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Godzilla vs. Marvel!

The 1970s saw a change in the comic book market (and ushered in what became known as the Bronze Age of Comics). The super-hero filled 1960s had come to a close, and some of the lesser-selling spandex titles were soon history. In their place began a long procession of experimentation and increased social relevance. And also a bunch of weirdo stuff. From drug addiction to villains headlining comics to werewolves and vampires, the Comic Code was becoming less restrictive, stories were becoming more daring and creative, and comics changed. Marvel began producing more licensed properties (Conan the Barbarian, Thongor of Lemuria, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey) and some horror titles (Ghost Rider, The Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf by Night) and reprints of older horror tales. All of these things helped shaped what becomes the subject of our series, the Godzilla comics.

Godzilla utilized a mix of existing Marvel characters and newly created ones to both integrate Godzilla into the Marvel universe, but also give it the feel of Godzilla movies. Not content to simply be a tale of a mindless beast destroying the land, Godzilla became something more. Godzilla was treated with respect, considered a force of nature with some degree of intelligence. At this time the Godzilla film series was on hiatus, but when it returned in 1984 with the Heisei films, this was essentially how Godzilla was treated. The trailblazing take still had references to the old. Godzilla did destroy things, people were injured and died in his chaos. Godzilla fought other monsters, many of which had more sinister desires than his own. Godzilla had human allies who understood him, but was also constantly being assaulted by random people who would shoot first and regret later (even super heroes fell into this trap!) By the end of the series, the goal became to contain Godzilla, not to stop him at all costs.

Through it all, we never get thought bubbles from Big G, but the narration does take a sympathetic tack when describing Godzilla’s actions, often giving him humanized emotions and responses (though occasionally making note that no one can know for certain!) Godzilla was a unique protagonist at the time, giving the comic a styling that would still be considered unusual.

Archie Goodwin shepherded the Godzilla series as the editor, with Doug Moench writing the entire series. Herb Trimpe was the main artist, though was assisted or on vacation for a few issues. The stable team helps keep Godzilla feeling like an actual ongoing story instead of some random collection of tales, and making Godzilla feel like a real character while having no dialogue except for monster growls. They also would have steered the comic in its more social conscious direction. Several of the earlier issues feature oil being a threatened resource, and mention the US’s addiction to oil (as they came out during the height of the oil embargo!) while other issues have environmental messages. Another shoutout to Trimpe’s art for not making the many minority cast members look like stereotypes. And on that note, 5 of the six main characters in Godzilla are non-White, which may be the highest percentage on an ensemble series I know of at that time.

The stories ranged the gauntlet from Godzilla battling invading space monsters to Godzilla wandering across a dude ranch to Godzilla being shrunk and then unshrunk. The variety of tales kept things from getting stale, and when there was monster action, it was often multiple monster action! Godzilla tore a path through the whole canon of creatures sent to combat him, with only one surviving the series (IIRC).

Godzilla survived the end of his series (which I think was more of a licensing thing than sales, though I am not certain) and continued to appear “unofficially”, though we’ll cover that in another post. The other lasting legacy from the Godzilla comic series was the robot creation Red Ronin, built to fight Godzilla and accidentally connected via brain control to a 12 year old boy, Robert Takiguchi, Godzilla sympathizer. Though Red Ronin would be damaged and taken out of action, it would appear in various Marvel series long after the Godzilla run had ended.

Godzilla is a pretty cool comic read, and I suggest you check it out sometime. Now let’s get dangerous and list everyone and everything that showed up in Marvel’s Godzilla!

Godzilla Squad!

