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The Wrong Side: Godzilla vs. Thor and the Avengers

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In this feature, I examine comic book fights that were particularly notable in the wrong side winning (or at least that the fight wasn’t won the “right” way). This really isn’t a big deal, of course, as it doesn’t really matter if the “wrong” person won a fight. But it’s fun to talk about!

If you want to suggest a fight for future inclusion in this feature, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com. Don’t suggest a fight in the comments!

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Ben W., we take a look at the time Godzilla took on the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and, well, did really, really well…

As always, the first page spotlights their power levels and the second page examines the fight itself.

And as always, the first question we need to ask is…

How did these people do when they fought Spider-Man?

As I’ve written about a few times, Spider-Man oddly enough has never actually fought the standard, normal Thor. He’s fought Eric Masterson’s Thor, he fought a Hulked-Out version of Thor (while also similarly Hulked-Out) but never the real deal.

However, Thor DID once fight a robot duplicate of Spider-Man, and the robot duplicate actually won in Avengers #11 by Stan Lee, Don Heck and Chic Stone…

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Spider-Man has never fought Godzilla. He showed up too late for the big fight in Godzilla #24 (by Doug Moench, Herb Trimpe and Dan Green), but clearly he probably WOULD have defeated Godzilla by himself…

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Okay, so this issue involves the rest of the Avengers AND the Fantastic Four, but let’s spotlight Thor in particular.

Here is Thor defeating the mother-flipping MIDGARD SERPENT in Thor #380 (by Walter Simonson and Sal Buscema)…

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So let’s see the fight with Godzilla!

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47 Comments

Godzilla was robbed.

Well… The FF and Avengers did better against the Big G than the Champions did. (Talk about a lopsided fight. Angel, Iceman, Black Widow and Ghost Rider against Godzilla? The only heavy hitter the Champs had was Hercules. But that image of Herc holding up Godzy’s foot was classic.)

I also gotta say I never liked Herb Trimpe’s depiction of Godzilla. It never looked like the movie version of the kaija. Trimpe made him look more generic to me.

Umm, anyone notice that the real wrong side here might be Thor vs. robot Spider-man in those first few panels?

So robot Spider-man can just catch a hurled Mjolnir in his webs and hang on? And the webbing doesn’t break or hurl him into a wall for catching the hammer mid-flight?

The only reasons at all would be robot Spider-Man could wield Mjolnir somehow. That would be amazing…

Yeah, as much as I enjoyed Trimpe’s art on other book, it almost looks like he never saw a Godzilla movie. This pudgy dragon thing looks nothing like Godzilla. Still, as a youngster I bought every issue of this series,

Also, didn’t the Avengers handily defeat the giant robot, Red Ronin, who fought Godzilla to a standstill and drove him away?

“No need to battle a girl, treacherous one!” There needs to be a whole series of comics where Thor had to take classes about casual sexism.

Also, that’s one heck of an internal monologue for a robot duplicate.

Honestly, I don’t see too much difference between Thor’s attacks on the Midgard Serpent and Godzilla. In both cases, he strikes them with Mjolnir, they reel in response to the blow, but then they recover and resume the attack. The difference is that with the Serpent, Thor pressed his attack, got eaten, and then broke out from within, while with Godzilla, Hank and Jan used their balance-disrupting gambit before Thor could strike again.

The tricky bit, then, is why Thor didn’t press his attack once Godzilla rose again and stormed toward the Empire State Building. Perhaps once Godzilla was in Midtown, Thor pulled his punches due to the risk of collateral damage. And he did think to himself that they were trying not to kill Godzilla. It doesn’t seem like Thor was showing the same restraint with ol’ Midge. (Midgard? Midge? Get it? Maybe I should leave the cutesy nicknames to Stan Lee…)

As a rule, though, I wouldn’t bet against Godzilla in a fight, unless he’s going up against Mothra larvae (once they encase him in their silk, it’s over). He generally triumphs over any foe, or at worst is dumped back into the ocean to lick his wounds until the next time he gets frisky. Only three Godzillas have ever been killed in movie canon (in three different continuities), and in the latter two cases, it was by Godzilla’s own internal energies running out of control. He can be hurt, but he’s kind of like Spider-Man in that he never gives up no matter how much you knock him down, and in that he has a knack for fighting smart, coming up with clever and unexpected countermoves. (Although in some movies he’s more like the Hulk, just wanting the puny humans to leave him alone but getting mad when monsters and aliens attack him.)

