In an Internet filled with overwhelming negativity and pointless hatred of frivolous stuff, it's sometimes necessary to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember why we enjoy comics in the first place. Character Spotlight is a weekly feature showcasing some of the Outhouse's favorite characters that epitomize why we read comics. Maybe you'll learn something, maybe you won't, but regardless we hope you enjoy the Outhouse's Character Spotlight!
We all know the story by now. A dinosaur is laced with radiation from an atomic bomb. He loves picking on Japan. He has the most entertaining film series outside the US. What more is there to say? Oh yes.
Cue that Akira Ifkube theme!!
Do I even have to say it? Of course I do. GIANT MONSTERS DESTROYING CITIES AND FIGHTING EACH OTHER!!! What's not to like from the monsters who started this genre? For fun and a nice message, there's nothing greater than a Godzilla film. You can't help but root for the monster because he represents nature responding to the actions of man.
For those who want to know my opinion of the Godzilla films, I've already made an article of my Top 15 Kaiju Films. I could talk for days on end about these films. They're all just fun, endearing stuff.
Godzilla v. 1 #1-24 – The first Godzilla comics ever came from… Marvel?! That's right, Marvel was the first US comic company to make Godzilla comics. Though the series never featured the Big G's classic kaijus, it did feature him taking on S.H.I.E.L.D. (specifically a division run by Dum Dum Dugan and assisted by Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi, who would later show up in Matt Fraction's Uncanny X-Men run), the giant mecha Red Ronin, Dr. Demonicus (who showed up in part of the Hood's gang in Brian Bendis's New Avengers run), and the final issue had him taking on at that time the ENTIRE Marvel Universe. Not too shabby for the King of the Monsters.
As for the final fate of this Godzilla? Well, there he was captured, renamed the Wani, and further mutated by Demonicus. He showed up in Iron Man v. 1 #193-194, and 196. The Marvel Godzilla's final appearance was in The Thing v. 1 #31. It has not been seen since, but as Mr. Martin once eloquently put: “Godzilla WILL return.”
Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley #1 – During the Dark Horse Era they produced this comic based on this commercial:
Yes, a giant sized Charles Barkley does do battle with Godzilla and it turns into a one on one basketball game. The comic has to be seen to be believed and at least read once in your life.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters #0-16 - This is Dark Horse's ongoing with our favorite kaiju. Again, it featured Godzilla taking on original monsters and not his usual foes. What it does feature is Godzilla being thrown back in time and at various points of history (he's responsible for the sinking of the Titanic, destroys the Spanish Armada, and, in the final issue, is sent to the end of the dinosaurs. There, he encounters a alien kaiju, and the two square off as the asteroids smack into the Earth). The series ends in a twist.
Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1-13 – This is IDW's first entry into Godzilla comics. The series features Godzilla taking on his classic Toho foes and the series features the first US comic appearances of Rodan, Angurius, Battra, Kumonga, Mechagodzilla (in his Heisei form), and Space Godzilla.
A warning to those who read this series: the first six issues are charged with MUCH politically humor. Also, the humans are the main characters of the series, not the kaiju. There are plot elements teased, but nothing comes about it until the next ongoing (Mothra subplot in #4 I'm talking about you). This reporter would have re-titled this series as “The Walking Kaiju” since at it's core is humans adjusting to the kaiju that now populate it and try to survive.
By #8, the series starts to find it's footing and it features two insane battles which occur during the end of the series. #11-12 have Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah vs. Mechagodzilla, and, in #13, the final issue has Godzilla vs. Rodan & Battra. Again, this series is alright, but not a necessary read unless you want to read it for the later parts of the book.
Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths #1-5 – It's the first of IDW's Godzilla mini-series that were released alongside the ongoings (this one was out the same time Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters was being released) and the first actual series of IDW you should read. The story by current Detective Comics scribe John Layman, while not fully a Godzilla tale (it's really a Mothra one), has a disgraced cop named Sato forcefully use the Shōbijin (the small twin women who are linked to the insect kaiju) to have Mothra take out the Yakuza crime lord who destroyed his life. In the course of the series, Sato learns the price of kaiju help. The mini is a grand mixture of Showa ethics (the human story is ended by the kaiju) and has a more mature Heisei and later Showa Era bite to it as well. A really fun story!
The mini features the first US comic appearances of these classic Toho kaiju: Mothra, Titanosarus, and King Ghidorah (in his Grand King form and several months before his appearance in the actual ongoing). Again, Godzilla has a more supporting role in the mini-series, but does have a looming presence. You can almost hear that classic Akira Ifukube theme when he hits Tokyo bay.
