Kaiju Canon

opreddragon-2It’s 1964 and Earth is heading toward a large-scale daikaiju extinction event in author Ryan George Collins’s enjoyable first novel. Dinosaurs, reptiles (not dinosaurs), sea monsters and insects have all united to “enact some Old Testament wrath” on mankind.

These “large strange beasts” have been around since the beginning of time and they most likely will be here at the end of it. And guess what? They don’t particularly like the fact that they no longer rule the world. Now operating under a loose confederacy, they’re eager to wipe humanity off the map. As it turns out, resistance to change isn’t a trait exclusive to men. Monsters don’t like it either.

When these giant creatures shamble toward Japan or Chile (!), the first responders are a highly specialized covert action team. Operation Red Dragon is an international paramilitary unit that was forged during WWII and tasked with keeping kaiju activity under wraps.

On the agency’s payroll are two genetically engineered super soldiers: Gen. Ishiro Tsujimori, who is able to conduct, generate and unleash electrical energy, and Special Agent X, the world’s only human cyborg. Also available for duty is C.I.G.O.R. (not cigar), a 26-feet-tall cybernetically integrated giant ornithology robot thingy, and a human yokai named Chakra. They’re the monsters protecting mankind from the monsters who want to destroy it.

So far, so good. Operation Red Dragon is the first volume of a planned Daikaiju Wars series, and it dutifully introduces a riot of monsters and superheroes and establishes the alliances that will propel upcoming sequels, Even though it’s a thin book, there’s plenty of retro tokusatsu action to keep readers (like me) happy.

Be forewarned, however. There’s a smattering of religious jibber jabber sprinkled throughout this book. Certainly many writers have used Biblical allegory to magnify their monster narratives over the years. But author Collins needs to be careful. His writing isn’t exactly subtle. “Maybe some humility before God is what mankind needs,” he says bluntly at one point. For goodness sakes, he even anoints a prophet by the end of the book. Hopefully Collins will steer clear of turning his Daikaiju War into a Daikaiju Holy War.

[Operation Red Dragon / By Ryan George Collins / First Printing: April 2018 / ISBN: 9781925711790]