I agree with Benn about Trimpe’s design for Godzilla. It’s more conventionally reptilian than Godzilla’s usual appearance, with the green skin (Godzilla’s usually charcoal black) and the more T. rex-like head. Godzilla’s face is a bit more primate-like, with forward-facing eyes and a smaller snout. (Fittingly, since his name is partly derived from “gorilla.”) I wonder, was there some licensing reason why Trimpe couldn’t use Godzilla’s official likeness? Or was it just artistic license?

This was the last issue of Godzilla, right before he was more or less written out of Marvel’s continuity. I say let the Big G have his moment in the sun.

For myself, I’m disappointed that the Marvel Godzilla comic book never had an appearance by the Incredible Hulk. That would have been so perfect, having Trimpe drawing his signature character fighting Godzilla.

Is there a specific reason why Marvel’s Godzilla looked so different from the film version? He’s licensed, so why change the appearance?

Wasn’t there a later issue where Godzilla returned and fought the West Coast Avengers?

@Adam

Maybe this was Trimpe’s attempt at trying to do a more realistic or organic-looking Godzilla since it wasn’t live-action? Ya know, the same way the terrible American remake took advantage of not having to use a stuntman in a rubber costume by making him really skinny and elongated for no reason.

I don’t really have a problem with this one.

In AVENGERS #149, Steve Englehart established that when Thor is with the Avengers, he unconsciously holds back so the other Avengers can feel useful. Also, Godzilla’s really, really powerful.

Because they are clearly mistaking Danzilla for his less powerful cousin Godzilla.

Oh, come on. Are we really going to complain about Thor not being portrayed as “powerful enough?” He was the one hero who was able to match up to Godzilla in a show of sheer power. All these complaints about Thor not winning every battle with ease are so tiresome. He’s the Avengers’ biggest gun, but his portrayal as some overpowered version of Superman is a fairly recent event, and have done nothing but make the character LESS interesting.

This was a fine battle, with the Avengers and FF doing everything in their power to guide Godzilla through the streets of NYC with as little destruction as possible, and Thor stepping in to save the Empire State Building. In the end, both sides come off well.

This was just another bitchfest because Thor wasn’t semi-omnipotent.

Actually, Thor has been powered down quite a lot since the early Roy Thomas issues.

It just turns out that Superman has been powered down as well, albeit not quite so much.

so the robot-spiderman could think?

Godzilla would slay all.

Bernard the Poet

February 20, 2016 at 1:34 pm

I am bemused that you showed the battle between the Midgard Serpent and Thor to illustrate why you believe Thor should be able to defeat Godzilla. Thor got lucky in that fight – ultimately. the Midgard Serpent will defeat and kill Thor. It is inevitable. Ergo, if the fight had continued between Thor and Godzilla, then Thor would have been defeated and killed.

Bought this as a kid. I recall thinking that a lot of the Avengers come off looking pretty good. A number of them fly through his atomic fire unhurt and Thor not only stymies him knocking over that building he’s doing it one-handed while flying. Even with his feet planted Godzilla sure looks like he’s struggling way more than Thor.

The building not breaking up between them is comic book physics that wouldn’t be out of place in a 50’s Superman comic.

Actually, I think that Godzilla should have beaten the crap out of Thor! At the least, the Empire State building should have been shattered like a piece of glass. But if we’re talking about the “real” Godzilla I would say he is easily a match for Thor – and the Midgard Serpent, while we’re at it!

