Bizarro Back Issues: Tiny Godzilla’s Time Travel Adventure (1979)
It was only a few days ago that I wrote about why Marvel's Godzilla comic was one of the most fun titles of the Bronze Age. The thing is, doing an overview of an entire 24-issue series doesn't really give you the opportunity to go into the specifics and explain just what it was that made it so great. So if anyone still has any doubts about whether they should be spending some time digging through back issues boxes to put together a run, I thought it might be a good idea to go a little deeper to one of the many high points of the run.
And by that, I mean the time that Godzilla shrank down to tiny size, had a fistfight with the Thing, and then went back in time to have a wrestling match against Devil Dinosaur.
I already covered the series as a whole last week, but this story probably requires a little background. Like I said then, the great thing about this series is that it's Godzilla in the Marvel Universe, with pretty much everything that implies. He fights S.H.I.E.L.D. and goes up against the Avengers, and it just so happens that the Avengers have a pretty effective way of dealing with giant monsters that they've been using since before the team was even founded: Pym Particles!
Using those things on Godzilla is just logical -- well, in a universe where shrinking particles and Godzillas exist, I mean -- so that's exactly what they do. Of course, while shrinking Godzilla down to Fun Size helps to make things a little more manageable, it's nowhere near the end of the trouble. He wanders around in the sewers punching out giant rats, ruins at least one coat by wearing it over his radioactive back spikes, and worst of all, it turns out that Pym Particles are only a temporary solution. They're wearing off, so they need to either dose him again or figure out something else to do.
That's where we rejoin Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe in the pages of Godzilla #21 and 22 for a story that opens with Godzilla getting punched into a tank full of sharks.
Let it never be said that those dudes don't know how to start a comic book.
The great thing about this scene is how panicked everyone is -- and how sheepish Ben Grimm is about his ill-fated attempt at bopping -- at seeing Godzilla in danger. The fact that everyone is interested in stopping Godzilla without actually killing him is one of my favorite things about this comic. Even though he's been smashing through Seattle and burning everything in sight with atomic fire, everyone still recognizes that he's not really evil, and is in fact a one-of-a-kind scientific treasure.
I mean, that doesn't mean that they have to be gentle with him or anything, you understand.
Seriously: This is a comic in which the Thing saves Godzilla by uppercutting him out of a shark tank. Why there aren't at least three major religions built around this issue, I will never understand.
With the Pym Particles wearing off, trying to keep Godzilla from wrecking everything without harming him is a pretty tough challenge. Fortunately, Reed Richards is there, and after chilling out while his best friend punched Godzilla into and out of a shark tank and then punched a few sharks for good measure (the best comic ever, you guys), he finally comes to a conclusion on what to do.
They'll just use that time machine they've had sitting around since Fantastic Four #5.
Incidentally, Jack Kirby's design for Dr. Doom's time platform (which is to say "a square on the floor") is one of my favorite things ever. So great.
Anyway, far be it from me to question Dr. Richards' scientific conclusions, but I'm not really sure that sending Godzilla back to prehistory is really "correcting one of nature's little mistakes." If doing something as small as killing a butterfly can alter the timeline to the point where it's unrecognizable, then sending a 200 foot-tall nuclear kaiju back in time is probably going to have some pretty bad consequences. But, you know, I'm not the one with a time machine, so my opinion doesn't really matter here.
Sure enough, they dump Godzilla back to that hazy bit of pre-history that Kirby called The X-Age!!, and surprisingly, Godzilla is totally into it:
Of course, that's before he takes a look around and notes that even here, there are evil (cave)men causing trouble, leading their dinosaurs to claim the valley that Godzilla has decided that he wants for his own. Now, this is where things start to get a little strange, because it's implied here and throughout the series that Godzilla has some innate sense of justice that leads him to battle evil. I've never been much of a fan of the movies -- the Marvel comics are legitimately my favorite way to experience Godzilla, for obvious reasons involving the number of sharks punched in each form -- so I have to ask, is this actually a thing?
It is here, anyway. Godzilla trounces the dinosaurs that are sent to drive him out, and while he's in the fight, Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy notice the ruckus from a nearby forest. Moon Boy, who has spent his entire life hanging out with a bright red Tyrannosaurus Rex who survived being dunked in a volcano and somehow had super-strength and invulnerability burned into his body in the process, notices that Godzilla breathes fire and flips the f**k out. He assumes that Godzilla is a demon, and while that makes sense, the fact that he's hanging out with something whose actual name is "Devil" makes it a little hypocritical that he immediately wants to destroy Godzilla.
Either way, we get a pretty amazing fight:
Now, if you've read, say, any Marvel comic ever, you probably know that two protagonists getting into a fight is just a prelude to teaming up, and that holds true even when the fight is between two dinosaurs and involves actual bodyslams and submission holds. Moon Boy realizes his mistake in thinking that Big G was in league with the bad guys, but it's too late. By the time he calls off the battle, they're already surrounded.
And then it gets even more awesome.
Back in the present -- or, you know, 1979 -- things aren't quite as Godzilla-free as they might seem. While Dum Dum Dugan, Dr. Takiguchi and the rest of Godzilla's supporting cast are sitting around wondering what they should do now that they've won, Ben and Reed are back at the Baxter Building when they notice the smell of radiation is in the air.
Listen, I know. But if we can buy a giant atomic dinosaur and an orange rock monster who likes cheesburgers, we can deal with smellable radiation.
Anyway, it turns out that Pym Particles, nuclear dinosaurs and Von Doom radiation don't really get along with each other, and the Time Platform is getting ready to blow. No sooner have they evacuated Times Square and thrown down the platform -- and no sooner have Devil Dinosaur and Godzilla thoroughly trounced their enemies in the Valley of Flame -- than it erupts, bringing a full-sized Godzilla back to New York.
And then, in the next issue, this happens:
So yeah. I don't want to say it's the best comic ever, but it was certainly the reigning Best Godzilla Team-Up Story In Comic Book History for at least the next 14 years.