Iron Man #193
Writer: Denny O'Neil
Artist: Luke McDonnell, Ian Akin, Brian Garvey
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Nearly six years after the closure of Marvel's Godzilla series, writer Denny O'Neil decides to revisit the character in what would become a controversial move among fans of the King of the Monsters. This book, Iron Man #193, sees the title character with some of the West Coast Avengers tackling Doctor Demonicus. The twisted geneticist, not fighting directly, utilizes the heavily mutated Godzilla to do his bidding and battle the heroes on a remote island. The other Avengers are powerless against the beast, forcing Iron Man to grapple with the monster and fly out to sea, where the comic ends on a cliff hanger.
This book represents the third story arc to include the Doctor Demonicus character. Originally in Godzilla #4, Demonicus sent Batragon and other genetic creations at Godzilla before being beaten back. His next appearance was in another licensed series by Marvel called Shogun Warriors, which was based on a Mattel line of toys (which, interestingly enough, featured Godzilla and Rodan even though neither appeared in the comic adaptation). The villain then slipped into obscurity for more than half a decade before reemerging in 1985. The timing for his reappearance should be obvious: with an upcoming US release of The Return of Godzilla (1984) under the Godzilla 1985 marquee, what better time to bring back one of Godzilla's old foes?
Demonicus is not alone, though. With him is a giant aquatic beast who has been bent to the doctor's will. To be clear, this creature is purposely, and conveniently, never named. Yet the allusions as to who it is are clear. Marvel no longer had the licensee to the Godzilla character, yet through some creative writing from O'Neil the identity of this beast are easily traceable.
Demonicus, giving a monologue about the creature, refers to him as his "once greatest enemy", and when coupled with the fact that he had only faced Godzilla, the robot Shogun Warriors and S.H.I.E.L.D. at this time that statement narrows the field. So what happened to Godzilla? This is also made clear in this issue, as Demonicus tells the creature that if he performs well the doctor may even spare him of "further mutation". For some fans, this isn't enough of a confirmation, and who can blame them for not wanting to think that one of Godzilla's obscure, and fairly lackluster, opponents managed to get such an upper hand over the King of the Monsters. Yet the evidence, and certainly the timing of this reemergence, make the attempted connection by the writing staff overt.
This wouldn't be the first time the company flirted with licensed properties outside of their comic runs either. In the 1970's and 1980's, this type of practice was not uncommon. For example, characters from both the comic adaptations of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Transformers (Machine Man and Circuit Breaker respectively) have appeared in the main Marvel Comics continuity. Certainly Godzilla's own comic run from the company featured a plethora of Marvel heroes already, such as the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, so his induction into the continuity was already established.
Sidestepping the controversy, though, how does this comic fare? Well, it's pretty standard actually. There isn't much to the story to begin with, while the art isn't too impressive, although there are a few shots to the contrary of that statement. If not for the Demonicus/Godzilla angle, there would be little reason to even give the book a second glance, as it feels like a fairly run-of-the-mill and rudimentary entry in a long running series.
Godzilla Color Special
Cover: Arthur Adams
Writer: Arthur Adams, Randy Stradley
Artist: Arthur Adams
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Arguably the greatest English Godzilla comic published to date, and possibly just the greatest in general. When the Godzilla Color Special was first printed back in 1992, color in Dark Horse Comics was a rare occasion. This issue proves, though, how much better Godzilla comics are when presented in full color. Arthur Adams is, without a doubt, the best artist ever attached to the Godzilla franchise in the West, and this comic showcases some of his best work on the character. The cover alone is an excellent shot of Godzilla, but the back, displaying Godzilla fighting Gekido-Jin with G-Force centered at the bottom, is simply breathtaking. The dialogue and captions are a little cheesy at times, but the story is pretty solid. The publication's plot sees an oni, by the name of Gekido-Jin, awaken after a man named Kogenta sacrifices himself to allow the creature to break free from its stony state and fight Godzilla. Many describe Gekido-Jin as a Daimajin clone, and while this may have been the intention, the character makes for a very different foe for the King of the Monsters than what we have seen in the past. As for the battles in the book, they are well structured. Adams has a gift for being able to capture action sequences in his panels, and this talent comes through full force in this book for the battle between the two monsters.
As a closing side remark, it's interesting to note that the G-Force featured in this book actually predates the use of the name in the movies, which started in 1993 with Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. In fact, Toho seemed to take a lot of notice toward this comic in particular, even placing one of Adams' images, of Godzilla emerging from the water, on the front cover of the script for Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995).
Godzilla King of the Monsters #23
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Herb Trimpe, Dan Green
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Marvel gets ready to take their Godzilla King of the Monsters series out with a bang, as this issue before the last in the comic's run continues Godzilla's rampage through New York, this time to his full size after previously being shrunk by Henry "Yellowjacket" Pym's "pym particles". With the Fantastic Four having already gone toe-to-toe with the behemoth when he was human size, and SHIELD unable to thwart the nuclear menace, the Avengers kick into action and their exploits against Godzilla are covered in this issue. To Marvel's credit, Godzilla is mostly unparalleled by his adversaries, shrugging off the Avengers' respective strikes, although panels alert the reader that the King of the Monsters is often under tremendous pain by attacks such as a blow from Thor's Mjolnir despite that he retaliates in short order. As it turns out, and the cover of the title suggests, only Wasp and the Yellowjacket are able to make any sort of successful attack against the creature, although even this is a fairly minor victory that Godzilla still manages to come back from and leave this issue on sort of a cliffhanger.
In regards to how this comic fares, it's a decent read. Anyone who is both a fan of Godzilla and Marvel Comics will likely get a kick out of the huge melding of the two properties, though, and all of the cameo's within, such as one from J. Jonah Jameson. The art by Herb Trimpe, however, is a bit mixed. He does a very good job rendering the Avengers and other iconic Marvel characters, which should come as no surprise since he had previously worked on other series such as Captain America and Iron Man, but falters a little in regards to the title character who looks uneven from panel to panel. This is a stable complaint of the series as a whole, though, so nothing new or particularly noteworthy about it in regards to this particular issue. Overall, it's an enjoyable read and probably the best showcase of Godzilla against the Marvel Universe that the series has to offer.