1.23.2010

Essential Godzilla / Marvel Essentials : 4 of 5

One of the strangest incarnations of Godzilla was the 1977 Marvel Comics series that transplanted my favorite Japanese kaiju into the Marvel Universe of characters. I remember buying several issues of this comic back in my childhood, so it's nice to have all 24 issues collected here in one book (although it's a shame not seeing them in color, but that's how the Essentials series stays so cheap). This saga is certainly unique and bizarre because of the American landmarks and superhero guest stars. Godzilla gets to stomp up famous places like the Alaskan Pipeline, Las Vegas (including the Hoover Dam), the Grand Canyon, and even comes close to knocking over the Empire State Building, and must face the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the Champions, and of course S.H.I.E.L.D., who pursues him throughout the story. Of course, there are a few Japanese scientists along for consultation, and they build a giant samurai mecha called Red Ronin, who knows that Godzilla isn't evil at heart, and helps him defeat another set of giant monsters from space. Obviously, this series is filled with every science fiction and superhero cliche you can imagine, right down to the hilariously melodramatic narration (and there's a lot of it when the main character can only roar!). But the plot sometimes crosses the line into ridiculous territory, especially when Godzilla is shrunk to lizard-size and has to fight an ordinary sewer rat, then later grows to man-size and is disguised in a coat and hat! The artwork is pretty cool, and I like the way Godzilla is drawn, as well as the 70s Jack Kirby-ish look that all of the human characters have. I had so much fun reading a new issue every morning, and now I'm going to miss enjoying these crazy adventures of the King of the Monsters!

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