Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero is a graphic novel presented by Guillermo del Toro and published by Legendary Comics. Tales From Year Zero is set a year before the events of Pacific Rim, and follows the story of reporter Naomi Sokolov, working on a retrospective puff piece on the history of the Jaeger Program and the Kaiju War from the perspective of three witnesses: Tendo Choi, Jasper Schoenfeld and Stacker Pentecost. The graphic novel was written by Travis Beacham and edited by Guillermo del Toro. Tales From Year Zero was released June 18, 2013 alongside Pacific Rim: Man, Machines & Monsters.
- "PACIFIC RIM: TALES FROM YEAR ZERO serves as a prequel to the highly-anticipated motion picture -- Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures Pacific Rim. Chronicling the very first time Earth is menaced by incredible monsters known as Kaiju, these inhuman beasts rise from the ocean depths and threaten to extinguish all mankind! Witness the race to develop massive robot fighting machines called Jaegers, each one controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. This action-packed book features many of the key characters from the film as we follow them in their early careers. Written by Pacific Rim screenwriter himself, Travis Beacham, and with del Toro's hands-on supervision, this volume is beautifully penciled by Sean Chen, Yvel Guichet, Pericles Junior, Chris Batista and Geoff Shaw; inks by Steve Bird, Mark McKenna, Pericles Junior and Matt Banning."
- —Press Release
K-Day (Tendo Choi)
The comic opens as journalist Naomi Sokolov is visiting the Anchorage Shatterdome to interview PPDC Marshall Stacker Pentecost. When she arrives, she finds the Jaeger Gipsy Danger in the process of being repaired and meets Tendo Choi who jokes with her that she's in a restricted area. After introducing each other, Tendo apologizes in Stacker’s place, explaining that he is in Hawaii dealing with personal matters. He meant to catch her before she entered the Shatterdome to tell her. Naomi observes Gipsy Danger as she mentions the closings of the other Shatterdomes, Tendo asks if she’s trying to write an expose on the issue.
She however reveals she was given the assignment to write a retrospective fluff piece on humanity's need to fight the Kaiju, when she'd rather be writing a piece on why the Pan Pacific Defense Corps are scrapping the Jaeger Program in favour of constructing the Anti-Kaiju Wall.
Although disappointed by this, Tendo agrees to do an interview with Naomi, reflecting on his experiences during K-Day. He reveals that back then, he was a ferry worker. When the first Kaiju Trespasser attacked, he and his co-workers were helping civilians onto their boat to protect them from the monster.
Tendo however had decided to run to Chinatown to rescue his grandfather Yeye. He managed to successfully get Yeye out and the two travelled back to the ferry. Despite the various obstacles as well as the fighter pilots trying to kill Trespasser, the two managed to make it back to the ferry in time.
As this was going on, the world was reacting to the events at hand. A young Raleigh and Yancy Becket are watching the monster attack unfold on TV, a young Mako Mori is hearing about it over the radio and Stacker Pentecost is talking to his sister Luna about the attack while in London. She reveals that she’s arrived at the Vandenberg Air Force base, preparing to help the US army fight the creature attacking the city. The supposed “holiday” she had taken was a cover that allowed her to train on the new fighter jets. Initially, Stacker assumes that she was recruited into helping the Americans, but she tells him she and their friend, Tamsin Sevier, volunteered.
Baffled by her actions, Stacker asks why and his sister reminds him of the alliance between the United Kingdom and the US during World War II. Knowing his sister, however, Stacker knows Luna wants a chance to a “slay a dragon” and tells her to be careful. Boarding her jet, Luna and Tasmin head out to San Francisco with her squad and the USAF. Though the attacks from the fighter jets harm the creature, it does little to stop it. Luna attempts to fire a sidewinder missile down the Trespasser’s throat, but fails to acknowledge Tamsin’s warnings of incoming danger. The Trespasser slashes her jet in half, killing her in the process.
Going back to Tendo, he discovers that Yeye got covered in Kaiju blood after Trespasser was hurt from an attack from the fighter jets. As Tendo watched his grandfather die before him, he attempts to hear him say his last words. Yeye eventually died as Trespasser was killed with a nuclear bomb. Ending the interview, Naomi asks what Yeye said in his final moments, which Tendo reveals to be "Endure this.". As she prepares to leave the Shatterdome, Tendo tells her he’ll keep an eye out for the paper and asks for the title of it. Naomi responds with the name “Why we fight?”, Tendo responds that there is nothing else they could do in their circumstances.
Turn of the Tide (Jasper Schoenfeld)
Several weeks later, Naomi reaches out to Dr. Jasper Schoenfeld in the hopes of getting the Jaeger’s origin story from him. On the promise that she wouldn’t mention Oppenheimer (due to a dislike of being compared to him), Schoenfeld agrees to meet with her. Travelling out to Big Sur, California, Naomi asks him to start from the beginning, his inspiration for the Jaegers.
