Rick & Morty vs Cthulhu SHOULDN’T Explain the Opening Credits Monster

H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and Rick and Morty have a lot in common, from bizarre monstrosities to cosmic nihilism. The show even tips its hat to that fact with the joke in the show’s opening credits that depicts Rick Sanchez – along with Morty and Summer Smith – fleeing from a Cthulhu-like monster while in possession of its offspring. Now, with the upcoming Rick and Morty vs Cthulhu comic series, the writers have a chance to explain that famous opening sequence… but they really shouldn’t.

Howard Philips Lovecraft was a science fiction and horror writer best known for creating the mythos of the Great Old Ones, unknowable horrors that are so far beyond human comprehension that they often drive men mad at the very glimpse of them. The most famous of these in contemporary pop culture is Cthulhu, an Old One that featured in Lovecraft’s famous 1928 story, The Call of Cthulhu. Since that time, the octopus-faced space god has entered the cultural zeitgeist in both serious and parody forms. Indeed, Rick and Morty’s opening ‘clip’ is a moment that establishes the show’s themes, but has yet to appear in any of the franchise’s stories.

However, now Oni Press is releasing a four-issue miniseries titled Rick and Morty vs Cthulhu which will delve into the titular grandfather and grandson duo expressly interacting with the mythos of Lovecraft, facing off against the Great Old Ones while taking aim at Lovecraft’s own infamous bigotry. The upcoming series is being created by Jim Zub, Troy Little, Leonardo Ito, and Crank!, and has the potential to finally explain the often-cited opening joke that has run at the start of every season of the TV show. However, doing so would be ill-advised, as over-explaining it has the potential to not only ruin a joke, but the Cthulhu mythos as well.

Despite the monster in several of the released covers looking highly similar to the monster from the show’s credits, the series should steer clear of working this moment into the story. The opening depicts its Cthulhu-alike beast as a caring parent, similar to The Lost World: Jurassic Park’s T-Rex, chasing down the people who stole its baby. It’s a fun visual for the opening credits, but it’s also a concept that runs counter to Cthulhu’s unfathomable nature. Cthulhu is an unknowable creature of science-fiction horror, and humanizing it waters down the entire concept of the Old God, turning it into just another type of alien. The opening sequence works well as a disposable gag, but unpacking it in the actual crossover promises to not only undercut Cthulhu, but also the joke itself. This throwaway gag is a perfect standalone, as the images presented give just enough context to be understandable but leave enough ambiguity to be hilarious.

The desire to revisit the Cthulhu intro sequence by working it into the framework of the upcoming series would be understandable – especially since the comics explained Morty getting eaten by frog-monsters in such a satisfying way – but it’s ultimately unnecessary. More to the point, the Cthulhu Mythos is predicated on the idea of it being a vast and unknowable cosmic horror, making familiar animal traits contrary to what makes the horror character so unique. With a world full of aliens, it’s better for Rick and Morty vs Cthulhu to focus on what makes its title terror so compelling, rather than sacrificing the promise of the crossover for pure fan service.

Rick and Morty vs Cthulhu will be released on December 7 from Oni Press.