Godzilla vs. Marvel saga bio: Dr. Quinn Darien Picture
Dr. Quinn Darien - A KRI entry dissertation
By Shane Redmond
By Shane Redmond
Growing up in Vancouver in the early 90’s, I had plenty to do as a kid. But I chose to spend most of my time ogling giant monsters. Canada never really got any Kaiju of our own, some took it as a point of pride, I thought it made us boring. Sure we got some table scraps from the Mysterian Invasion, a flyover from a Kamacuras queen, and a wrecked lighthouse in ‘53, but we were left largely unaffected.
So since I was too young to travel to America or Japan for the express purpose of chasing after monsters, I had to settle for all the B-movies, cheap TV shows with guys in rubber suits, and comic books. It wasn’t unit high school that I was exposed to the more serious Kaiju literature. Though of course, I still read the comics.
Everyone knows the most famous Kaiju book in the world, “This is Tokyo” by Steve Martin. A reporter for United World News on a stopover in Japan who found himself in the center of a story of love, honor, and horror. His first hand account of Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, and Dr. Kyohei Yamane, who would themselves become revered scientific figures, reads like the testament of an apostle. But of course, the real reason for its longevity is the minute-by-minute witness of Godzilla’s 1954 attack.
As exciting as all that is, for some reason I found myself stuck on another book. It came out during my sophomore year, and it would set the course for the rest of my life. The book was “Age of Monsters” By Dr. Quinn Darien, published in 1996, and it chronicled the most extensive and personal study of the Kaiju ever by a human. In my interview with her in 1997, a trip I spent all but my last dime to make happen, I got the chance to ask her about her life.
Her story begins in 1954. I know, pretty ominous right? She thought so too: “The fact that I was born that same year as Godzilla’s first attack was something that I spent my entire adult life wondering about. Like I was destined for my life’s work from the very beginning.”
Born in Alamogordo, New Mexico, to parents John Darien and Brenda Thompson, and older brother Adam, Kaiju seemed to be part of her life right from the start. A month after her birth the Goliath Ants were discovered living in the nearby desert, an encounter that would propel the United States into the realization that Kaiju weren’t just a Japanese problem. Though the Goliath Ants would eventually be corralled into the pit fields, Quinn would grow up and travel the world.
In 1958, in the aftermath of the Mysterian War, her family moved to Tampa, Florida, which would also impart on their daughter a life-long love of the sea. Darien would spend her school years in the Tampa area, excelling in school, particularly in history and biology. She discovered Martin’s book for herself in high school, and though she found the story as compelling as everyone else, she didn’t share his grim view of Godzilla. “I loved his book don’t get me wrong, but as romantic as his views were, I just never felt that they really got the real picture. Rodan and Reptilicus didn’t just form out of the ether, they have an evolutionary history. Kaiju may be bizarre, and break the laws of physics every now and then, but they’re flesh and blood, just like any other animal. So if fish can be studied, why not an Ebirah?”
Seeing him less as a malevolent force from the inferno, and more of a frightened and confused animal lashing out at the unfamiliar. It was this view of the Kaiju that would guide her life’s work, portraying them as a part of the natural world, not supernatural deities. She entered college, pursuing degrees in the natural sciences and world history, already suspicious that ancient myths may contain more truth than expected. “All the stories about dragons didn’t seem so fanciful when the Rhedosaurus was trashing Coney Island. And it gave me the idea that maybe other myths had some real basis. Maybe Beowulf really did kill Grendel? Thunderbirds? Unicorns? The Sphinx? The Kaiju didn’t just change Humanity’s understanding of the present, but the past as well.”
Quinn Darien nearly single handedly invented the field of Kaijuology, by combining her fields of study into a comprehensive method for learning about the creatures. While in college she would often spend days in the library, noting any tales about monsters, demons, even theories about ancient aliens, trying to piece them all together into a coherent hypothesis. This led to no small number of arguments with her professors, not just about her theories, but their applications. “They accused me of trying to re-write human history, and they were quite right! I remember waving a 12th century depiction of a Kraken in the face of my Marine Biology professor, trying to convince him that it could be true. And he stood there shaking his head and calling me mad! As if the Oodaku attack on San Francisco in 1955 had never happened! It was infuriating! Though I think his problem with me was more because of my being a woman than anything else. It was one thing to propose that mythological creatures really existed, it was another coming from a 22 year old girl.”
