- For the female kong that assumed the title of Gaw in Kong of Skull Island, see Ghost (Kong of Skull Island).
Gaw is a title that refers to the leader of the Deathrunners in the novel Kong: King of Skull Island and its related media. To date there have been three distinct creatures to assume the title of Gaw, two of which have been Deathrunners themselves, and the third being a member of the kong species.
The term Gaw is used to describe the leader of the Deathrunner species, and is usually attained by growing larger than other members of the species. The highly intelligent Deathrunners often cry out the word "Gaw" in reference to it. However, the title of Gaw can be given to creatures outside of the species, such was the case when the Deathrunners accepted the female kong Ghost as their matriarch. In Kong: King of Skull Island, the native Skull Islanders that worship Gaw also refer to her by this name.
The Gaw featured in Kong: King of Skull Island possesses only a single head. Her skin is red in color, and her eyes are a dark yellow. Gaw's head is adorned with a spike on each cheek, and several smaller spikes running across her brow ridges. Gaw also has a row of spikes that begin on her nose and run from her head down her back. Gaw's mouth is filled with a single row of large, sharp teeth, and she possesses a tuft of feathers on her chin that resemble a beard. Gaw has incredibly long and human-like forelimbs that end in two long opposable digits.
The most notable trait of the Gaw that appeared in Kong of Skull Island is its two individually fully functional heads. The most notable difference between the two is that the left head and half of its body has an orange hue while the other side is more red in color. Gaw's heads are adorned with a single line of spines that meet on its back and continues down to its tail. Each head has two small, green eyes, and it has two forelimbs with three clawed digits on each. Gaw's back is covered with feathers.
Design documents illustrated by series creator Joe DeVito show several takes on he two-headed Gaw that never came to fruition, such as her having feathers, vestigial limbs from the non-dominant twin, and a split at the head and the hip rather than at the shoulder. There is a recurring theme in these early designs in which the left head is a male twin and is slightly smaller than the large female, however the final design seems to be mostly bilaterally symmetrical.
The Gaw in Kong: King of Skull Island is an abnormally large female Deathrunner that due to its size was accepted as the leader of the Deathrunners. Gaw's ferocity also earned it the status of a god among the natives of Skull Island, who began to worship her and offer her human sacrifices.
In Kong of Skull Island, Gaw was a Deathrunner with the documented birth defect of having two heads. This was not unheard of in Deathrunners, as the breeding records of the early Kong breeders had documented such occurrences. Due to Gaw's immense size, it was accepted as the leader of the Deathrunner population.
As the matriarch of the Deathrunners, the latest Gaw had become the dominant creature on Skull Island. Gaw's ferocity became known to the Atu clan of natives on the island, who began to revere her as their god and offer her human sacrifices. Gaw and her Deathrunners eventually came upon the three remaining kongs on Skull Island and attacked them, leaving only a surviving adolescent male. This young Kong, who would later be known as King Kong, eventually reached adulthood and took revenge for the death of his parents at Gaw's hands, killing Gaw and establishing himself as the new king of Skull Island.
Gaw, like all Deathrunners, is incredibly intelligent, and is able to plan, anticipate, and communicate with other members of its species.
Gaw possesses immense physical strength that allows it to be a formidable foe to the Kong. While its hide is not thick enough to prevent a Kong's bite from drawing blood, Gaw can continue to fight with minimal repercussions in this event.
After the Tagu-Atu people arrived on Skull Island, Deathrunners began to attack them, and through their intelligent assaults on the humans, Gaw began to plot a trap to bring them to its lair. After a raid, Deathrunners left a blood trail from the village to their lair. While some of the Kong scaled the mountain to the Gaw's cave, the Deathrunners attacked those left on the ground while Gaw took on the climbers.
While fighting the Kong, Gaw realized that Ewata was the brains behind the Kong's movements, and orders some Deathrunners to attack her. After that plan fails, Gaw goes after Ewata and the Kong Valla itself, but was poisoned by Ewata throwing toxic powder onto one of its heads. In this moment of weakness, Ewata ordered another Kong to break its remaining jaw, effectively killing it, causing the Deathrunners to flee.
- Main article: Ghost (Kong of Skull Island).
After the previous Gaw's death at the hands of a group of Kong, the Deathrunners came to revere any Kong they found, and would stand down and await orders from them, which often just lead to their speedy defeat. No Kong ever realized or utilized this reverence until the Deathrunners came upon Ghost, a female Kong that had fallen through a faulty mine shaft. The Deathrunners quickly accepted Ghost as the new Gaw, and served her until she was killed by another Kong called Valla. While under Ghost's command, their reverence to other Kong ceased. In addition to the Ghost's survival skills that had allowed her to survive alone in the jungle, her willingness to accept her position as Gaw was likely influenced by the induced madness she suffered by a group of anti-Kong militants attempting to rile the sleeping Ghost with Scent Triggers. The scents did not give the intended effect, and instead rendered Ghost the psychotic monster she became.
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