Dum Dum Dugan – SHIELD agent who gets put in charge of the Godzilla hunting Godzilla Squad. Initially he hates Godzilla, but eventually grows to realize the monster does not have evil intent (after some prodding from Gabe Jones and Robert Takiguchi!) Dum Dum doesn’t take crap from anyone, is often heard saying creative things when giving orders, and especially doesn’t like it when costumed do-gooders show up and get in the way. Timothy Aloysius Cadwallader “Dum Dum” Dugan is probably best known for being one of Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandos.
Gabriel Jones – SHIELD agent just beneath Dugan in the chain of command, and the first of the SHIELD agents to begin to realize Godzilla is not malevolent. Is usually directly involved in the action. Gabriel Jones is another member of Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandos.
Jimmy Woo – SHIELD agent and one of the first Asian-American hero characters in comics (he starred in the 1956 series Yellow Claw.) Jimmy Woo was later brought into the SHIELD agency. Is not as much of a field agent as an attache who works with Dr. Takiguchi and his aides. Becomes romantically involved with Tamara Hasioka.
Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi – Dr. Takiguchi was present at Godzilla’s awakening, an underseas nuclear test that he opposed (the lone dissenter in his pack of scientists) and became the only survivor of Godzilla’s initial appearance in 1956. Since then, he has followed Godzilla and attempted to find a way to stop the monster from hurting others. When Godzilla turns up in America, he offers his assistance to SHIELD. Has devised a fighting robot SJ3 RX (the future Red Ronin) as a countermeasure against Big G.
Tamara Hasioka – Dr. Takigushi’s loyal assistant (and probably has a doctorate in some science and engineering fields herself) Assists in the design and building of what will be called Red Ronin. Acts as sort of a mother figure for Robert Takiguchi. Is romantically linked to Jimmy Woo, but her first loyalty is to her boss.
Robert Takiguchi – His nickname is Little Robert. Dr. Takiguchi’s 12 year old grandson. No mention is made of his parents, though judging from the English name they lived in the US at one point. Is Godzilla’s biggest friend and defender. Robert repeatedly steals Red Ronin and becomes the only pilot the robot obeys commands from.

Minor Characters –

Hugh Howards – The pilot of the Behemoth, and it’s pretty clear just who this character is based on! Has a carefree attitude, but also is good enough at his job that Dugan rarely yells at him.
Dr. Demonicus – Former embittered scientist and current mad scientist. Building a monster army to take over the world. Thwarted by Godzilla. Not only is he a crazy monster-making mad scientist, he’s also racist! His goons are called Demon Soldiers. Dr. Demonicus survived the end of the Godzilla comic to appear in multiple other Marvel titles.
Betas – The Betas are purple humanoids with weird bullet shaped heads. Appear to be the good guys in this conflict, as they desire to save the Earth (because it will save them!) Their leader sacrifices himself to stop the Megans, but ends up killing all the Betas on the moon base. Appears in Godzilla #12, #13, and #14.
Megans – Red monkey dudes with one giant eye. The Megans from planet Mega have been at war with planet Beta for centuries. The two sides use weaponized alien dinosaurs as weapons. They energize their monsters with an Energex-ray that gives them ten times their strength, but ultimately kills them. Appears in Godzilla #12, #13, and #14.

Monsters!!