With her diploma in hand and convinced that she would never receive the support of the academic establishment, the determined Quinn planned to continue her research the old-fashioned way. Utilizing connections she had made at the local marina, and reaching into the not-so-modest family funds, she employed the services of an experienced sailor Captain Carl Majors, and his ship The Calico. Knowing that the work she envisioned would require more than just her own effort, she hired a research assistant, an understudy who was following a similar path, Brock Hicks. “I was so eager to get out in the real world, out of the classroom and on the high seas. You should have seen the look on Carl’s face when I explained to him what I was hiring him for, he nearly threw me off his boat! … The Calico had been used as a research vessel before, and came equipped with a heli-pad and a crane for the submersible. It had its fair share of time on the water, but Carl kept it in excellent condition. … Brock had a difficult life growing up, his father worked hard but never made much money, and at the time he faced all the issues of a young black kid in the south. But he turned out good, more of a bookworm than anything else. His parents thought that he’d have a better chance of making something of himself by getting some world experience, instead of being stuck in Florida. … Carl was a widower, no children, and didn’t have much of a life left on land, so despite his initial reluctance I think he enjoyed all the adventures we had over the years.”
Seasonally, even her nephew Peter Darien would join the expedition for the summers. “Pete’s first tour with us, he was just 14, and as energetic and rambunctious as any boy his age might be. My brother was usually fine with letting him come along; it was his wife that hated the idea. We never really got along she and I.”
In 1978 at age 24, she began her world-spanning journey, which would take her to all continents, and all seas, discovering over 30 islands in the process. She spent her first year trying to track down one of the less belligerent Kaiju, Titanosaurus, who had disappeared into the depths of the Pacific after 1975. After 8 months of searching, she finally located him. “Titano was extremely wary, more so I assume after what that bastard Mafume did to him. So it took us quite a long time to get a fix on him. I had obtained a recording from a… friendly source in Japan of Titanosaurus’ roars; we broadcast them underwater, and listened for some kind of response. It was three months before we heard back from him, and another two weeks until we found where he was living. It was a beautiful little reef, which was not far from a deep crevice, where he could hunt for Architeuthis, Oodaku, and Ebirah.
With the location of Titanosaurus’ habitat discovered, she started a long-term study of the creature. Eventually, their dynamic would become unique in history. “He was very nervous around us at first, despite being big enough to swallow the submersible in one gulp. But after a while when he realized that we were just curious about him, he began to let his guard down, and let his follow him around.”
Over the next several months, the relationship between human and Kaiju changed from subject and observer, to something else. “I remember the day, after we had gone back up to the boat, Titano poked his head above the water, I don’t think he wanted our session to end just yet! After that he was really almost like a pet you know? I was the first person to establish a personal relationship with a Kaiju, and not use it as some attack dog like the Red Bamboo. He really was adorable once you got to know him.”
While the rapport was groundbreaking, there was a whole world of Kaiju for her to explore, and the time came for them to leave Titanosaurus behind. “I went down and said my goodbyes, and I have to think that on some level, he understood what I was saying, because he kept making these sad noises.”
Sailing north in search of other subjects, her next major encounter with a Kaiju was far less pleasant. “Carl had just steered us through one hell of a squall, me and Brock were checking if any equipment was damaged, and all of a sudden we hear this shriek up in the air. An Ookondoru, apparently blown off his own course by the windstorm, had spotted us and decided we were easy prey. It made couple passes at us, getting closer each time; it even knocked our antennae crooked. The only weapons we had aboard were a few rifles, which didn’t seem to do much. So I got the idea to try and scare it away: I took the recordings I’d made of Titanosaurus’ roars and blared them on the loudspeaker.
It seemed to work for a little while, but that buzzard must have gotten over its fear, or realized we were bluffing. We thought it was coming in for the kill, because it came at us low over the water, talons out. When Titanosaurus erupted from the water and clamped his jaws around the Ookondoru’s neck, we were just absolutely shocked. I think it took Brock a month to get over the image of Titanosaurus dragging the struggling prey under the water. We had just gotten so used to thinking of him as a huge dog; he forgot that Titano was a predator. After a few minutes, Titanosaurus came up to check on us, I remember the look in his eyes, like a loyal dog looking for approval.”
