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If Dum Dum lets the big guy wear his hat I might need resuscitation – Godzilla #6

October 8, 2011

Did Dum Dum Dugan ever ride Godzilla around like he was Moon Boy and the big galoot was Devil Dinosaur? If the answer’s no, then allow me to pose a second question: WHY THE HELL NOT?

It’s not always easy to make a gigantic lizard with radioactive fire-breath a sympathetic character, but Marvel tried its damnedest during Godzilla’s two-year rampage through Marvel continuity. Though he often ran afoul of various members of that company’s hero roster, he was nevertheless portrayed as something akin to a misunderstood dog, a storytelling rut followed by everything from the King Kong remakes to Gorgo. This issue is a fine example of that well-worn trope, as something that could not possibly be considered warm and fuzzy is nevertheless rendered cuddly.

Written by Doug Moench and artified by Herb Trimpe (who also tackled that other 1970s Japanese import, Shogun Warriors), “A Monster Enslaved!” opens with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Gabe Jones tracking the big fella in a nifty whirligig:

The monster  Gojira, having tuckered himself out stomping around the wilderness, retires to what must be one of the largest caves on Earth for some rest. Cue cute-ifying moment #1:

Awwwwww. Somebody, quick, knit him a sweater with a big G on it.

Dum Dum, who looks like he’s gunned down a few Bambis in his day, is the head man on the Godzilla task force. Mothra. Rodan. Megalon. Dum Dum Dugan. Seems like a natural progression. The mustachioed repository of unabashed machismo always gets his monster, and he has a new helicarrier (that unfathomable S.H.I.E.L.D. budget) to help out in the hunt. Off the team goes to grab the now cornered menace, despite Gabe’s misgivings about capturing the snoozing creature. They drop some gas into Godzilla’s bedchamber, which (understandably) pisses off the big guy to no end:

But wait:

Allow me to add a “Booooooooo!” to another “Awwwwwww.”

They fly their quarry back to base (using the handy dandy Godzilla tote compartment seen on the cover), and once he’s safely (sigh…) locked away, Gabe has a chance to moon about like the Irish kid in Gorgo and wrestle with his conscience:

Then, before Gabe starts tooting some mournful tunes with that trumpet of his:

Is anyone surprised by this?:

Godzilla and his Homer Simpson beer belly bust out and we’re all back to square one. Good work, Dum Dum. Stick to fighting Nazis.

Godzilla has to be one of the greatest here today, gone tomorrow licensed characters in mainstream comics. There’s something so fun about watching him flit about with familiar funny book faces. A giant hell-beast that belches fire. One that takes naps and just wants to be left alone. One that thinks he’s people (or something). WHOSE PRIMARY ENEMY IS DUM DUM DUGAN AND HIS SURGICALLY ATTACHED BOWLER HAT. You can’t go wrong, even if the sympathetic portrayal a tad too syrupy.

It seems like there’s been a lot of Herb Trimpe showing up here recently. That’s not a conscious effort on my part, but might perhaps be due to his heightened presence in 1970s Marvel, when there was a whole lot of fodder being churned out for future dopey blogs. Trimpe’s work can sometimes lack a little bit of oomph, maybe due to a heavy workload, but that’s not the case in this book. Sure, there’s the cute stuff, but look at the last panel in the second to last scan, as Godzilla awakes from Dum Dum’s drugs. The eyes. The teeth. You feel a cold icy hole in your gut, like Godzilla’s going to leap right out of the page and bite your damn head off.

Mr. Trimpe, this future dopey blog salutes you.

After Godzilla’s 24 issue run he largely disappeared from the House of Ideas, apart from a handful of oblique references and sly reworkings. Kind of like Rom. Marvel’s reprinted the series in one of those ghastly black and white Essentials volumes, and I guess IDW now holds the rights to the King of the Monsters. That’s all well and good, but a part of me wishes he could return to the Marvel fold. Have him join the X-Men — he’s a kind of mutant, isn’t he? And my lasting memory of the character is that awful 1998 American version, where I spent the entire run-time fantasizing about Godzilla eating Matthew Broderick, digesting him and crapping him out in a merciful snuff-shizer fusion. We could all use a belated chaser to wash away that aftertaste.

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