The latest entry in the Godzilla Rivals series sees the titular king of monsters taking on the queen, Mothra. Whilst it made sense for the series to begin with Hedorah, what with it being the 50th anniversary of the film on the month of release, it was only a matter of time before Godzilla and Mothra ended up together in this series of one-shot comics.
The issue follows investigative photo journalist Mima Kinjo, who’s been stationed with the Japanese Self-Defence Forces at Kanoya Air Force base. Whilst sitting in on a meeting she hears a report about a mysterious giant glow beneath the waters of Lake Ikea. Whilst several of the soldiers laugh this off as a drunk sailor telling stories, the Admiral swiftly orders them them to sink charges into the lake and destroy whatever’s inside.
His eagerness to bomb the area catches Mima’s attention, and she decides that she’s going to have to find out what’s in the lake before the JSDF destroys it. Thanks to her history with diving she’s more than able to head into the depths of the lake, but she’s unprepared for what she finds. Shackled to the bottom of the lake is the giant monster known as Mothra, wrapped in chains stamped with the JSDF insignia. Returning to the base to confront the Admiral, her plans are disrupted when Godzilla arrives on the scene, heading towards a populated area. Knowing that Mothra might be the only thing that can stop the giant lizard, Mima heads back into the lake to free her – but will her actions save the day, or cause even more destruction?
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The main focus of this story isn’t the monsters. It’s the people. And it’s especially Mima who matters here. In fact, she’s the only character in the story who even gets a name. Even the Admiral, a major figure in this tale, only ever goes by his rank. Because of this we get a good sense of who Mima is, we learn about her past, we see what motivates and drives her, and we come to understand why she’s willing to risk unleashing another monster in the hopes that it could save the day. She’s a surprisingly strong and well defined character for one that we only get to know for this one issue, and it really speaks to the strengths of Mary Kenney’s writing. Even the unnamed admiral gets a good showing, with the two of them getting ample room to grow and develop over the relatively short forty pages.
Despite the big focus on people there’s also a lot of action across the issue. When Godzilla finally arrives on the scene there are some great moments of him fighting against the military. We get to see him destroying naval vessels as well as aircraft as he storms his way through populated areas. A lot of these sections are delivered without dialogue or narration, and they work really well because of this. The reader is left to take in the carnage and the destruction that this creature causes without the distractions of words getting in your way. And by the time that Mothra arrives on the scene to combat Godzilla you’re worked up to the point where you’re desperate to see the titular creatures clash.
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The art on the issue is provided by SL Gallant, Maria Keane, and Adam Guzowski, who provide the pencils, inks, and colours respectively. The team work well together, and deliver a worn and lived in feeling world. It feels like regular people in the regular world, without over the top designs or bright colours making it feel fantastical in any way. This really helps to convey the human elements of the story, and allow it to feel grounded. Though this does change once the monsters arrive on the scene and things take on a more spectacular feel. The colours are bolder and more vivid, and the panels feel tight and up close as the action takes place, putting you right into the thick of things. The team are also wonderful at capturing the spirit of both the monsters, and they look absolutely fantastic throughout.
Godzilla Rivals: vs. Mothra is a great love letter to giant monster movies, as well as the titular monsters. It feels like a ton of care and attention have gone into the project to ensure that it feels like part of that universe, and I’m sure any fan will have a blast reading it.
Godzilla Rivals: vs. Mothra is out now from IDW Publishing.