Godzilla has appeared in a range of comic books that have been published in Japan and the United States.
Japanese Godzilla comics
In his native Japan, Godzilla has been featured in various comic books since his inception in 1954. These comics for the most part were black and white publications known as manga. The vast majority of these comics were adaptations of the films. Every film from Godzilla up to Godzilla 2000 received a comic adaptation with the exception of King Kong vs. Godzilla. As well, all the films from Godzilla vs. Megaguirus through Godzilla: Final Wars did not receive a comic book adaptation.
For the most part there were anywhere from two to four different adaptations of each film (The first comic adaptation of Godzilla vs. Biollante was called Godzilla 1990, while the second adaptation of Godzilla vs. Mothra was called Godzilla vs. Mothra: Great Study). Most of these comics (in particular the comics from the 1950s through the 1970s) were published in children's magazines such as Bokura, Bouken Oh, and Shonen, while others were published in yellow pages-sized monthly or weekly publications, while still others were published as one-shots and sold in movie theaters. Many of the latter comics (1980s–1990s) were published by Shogakukan Comics, Tentomushi comics, and Kodansya Comics. In the early 1990s, many of the original adaptations from the original series of Godzilla films were compiled into two pocketbook-sized volumes and reprinted by Bamboo Books.
Most of the time these adaptations would deviate from the original films and flesh out characters or add scenarios to the stories that were not present in the original film. Outside of these adaptations many of the original Godzilla films also received Asahi Sonorama book and record sets. These illustrated comic-style book and record sets featured painted artwork within.
Outside of these adaptations, Godzilla was also featured in original stories as well. A sequel story to the original film was published in 1955 called The Last Godzilla, while a sequel story to Godzilla Raids Again was published in 1958 called Godzilla 2: Anguirus Strikes Back. In 1979, the Japanese edition of Starlog featured a two part illustrated story written by Katsuhiro Otomo called A Space Godzilla. Part one was featured in issue #4 (Farewell Earth) while part 2 was featured in issue #6 (Return to the Stars). In 1991 an anthology style comic featuring different stories by different writers and artists was published called The Godzilla Comic. This was followed in 1992 by The Godzilla Comic Strikes Back: Gigantes(sic) The Fire Comic. These 2 comics featured varying styles of stories. The stories would range from typical Godzilla tales, to comedic stories, to violent stories, to even "adult" themed stories that featured nudity.
U.S. Godzilla comics
Through the years since 1976, there have been various Godzilla comics published by different comic book publishing companies. These range from promotional comics to comics published by large mainstream comic companies such as Marvel Comics.
Godzilla vs. Megalon comic
The first Godzilla comic published in the United States was actually a small promotional comic. In the summer of 1976 (as part of the publicity promoting the upcoming U.S. release of the film Godzilla vs. Megalon), a small 4-page comic book adaptation was published by Cinema Shares International Distribution Corp. and given away for free at movie theaters. The comic featured no credits (so the artist and writer are unknown) and featured no cover. It was magazine-sized and published on newsprint. The comic is infamous for getting names of some of the major characters wrong as Jet Jaguar is referred to as "Robotman," and Gigan is referred to as "Borodan".
From 1977 through 1979, Godzilla starred in a 24-issue run of comics written by Doug Moench, drawn by Herb Trimpe, and published by Marvel Comics entitled Godzilla, King of the Monsters. The series thrusts Godzilla completely into the Marvel Universe. In a nod to King Kong vs. Godzilla, Godzilla first appears by exploding out of an iceberg near Alaska; although, how the prehistoric creature came to be trapped again in ice is never revealed. Over the course of the series, he crosses the continental United States and eventually ends up in New York City.
