouldn't suspect that Eggleton knows any of this, but with the Styx being converted into the deluge the inclusion of Charybdis here is equally elegant. Whether she is a secondary hellmouth or just a whirlpool is unknown, and unfortunately we'll probably never get an answer as I don't think all that many details of Godzilla's descent will be revealed in the next issue. Matt Frank's alternate cover, featuring a tunnel lined with Great Old One-esque toothy maws, could be extrapolated as being Charybdis' intestines though, if you wanted to do such a thing.

King Ghidorah
Although Godzilla engages KG before Charybdis appears, I've deliberately saved him for last, because I don't know what to do with this. Here's the problem: KG is described as "The reason the leviathan was brought into this horrific netherworld." Excuse me? There's no mention of possession and he's called a "devil" once (the difference between devils and demons usually being that devils are fallen angels, though most of the time the two are interchangeable), then compared to Scylla. Oh, and did I mention he appears in a flash of blinding light? Devils typically don't do that sort of thing, but you know who does? In canto IX of Inferno Virgil and Dante wait at the gate of Dis after being denied entry by a swarm of demons. The Erinyes, Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone who I can't seem to shut up about in this article (a flying monster lady covered in blood with snake hair and a whip? Obviously I'm crushing) summon forth Medusa while the two wait for some sort of divine intervention to allow them to continue their journey, which Virgil - somewhat hesitantly - assures Dante will happen. Just before Medusa gets her glare on, an angel (I've always considered it to be a principality as it's described as carrying a rod) appears in a bright flash of light that causes the demons to shield their eyes, and then pushes the huge, heavy iron doors open with a light tap of his rod.

I don't think Eggleton worried too much about adhering with absolute precision to the path Dante took, and I don't really think the ideas I've come up with about the issue - that Godzilla fell through the funnel and ended up in Hell's basement, and experiences confused versions of the circles in the wrong order - are what he ended to depict. He's far from clueless though, and the notes offered in the back of the book tell us he intentionally channeled Cocytus for his ship graveyard. So when we see a violent, churning river and the sudden appearance of a golden creature in a blinding flash of light, we're not seeing an accident. Stokoe's issue was so incredibly well put together than part of me wonders how much of that was carefully plotted out, and on the surface Eggleton's seems to be a hodge-podge collection of disassociated scenes unrelated to each as simply an excuse to show Godzilla battling monsters in exotic, epic locales. But this? This means something. This definitely means something.

I talked earlier about some of the possible continuities the story itself could be taking place in, and that the death of King Ghidorah doesn't really narrow it down. However the insinuation that it was KG that killed Godzilla or who is in some other way responsible for his descent throws a nasty wrench into that statement. King Ghidorah, for all of his might and fury, can't kill Godzilla, it's just not something he's capable of. When the solicit for issue 3 came out my initial feeling was that they didn't mention the name of Godzilla's killer because it was going to be a bombshell. When the names of the monsters from issue 2 weren't revealed I took it as a sign that there's just more than one and that it would probably include KG, and issue 4's name-dropping of KG and Destroyah strengthened my assumptions albeit in a modified form. If they were in #4 and named in the solicit, I thought, then surely they would have been mentioned elsewhere, that they aren't is evidence enough that they won't pin Godzilla's death on either, leaving open a surprise like Bagan, Gamony, 5146-ADAM, or maybe a totally new monster. With issue 2's solicit ending up being a damned lie, the reliability of all the solicits has come into question, and when we remember that despite the round robin nature of the story, it's still one whole story, and the second act is a pretty good place to start dropping hints, there's little doubt to what Eggleton's saying: King Ghidorah somehow managed to kill - or damn - Godzilla.

And so I don't want to say too much about KG's role, because this is a plot point which, we've been told at least, is going to be further explored in the next issue. Also? I'm at a loss here. I don't understand how KG could possibly kill Godzilla. Through sheer force? Would that even work? Can one monster maim Godzilla enough to kill him? And why is he here on the banks of the river Styx, at the passage from the incontinent sins into the realms of Nether Hell and complicated sin, duplicating the appearance of the angel of canto IX who made the way open for Dante to continue his pilgrimage? What does this mean? When I say that, despite its disappointments, an imperfect issue is still peerless, this is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. You won't find the implication that King Ghidorah is Lucifer in, say, Rulers of Earth issue umpteen.

