Every once in a while a comic comes and just sort of smacks you in the face with how good it is. How it nails the needs of its genre and adds some wrinkles you didn’t quite expect. This is Godzilla Rivals II: vs. Battra.
Penned by Rosie Knight with artwork by Oliver Ono and lettering by Nathan Widick, Godzilla Rivals: vs. Battra centers around a young girl, Robbie, and her friend Akemi in the not-too-distant future where robots exist as part of everyday life. The two youths reside in a dying town, Hackney-on-Sea, and are now concerned about radio transmissions of the encroaching monster, Battra.
Oliver Ono’s artwork really helps set the tone, with washed out colors and loose, free-flowing lines that give the impression of a town about to be washed away. Ono’s characters are lively and expressive, contrasting nicely with their dire surroundings.
The choice to focus on plucky youths might seem out of place, but any kaiju fan worth their salt recognizes that these stories often work best with children in tow. The contrast of powerlessness with the immense powers of the monsters makes for a nice dynamic, and writer Rosie Knight does a fantastic job with that here. The focus on Battra as a kaiju antagonist allows for exploration of human pollution and corporate interests, and Godzilla Rivals II: vs. Battra directly addresses these real-world calamities without being over-the-top about it.
The story also doesn’t shy away from building atmosphere and character — a whole page is dedicated to Robbie making breakfast. This not only strengthens our connection to the lead characters, but it also adds to the tension and anticipation in waiting for the monsters to arrive.
And when the monsters do show up, Ono shows off a different side to their skill set, giving the monsters a real sense of scale on the page, often placing them looming over the protagonists.
If there’s one place that Godzilla Rivals II: Vs. Battra stumbles, it’s in the transition to the third act. There’s a late-arriving story element that, while certainly not out of place, cuts short the tension in a way that doesn’t quite feel as well earned as some of the other narrative beats.
Even with that hiccup, Godzilla Rivals II: Vs. Battra is an exciting entry that gives some love to an underutilized Godzilla foe. Rosie Knight and Oliver Ono make the story better not just through some cool monster action, but by making the cast of characters worth going on the journey with.
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