One of the best things about IDW Publishing‘s comic series Godzilla Rivals is that it’s giving a revolving creative team the chance to showcase different Kaiju, allowing some monsters who’ve had very few outings in the Godzilla films to stretch their legs a little.
The latest issue, Godzilla Rivals: Mothra vs Titanosaurus does just that with the inclusion of Titanosaurus, a monster that made its debut in Terror of Mechagodzilla, and hasn’t really been in any films since. The book goes the extra mile though, it doesn’t even include Godzilla, and instead allows the other monsters to carry the story.
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Godzilla Rivals: Mothra vs Titanosaurus begins on the coast of a San Diego golf course when a giant, 40 metre long egg washes up on the beach. A pair of scientists who specialise in Kaiju biology, Dr Andreas Luna, and Dr Ruobin Carpenter, arrive on the scene from the local university, to help the military figure out if the egg is dangerous or not. After some quick investigating it’s confirmed that the egg is a Mothra egg, and likely ended up on the beach as it would have been washed away from its original site thanks to heavy storms and rainfall.
Using the egg’s presence as the perfect excuse to help their research, Andreas and Ruobin are able to use a device that they’ve been working on to prove that Kaiju are putting out magnetic fields that tie into magneto-reception. Their device allows them to see the fields, to see how the presence of the egg affects those fields, proving much of their research and theories are correct. However, whilst examining the fields Andreas sees that the egg’s field is interfering with one that already exists, and the creature making it is heading their way. With Titanosaurus seeing the egg as a challenger to its territory, the massive monster begins making its way towards human civilisation, intent on destruction.
One of the things that people who’ve not watched a whole lot of Kaiju movies think about them is that they are just constant monster fights and destruction. This is a fairly common misconception, and most Kaiju films only feature one or two big set pieces, with a more human-centric story carrying most of the film. Comics allow for more freedom, and you don’t need a huge budget or weeks of filming to create as many monster brawls as you like, thus leading to some fairly action-packed Godzilla comics. This issue, however, takes a more film-like approach, and doesn’t really focus too much on the monsters.
The monsters absolutely drive the story forward, and there are some moments of destruction as Tiitanosaurus makes their way towards the egg, but it’s what’s happening with the people that matters here. Most of the comic is told from a human perspective, with the advancing creature a looming threat in the background instead of the focus. We follow our two scientists as they try to deal with the problem, seeing how they work things out, how they create various plans, and get to watch as their lives begin to change forever when they realise their creations could help to change the world. There might be some who dislike this issue because there aren’t really any monster fights, because humans get the focus, and because Godzilla never shows up, but for those looking for a decent story set with this universe it absolutely delivers.
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The art for this issue is provided by Feriowind, who gives the book a kind of light, almost dreamlike quality. Thanks to the light line work, the softer colours, and the stylised manga-like characters, the book takes a less gritty approach to the genre. The artwork really helps to sell the strange, ethereal nature of the odd fields that the monsters put out, and it also works wonderfully with the subtle love story that seems to be going on between the two scientists.
This may not be the typical example of a Godzilla story you’d expect to find in comics, but it’s a lot of fun. I think that it will appeal to Mothra fans, and the inclusion of a more obscure member of the monsters that make up this universe will please long-time fans.
Godzilla Rivals: Mothra vs Titanosaurus is out now from IDW Publishing.