Sunday, January 16, 2011

Essential Godzilla

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Essential Godzilla (Marvel, 2006).

Every couple of years, I find myself returning to this flatly ridiculous comic book and willfully overlooking the giant stack of problems with it. Overwritten narration, utterly terrible art, laughably poor designs, the inclusion of a little Johnny Sokko-wannabe screaming "no, don't hurt Godzilla!" every eighth page, the entire last third of the book, wherein, at one point, a shrunken Godzilla is spirited around Manhattan in a coat and hat... as really dumb comic books go, Marvel's mid-seventies Godzilla title is in a class by itself.

The original seventies Godzilla film series had already concluded when Marvel licensed the property for a two-year run written by Doug Moench. It's mostly drawn, badly, by Herb Trimpe, except when he was not available and some even worse artwork by Tom Sutton was provided. In it, Godzilla attacks America, only it's not so much an "attack" as a curious day outing. Every so often, Godzilla saves Salt Lake City or someplace from space monsters and then wanders off into the sunset, leaving the hapless stooges from SHIELD to hope that the next time he shows up, he doesn't blow up any oil refineries again. Nobody seems to want to actually follow Godzilla anywhere.

I enjoy this collection in part because of the nice nostalgia factor - naturally, I loved this funnybook when I was nine - and in part because of just how amazingly idiotic it all is. You'll really have to work hard to overlook that stupid, whiny kid who seems to have security clearance to everywhere and ends up, inevitably, piloting a giant robot for about seven episodes, but given a remit to entertain nine year-olds, Doug Moench did a serviceable job. It will make you wish that he'd been teamed with a better artist, though. Not recommended, unless you were nine in 1979.

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