The Godzilla Valentine’s Day Comic Book Special Is a Sweet Sapphic Story of Love and Compromise

Although I mostly know about Godzilla through cultural osmosis and a couple of recent Godzilla films, I can’t help but appreciate the kaiju’s cultural impact. As part of the Japanese tokusatsu subgenre of live-action films and shows that feature kaiju (i.e. giant monsters), superheroes ( Super Sentai, which was localized as Power Rangers in the U.S.), and mecha (i.e. giant robots), Godzilla is iconic in more ways than one. In 2022, I was pleasantly surprised to see him in the IDW comic, Godzilla VS Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

Godzilla has different interpretations depending on the creator. In his initial appearance in the 1954 film, he was a metaphor for the aftermath of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in 1945. Since then, he’s become an anti-hero who fights other kaiju alongside humans, but who can also turn against them at any time. It’s this interpretation that I got to know in Godzilla VS Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and that is also seen in IDW’s new Valentine’s Day one-shot.

In a panel from the Godzilla Valentine's Day Comic Book Special, Godzilla attacks and Penn is working at the office.
Art by Sebastian Piriz, Coloring by Rebecca Nalty

Written by trans lesbian comic book writer Zoe Tunnell, the Godzilla Valentine’s Day Special tells the story of Piper, a queer woman who decides to become a kaiju researcher after surviving an attack on Godzilla and getting fired from her data entry job. While checking out a Godzilla sighting in Singapore, she has a run-in with Lieutenant Sauveterre of the Earth Defense Force (EDF), a group that aims to protect humans from monsters. From there, a game of cat-and-mouse ensues with Piper and Lieutenant as they keep running into each other and eventually fall in love.

Before we go any further, first I must praise comic book artist Dani Pendergast for convincing me to read and review this comic based on its gorgeous cover alone! Featuring Godzilla in the background amid pink flower petals while Piper and Sauveterre gaze into each other’s eyes, it is sapphic and gay as hell and I love it.

OK! Moving on to the story itself, one of the things that I appreciated was that Piper and Lieutenant Sauvettere didn’t have a “love at first sight” moment.

While Piper is momentarily dazed by how good-looking Lieutenant is, the two don’t get along at first due to their different roles involving monster activity. Lieutenant thinks the monsters are nothing more than “walking disasters” and that they are helping other humans by facing Godzilla with military force. On the other hand, Piper reports monster activity to help people avoid being caught in Godzilla’s crossfire like she once was. She is also aware that the actions of humans are making things worse, due to the radiation leaks that attract monsters and the fact that the EDF picks fights with Godzilla and other monsters.

It’s this friction between them that makes it entertaining to see the two come to respect and eventually fall for each other, especially since it takes Piper and Lieutenant four years after their first few encounters to fall for each other. One scene has Lieutenant handcuffing Piper to a bathroom sink to keep her from going after Godzilla, only for Piper to just pick the lock and escape anyway. When one of Lieutenant’s comrades-in-arms admires Piper’s spunk, Lieutenant just glares — but you can already tell that they’re starting to warm up to her.

Enhancing Piper and Lieutenant’s love story are the dynamic panel layouts executed by artist Sebastian Piriz and the use of colors by colorist Rebecca Nalty and letterer Johanna Nattalie. After their initial meeting, there are a couple of pages where Piper and Lieutenant’s encounters are presented in two columns of panels with Godzilla and another monster at the very top. By making Piper and Lieutenant’s encounters parallel to Godzilla and other monsters, it makes the confrontation between them more notable, showing how the monsters entangle two humans together.

Moreover, the colors sometimes demonstrate their connection by associating Piper and Lieutenant with both individual colors as well as a single color. Piper has pink comic panels and pink speech bubbles while Lieutenant has blue comic panels and white speech bubbles. The one time both share a color is when the monster King Ghidorah (a classic monster from Godzilla films) is confronting a green monster. At this point, Piper and Lieutenant are in green panels together that match the monster. The two of them still have friction, but Lieutenant is starting to show that they care for Piper’s well-being, even if Piper thinks they don’t.

I’d be remiss to not comment on how Godzilla and the other monsters set the stage for Piper and Lieutenant’s encounters. It’s subtle, because the monsters are literally in the background, but it is so entertaining to see the climax of Piper and Lieutenant’s encounters occur during Godzilla’s climactic battle with Mechagodzilla. From there, it isn’t about which monster wins, it is about whether Piper and Lieutenant can get along well enough to survive together.

Of course, Piper and Lieutenant do more than survive; they end up learning to love each other and work out a compromise that suits their mutual goal of protecting other humans without causing more harm to them. All in all, their story is short but sweet. I’d read another Godzilla comic if they got to make another appearance.

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Latonya Pennington

Latonya "Penn" Pennington is a Black-Asian genderqueer freelance contributor and poet. Their articles and essays can be found at Into More, Popverse, and Superjump, among other places. As a poet, their work can be found at publications such as The Daily Drunk, Sage Cigarettes, and Into The Spine. Check out more of their work at Words From A Penn and follow them on Bluesky at @tonyawithapenn.

Latonya has written 1 article for us.


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