I don’t know that I have too much to add to what Christopher L. Bennett said. This is definitely the one so far that I disagree with most. I think you misread it at least twice. You say Thor can’t do anything against him, but it says right there Thor’s blow was the greatest pain Godzilla had ever experienced. And Godzilla wasn’t climbing the building (the other monster does that), they were having a push of war with the building, trying to topple it over, and Thor holding it back. (Now you can go nuts on the bad physics of this and how the building would squeeze like a grape, and how Thor who is just dragged by his hammer can “push” at all…)

Thor is destined to “die” fighting the Migard Serpent; Godzilla is the king of all monsters, and would kick the Serpent’s ass (if serpents had asses). He survives near nuclear explosions, and drops in volcsnos, and all sorts of stuff. This one is completely justified, as there are maybe 2 or 3 heroes in the whole fight who could even make Godzilla feel more than a tickle.

And yeah, Godzilla sorta reappeared in Iron Man in the 193-194. Dr. Demonicus, who got his start in Godzilla was the bad guy, and he had some monsters and an “old friend” he has mutated, but he like Godzilla who was smaller with horns and frills and no breath. It was lame, and most mind continuity it as BS from DD.

The one you should have done (if I haven’t forgotten you doing it already) was robot Spider-Man taking on the Avengers. Though there’s early continuity of how tough Spidey’s is if knock offs are that tough. Love the way he “thinks” well before Ultron or Vision. How they never teamed up I’ll never know. Other than it would mean the Avengers complete destruction. The plot for Avengers 5, I’m sure.

But in any regard, thanks for this one. Maybe my favorite in my favorite column.

So let’s see… Wasp can beat the X-Men, *and* she can beat Godzilla. Godzilla can hold his own against the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and SHIELD all at the same time. But Godzilla gets beaten by Charles Barkley. I guess we’ll need to have Charles Barkley vs. the Wasp to determine who the most powerful character in comics is…?

“As a rule, though, I wouldn’t bet against Godzilla in a fight… He can be hurt, but he’s kind of like Spider-Man in that he never gives up no matter how much you knock him down,”

Yup. Also, in Godzilla 2000 a big plot point was a healing factor that’d put Wolverine to shame. I can’t remember if that made it into any other continuity, but I vaguely remember something…

“Maybe this was Trimpe’s attempt at trying to do a more realistic or organic-looking Godzilla”

I’d disagree that Trimpe’s Godzilla was in any way more realistic than movie versions, though. The body’s just a big egg with incongruously (even uncomfortably) human limbs stuck on and a block of a head on top. His back plates in that splash look like the result of a lump of plywood and a jigsaw. Even by standards of dinosaur art in the 60s and 70s, this is particularly shapeless and… dull.
Showa era Godzilla got pretty goofy-looking in some films, but I’d hesitate to say he was less realistic, or even less organic, than Marvel Godzilla. At least his entertainingly different toad face had the benefit of an internal skull, of sorts.

Picking up on Christoper L. Bennett’s mention of Larval Mothras (Mothrae? Mothrie?), that pretty much proves Spider-Man could beat Godzilla.

Japanese Spider-Man could possibly beat Godzilla, because he had his own monster-fighting giant robot! (Hey, it’s Marvel canon, thanks to SPIDER-VERSE.)

one should expect that marvel would never do stories where their characters lose to a rivals characters. including even the king of the monsters godzilla espically if they wanted to continue getting the okay to use the character by the licensors. surprised the story did not have the hulk trying to help out too.

Oh, heck yes!! I may be a comics geek, but above all else, I AM a Godzilla fan–and to me NOBODY BEATS GODZILLA.

Interestingly, this was actually my first experience with most of the Avengers. I knew of the FF from the couple of previous animated series, and I had a vague sense of Captain America (being Canadian, we didn’t have a lot of focus on him here), but I’d never heard of Iron Man, Wasp, Yellowjacket, Vision… It was good setup years later when I started getting into more comics than Spider-Man by checking out Secret Wars.

Godzilla is my all-time favorite character, but others have already explained why “the wrong side” won. However, I’ll add that Godzilla didn’t actually “win”–NO ONE did! The battle was unresolved when young Rob called Godzilla off and got him to leave. As for Thor, he probably had to hold back on unleashing his full power in the middle of New York City, and he says himself that he was not trying to kill Godzilla, unlike the Midgard Serpent.

