The Marvel Comics of the 1970’s was a different entity from the one we know today. Still riding high on its breakout success in the previous decade, ’70’s Marvel imbued its comics with a feeling that they were willing to go anywhere, do anything, and explore even the strangest of concepts within their universe. In any given month a wide array of diverse and kooky superheroes could be found mingling alongside everyone from Fu Manchu to ROM the Spaceknight.
Perhaps the ultimate expression of this “go for broke” philosophy was the 24-issue Godzilla comic that the company published from 1977-1979.
Every issue of the series was written by Doug Moench, who delivered everything from the expected monster battles and city stompings, to insane “only in the Marvel Universe” tales. Stuff like Godzilla being shrunk down to the size of a house cat by Hank Pym or sent back in time with Doctor Doom’s time machine. You never knew what to expect from one month to the next, and that was a big part of what made it such a joy to read.
The penciling chores for all but two issues of the series were handled by Herb Trimpe. While Trimpe’s artwork could sometimes be a little rough around the edges, he definitely had his own, unique take on Godzilla. He also consistently provided visuals that were over-the-top, exciting and exemplified the approach to storytelling and panel layouts that readers had grown to expect from 70’s Marvel comics.
Between Trimpe’s pencils and Moench’s words, Godzilla – King of the Monsters was a comic book that always exuded a palpable feeling of two creators having a blast.
So, it is with the greatest of affection, and in the same spirit of mad adventure, that I am proud to present the 10 most awesomely wackadoodle moments from Marvel’s 1970’s Godzilla comic book…
10 – GODZILLA VS THE CHAMPIONS
There was once a team of Marvel heroes called the Champions that consisted of Hercules (who went around yelling stuff like “By the cloven hooves of pan!”), Black Widow, Iceman and Angel from the X-Men, Ghost Rider and… some schmuck named Darkstar?
Who the fuck is Darkstar? Dude doesn’t even show up in this issue. What kind of superhero calls in sick on Godzilla day?
Anyway, their preferred mode of transportation was a flying car thing that they dubbed the “champscraft”, which is one of those rare facts that actually makes you stupider when you learn it.
Godzilla’s fight against this team of B list superheroes marks the first time the Big G would face off against members of Marvel’s underoo brigade, but, thankfully, not the last. The Champions end up spending most of the issue just getting in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s way (and vice versa), so the only real highlight of the skirmish is the awesome moment where Hercules uses all of his strength to stop Godzilla’s descending foot from stomping Iceman into a crimson smear. And, while it’s a cool scene, that fact alone should still tell you everything you need to know about The Champions as a superhero squad.
9 – GODZILLA VS DOCTOR DEMONICUS
Issues 4 and 5 of the series have Godzilla facing off against the evil Dr. Demonicus and his pack of enslaved volcano kaiju.
Demonicus is the kind of guy that likes to run around in a skull mask with tiny little horns on it. He likes it so much that he makes his henchmen do it too. Only they don’t get the horns, as presumably those denote rank.
The mad doctor is also the sort of boss that will loudly rant about his henchmen while they’re still within earshot, happily shouting things like – “You idiots wouldn’t mention a bomb if it exploded inside your skulls!” – at a room full of lackeys.
Unfortunately, Doctor Demonicus also has the disconcerting habit of referring to badass S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent, Gabe Jones, as simply, er, “black man”. Repeatedly. As in – “Oh, you think I won’t, black man!” and “‘Tussle’, black man?! A curious term to describe your futile struggle against THE CONQUEROR OF THE WORLD!”
Look Demonicus, I can get behind your whole “conquer the world with giant monsters while wearing gaudy demon outfits” thing you’ve got going on here, but your casual racism?
That just makes you look dumb.
8 – GODZILLA VS. RED RONIN
Red Ronin is a gigantic mech created to fight Godzilla and designed to look like a gigantic samurai because… samurai are cool, I guess?
