If you collect Godzilla items, you are invariably going to end up with lots of Japanese text you can't read. (That is, unless you can, of course.) It goes with the hobby, the way cake goes with ice cream. It's just the way it is. I own every Godzilla comic ever made in the USA, and when this item came up on Ebay, listed as a "Japanese Godzilla comic book," I thought I would take a shot at it. The seller said it was rare, and truthfully, I go through what must be thousands of auctions each week, and I hadn't run into it before. So why not?
When it arrived in the mail, I was surprised when it wasn't shaped like a "comic," but a digest-sized paperback manga with a slipcover...."well, of COURSE it is," I thought to myself, "that makes more sense"! Just another vote for not taking an Ebay seller's description too literally.....but I was little-prepared for what I found inside!
The book, titled "Godzilla" and numbered at 1, was published by Kodansya Comics in 1992, which was right about when the 90's version of GODZILLA vs. MOTHRA was in theaters over there. It contains five stories, which seem to be loosely connected through the presence of a mad scientist-type figure, who we are going to completely ignore here for our purposes. Why, you ask? Mostly because he's dull. In fact, all of the cartoony humans in the book are quite dull, especially when you don't speak their language, but luckily, most of the pages are rife with kaiju action. That, we won't ignore for our purposes here, for it IS our purpose here.
You know, sometimes you read a comic, and you feel like the writers and artists really nailed the subject matter. Sometimes, you are a bit incredulous, and sometimes, just plain angry that they missed the mark so wantonly. Of course, there is a big difference between "dumping out the toy box" to play with characters, and completely disparaging or being blatantly disrespectful to the property you are working with. I'm going to leave it up to you to decide what's going on here.
While I leave you pondering what that rant was all about, let's turn to the first story in the manga. This is a weird one, because the enemy kaiju appears to be invented, and because the story sets up some weird themes the other four will pretty much follow. Oh, and bear with me here--this type of book is impossible to scan, and very hard to hold open and take clear photos of, so I did my best:
|Our story begins with Godzilla, who dramatically appears to some humans....|
|Then this happens.|
Now we encounter our first enemy kaiju, and we run into our first roadblock. Who is this? Moreover, WHAT is this? He looks like a random Ultraman foe. He appears to have Baragon's body (down to the ridges on his back) and a completely different head (wait a second, that WAS done on Ultraman, in the first series!), which looks like Magma the giant walrus with a huge horn on his head. The rest of the book will use only established Toho characters, so I have no idea what's going on here. I'm just going to resort to the old bromide, "I don't make the news, I just report it" for now!
Back to the action...
|This new creature walks up and greets Godzilla by deeply stabbing his horn straight through Godzilla's chest. Awake now, readers?|
Yeah, that just happened. It would be bizarre and gory enough if it was an isolated incident, but as you shall see, it becomes a downright PRECEDENT in this book. (Sort of strikes me like, in the films, where Gigan flies down over poor Angilas and slices him, and the kaiju blood splatters onto the camera, and you yell, "WOAH! Did I just see that?!" followed by, "Rewind it!!")
I told you it was violent! But you gotta admit, it's interesting!
And that's where our first story ends, but turning the page, the second one begins, and who should show up but...
|Yep, it's Biollante! The monstrous plant straightens its tentacles out, and traps Godzilla in a makeshift cage.|
I know. That sentence made no sense, but it happened. Now, as to HOW this would have worked, and exactly where Biollante was at the time (you would think he would have to be UNDER Godzilla for this to work correctly), I can't explain, and it isn't quite shown. You can insert all the jokes you want about tentacles in Japanese media, but I'm not going there. I can't, dear reader, because we have much more carnage to cover. In fact, our second enemy is just about to enter the ring:
|Woah, Megalon! Things just went from cool to SWEET!|
|Burrows his drill-hands deep into Godzilla's chest....wait a second, isn't that what happened a few pages ago? What does this artist HAVE against Godzilla? What's he ever done to HIM? ....oh yeah, Godzilla reacts.|
Freeing himself from the tentacles that have made themselves into prison bars, Godzilla lifts Biollante by what appears to be a large whiffle ball on the front of her chest.
He flings the giant plant beast directly at Megalon, who promptly disintegrates her. Didn't know Megalon could do that, did you? I didn't either. But I do now.
But Megalon still has some "paybacks" coming....Godzilla swipes his mighty tail, and slices the, uh, hood ornament (?) off of Megalon's head. (Any entymologists in the house?)
Seriously though....that was a pretty clean cut, like a giant samurai sword would do. Not a blunt, muscular, armored tail! I guess I'm thinking about it too deeply, but really.
So then, while Megalon is still reeling from the shock of the blow of the force of the trauma of the impact of it, Godzilla takes a deep breath, and promptly disintegrates HIM. So there!
And thus concludes the first two installments of our story, and if you think you see patterns emerging, just wait for the rest....
TO BE CONTINUED
NOTE: According to the "kaijusaurus" blog, the Baragon & Magma combination is named "Sea Baragon," or "Baraguma," so now we know. It doesn't make it any better, but now we know. When you have a kaiju at the pinnacle of perfection, why would you want to stick a walrus head on it???