The King of the Monsters: Marvel’s Bronze Age Godzilla Comics

by Blaise Tassone

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In the Bronze Age, Marvel was growing with its readers. By the late 1970s, there were plenty of mature and serious themes portrayed within the pages of Marvel’s many monthly titles. Then, in 1977 and in a seeming attempt to recapture a younger audience (primarily male, to be sure), Marvel launched a comic about a movie dinosaur that, whatever else its faults, was a fun adventure comic.

I’m not at all going to criticize the Marvel Godzilla comics. I own several high grade copies of Godzilla #1 and treasure them, since they remind me of my youth. However, with yet another upcoming movie on the way, and given the ever-growing interest in Marvel Bronze Age books, I want to take a look here at the goofy fun that was Marvel’s Godzilla in order to ask a simple question: why hasn’t this comic become as valuable as other comics from the same time?

Perhaps it’s due to the strange nature of the book.

Make no doubt about it, there’s something weird about the Marvel Godzilla comics from the 1970s.

No, it wasn’t the fact that the terror from Tokyo was casually thrown into the Marvel universe and ended up living and fighting alongside Spider-man and Thor, there was something else.

From his initial introduction, shown smashing his way out of an ice-berg (why is Godzilla living in an ice-berg in the first place? How did he get there? Never mind, the comic implores, just go with it cause you’re in for a thrill ride- don’t ruin this with your pesky logic!), to the adventures that unfolded in its pages- Godzilla was aimed at kids but wanted adults to enjoy themselves too.

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Godzilla, King of the Monsters #1 (1977) – First Issue of Godzilla; first Godzilla in the Marvel Universe

The history of this comic is no less weird than anything else about it.

After Marvel acquired the rights to the big lizard from ToHo studios, the story goes that Doug Moench (Batman, Moon Knight, Master of Kung Fu) and Herb Trimpe (The Incredible Hulk) were asked to bring the famous movie monster to life in the pages of Marvel comics.

Moench called up Stan Lee and told him he wanted to write a fun, freewheeling, comic that would appeal to both younger and older readers – Godzilla, at the time, not unlike today, was a B-movie monster. Lee gave his blessings and Moench was left with a daunting task: how do you make a Tyrannosaurus Rex fun and interesting? Then editor Archie Goodwin suggested using S.H.I.E.L.D in the comic, and for some reason Dum Dum Duggan was put in charge of capturing the Green Monster (Nick Fury, apparently, had better things to do). Thus, Marvel’s take on Godzilla was born.

During its short run, the book would see an impressive cohort of guest stars from the Marvel Universe. These included: members of the Avengers, the X-Men, Spider-man, the Champions (minus Ghost Rider), Devil Dinosaur, the Fantastic Four and others.

In the course of his comic, Godzilla would be shrunk by Pym Particles, dressed up in human clothes, befriended by a side-kick (Rob Takiguchi) and basically hunted repeatedly. The comic was cancelled after a two year run with issue #24.

So how do the numbers look on this iconic and now historic book? The next ‘Godzilla’ movie (featuring ‘Stranger Things’ actress Millie Bobby Brown) is set for release this summer.

Now you’d think if anything would increase prices on this book it would be a major motion picture, and you’d be right. However, while the book is actually spiking right now, it’s not exactly reaching Ms. Marvel levels.

The problem, it would appear, is that the last few ‘Godzilla’ films, especially the American produced ones, have been a mixed bag. The 1998 TriStar Pictures film was a moderate financial success, but was hated by critics and fans. The Legendary/Warner Bros. 2014 ‘Godzilla’ did much better, both critically and financially. The upcoming film will be a sequel to the 2014 movie, and set up a trilogy, but unless it really smashes records at the box office it may only marginally affect values of the Marvel Comic – which might drop again after the film’s release.

The only thing the comic has in its favor this time is that the new film shares the exact name of the 1977 Marvel comic. With 1,190 copies on the CGC census, it’s not hard to find a copy of Godzilla, King of the Monsters if you want one. If the iconic Herb Trimpe cover isn’t enough to entice you to buy, there are also signs that its value as an investment may be improving. Over the last 90 days, there have been no less than seven sales in certified 9.8 grade. Of those sales, the last three recorded eBay prices are: $229.95 (Dec. 16, 2018); $255.00 (Dec. 20, 2018); and 229.95 (Jan. 21, 2019). 9.8 certified copies currently have a positive +28.8% roi.

Now, if you really want a Godzilla comic with long term investment potential, then try to snag the ultra-scarce 35 cent cover price variant. Most recent sales were: Sept. 26, 2018, a 9.4 certified copy on eBay sold for $815.00. Then, on December 14, 2018, a lowly 3.5 sold again on eBay for $99.00. Long live the King!

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