Godzilla: The Best of Rodan – Comic Review

Whilst most people will instantly think of Godzilla when you mention Kaiju, the Kaiju genre has been one that has spawned dozens of giant monsters over the decades (thousands if you count all of the giant monsters from tokusatsu shows like Super Sentai). And whilst Godzilla might be the king, there are a number of monsters that are almost as famous as him, and deserve a moment or two in the spotlight. Godzilla: The Best of Rodan gathers together four issues from across IDW‘s back catalogue that give the fire demon the chance to shine.

The first up in this collection is Godzilla: History’s Greatest Monster #4, written by Duane Swierczynski, which drops the reader into the middle of a story featuring a group of monster hunters who have been paid to capture as many Kaiju as possible. The story sees Titanosaurus smashing his way through a city whilst the monster hunters figure out a way to take him down whilst flying above in their helicopter transport. Unfortunately, Rodan comes onto the scene, forcing them to fight a monster on two fronts.

READ MORE: SubOrbital7 (John Shirley) – Book Review

Compared to some of the stories in this collection, this one is clearly part of a bigger tale. Some of the Godzilla series have told self contained stories each issue, but this is clearly not the case here, with the characters referencing other events, and the story ending on a note that feels very unfinished. That being said, it does showcase Rodan well, and his arrival in the story feels brutal and epic as the huge winged creature fights against its ground-based adversary. The art, by Simon Gane and Ronda Pattison, is packed full of strong line work, and is filled with detail. Whilst this can sometimes feel a bit much on the human characters, the detailing is great on the monsters and the city destruction scenes.

The second story comes from Godzilla: Legends #2, by Jonathan Vankin, and feels like the most self contained and complete tale in the entire book. It begins a number of years before the main events, where a soldier stationed at a military base goes hiking up to the mountains and brings back a giant egg he finds as a souvenir. Unfortunately, its parent is attracted, and Rodan attacks the base. Several years later, and the egg is still in military custody, and under examination by a scientist becoming increasingly obsessed by it.

READ MORE: Chester 5000 (Jess Fink) – Graphic Novel Review

This story is easily my favourite in the book, because it feels like it’s doing everything that it needs to in this one issue. The story manages to be incredibly engaging and interesting considering its short number of pages in which to do everything, and whilst Rodan doesn’t feature much on the page its presence is there throughout and drives everything. The art for this story is the same as the previous issue, yet manages to look different thanks to less focus on heavy shading lines and less extraneous detail being added in the line work.

The third story comes from Godzilla: Oblivion #3, and whilst it’s part of a larger narrative it comes across as a solo story in its own right. Written by Joshua Fialkov, it tells the story of a brilliant scientist who’s been hired to build a portal device to allow travel to other worlds. Made to activate the device before proper testing can be done, the scientist, their employer, and a group of bodyguards cross over into a world ruined by the Kaiju.

READ MORE: Hello, Bookstore – Documentary Review

Even though this issue ends on a cliffhanger, and is clearly being used as the set up for its own story, it works nicely as its own short story, and the ‘oh no what happens next?!’ type end does feel like the kind of shocking conclusion that many short stories tend to have. That being said, Rodan features very little in this story. Young Rodan babies appear once the team cross into the other universe, but so do a number of other monsters, and Rodan ends up being the first in a line of creatures that cause trouble, and don’t even end up being the main ones. So in a way it does feel kind of odd to see this in a Best of Rodan book when he’s a bit player. The art for the story, by Brian Churilla and Jay Fotos is really nice, and the two of them create some very cool moments once things go over to the other universe and you get to see multiple Kaiju interacting with each other.

The final story comes from the pages of Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #5, by Chris Mowry and Matt Frank, and much like the first story is clearly a part of a longer narrative. The story begins with a scientist and his students being chased by Varan, who eventually ends up fighting Rodan as they’re ushered into a military bunker for safety. However, when it’s revealed that the bunker houses a captured Kaiju, it becomes obvious that their safe haven is far from the sanctuary that the students were hoping for.

READ MORE: Godzilla: Here There Be Dragons #1 – Comic Review

With this story seeming to be a middle part of a longer tale it means that there’s little to this to follow other than the monster fights, which are actually a very small part of the book. Who are these students, why are they at this bunker, where are they going next, why is anything happening? All questions that this issue does not address in any real way. As such I found it very difficult to connect with any of this story. Plus, Rodan is a background monster for much of this tale, and it’s inclusion here feels like it’s simply to make up numbers. The art on this story, by Chris Mowry and Jeff Zornow, is perhaps the best in the book, with the cleanest and neatest work, and the best monster visuals, which makes the fact that it feels so out of place all the sadder.

Whilst this collection does bring together four issues that feature Rodan, I cannot say that it brings readers four Rodan stories. The lack of a focus on Rodan in much of a meaningful way in most of them, and the inclusion of snippets of larger narratives makes it feel like this collection was thrown together as a purely moneymaking exercise. If you’re a completionist who has to have every issue then this book might be worth while to you, but for everyone else it’s a costly book without much to show for that cost.

Godzilla: The Best of Rodan is out now from IDW Publishing.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: