Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Essential Godzilla, Doug Moench et al

Essential Godzilla: King of the Monsters [ESSENTIAL ESSENTIAL GODZIL]The first series of Godzilla films ended in 1975 (with Terror of Mechagodzilla) and the second began in 1984 with the Godzilla remake. This Marvel series fits neatly into the gap, being published between 1977 and 1979.

The story itself was ever so slightly dull, for me; the main interest comes from the unusual decision to integrate Godzilla into the Marvel Universe. (Imagine if Marvel had done the same thing with Star Wars? They did it with Doctor Who, though not to the same extent as this.) There are no dimension-hopping hijinks here – Godzilla has always been part of the Marvel Universe, and the heroes are vaguely aware of his existence, but until now he has confined his activities to Japan.

Unfortunately, though, given the opportunities available, for most of the comic’s run the only sign that this is the Marvel universe comes from the presence of Nick Fury’s supporting cast, who chase Godzilla around in a helicarrier, filling in for similiar monster hunters in the original films. That’s a shame.

For example, the most interesting part of the comic comes when Ant-Man’s shrinking gas is used to shrink Godzilla down to the size of a rat (this sequence seemed interestingly prescient of Masashi Tanaka’s Gon, a fierce little dinosaur). (It beggars belief that SHIELD don’t destroy him at that point, while they have the chance.)

The Avengers and Fantastic Four turn up for an ineffective brawl towards the end, but I would have liked to have seen more of the ways in which existing in the Marvel universe would have affected Godzilla. Professor X could have taken us on a trip inside Godzilla’s psyche. We could have seen Namor’s reaction to Godzilla swimming through his territory. Godzilla could have gone to the Savage Land.

Maybe Doug Moench made the right decision for the time, avoiding such gimmicks on the whole and just telling a straightforward Godzilla story (especially since no movies were being made at the time), but it doesn’t really give us what we want to see now! Still, it’s a decent, if undemanding, read. It was obviously pitched at a very young audience, but it’s still worth the time of any Godzilla fan.

Essential Godzilla, Doug Moench et al, Marvel, tpb, 440pp.

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