Godzilla’s fight with Red Ronin is a delightfully goofy good time, and even includes a memorable moment when the robot spins its hand around and transforms it into a gun that is very similar to a shot where Kiryu changes his hand into a drill in 2002’s Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
Sadly, whatever chance Red Ronin had of being cool in this series was flushed away once the giant mech became psychically attached to 12 year old slice of story cancer, Rob Takiguchi. Rob is an insane Japanese child who seems to thinks he’s in a Gamera comic book, because every issue he keeps expecting Godzilla to be the friend of children everywhere (regardless of how many cities the gigantic atomic reptile plows through).
Such is the potency of the boy’s madness that, by the end of the series, it appears to have worn Godzilla down, and The Big G seems to have grown a soft spot for the little sociopath.
One born out of pity, I suspect.
7 – GODZILLA VS. LAS VEGAS
In issue 9, after destroying Boulder dam Godzilla is engulfed in the resulting megaflood and washes up outside of Vegas. There, Godzilla looks over the city, deciding whether or not to give it a good stomping.
Meanwhile, Winslow Beddit (Beddit? Bed dit? Bet it? uggghh), a man who we are told is in Vegas desperately attempting to win enough money to pay for his mother’s needed operation, has lost everything but his last dime. He too, must make a decision: spend his remaining dime on one last pull of the slots, or use it to call his wife for a ride home.
These two decisions – should Godzilla trash Vegas and will Winslow decide to gamble away his last cent – are contrasted with one another in the story, and while I’m not real sure what Doug Moench was going for, I have no doubt it was just super, super deep.
Anyway, Godzilla devastates Vegas, Winslow gets swept up in the destruction, and then there is the surprise reveal that… Winslow’s mom has been dead for three years?! Wait, what?!
*insert Saw ending montage music here*
6 – GODZILLA VS. MEGAN’S MONSTERS
Aliens kidnap Godzilla, force him to fight a kaiju up on the moon (in a scene that has a pleasant Monster Zero vibe going for it), and then spend two pages laying out the history of their intergalactic war to him.
They spend two pages telling this… to Godzilla.
But the best part is when the aliens identify their adversaries by name: “Long have we been at war with our rival planet… MEGAN!”
Sadly, a reveal that planet Megan is orbited by the twin moons Becky and Tiff was not forthcoming.
An interesting thing about Marvel’s Godzilla run is that, while the great majority of it is pretty much just goofy nonsense, every once in a while it does try and sneak in something a little more profound. Which is rather appropriate, seeing as how most of the entries in the Godzilla film series have deeper themes and tackle more philosophical conundrums than most people realize. Here, at the end of this three part storyline (which is about 90% Godzilla and S.H.I.E.L.D. stuck in the middle of a war that’s being fought with extraterrestrial kaiju) one of the alien leaders says: “Yes. Perhaps our war with the Betans should be terminated… at long last. After all, are there any here among us who are not… tired?”
Which, in a comic mostly filled with a giant, radioactive, mutant dinosaur punching other monsters in the gob, is pretty compelling stuff.
5 – GODZILLA VS SEWER RAT
Look, I’m really not interested in pretending that S.H.I.E.L.D. running to Hank Pym for some Pym Particles in order to shrink Godzilla down to a more manageable size isn’t the coolest idea for a story ever, so if that’s your hot take on it feel free to jam that opinion right on up your butthole.
Of course, after shrinking Godzilla down to around a foot tall, S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to do what government agencies do best, and immediately screws the pooch by losing the adorable wittle force of unimaginable destruction. Godzilla then promptly beats tiny lizard cheeks and flees the scene, ending up in the New York sewer system.
It’s there where the reader is witness to the epic confrontation that is: Godzilla X Stinky Poop Rat!
Sadly for rodent enthusiasts, tiny or not, one blast of the Little G’s radioactive fire decisively ends this legendary battle.