Regarding Herb Trimpe’s depiction of Godzilla, I interviewed him once for G-FAN magazine, and he claimed that he based his interpretation of Godzilla on photos from the movies. I know that his version does not resemble any of the movies, but that’s what he said.

As for Godzilla vs. the Hulk, I also interviewed GODZILLA writer Doug Moench for G-FAN, and he claimed that the reason it never happened was because Trimpe was sick of drawing the Hulk after so many years and kept refusing it. Trimpe acknowledged that turned out to be a mistake, as it would have been a natural battle of two green radioactive monsters who were both misunderstood and constantly hounded by the military. I did commission Trimpe to draw a Godzilla/Hulk battle for me, though. Now if I could just get someone to draw Godzilla vs. Superman…!

I had this issue until I sold my collection recently. I remember it fairly well, but for some reason I never considered how silly it is that Johnny punches Godzilla in the eye.

@Acer: “…and to me NOBODY BEATS GODZILLA.”

Except Daisuke Serizawa. And an avalanche. And King Kong. And Mothra. And an erupting volcano. And Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria. And Mecha-King Ghidorah. And Mothra and Battra working together. And the Dimension Tide (maybe). And Admiral Tachibana. And Kiryu, more or less.

Actually, Godzilla’s lost a lot of fights, but he usually comes back, either later in the same movie (if he’s the hero) or in a later movie (if he’s the villain).

@Bennett
……I meant OUTSIDE his movies.

…and Charles Barkley.

Honestly, I don’t see too much difference between Thor’s attacks on the Midgard Serpent and Godzilla. In both cases, he strikes them with Mjolnir, they reel in response to the blow, but then they recover and resume the attack. The difference is that with the Serpent, Thor pressed his attack, got eaten, and then broke out from within, while with Godzilla, Hank and Jan used their balance-disrupting gambit before Thor could strike again.

The Midgard Serpent is more powerful than Godzilla by a factor of…a bunch (ten times more powerful? Twenty? Fifty? A lot). It literally can wrap itself around the entire planet Earth! So a blow from Thor that sends the Midgard Serpent reeling should do a good deal worse than just hurt Godzilla. If they wanted to make it so that Thor didn’t want to get into a big fight with Godzilla in the middle of Manhattan, that’d be fair enough, but they didn’t go that route until after their initial encounter.

And my bow.

Brian, I don’t agree that the Midgard Serpent is more powerful than Godzilla. Even in the comics, Godzilla was pretty close to invincible. As others have pointed out, movie Godzilla – especially the later Japanese incarnations – would have had no problem with the Avengers at all. That was a creature who walked away from nuclear explosions and stood in the middle of blasts that wiped out cities without any harm. And he had an incredible healing factor/super-genes that made him unstoppable. Heck, even the most recent American Godzilla (2014) supposedly survived the most powerful nuclear blasts the US has ever generated (the H-bomb blasts in the South Pacific) without serious harm. It’s not clear that any Avenger, including Thor, could walk away from that.

Of course, we are talking about comic Godzilla from the 1970s. But I would argue that the upper limit of his power was never established. It was shown that he seemed to be easily capable of holding his own (indeed, barely noticing) Thor-class beings like Hercules.

So, I think that you would need to do a lot more work to prove that this was really a case of the “wrong side” winning. Of course, it doesn’t help that Thor’s power levels have been incredibly inconsistent over the years, depending on who he is fighting. It’s hard to believe that a Thor who can do this to the Midgard Serpent, for example, has any problem taking out the Hulk.

@ShaunN: Yeah, you’re right. It’s always been implicit that Godzilla could recover from most anything, but starting in 1999, they made it explicit that Godzilla had a Wolverine-like healing factor that would let him regenerate from almost anything if even a small part of him survived (an idea that was more or less cribbed from Toho’s 1964-5 Frankenstein duology, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD and THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS).

