Comic: Godzilla Rivals: Vs. Hedorah

Order

Godzilla Rivals: Vs. Hedorah

English Comic Title

Godzilla Rivals: Godzilla vs. Hedorah

Authors:

Paul Allor

Pencils:
Inks:
Colors:
Language:
Release:
Publisher
:
Pages:

E. J. Su
E. J. Su
Adam Guzowski
English
2021
IDW Publishing
41

Covers:

E. J. Su / Jeffrey Veregge

Comic

Monsters

Godzilla
Godzilla
Hedorah
Hedorah



Review

By: Nicholas Driscoll

E. J. Su must really love Hedorah. The extremely talented artist was also behind the astonishing art in Godzilla Legends #4 featuring Hedorah back in 2012—and now he is back, handling the art duties for Godzilla Rivals: vs. Hedorah! Those expecting the same quality of art will be surprised at what they find inside (both in a good and a bad way), and the story by the prolific Paul Allor is far more twisty and human-oriented than the previous Hedorah tale, but I think most fans will discover a monster story that doesn’t stink in this one-shot.

I am going to freely discuss spoilers here in order to provide a meatier review, so if you don’t want anything spoiled, skip to the last paragraph.

The action-jammed tale begins in 1971 (the comic is a 50th anniversary celebration of Hedorah’s cinematic debut). Monsters have been assaulting the human world for some decades, and now Godzilla and Hedorah are fighting it out in New York City. The story is narrated by a young woman being transported in an old-school ambulance that looks a lot like the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters. The woman, identified as kaiju expert Dr. Kovats, is critically injured, and her driver, Todd, is desperately attempting to deliver the woman to a hospital. The escape attempt is very exciting, with increasingly insane action and devastation as Godzilla and Hedorah blast and smash and fry one another. But when the woman is successfully delivered, it turns out the driver was not entirely honest about her real identity, and the future of humanity may hang in the balance…

Given that this is just a one-shot, with no continuation planned, we get a lot packed into relatively few pages—and what we get is overall a pretty dark tale. The story centers on the driver and the injured woman, whom we later learn is really his sister, Suzii, who had worked with Dr. Kovats previously. He was doing all he could to save her life, even at the expense of others—a policeman who helps them dies in the attempt, the innocents in the hospital that can’t get treatment because she takes their place. The sense of gravitas is strongly established, the consequences dark—which seems appropriate, given that Godzilla vs. Hedorah also did not shy away from depicting the horrific deaths of those who lived through monster attacks.

That gravitas can feel a bit overbaked, perhaps—especially as it culminates in Suzii pushing her rescuer brother down into a rocky pit in the hopes he will follow some basic instructions and save the world—assuming he doesn’t break his neck. The callousness of that act is hard to forgive, but the drama is high, and it’s undoubtedly exciting. Writer Allor manages to give Todd and Suzii banter and warmth, so the sacrifices feel like they mean something.

The monster action is very entertaining, too, but definitely plays a lesser role than some fans might wish. The monsters here are deliberately depicted as having animalistic motivations—this plays into the themes of the story, of how humans must make excruciating moral choices in the midst of death and suffering, while the monsters just want to eat—but fans accustomed to monsters with personality or “godhood” may feel let down. Both Godzilla and the Smog Monster just want to eat and fight, and that’s it, which renders them a bit uninteresting.

Still, their fight is kinetic and explosive, depicted with scale and ferocity by Su. The monsters look detailed and ferocious, Godzilla appears to be based off 70s suit designs, and their fight has stakes and violence and clap-trap moments where I wanted to break out and cheer. A highlight is when Godzilla rips out Hedorah’s eye and tosses it on the street, becoming the source of an inspired pun. The exchange of rays and melting goo is also painted with awe and real punch.

But those expecting Su’s art from nine years ago may be disappointed. Godzlla Legends Featuring Hedorah from 2012 had almost painterly artwork, and I am sure it was heavily enhanced by Priscilla Tramantano’s incredible coloring. Colorist Adam Guzowski turns in work that is good, but it definitely does not have the impact of Tramantano’s work—and strangely, while Su’s monsters in this book are wildly detailed and look stunning, his humans appear sketchy and ill-refined in comparison. It almost seems as if Su is attempting some kind of old-school anime-inspired look, and at least for me it doesn’t mesh well. Note, though, that many manga artists and artists from the west will render human characters with a more cartoony style in the same books that monsters merit careful detailing and attention to minute detail, so perhaps classic manga influenced Su in that way too. I was just reading Daiji Kazumine’s work again recently, and his manga definitely trended in that direction. Still, for my monster dollars, Su’s human work in this story is the weak link.

The concluding rescue/successful anti-monster device also felt just too convenient in the middle of the rubble and disaster to me, and I could complain that even my favorite moments of the monster action—the eye extraction, the nuclear blast—feel like retreads. Nits are there to be picked for the snotty monster fan (which I often am).

Still, the story ultimately won me over. The drama may be overwrought at times, but the action is pacey, there are numerous money-shots to appreciate, and the monster action is rendered with deftness and power. Granted, the human action and designs are uninspired, and the monsters’ motivations are bland, but I love that the comic pays homage to the movie’s anniversary, and the earnestness won me over. This is good monster action for the fans, and the cover featuring the overwhelming power of Hedorah consuming an angry Gozilla, all rendered in high detail, looks scrumptious. Recommended.


Variant Covers

Jeffrey Veregge Cover