Godzilla Legends #1, 4 & 5- The second mini-series focuses on the other Kaiju of Toho. However, the three issues also have a Godzilla appearance in them. #1 features the first US comic appearance of DESTROYAH as the devlish kaiju fights Angurius. Godzilla shows up at the end of the issue, with the broest of bro moments occurring between he and Angurius. #3 features Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (Heisei version again) vs. Hedorah (aka the Smog Monster) and turns into the first two teaming up to defeat the pollution fueled kaiju. #5 has a daredevil who takes on one final challenge: climb to the top of Godzilla's head with only his wits, radiation suit, hands, and feet. Of course, Godzilla runs into another kaiju, Kumonga (the giant tarantula).
#2 is a forgettable Rodan tale with no appearance of the King of the Monsters. However, those who are fans of the later Showa Era should check out #3. Though it spotlights Titanosaurus, it features the first US comic appearance of Heisei human character Miki Saragusa and several Showa races that would ruin the surprise twist at the end of the issue if I told you about them.
Godzilla #1-13 – An overlooked and under-rated (it had the bad habit of coming out the same time with the next entry below it) second ongoing from the IDW era (its final issue was released this week actually). To best sum up this series: Jason Statham vs. Godzilla. Yep, that's basically the story. A British ex-special forces (who looks and talks like our favorite British action hero) carries a bitter grudge against our favorite Kaiju. Unfortunately for him, even though he's good at Kaiju catching, other humans have other plans for the Kaiju. It's unlucky for all parties involved; Monster X, Space Godzilla, Hedorah, and Gigan come crashing to the Earth looking to destroy the Earth.
The series has all the cliches a Jason Statham action movie has, but it's also a Godzilla movie (well, comic). The two parts mesh into a fun, entertaining series that introduces Monster X (and those who know this particular kaiju KNOW what this means), Kiryu (Mechagodzilla's Millennium form), and Gigan to IDW's Godzilla world (the monster was teased on the covers to Kingdom of Monsters and Gangsters & Goliaths, but here is were he FINALLY shines). Like a Jason Statham movie, the series is nothing but fun and action. So those looking for a deep story, well, you're reading Godzilla vs. Jason Statham. You get what you pay for.
Godzilla: Half Century War #1-5 – The golden goose and quintessential Godzilla story. For the greatest Godzilla story written/drawn in US form, THIS is the comic to read. James Stokoe tackles, with great love and passion, the life of Ota Murakami, who spends that entire life hunting Godzilla.
From the awesome, gorgeous art to the perfectly balanced human/kaiju drama, this series does it all. Stokoe understands the sandbox he's playing in and has fun with it. The comic has it all, and each issue furthers the story while paying homage to each era of the King of Monsters. For those who wonder what other kaiju show up in this series, well, you've got, so far, the best appearances of King Ghidorah and Gigan, along with Angurius, Mothra, Rodan, Megalon (the kaiju's first appearance), Ebrich (the kaiju's first appearance), Hedorah, Megalon, Battra, Space Godzilla, and TWO versions of Mechagodzilla (Heisei and Kiryu). The whole story is seen through Ota's perspective. and it might leave you in tears. After reading this series, you'll be begging Toho to adapt this story, demanding IDW make prints of the Stokoe's art, and hunting down James Stokoe's other work (he's most famous for indy comic series Orc Stain).
Godzilla can Even Beat Superman:
It's not even a challenge. This is the King of all Monsters, and he's already taken on all of Marvel's heroes in the late 70s. Godzilla WOULD WIN.
Where the Character is Today:
Currently, he's starring in Godzilla: Rulers of the Earth, a monthly ongoing. That ongoing currently features Godzilla going up against Zilla (yes that Zilla), and will have the first appearances of other Toho kaiju who haven't appeared in comics yet (Biollante, Baragon, Gigan in possibly his Godzilla: Final Wars form, and possibly more)! If you haven't picked up or read this series do so! It really needs your help (as shown with series editor Bob Curnow talking about sales for the first issue)! Some of the reviews online of the series has gotten are misleading, this is a series made by Godzilla fans for Godzilla fans. It has our favorite kaiju drawn by Matt Frank and written by who clearly understands the genre he's playing with perfectly.
No doubt IDW will probably shortly announce a new Godzilla mini-series as well. All of this will get your kaiju blood burning for the big screen return of the giant monster next summer.
As for who will take over the next Character Spotlight? Cobra Commander!!!!! Why? Because G.I. Joe: Retaliation hits DVD/Blu Ray in a few weeks. The world needs to know the best Cobra Commander stories! So I command!!!