4 – GODZILLA VS DUM DUM DUGAN
I have to say that the adventures of a human sized Godzilla tromping around Marvel Comics New York is exactly the sort of thing I wanted out of this series. Having the shrunken Godzilla dramatically whip off the hat and trench coat he wears as a disguise whenever he does battle is just the icing on the cake.
Having previously trounced a group of thugs that attempted to mug him (!), this time Godzilla squares off against noted “Howling Commando” Dum Dum Dugan in an epic hand to hand brawl.
Legendary Pictures? Disney? C’mon you guys, let’s get Neal McDonough on the phone and make this shit happen!
3 – GODZILLA VS THE THING
Opinion is a little divided over why the 1964 film, Mothra vs. Godzilla, was retitled Godzilla vs. the Thing when it was released in America. But regardless, 15 years later Godzilla finally faced an adversary going by that moniker, and it was none other than Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew: Benjy Grimm, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing!
Cementing their reputation as Marvel’s premiere monster fighting team, it’s the Fantastic Four’s turn to face the Big G in issue 20, in a story that proves that even a 25 foot tall Godzilla is a lot to handle.
Still gradually growing back to his full size following his miniature misadventures, Godzilla is lured into a museum by the FF, where they plan to use Doctor Doom’s time machine to send the radioactive reptile back to the dinosaur days. A plan that strikes me as really rather poorly thought out for a variety of reasons, but Reed Richards is a super genius and I can’t even think about the time travel in Avengers: Endgame without getting a nosebleed, so what do I know?
Unfortunately, all pretenses of accomplishing this plan with minimal mayhem go out the window when an annoyed Godzilla swats Ben Grimm with his tail, and the Thing decides that: The clobbering time? She has begun.
What follows is… probably not the Fantastic Four’s most shining moment as their battle with Godzilla trashes most of the museum. The fight concludes when the Invisible Woman manages to cut off the atomic lizard’s air supply with one of her force fields, rendering him unconscious.
2 – GODZILLA VS DEVIL DINOSAUR
The Fantastic Four send Godzilla back to prehistoric times with Doctor Doom’s time machine, but the gizmo must have a screw loose, because it sends the radioactive beasty to the parallel universe version of Earth known as “Dinosaur World” instead. Here, the Jack Kirby created, crimson dino defender, Devil Dinosaur reigns supreme (alongside his faithful little monkey dude friend, Moon Boy), and he’s not thrilled to have a new competitor suddenly appear on his doorstep.
Inevitably the two titans clash (fortunately for Devil, Godzilla is about the same height as the Tyrannosaur due to those pesky Pym Particles still in his system), with Godzilla keeping Devil Dinosaur on the defensive with his atomic breath. But when a pack of ape-men known as the “Lizard Raiders” show up on dinosaur mounts in order to lay claim to the valley, Moon Boy convinces the twin terrors to team up in order to fight them.
Delicious, pure grade ’70’s Marvel meets ’70’s Godzilla cheese at its finest.
1 – GODZILLA VS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
The fight you’ve waited the whole series for finally breaks out in the final two issues, as Godzilla regains his full stature and battles the combined might of the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. in the middle of New York city.
Despite the insane spectacle on display, the best part of the story may be the revelation that on slow crime days the Avengers still assemble, but instead of beating down the Serpent Society or whatever, they just chill in Avengers Mansion and play Monopoly while in full costume.
When the epic, city shaking brawl finally does erupt, however, and the combined forces of the Marvel Universe unload on Godzilla at once (while Thor struggles to hold the Empire State building in place following Godzilla’s attempts to topple it), the story definitely delivers on the sort of ridiculous, joyful, over-the-top mayhem that you can’t help but appreciate due to the sheer audacity of it all.
It’s the perfect culmination to that wonderful, relatively brief, and somewhat forgotten moment in time when Godzilla stomped his way through the Marvel universe.
BONUS ENTRY – GODZILLA VS. J. JONAH JAMESON
The meeting between these two legendary forces of nature is everything you could have hoped for.