There is a quote from a sacred religious text of the Cult of the Blue Oyster that states: “History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.” This is of course in reference to Godzilla – the giant radioactive lizard native to Japan. And in many ways, it sums up today’s comic.

Godzilla first appeared in Toho’s 1954 film “Gojira” and was originally intended as an allegory for nuclear destruction. The film is rightfully considered a classic – it is dark, and poignant, and has a serious take on an issue that was and continues to be of utmost importance in our world. The film was well-received and was a worldwide hit. And as you’d expect from something this serious and important, it was immediately turned into a franchise and made kid friendly – so that by the late 70s, Godzilla was no longer a poignant metaphor of nuclear war but a protector of the earth from aliens and monsters. And this is where the franchise was at when Marvel comics obtained the rights in 1977 – and thus the comic Godzilla: King of the Monsters was born!

This is a 24-issue run that ran from 1977 to 1979 and tasked with adapting the monster to comics was Doug Moench with art (for the most part) Herb Trimpe.

As with all properties of Marvel at the time Godzilla had to be incorporated into the larger Marvel universe. How exactly – you may ask – does a giant radioactive lizard fit into an established superhero world? The answer is: awkwardly.

To add to the problem of adaptation – while Marvel had the rights to use Godzilla himself, they did not have rights to use anything else. So no side characters, no monsters, not even any lore or reference to any of the now two decades of movies. Everything had to be made up from whole cloth. And the results are, to use a technical term – bonkers.

The storyline is pretty simple. Godzilla shows up on the west coast of the US and begins to wreak havoc – all the while encountering various heroes from Marvel – The Champions, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, etc. – And battling new and exciting Kaiju like Batregon, Yetigar, and probably most frightening of all – a sewer rat from New York. The narrative is helped along by the presence of SHEILD led by the perpetually annoyed Dum-Dum Dugan and an ally of sorts in Little Robbie Takiguchi and his giant mecha-robot Red Ronin…yum!

Now, there are some series that seems absurd at the time but when you look back on them you find that they are absolute classics of the genre – this is not one of them. But what Godzilla: King of the Monsters is, is a testament to perseverance and creativity. Moench and Trimpe were given a ridiculous assignment; make a giant lizard part of an established superhero universe with very little to work with. And what they created was goofy, weird, and silly filled with lots of good-natured, tongue-in-cheek humor.  The result of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is an oddity. It is harmless fun that seems as if the creators were having fun creating it. And sometimes that’s all that matters.

This article originally appeared as the introduction to episode 70: Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

The Collected Edition is a comic book podcast where the hosts discuss the famous and infamous runs and story arcs throughout the history of comics. Please subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Sticher, IHeartRadio, and Spotify.