Final Thoughts
Bob Eggleton
Bob has been working professionally in painting since the 80's, and working with Godzilla in an official, licensed capacity since the 90's. His work is hard to miss, lending his hand to everything from trading cards to book covers, and chances are even if you're not big on Godzilla you've seen more than a fair share of his portfolio. I remember very clearly the first time I saw one of Bob's Godzilla pieces. I was doin' the whole 90's kid thing, and if you're not sure what I mean feel free to check out some BuzzFeed articles to familiarize yourself with some of the things only us 90's kids realize, it was a cover of one of the Dark Horse comic, #9 I think. Up until that point I'd never really seen anything like it before, the only work that's comparable are the posters of Noryoshi Ohrai, but the difference there is Bob stayed more "movie accurate," like a Bandai toy except in fine art form. I... I guess, something like that. Bob for me, and I know I'm not alone in this opinion, has such a stake in the monster at this point that as long as the name "Godzilla" is still spoken, so too will Bob's, as he is such a powerful defining force for the look of Godzilla. I guess my comments last time about not wanting this section to be nothing but ass-kissing was a bit premature, however in this case there are some more things I want to get into about the artist other than just "wow he's so good."

What Bob has done in this issue is really interesting because he's not simply painting Godzilla or Hell, he's looking beyond the absolute reality and painting metaphors, then lets those metaphors become Hell and the monsters Godzilla encounters. What I mean is that the reason his issue isn't simply "Godzilla wades through Styx, fights Medusa, tears down the wall, stomps on heretics, etc." is because he's trying to take the infrastructure off and show all the fury and the size of his subjects, which is as immense as the Leviathan itself. The pages in this book are filled to the brim with moody lighting and depth, he is capturing feeling over simply things, yet the things don't lose any definition in the process, so this isn't really impressionism.

In the back of the book there's three pages where Bob talks a little bit about his influences for the issue, three of them, and the two that aren't Doré are John Martin and J.M.W. Turner, examples of whose works I have dotted the article with. The two are contemporaneous and are reflective of a lot of the same trends from the time. Martin's more striking images are those of destruction, which include all of the examples included here, and a recurring motif is his "cavernous sky" where smoke or water or something similar is excited into such a large wall that it wraps around and covers the sky, throwing the whole scene into the middle of a curling tsunami as tall as the sky. You wanna talk about conveying grand, expansive images of immense power, that's pretty damn effective. This was the thing that stood out to me the most when I saw my first deluge painting, and I don't know enough about history to tell you if this is Martin's invention, but he wasn't alone in using this technique. Bob does it too in this issue, quite often, and while I'm not as big of a visual art buff as I was in high school, seeing Bob put Godzilla into a deluge painting with that kind of cavernous sky is just so perfect.

Turner is the original painter of light, and easily the better one. Like Martin, Turner's subjects often include scenes of devastation but with a slant of natural, particularly hydrocentric (a neologism I made up just now) events such as storms. His earlier works feature naval battles as well. His focus on the sea, storms, and light gave birth to a sort of proto-impressionism, and when I say "sort of" I mean he was a direct influence on the first wave of impressionists. His late works probably technically count as such, and are bright golden affairs with steadily degrading definition. One piece in particular that I haven't used for this article (because I found out he painted Scylla) has the absolutely fantastic title "Sunrise with Sea Monsters," and appears to be a solid gold rectangle from far enough away. I can not overstate how much I adore this painting, which under the golden sky has a poorly defined body of water and a swirly... thing in the lower left corner which doesn't strictly resemble... well, anything. This is from the same guy who's Polyphemus painting doesn't appear to actually have Polyphemus in it and Scylla painting is before her mutation, so there's clearly something else going on in this painting but it's totally inscrutable and amazing. Before writing this article, I was only vaguely aware of Turner, again it's been a while since I took art classes in high school, but Bob really turned me on to this guy.

Issue #3 Predictions
So with the solicits no longer being trustworthy, what left do I have to speculate about? The solicit mentions that next issue the reason Godzilla ended up in Hell will be revealed and he'll have a rematch with his murderer, and as I've mentioned earlier my initial guess was Bagan, Gamony, 5146-ADAM, or a new monster, but #2 all but confirmed the guilty party is King Ghidorah... somehow. But issue 4's solicit is actually backed up by the cover Jeff Zornow is doing, so does Godzilla battle KG, then fall into issue 3, then battle KG, then fall into issue 4, then battle KG again? I don't think so, or at least that sounds really terrible and boring so it can't be that because the last thing Godzilla in Hell is is terrible or boring. So my prediction is going to be that we'll learn that Godzilla's death in-universe was a little more complicated than all that and we'll figure out that another monster is involved, neither KG nor Destroyah, but perhaps all three played some sort of role and issue 4 will be Godzilla finishing up the subplot before moving on to Lucy. And who is the third monster then? You already know my guess, and I refuse to back down. At this point I realize I'll probably be wrong, but whatever. With only three circles left, and three issues left, the nice and neat thing to do is have one per issue, and so my other prediction is that Godzilla will pass through Phlegethon, the Wood of Suicides, and the Burning Sands and probably fight off some minotaurs and centaurs. That would be so awesome.

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