Godzilla Rivals: vs. King Ghidorah – Comic Review

As a lifelong fan of the Godzilla franchise, and any form of Tokusatsu, IDW Publishing‘s Godzilla Rivals is a series that I look forward to every time a new release is announced. It might not be the most regular series in comics, coming out several months apart, but the extra long format, the interesting stories, and the sheer sense of celebration for the creatures featured, make it a series worth waiting for.

The latest issue, the third in the series so far, sees the titular monster facing off against one of his most famous foes, King Ghidorah. The story begins in 1996, where an alien invasion is ravaging planet Earth. We see flying saucers creating devastation in Tokyo as the military tries its best to fight back the invaders, though with little success. During the battle Godzilla rises out of Tokyo bay and starts attacking the alien spacecraft, tearing the invaders to pieces. Unfortunately, this victory is short lived as the aliens capture Godzilla inside some kind of force-field, and take him prisoner, transporting him off the planet.

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Several months later we catch up with the leaders of Earth as they shelter from destruction inside the secret base of Dr Ogilvy Hu, who is loosely based off the recurring villain Dr Who from King Kong Escapes. The self proclaimed villain admits that he has put his conquest of Earth to one side in order to help save it from Xilian destruction, and hatches a plan to send an ace pilot and a super advanced android to Mars with a weapon designed to destroy the Xilian control of the invasion, giving Earth a chance. Little do they know, however, that the Xilian city on Mars is home to more than just alien invaders, as the captured Godzilla is forced to fight for their entertainment against other Kaiju inside a huge area; and that he’s getting closer and closer to fighting their champion, Monster Zero himself, King Ghidorah.

The plot for Godzilla Rivals: vs. King Ghidorah is a bit different from some of the other Godzilla comics, mainly because other than one scene Godzilla doesn’t get to do much on Earth before being whisked away to Mars. Rather than being the protector of Earth, or even a threat to the planet, he becomes a displaced gladiator instead. It’s a fun concept, and one that writer Adam Gorham seems to be having a lot of fun with. It’s a neat way to craft a new type of Godzilla story, one where the humans aren’t waiting around for him to show up and save the day, yet where he can still have an impact upon proceedings. It’s also a neat concept for getting him into fights with other monsters.

The book is also filled with a lot of shout-outs and nods for fans of the franchise, and there are a lot of stuff to pick up on in the backgrounds and designs that are fun to see. For example, Dr Hu’s secret base has both mecha-godzilla and mecha-kong hiding in the background, the ship designed to take the heroes to Mars is based upon the P-1 that appears in Invasion of the Astro Monster, Jet Jaguar makes an appearance, and the device set to save Earth looks like the Oxygen Destroyer from the original movie. It’s clear that Gorham is a big fan of the franchise, and is trying to cram as many its and pieces into the issue as he can; which is something that I appreciate as a fellow fan.

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Gorham doesn’t just provide the script for the book, but also does the art too. Gorham’s style is pretty standard fare, and he doesn’t do anything weird or wonderful with the art, which is a good thing as it gives the characters and monsters the chance to shine. Some of the best art in the book is of the creatures, and the scenes of Godzilla fighting monsters in the Xilian arena are some of the best moments in the book. Godzilla looks amazing, and the first panel of him fighting on Mars is absolutely gorgeous, but I think that it’s Ghidorah who really steals the spotlight. He looks amazing, and there are some genuinely frightening moments as he towers above everything raining down destruction.

I dare say that if you’re a fan of Godzilla you’ll already be picking the series up, but if by chance you’re not, if you’ve missed it because of the gap between issues, or you’ve been put off by the higher cost of the book, you need to consider picking this series up. We’re three issues in and so far its been three amazing issues, and we’ve already been told what the next two issues are going to be and they sound great! So do yourself a favour and grab this while you can.

Godzilla Rivals: vs. King Ghidorah is out now from IDW Publishing.

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