Schoenfeld explains that in the earliest tenure of the Kaiju attacks, the world was still searching for a better means of fighting the Kajiu without the use of nuclear weapons. When the fourth attack occurred in Sydney, Australia, Schoenfeld was struck with a moment of inspiration when he saw his son playing with his robot and monster toys in his room. Although the idea changed everything, Schoenfeld credits the missing piece to this idea as love.
Prior to the creation of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps, Jasper attended the conference in Seoul, South Korea, addressing the growing Kaiju crisis. When Stacker Pentecost demanded to know what anyone would do about the creatures, Jasper presents his idea for the Jaeger in the conference and is given an audience with the higher ups. The presentation is successful despite most of the presentation being made up moments beforehand.
Knowing he would need a lot of help to help to make the Jaeger Program work, Jasper approaches his former student and lover Caitlin Lightcap, citing that her knowledge in Brain-Machine Interfaces would be incredibly helpful to him and the project, claiming that their troubled past together had no part in this decision. He tells her that the world needs her help and he wouldn’t ask otherwise if the situation were different. Overwhelmed, Lightcap decides to help Schoenfeld and the two work get to work in an abandoned factory just outside of Pittsburgh.
Still in the early stages of the Kaiju attacks, Lightcap creates the concept of using the mind of single pilot to control a machine twice their mass and size. Part of the concept was called the “Pons” (“Bridge” in Latin); a neural interface that allowed the brain to receive digital data fed from the mech. As the Jaeger Program begins, Lightcap and Schoenfeld run into financial troubles with the PPDC. During a check on their progress, Lightcap explains the nature of their work to Stacker Pentecost when he asks about the concept behind a human piloting a Jaeger. Knowing they’ll face further difficulties of securing funding without tangible proof, Stacker volunteers to test the Pons headset and struggles to move the fingers of the mech. His efforts are enough to get Lightcap and Schoenfeld more funding to proceed with their program.
As a result they are relocated to Kodiak Island. Jasper and Caitlin celebrate the move and the prospect of building the rest of the prototype Jaeger. During a conversation, Jasper admits that he regrets how he ended their relationship but Lightcap argues that she understood he was starting a family with Nancy. Jasper, however, says his effort to save his relationship with Nancy meant little, considering she was the one he missed, from this conversation the two reignite their relationship.
Of the selection test subjects they had to choose from, Lightcap and Schoenfeld chose USAF Captain Adam Casey and Lieutenant Sergio D'onofrio. During an evaluation with Sergio, Lightcap discovers he has a crush on her. Panicked, she makes sure to tell him she’s involved with Schoenfeld, but Sergio argues that she poked around his mind and maintained he had no intentions of perusing her.
During a demo for the PPDC’s higher-ups, Captain Casey attempted to control the Brawler Yukon on his own. However, the strain on his mental and physical facilities triggered a seizure that killed him. Upset by the death of Casey, Lightcap became concerned for the livelihood of Sergio and suggests they postpone the next demo. Schoenfeld assumes the time she spent preparing Sergio suggests that her concern stems from romantic feelings. Lightcap argues that if the next test fails, they lose the funding for the program; however, Schoenfeld is unwilling to budge on the issue.
In the following month, Sergio manages to control Brawler Yukon for a time before he starts to suffer from a seizure. When Lightcap decides to try to link up with Sergio, neither herself or Jasper are sure it will work. Yet, Lightcap manages to succeed and the demonstration with the Pons is enough for the higher ups to order the construction of other Jaegers. In that time, Jasper and Lightcap begin to drift apart from each other as he watches her become more healthy and confident in herself as she trains with Sergio.
When Drifting with Sergio, Lightcap tells him that she saw the dream he had about her and the two share a kiss. Lightcap stops, revealing that she is hesitant to persue a relationship with him, because she is still involved with Schoenfeld. Sergio asks her what she wants out of either relationship. Feeling guilty, Lightcap admits to Schoenfeld that she was in love with Sergio and never meant to hurt him. Schoenfeld admits that he was aware of what was happening between her and Sergio and lets her go.
In April of 2015, both Lightcap and Sergio were deployed in the Yukon against the Kaiju Karloff, despite Jasper's objections over the fact that the Jaeger they're using is a prototype. They are able to kill the monster using the Yukon’s armament and their combined strength driving the Jaeger. Schoenfeld eventually ends the interview crediting Love as the reason why they fight and sees Lightcap as responsible for that breakthrough.
The Bond (Stacker Pentecost)
Near the end of November, Naomi is finally given an audience with Pentecost in Hawaii. Pentecost recognizes her as the young woman who nearly broke up his best team, Raleigh and Yancy Becket. Naomi freely admits she was a “stupid teenager” at the time and asks about the status of Raleigh. Pentecost tells her he hasn’t seen him since the death of Yancy. She then steers the conversation towards him, asking Pentecost if he ever misses piloting the Jaeger and why he stopped.
