The Thing #31 (January 1986) and the Godzilla Marvel Legacy
The Thing #31 – Devil Dinosaur: The movie! (January 1986)
Writer – Mike Carlin
Penciler – Ron Wilson
Editor – Mark Gruenwald
Godzilla made one last official appearance in Marvel comics canon before disappearing into the ether. There have been several Godzilla-like creatures that will be discussed below, but as far as I can tell, they’ve never been officially counted as Godzilla. So let us tackle The Thing #31. The Thing is among the first comic books I ever bought. I bought two of those “comic book 3-packs”, one containing 3 issues of The Transformers and one with 3 issues of The Thing. While The Transformers became the series I would get every month and subscribed, The Thing became a series I would get in the quarter bins at comic shops, but it was still a good read (hence my buying them.) I was never that into the Fantastic Four, because Spiderman ruled all, but I often had extra money for cheap comics that would be good. Several images here are take from the Marvel Chronology’s entry of The Thing #31.
Ben Grimm (aka The Thing) goes to visit his friend, stuntwoman Sharon Ventura, who is working on a movie about Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur. Ben likes Sharon because she reminds him of a lost love, Tarianna. Sharon Ventura would eventually become Ms. Marvel, be a hero for a bit, be a villain for a bit, and then get replaced by a Skrull. Welcome to Marvel continuity!
Ben arrives and starts attacking Devil Dinosaur, because he doesn’t realize it’s a robot! But he’s not the only one to make the mistake, as out of the sea arises the reason we’re writing this entry: Godzilla!
Yes, he’s actually called Godzilla! Looks like someone forgot or thought that The Thing would be too under the radar for Toho’s lawyers.. .Godzilla has escaped from captured jerkoff Dr. Demonicus, thanks to Godzilla’s cunning plan of distracting the evil Dr. with Iron Man’s suit so he could get captured, at which point Godzilla probably just wandered out of the undersea headquarters. Or maybe SHIELD got off their lazy duffs and raided the compound and Godzilla got set loose that way.
Whatever the reason, he’s back, and it looks like the batwing fins on his arms are now gone, but he still has the horns and the long frill down his back.
As Ben Grimm freaked out when he saw Devil Dinosaur, he doesn’t interfere when Godzilla pops up, thinking it’s all part of Hollywood magic. Godzilla is initially confused by his friend Devil Dinosaur acting strange, and when the robot dinosaur is damaged, Godzilla retreats to the sea. Once again we say goodbye to Godzilla, for what is probably the last time.
This is the “official” goodbye to Godzilla, but it is not the last time Godzilla was mentioned nor the last time things from the Godzilla comics affected the Marvel universe.
The biggest lasting legacy from the Godzilla series was villain Dr. Demonicus, who became a minor villain of his own, making appearances in mainly The West Coast Avengers. He also supplies a link to another 70s Marvel comic, as he was a villain in Shogun Warriors (where he had a huge space station and a whole crop of new monsters!) His later work was more with mutated humans, and Dr. Demonicus himself became more mutated and resembles his mask. I admit that twist is pretty dumb, but that’s what happened.
Red Ronin returns periodically, though usually n the capacity where it’s being hijacked by someone and causing destruction, forcing super heroes to fight it. Red Ronin never made it to the pages of Shogun Warriors, but has appeared in several issues of Exiles, where alternate forms were integral to those universes.
Another reappearing foe is Yetrigar. The overgrown and mutated yeti pops up in West Coast Avengers #32, where he was deliberately released as a distraction. Since then, Yetrigar has resided in the super villain jail called The Vault, and will pop up occasionally when lots of super villains are escaping, though Yetrigrar has had no successful escapes.
References to Godzilla’s rampage can also be found in Transformers #3, where Nick Fury and Dum Dum mention the beast when activities of the Transformers require investigation. This was a reference I got as a kid, despite not knowing there was a Marvel Godzilla series nor who those two guys were. Spiderman also shows up in that issue, and the whole thing is retconned to The Transformers taking place in an alternate universe. Which means Godzilla exists in the Marvel Transformers universe, thus our hopes of Grimlock vs. Godzilla is less of a pipe dream than it seems!
The specialized helicarrier Behemoth resurfaces years later under command of Amadeus Cho. I believe it has since been destroyed, which sort of sucks.
Yuriko Takiguchi has also popped up in issues of Uncanny X-Men, he joins Beast’s X-Club for several issues, but eventually dies (BOO!) Takiguchi has a self-destruct event at his lab that releases a monster that sort of looks like Godzilla meets Fin Fang Foom. Tamara Hasioka and Robert Takiguchi have yet to resurface.
Godzilla-like monsters have appeared as well. Yurkio Takiguchi’s self-destruct monster in Uncanny X-Men #506 and 507 is code-named Leviathan. A Godzilla-like appears in Mighty Avengers #1 as part of Mole Man’s monsters. In the preview art, he was drawn identically to the movie Godzilla, but by the final print run the art had been altered slightly and the spines were removed. At this time I don’t think either appearance is 100% confirmed as Godzilla, though both are intended as homages. The Marvel Comics atlas’s entry on Japan says The Age of Monsters began in 1954 (a reference to the original Gojira), and goes on to mention Godzilla returning and events from the comic series.
Even old school comics had creatures that resembled Godzilla. Besides Fin Fang Foom (who has essentially become Godzilla in several stories), other creatures include Droom from Where Monsters Dwell.
Godzilla’s legacy is one of continual references for fans, but a potential major return is probably going to be unlikely. I would not put it past a writer bringing back the mutated “Godzilla” for several issues, but it is highly improbably that Marvel will have a new Godzilla comic series any time in the near future. Though maybe with the big bucks of Disney behind them, Disney might just buy Toho. Until then, there is always the trade paperback of Godzilla comics. As we’ve read on March of Godzilla 2013, the comics are pretty cool and deserve a bigger fanbase. And remember: Godzilla is still out there, wandering around and being cool.
That is, unless we get another phone call!