For many years thereafter, Titanosaurus would follow the Calico around on its journeys, remarkably coming to their aid on occasions when things got dangerous. “The first time we reached the Nullius Ager, we were attacked by a swarm of Green Kamacuri, we got back to the ship and had to barricade ourselves inside, Pete of course though it was the coolest thing to see them up so close. So Carl played the roar to call for Titano, and he showed up. He snapped a few of them but the Kamacuras must have been starving because they just wouldn’t leave us alone. So Titano just turns around, opens his tail fan, and just swept them all away!”
Unfortunately, the band would eventually be broken-up. Quinn retells the story with tears in her eyes about the last time she ever saw Titanosaurus. “It was… oh my, September of 1983 when it happened? I think so, it might have been October. Peter was with us, he’d just finished school, and he was enjoying the extended time with his pet Kaiju. We were about a 100 miles west of Cape Horn, clear and starry, an all around pleasant night on the ocean. We received a distress call from a fishing trawler under attack from some monster. So we responded, hopefully in time to save some lives but also to document the incident first hand, perhaps it could provide information to help prevent attacks in the future.
When we got there all we saw was wreckage, and a few shredded life preservers. Carl was on the radio to the Chilean officials when we came under attack ourselves. It turns out Gaira had survived the fight with his brother, and had been laying low, scavenging where he could. Well, finding a piece of ocean to call his territory, he felt brazen enough to attack humans again.
The Gargantua apparently had been enjoying his meal so much he didn’t notice us at first, and when he came out of the water, he still had pieces of clothes stuck in his teeth. But as soon as he saw us, he spit them out and screamed. Brock sent out the call for Titano, knowing that there’d be no way we’d outpace Gaira. I knew from my research that he hated bright lights, so I got up to the spotlight, and shone it right in his gruesome face. It managed to stall him for a bit, but once he dove underwater we knew it was a matter of time before he got us.
Gaira must have been damn near underneath us because he and Titanosaurus almost sent the Calico flying when they burst out of the water! Titano had Gaira’s head in his jaws, and he must have been biting for all his worth ‘cause Gaira was screaming bloody murder! The Gargantua finally managed to pry those jaws off his head, and fight back. They clawed at each other ferociously, and I’d never seen Titano so bloodthirsty, he didn’t just try to chase him off, he really tried to kill Gaira.”
It was at this point in the interview that she asked for a moment to wipe her eyes. “In the end, Gaira was just more of a killer, he bit with his fangs and beat with his fists, it got to the point where we could tell Titano had lost the use of his left arm, and was bleeding pretty heavily. Gaira must have thought that he’d won, because he turned his attention back to us. His arms were in the air, ready to come crashing down on us, when Titanosaurus grabbed his right arm in his jaws, and pulled him back down under the water.
He must have dragged him pretty far down because our radar lost track of them. And that was the last time I ever saw him.”
By early 1984, her research was finally getting some widespread acclaim in academia, Scientific American magazine proclaiming her “The pioneer of a new age”. Her frequent use of the term “Kaijuology” brought the word into common use by other researchers. “I invented the word, then I shoved it in their faces for three years, there really was no better term for what I was doing. I wasn’t just doing the routine natural sciences, I was combining several disciplines into one. So I had to name my baby.”
Her burgeoning career took a hit later in the year when Godzilla reappeared for the first time in almost 10 years. “I struggled to understand why he had reverted to such aggressiveness, what could have rekindled his antipathy for humanity? The last time the world saw him he had defeated the Simeons Mechagodzilla, and walked-off into the sunset. I had tried several times to locate Godzilla during my time at sea, but there was just no trace of him anywhere, it was like he vanished. So I was totally unprepared for what I saw in 1984.”
The reemergence of Godzilla as hostile to mankind would put Kaiju-human relations on a much different path, away from the understanding approach Quinn had tried so hard to advance. “It hurt, it really did. Suddenly Kaiju had gone back to being the boogieman in the dark, threatening to swim up from the sea or drop from the air in a heartbeat and destroy cities. Like I wasted my time. I hit a low, and actually re-read Steve Martin’s book, this time I really felt like I understood professor Yamane. While he understood the practical need to deal with Godzilla’s destructive nature, he saw him as something that could leap scientific understanding decades, while everyone around him just wanted to kill it.