Stacker explains that on May 16, 2016 the two were deployed in Tokyo to fight the Kaiju Onibaba. In the process of combat, his partner Tamsin Sevier lost consciousness, leaving Stacker to kill the Kaiju on his own. The two manage to save the life of a young Mako Mori, who becomes an public icon for surviving the Kaiju’s rampage. Shortly thereafter, Stacker and Tamsin are issued papers explaining their retirement from active duty. Stacker believes Tamsin’s loss of consciousness was a fluke, but his friend and partner reveals she’s been diagnosed with cancer from the exposure to Coyote Tango's reactor. Setting aside their retirement, Stacker asks what he can do for his friend. Tamsin asks him to move on with his life, so he does, revealing to Naomi that he adopted Mako, sympathizing with her loss of family and while talking with a young Mako on a plane to the Kodiak Island, he states he might teach Mako to pilot a Jaeger one day.
He is later promoted to PPDC Marshall and chooses to teach future Rangers of the Jaeger Academy to pilot the Jaegers. Among the pilots at the academy are Raleigh and Yancy Becket who prove to be an effective Jaeger team in fighting and simulations. While celebrating a new personal best from the simulator, the two brothers are approached by a young Naomi who back then was a Jaeger-fly a.k.a. a groupie for Jaeger pilots. She talks and flirts with the brothers for a few hours and when they have to leave, she gives Raleigh her number.
Weeks later, the brothers are in the simulator for another Kaiju fight but Yancy accidentally drifts off and reveals that he went out with Naomi. This distraction causes them to lose the simulated battle against the Kaiju. Raleigh then storms out of the Academy and heads for a bar, ignoring his brother’s attempts to explain himself. When Yancy finds him, Raleigh accuses his brother of being jealous and wanting everything he wants. Yancy argues he’s tired of waiting for his brother to “grow some balls” and take what he wants. They get into a fight, trashing the bar in the process. They're later pulled up for their behavior by Pentecost, who berates them for their behavior and the lack of respect they show for each other and the bond created by their position as Jaeger pilots. Raleigh and Yancy apologize for actions and are dismissed from Pentecost's office.
Some time later, Stacker visits Tamsin at the hospital and introduces her to Mako, who they saved in Tokyo. His gesture of kindness brings his friend to tears, and the three embrace. The interview ends as Stacker reveals that he was in Hawaii with Mako to pay their respects to Tamsin, who died despite fighting against the cancer. When Naomi asks if he still thinks they can win the fight, Pentecost tells her that he never believed in the endtimes. Their status and achievements as humankind dictates that they will win the Kaiju War.
Naomi meets with Tendo again and thanks him for his help; however, she remains uncertain if she should write the paper, feeling she wouldn't do the stories justice “with a few pages of nostalgia”. As she remains uncertain that they can win the fight, Tendo tells her that she should simply write what she wants. The suggestion is enough that she decides to interview him on matters of the future, to which Tendo replies "I thought you'd never ask."
Pan Pacific Defense Corps.
Civilians and Military
Guillermo del Toro announced Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero at the 2012 New York Comic Con. del Toro explained he was involved in every aspect of the comic's production, from the covers, layouts and coloring. He believed the graphic novel medium a great way to tell the story of the universe prior to the events of the actual film.
Featured artwork in Tales From Year Zero was handled by nine artists, with cover art by Alex Ross. In the four stories told, the present day narrative interludes featuring Naomi Sokolov were illustrated by Sean Chen, and "K-DAY" was illustrated by Yvel Guichet and inked by Steven Bird, with coloring provided by Guy Major. The second story, "Turn of the Tide", was illustrated by Pericles Junior, while the third story, "The Bond", was illustrated by Chris Batista and Geoff Shaw.
Additional inking was provided, Mark McKenna, and Matt Banning, while additional coloring was handled by Tom Chu, and Dom Regan. Lettering for the entire book was handled by Patrick Brosseau. The graphic novel was designed by Nicolas Sienty, and edited by Greg Tumbarello, Bob Schreck and Supervising Editor Guillermo del Toro.
When writing the story for Tales From Year Zero, Beacham's intention was to create a backstory that would complement the film, but be able to stand on its own, so the reader would not need to be reliant on the information provided in the book.[note 1] Everything written by Beacham was reviewed by del Toro and the other editors before any of his work was finalized for the finished product.
- Yvel Guichet, who worked on Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero, also worked on the Godzilla graphic novel Godzilla: Awakening.
- Beacham: "The movie takes place about a decade or so into the war, as it is. Already, in the first scene of the movie, we're years ahead of when the first kaiju arrived, and Jaegers have been around for a little while, so it drops you in. That's not to say that it's confusing or anything. I think it explains everything you need to know for the movie's sake – you can watch the movie and totally see it as a complete work."