Friday, August 28, 2009

Tales From the Vault: GODZILLA #24

On our final day of our week-long exploration of the mad marriage between Marvel comics and their various licensed properties, we look at the second part of the battle to end all battles: Godzilla vs. the Mighty Avengers!

Details: Once again, this July, 1979 offering is brought to you by the dream team of Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe, with Al Milgrom on editor duty. I should also mention that the inking is done by Dan Green; if I don’t, Bob Almond will probably karate chop me in the face. Plus, it’s particularly important here because I’m not sure any major comic artist has ever been as influenced for good or bad by his inker as Herb Trimpe. I don’t know if this means his pencils are just bland and forgettable as some people say or if it means he’s just really solid, but the quality of his work varies wildly depending on who is inking him. Green is one of the good ones, and as a result this issue looks pretty good.

Synopsis: When last we saw Godzilla, Yellowjacket and Wasp had thoroughly cleaned out his inner ear, which tickled so much that the giant dinosaur toppled into the Hudson River. Now he’s back on his feet and ready to resume his major throwdown with the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and SHIELD. But mostly with the Avengers.

Or, rather, he’s ready to ignore all of them and knock over the Empire State building instead, because, you know. Why not, really? This is something that our heroes just cannot allow, so the Avengers, the FF and SHIELD all rush into action. All except Thor, who instead stands on a rooftop and tries to figure out some kind of strategy to beat Godzilla. Man, this would be a good time to have some brilliant tactician on your team like Captain America, huh? Too bad he’s playing Pong with Wanda back on monitor duty. Good job, Thor!

(Side note: as Godzilla walks towards the Empire State Building, he passes an office where a nice scene of sexual harassment is taking place. Ah, the swinging 70’s! Stranger, for some reason Moench decided to name the sleazy boss Jarvis. Out of the billions of names available, why would you go with one of the handful that your audience is guaranteed to identify with one of your characters? I think “Mr. Smith” might have worked a little better here.)

While Thor hurts himself trying to think, The Fantastic Four decide to actually do something, so Reed Richards comes up with his own brilliant plan: pigpile on Godzilla! This accomplishes about what you would expect, namely widespread destruction and loss of human life. Luckily, while the FF is totally bungling everything, the Avengers are around to save the people of the city, which they do in a nice segment where Thor stops some falling debris and Iron Man saves some people from a burning building. It’s always cool to see superheroes actually helping people instead of just fighting villains.

However, that’s not going to keep the Empire State Building from falling over, so it’s time for plan B. Ini a pretty awesome display of might, just as Godzilla is about to knock the building over, Thor swoops in and props it up. Thor and Godzilla then both shove on the building from opposite sides, neither able to budge the other, until finally the building itself begins to shatter under the pressure. Damn right!

So now, as Wasp says, it’s desperation time. There’s only one thing left to do: a bigger pigpile on Godzilla! This time the Avengers and SHIELD join the FF in an “all-out blitz”, leading to a thoroughly sweet double splash of Godzilla taking them all on right in the heart of Manhattan.

Unfortunately, this moment of pure comic bliss is interrupted by the whiny little snot Rob “lizard lover” Takiguchi. Freeing himself from his SHIELD captors by kicking them in the shins – man, why didn’t Hydra ever think of that? – Rob rushes out onto the Helicarrier’s… uh, helipad… and begins weeping like Kate Gosselin. While all the heroes stand around, frozen by the tenderness of this moment, Rob implores Godzilla to stop fighting and just sort of walk over there into the ocean.

Moved by the kid’s heartfelt plea – or, more likely, eager to get away from this little whinebag as soon as possible, Godzilla does just that: he turns and walks right into the ocean, vanishing forever. And, wouldn’t you know it, just as he does so, Spider-man finally shows up, just in time to take that photo J. Jonah Jameson has been screaming about for two issues. Interestingly, we never see this picture, but context clues suggest that the photo he took is actually the cover of this issue. So for everyone who wondered what Peter Parker’s award winning photography looks like, wonder no more: it looks like it was drawn by Herb Trimpe.

And that’s… THE END!

Extras: Interestingly, there’s no mention in the letter column -- or as far as I can tell anywhere else -- that this is the last issue of the series. It’s implied a few places, but not actually stated outright.

Also of interest is the Hostess Fruit Pies advertisement in this issue. It features Thing fighting the robot Torgo, a.k.a the Ultimate Weapon. You may recall Torgo from a number of storylines in Fantastic Four, most notably the Slave Pits of Kral epic in Fantastic Four #91-93, which in some ways was a precursor to the popular Planet Hulk storyline from a few years ago. It’s a bit unusual for a Hostess ad to feature such a well known villain instead of some made up nobody. All you Torgo completists, get out your checklists!

My Grades: I really enjoyed this issue, though not quite as much as the last, due mainly to the sappy ending that you could see coming from another universe. I’ve still got to give it a B+ though, with an A+ for the great (though brief) Thor/Godzilla tussle.

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