Godzilla's appearances in the Toho films are alluded to in a few issues. In at least one issue, Godzilla seems like the lesser of two evils. He clashes with a monster far more evil, who generally acts more like an actual animal, albeit one with unusual levels of intelligence. Despite such allusions to the films, Godzilla is depicted as more animal-like than as the highly intelligent, perhaps sentient, creature depicted in the majority of the films by the time of the comics' printing (1977), in what is considered the Showa period of Godzilla films (1954–75). This version of Godzilla, while intelligent, is not the protector of mankind; however, he does, at times, exhibit compassion for human characters such as "Dum Dum" Dugan, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is tasked with his capture, destruction, or repulsion from America, and Robert Takiguchi, the grandson of Japanese scientific expert Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi, who regards Godzilla as a hero and who is depicted as being Godzilla's only friend. Unlike other characters whose actions, thoughts, and feelings are told through thought balloons, Godzilla's are narrated externally via captions.
Godzilla encounters not only agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. during the course of the series but many other heroes in the Marvel Comics universe. Among them are the now-defunct group the Champions (sans Ghost Rider, though he was a member at the time), the Fantastic Four, Devil Dinosaur, Moon-Boy, and the Avengers, along with a brief cameo by Spider-Man in the last issue of the series.
Godzilla also fights other gigantic monsters, including Yetrigar, a King Kong-esque giant primate, and the alien Mega Monsters.Red Ronin, a giant robotic entity created specifically for the series, reappears in Avengers, Solo Avengers, and an issue of Wolverine, in which Godzilla is given an oblique nod, being referred to as a "Time Lost Dinosaur," presumably to avoid legal action by Toho. Marvel had, by then, lost the rights to depict Godzilla. Red Ronin also appears in the series Earth X.
Between February 1979 and July 1979, Marvel had the comic book rights to both Godzilla and the Shogun Warriors. While the characters never crossed paths in their respective comics, artist Herb Trimpe (who did the artwork for both of the series) drew a variation of Godzilla and Rodan alongside Daimos, Great Mazinger, Raydeen, and Gaiking on the top page of a comic book ad soliciting the Shogun Warrior toys. Mattel Toys (who had the license to the Shogun Warriors) also had the licence to produce toys based on Godzilla and Rodan at this time. Also around this time, Marvel had prepared another story featuring Godzilla where he would have battled Dragon Lord. But since the copyright had expired, they modified Godzilla into a dragon like creature named The Wani for a story published in Marvel Spotlight vol. 2 #5 (March 1980).
Despite the loss of copyright, Marvel would continue to use Godzilla for several years afterward. In Iron Man No. 193, one of Godzilla's primary antagonists from the original series, mad scientist Doctor Demonicus, captures and mutates Godzilla so that he no longer resembles his Toho namesake. This altered version of the monster would appear in Iron Man #193 and would return in No. 194, and #196. His last appearance was in The Thing No. 31, where he is actually referred to as Godzilla.
Outside of this, Godzilla has been referenced or spoofed in other Marvel comics. In The Web of Spider-Man Annual No. 2 from 1986, the character Warlock from The New Mutants turned into Godzilla and then King Kong during a rampage through New York City. In The New Mutants Annual No. 3 in 1987, the Impossible Man turns into Godzilla during a battle with Warlock who turns into Red Ronin. In The Amazing Spider-Man No. 413 from 1996, Spider-Man battles a huge robot toy Godzilla (among other giant robotic toys) brought about by the villain Mysterio. In the opening issue of The Mighty Avengers from 2007, a creature bearing a resemblance to the Heisei (1980s and '90s) Godzilla, appears alongside other giant monsters sent to attack the surface world by the Mole Man. When this issue was solicted in Marvel Previews via a sneak peek page, the creature had Godzilla's distinctive dorsal spines. But when the actual comic was published, the dorsal spines had been removed. Godzilla is also mentioned in the 2005 one shot comic Marvel Monsters: From the Files of Ulysses Bloodstone and the Monster Hunters. In Astonishing X-Men No. 36 (which was published in 2011), the monster Fin Fang Foom is rampaging through downtown Tokyo. In one panel, he passes by a building that has a Godzilla billboard on its roof.