Godzilla – The King of Monsters. During the time of these comics, Godzilla is intended to be the “official” Godzilla, but after Marvel loses the license they continue to use Godzilla, though he is rarely referred to by that name and mutated to appear different enough that lawyers won’t drop by.
Flashback Monster #1 – A red four-armed tyrannosaurus with eye stalks that appears in Godzilla #2 as one of the evil monsters attacking Japan that Godzilla has defeated over the years. Both flashback monsters are postulated as mutants that were awakened by the nuclear explosion like Godzilla
Flashback Monster #2 – A blue giant bird/roc with a spiked club for a tail that appears in Godzilla #2 as one of the evil monsters attacking Japan that Godzilla has defeated over the years. It’s resemblance to Rodan (or Ookondoru!) is probably not a coincidence. Both flashback monsters are postulated as mutants that were awakened by the nuclear explosion like Godzilla
Batragon – Monster created by Dr. Demonicus that is used to attack oil tankers in order to get free gas for his mission to take over the world. Must recharge on the glowing meteor from space that fell into a volcano in the Aleutian islands. Is a cross between a bat and a dragon. Appears in Godzilla #4 (where it is murdered by Godzilla ) and Godzilla #5 in flashbacks.
Ghilaron – Monster created by Dr. Demonicus. A komodo dragon with eight legs and head crest. Must recharge on the glowing meteor from space that fell into a volcano in the Aleutian islands. Appears in Godzilla #4 and #5, where it is killed by Godzilla.
Lepirax – Moth monster created by Dr. Demonicus. Lepirax is totally not Mothra, how dare you think such a thing! Lepirax likes to grab onto things and slam them into the ground. Must recharge on the glowing meteor from space that fell into a volcano in the Aleutian islands. Is featured the most of the remaining three monsters that attack Godzilla. Appears in Godzilla #4 and #5, where it is killed by Godzilla.
Centipor – Centipede monster created by Dr. Demonicus. Besides being gigantic, it also has a bunch of weird tentacles on its head. Must recharge on the glowing meteor from space that fell into a volcano in the Aleutian islands. Appears in Godzilla #4 and #5, where it is killed by Godzilla.
Dr. Demonicus Fantasy Monster #1 and #2 – Demonicus has three fantasy monsters during his ranting of how he will take over the world in Godzilla #5
Dr. Demonicus Fantasy Monster #3 – Demonicus has three fantasy monsters during his ranting of how he will take over the world in Godzilla #5
Red Ronin – Known as SJ3 RX until renamed by Robert Takiguchi. Red Ronin was built to fight Godzilla and designed by Dr. Takiguchi and his staff. Features a laser sword, propulsion boots, magnetic grappling hooks, transforming blaster hand, force field, and brain-connected controls. Due to a malfunction, it will only obey orders from Robert Takiguchi, who also repeatedly steals it.
Yetrigar – Nuclear blast-reanimated and mutated Sasquatch that came down from Canada to attack Godzilla in the Grand Canyon. Robert claims yetrigar are a giant yeti legend from Japan, thus the origin of his name. Appears in Godzilla #10 and #11. Yetrigar is the only known monster to survive battling Godzilla (outside of Devil Dinosaur, which was a draw when they discovered they were on the same time) and after being buried in the side of the Grand Canyon he pops up in an issue of West Coast Avengers!
The Beta-Beast – Alien monster dinosaur commanded by the Betas. Spits fire and shoots quills. Battles Godzilla on the moon. Is easily defeated, encouraging the Betans to draft Godzilla into their war. Appears in Godzilla #12.
Triax – One of the three Mega-Monsters controlled by the nefarious Megans from planet Mega. They are used as weapons against their rivals, the Betans, and are now being sent to Earth to plunder the planet for resources. Biomech genetic alterations were done to give Triax hover jets on the bottom of his feet, and a transforming sleek flying attack mode. Appears in Godzilla #12, #13, and #14.
Rhiahn – One of the three Mega-Monsters controlled by the dastardly Megans from planet Mega. Biomech genetic alterations gave Rhiahn a bladed tail he uses for helicopter-style flight power and as a weapon (it’s called the Anterior Bio-Blade) and a huge toothless mouth to gum people with. Appears in Godzilla #12, #13, and #14.
Krollar – One of the three Mega-Monsters controlled by the rat bastard Megans from planet Mega. Biomech genetic alterations allow Krollar to burrow beneath the ground, and to suck debris into its mouth and expell it at high velocity. You might say Krollar really sucks! Krollar has a retractable horn. He just does, he’s cool like that. Appears in Godzilla #12, #13, and #14.
War Monster/Alien Dinosaur #1 – One of the many casualties from the long Betan and Megan war. Kidnapped from their homeworlds and weaponized, then forced to fight. It’s like space kaiju Pokemon! Shown in Godzilla #12
War Monster/Alien Dinosaur #2 and #3- Two of the many casualties from the long Betan and Megan war. Kidnapped from their homeworlds and weaponized, then forced to fight. It’s like space kaiju Pokemon! No real information on which side either is on. Shown in Godzilla #12
Rat – While shrunk and hiding in the sewers, Godzilla battles a sewer rat. Godzilla kicks his rat butt! Suck it, Mickey!

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!