Needles to say, after Godzilla nearly lit the fuse on the Cold War, not many people were interested in treating them like rare species to be studied. So while world leaders decided how exactly to conduct a Global War on Kaiju, I decided to go back to Nullius Ager and finish my work.”
On Scattered Island North #14, she began work on her own research facility. “Number 14 was known to be uninhabited, so that’s where we set-up shop. It took the four of us almost all of 1985 to get it up and running, but at last we had a serviceable facility, more of a small fortress really. Those first few years were rough, but fun. We always got a kick out of watching Rodan circle around, and swooping down to catch the stray Kamacuras or a shark.
We put out word that we were looking for others to join us and really expand on the work we had started.”
And come they did, over the next few years dozens of aspiring Kaiju researchers made their way to the island, often by precarious means. “It started to resemble a hippie commune, with all of us living off the land, and just waking up every morning with a common purpose. We didn’t have a name for it back then, but Pete called in ‘Quinn-land’, and it got around.”
In 1987, the United States and Japan began investing in her facility, primarily hoping that information gained could be used to combat or deter Kaiju attacks. The infusion of real wealth and resources allowed Quinn to turn her hand-built facility into a world recognized organization. On June 22nd, 1987, the Kaiju Research Institute was officially founded. Quinn would head the institute until 1993, when she relinquished it to Brock Hicks. “I was tired, and quite frankly, there were so many others in the field now, discoveries were being made on a weekly basis. I had driven the car long enough, so I put it on cruise control.”
In 1996, Quinn published her memoirs, “Age of Monsters” to wide acclaim. In short order, her book was topping sales charts, and even spawned its own series of television dramas. In true faith to her life’s work, she donated most of the books proceeds to charities founded to help those who were the victims of Kaiju attacks. “I was never blind to the dangers the Kaiju present, as I was accused of. I knew that even the ones who had no intent to cause harm could do so just by taking a stroll in the wrong place. … The title ‘Age of Monsters’ was in tribute to Martin’s book, his immortal quote from the prologue: ’And thus the age of Men has ended, for the Age of Monsters… has begun.’ For better or for worse, we share this planet with the Kaiju, and we’d better be smart about it, for all our sakes.”
During my interview at her residence in Tampa, her parents leaving her the house after they retired, she showed me tokens and keepsakes from all her travels. A vine from a Man-Eater plant, a hair from Kumonga’s leg, and an engraved scale from Titanosaurus among other things. I was impressed that retirement had not dimmed her spirit, or her thirst for the quest of understanding the often-mysterious monsters. And she was still kind’ov a MILF, if I might say so myself.
At the end of my time with her, I asked her about some of the rumors that had persisted among those who followed her work. “I’ll say it one more time, there was never anything romantic between me and Carl Majors, or me and Brock for that matter! I understand how rumors like that might seem believable, but take it from the horse’s mouth; we were friends on that ship. Nothing more.” … “I know Pete was the one who started this one, but I can confirm for certainty, that we never discovered a miniature flying Godzilla, named ‘Godzuki’ Pete made that up to impress his friends. If I had discovered such a beast, I certainly would never have given it such a stupid name.”
My final question about her future plans, was met with a coy smile and a twinkle in her still bright eyes. “I’ve got a few ideas rambling around, some places I’d like to visit, some newer monsters I’d like to see.”
A few years later, during my time in the military, I happened to catch a news story about Monster Island’s newest resident. Apparently, some time in the last week, Titanosaurus had shown up on Ogasawara, having decided to take up residency in the waters around Nullius Ager.
I still had Quinn’s home number, so hoping it still worked I tried to call her. All I got on the line was her answering machine, telling me not to ‘expect a call-back anytime soon’. I would later learn that the day after Titanosaurus appeared on Nullius Ager, she left her house, and dropped off the grid. I had to wonder if there was some connection.
Having made my bones as a certified tough guy, I decided to go after my heart’s desire, and put in for an internship at the Kaiju Research Institute. I hope that after my time here, I’ll be able carry on Dr. Darien’s work, and convince people to see the Kaiju as I do, as awesome.
Check out the first section of "Worlds Collide" book 1 of the Godzilla v. Marvel saga! Here on DA, or on Fanfiction if you prefer.
Curious about the world in which the saga takes place? check out the stories behind the EDF, Seatopia, Monster Island, and The Mutant Internment Act