The Marvel Comics atlas (under the article on Japan) states that the Age of Monsters began in 1954, which is evidently a reference to the original Godzilla film. Additionally, the entry mentions that Godzilla returns years later and is the reason for the construction of Red Ronin and the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Godzilla Squadron. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Godzilla-hunting ship, Behemoth, has recently resurfaced under the command of Amadeus Cho in The Incredible Hercules #115. Yuriko Takiguchi, too, has reappeared in recent years, having been recruited by Beast to join his X-Club in Uncanny X-Men #506. Another monster resembling Godzilla served as the "self-destruct event" for Takiguchi's lab on Kunashir Island.[volume & issue needed]
In 2006, Marvel reprinted the entire 24 issue run of Godzilla, King of the Monsters as a tradepaperback collection called Essential Godzilla, King of the Monsters. Like all of Marvel's Essential line, the series was published in black and white rather than color like in its original printing.
Dark Horse Comics
In 1987, Dark Horse Comics acquired the rights to Godzilla and for the next 12 years published various comic books and trade paperbacks based on the character. These ran the gamut from back up stories in anthology titles, to one shots, to mini-series, to an ongoing series, as well as various reprints in the trade paperback format. In 1987, they published a black and white one shot comic called Godzilla King of the Monsters Special. Between 1988 and 1989, DH published a 6 issue mini series simply called Godzilla. It was a translated version of the Japanese manga of the film The Return of Godzilla, which was based on the Japanese version of the film rather than the Americanized version, Godzilla 1985. This series was reprinted in the trade paperback Godzilla, which was issued in 1990 and then reissued in 1995. It was also reprinted in color in the mini series Dark Horse Classics: Terror of Godzilla #1-#6 from 1998–1999.
In 1992, an illustration of Godzilla (provided by Arthur Adams) was published in San Diego Comic Con Comics #1. Also that year the one shot Godzilla Color Special was published. It would be reprinted as simply Dark Horse Classics Godzilla in 1998.
In 1993, Godzilla was featured in the anthology series Dark Horse Comics in issues #10 and #11. That year Godzilla was also featured in a pair of one shot comics. Urban Legends, which dispells the dual ending myth from the film King Kong vs Godzilla, as well as Godzilla vs Barkley, which was based on the commercial Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley. This comic was also published in Japan.
In 1995, Godzilla appeared in the one shot comic Godzilla vs. Hero Zero. That year Godzilla starred in an ongoing series called Godzilla King of the Monsters that ran from issue #0-#16. This series was published from 1995 through 1996. The series features several new monsters for Godzilla to battle and a story arc in which Godzilla was flung through time by a would-be archvillain, who uses him to cause the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, sink the Titanic, and even pit him against the Spanish Armada. Godzilla would be flung into the far flung future as well and would rampage across it before returning to the modern day. The last issue of the Dark Horse series sees Godzilla flung back into time to just a few hours before the asteroid, which supposedly destroys the dinosaurs impacted on Earth, and fights an alien creature. This issue first seems to have an 'it was all a dream' ending, as Godzilla wakes from his slumber in the modern day. But then a twist is thrown into the ending. Godzilla is shown staring at a piece of his opponent's tail that is still in his hand from where he had ripped it off in the final moments of their battle before the impact.
In 1996, Godzilla appeared in the anthology series Dark Horse Presents in issue #106, as well the miniseries A Decade of Dark Horse in issue #4. Also that year some of the earlier published material was reprinted in the one shot comic Art Adams' Creature Features.
Finally in 1998, Godzilla appeared in trade paperbacks and miniseries that were simply reprinting earlier material. This included the mini series Dark Horse Classics: Godzilla King of the Monsters #1-#6 and the trade paperbacks Godzilla Age of Monsters and Godzilla Past, Present, Future.