@Brian: I’m not that familiar with the Midgard Serpent, but for what it’s worth, Godzilla’s always been implicitly somewhat supernatural himself. Japan is an animist culture, so they don’t really differentiate between the physical and the spiritual the way we do in the West; so even though Godzilla is nominally a surviving dinosaur species irradiated and/or mutated (depending on the version) by atomic weapons, there’s always been an undercurrent that he was sort of an animistic embodiment of nuclear destruction as well. His creator Tomoyuki Tanaka described him as “the Sacred Beast of the Apocalypse,” and in the original film, he was worshipped by an island tribe as their god. In the 2002 movie nicknamed GMK, he was more explicitly treated as the embodiment of all the souls killed by the Japanese military in WWII, come back to seek revenge on the nation for forgetting its past crimes.

I don’t know if Marvel’s Godzilla was ever portrayed as having a divine/spiritual aspect, but it’s conceivable that he might have some resistance to a magical weapon such as Mjolnir. Maybe a weapon empowered by Norse divinity wasn’t on the right magical frequency to affect a monster-god from the Asian-Pacific region to the same degree that it would affect a monster-god from Norse tradition.

Fly inside his ear and disrupt his sense of balance. Has the Wasp done that often enough to make a “Best Five” list of it?

Heck, even the most recent American Godzilla (2014) supposedly survived the most powerful nuclear blasts the US has ever generated (the H-bomb blasts in the South Pacific) without serious harm. It’s not clear that any Avenger, including Thor, could walk away from that.

Thor specifically has walked away from nuclear explosions.

Yes, but did he walk away from the biggest blast the US ever generated in a nuclear test? ;-)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Bravo

And that’s the 2014 American Godzilla, who is a lot less powerful than the latter Japanese Godzilla!

Anyway, this is a bit of nitpicking. Given that he has Superman levels of power (sometimes), I’m not surprised that Thor could survive a nuclear blast. I just don’t have any comics where he has, but I have not always collected Thor as regularly as others. But, to me, this doesn’t change the point that Godzilla is a pretty formidable power and it’s not at all clear that he was represented as too powerful in this fight.

Love your column, BTW!

I’ve always assumed that, as a mythological figure, Thor’s power level doesn’t have to conform to the same kind of consistency as most other characters. He should be able to do whatever makes most sense at the moment from a mythic perspective.

@Alaric: Sounds kinda like how what Roger Rabbit can do at a given moment is dependent on whether it’s funny.

If anything, there should be a column on “there’s no way Thor should be able to survive a nuclear blast, but has to knock away bullets.”

But as for the Serpent being way stronger than Godzilla, Marvel wiki disagrees with you. First, the Serpent only circles the earth in ethereal form. So he’s not really always physically that big. But in any case it’s said to have strength that far surpasses Thor’s Class 100 strength (lifting well over 100 tons), while for Godzilla it says he can pick up 100,000 tons with ease, which would be like Class100000 strength (and adds he is strong enough to match Thor). It also lists Marvel Godzilla as having regenerative power too.

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Jormungand_(Earth-616)

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Godzilla_(Earth-616)

I think if anything, the bias is somehow Thor is way more powerful than the Superman wanna be he is. Maybe Odin SThor, but not the regular guy. I’ll leave it with this thought….if the wrong side one, can it really be the greatest fight of all time? I’ll defer to this guy…

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2014/05/15/top-five-greatest-godzilla-fights-against-marvel-heroes/2/

;-)

I dunno… if the Midgard Serpent is the measure why does Thor struggle with most of the Earthbound foes he encounters? Spider-man level foes like the Scorpion have knocked off his pins, and Godzilla is Godzilla after all.

I’ll leave it with this thought….if the wrong side one, can it really be the greatest fight of all time?

I open every one of these articles by noting that the wrong side winning really doesn’t matter (other than the wrong side winning). For instance, I love the first two Avengers/Avengers West Coast annual team-ups from 1986 and 1987, even with the bizarre results of most of the fights (the infamous “Wonder Man knocked out with a piece of wood” scene especially) in those books. The “wrong” side winning doesn’t really factor much into whether I like a comic book.

I was a massive fan of the Simonson “Thor” years and issue #380 was so amazing. Everything was full page and massive!

Well, there is one solution to every battle: YJ and Wasp screwing with your equilibrium. I’m surprised there isn’t more puking in those pages!

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