Trendmasters Godzilla Comic
In 2010, IDW Publishing obtained the rights for the license to Godzilla, and began publishing a new 12 issue series in March 2011, called Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters. Originally titled Godzilla: Monster World, the new series launched with a painted cover by Alex Ross as well as a record 100 plus variant covers that were mostly retailer incentives. This promotion allowed comic book shop owners to have personalized variants featuring their store being demolished by Godzilla's foot, if they ordered over 500 copies. Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters No. 1 was therefore able to sell out of its first printing. In August 2011, IDW released a comic called Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters 100-Cover Charity Spectacular. The comic featured all the unique covers of the comic book smashing variants of issue No. 1 via a cover gallery. Proceeds of the sale went to benefit the International Medical Corps for Tsunami relief in Japan. The 12 issue series was collected as a three volume tradpaperback.
In May 2012, IDW began publishing a new ongoing series, simply called Godzilla. The series ran 13 issues. In November, they began collecting the series as a three volume trade paperback collection.
In June 2013, IDW began publishing their third ongoing series called Godzilla: Rulers of Earth.
Outside of the ongoing series, IDW also published various miniseries. They published a 5 issue miniseries called Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths from June–October 2011, that was then collected as a tradepaperback in November.
Unlike the previous companies who licensed Godzilla, IDW was able to acquire the rights to other Toho movie monsters. IDW initially announced Godzilla, Anguirus, Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Kumonga, Hedorah, Gigan, Mechagodzilla, Titanosaurus, Battra, SpaceGodzilla and Destoroyah, but have recently added Moguera, Varan, Manda, Baragon, Gaira, Sanda, Ebirah, Gorosaurus, Gezora, Jet Jaguar, Megalon, Biollante, Orga, Megaguirus, Zilla, Monster X and Keizer Ghidorah to their acquired monsters.
Marvel Comics published Essential Godzilla in 2006 as part of its Essential Marvel line of reprint books. The 440-page Essential Godzilla collects all 24 issues of the Godzilla, King of the Monsters comic published by Marvel in black and white format, spanning the two-year period from 1977 to 1979.
Dark Horse published Godzilla: Past, Present, Future and Godzilla: Age of Monsters in 1998. The former collects issues No. 5 to No. 15 of the Godzilla miniseries and a short story from Decade of Dark Horse No. 4, while the latter collects the Godzilla Special, the Godzilla Color Special, Godzilla No. 0 to No. 4, Godzilla No. 16, Godzilla vs. Hero Zero," Godzilla vs. Barkley, and a short story from Dark Horse Presents #106.
|Title||Material collected||Date Released||ISBN|
|Essential Godzilla||Godzilla #1-24||March 22, 2006||ISBN 978-0-7851-2153-4|
|Godzilla: Age of Monsters||Godzilla, various Dark Horse Comics issues||February 18, 1998||ISBN 978-1-5697-1277-1|
|Godzilla: Past, Present, Future||Godzilla, various Dark Horse Comics issues||March 25, 1998||ISBN 978-1-5697-1278-8|
|Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters, Volume 1||Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1-4||October 4, 2011||ISBN 978-1-6137-7016-0|
|Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters, Volume 2||Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #5-8||January 17, 2012||ISBN 978-1-6137-7122-8|
|Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters, Volume 3||Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #9-12||May 15, 2012||ISBN 978-1-6137-7205-8|
|Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths||Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths #1-5||November 22, 2011||ISBN 978-1-6137-7033-7|
|Godzilla: Legends||Godzilla: Legends #1-5||July 3, 2012||ISBN 978-1-6137-7223-2|
- *"Scans of the Ebirah: Horror of the Deep manga".
- *"Reviews of some of the 1990s Godzilla Manga".
- *"Scans of Ebirah: Horror of the Deep comicbook and record set".
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- Godzilla, King of the Monsters #23
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters #3
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters #20
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters #21
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters #23
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters #24
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- DeFalco, Tom "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 197: "Tako Shamara became the Dragon Lord in Marvel Spotlight #5 by writer/editor Marv Wolfman and artist Steve Ditko."
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- Kaiju Comics
- Kaiju Books
- Godzilla Comics
- Godzilla's Path through the Marvel Universe Tracks the geographic location of Godzilla through the Marvel Comics series.