In the years following Groot's transformation from a footnote in Marvel history to legitimate Marvel icon, Marvel doubled down on monsters. Besides the Monsters Unleashed crossover, the short-lived series that followed it and that spinoff's star Kid Kaiju, Marvel has had more than a few giant-size monstrous characters hanging around in recent years, and one of those characters was American Kaiju.
Now, we're taking a look back at this bizarre hero and the unique impression (and path of destruction) he left around the Marvel Universe in his wake.
The man who would become American Kaiju debuted in Al Ewing and Gerand Sandoval's prelude to New Avengers in Avengers #0, which starred mutant hero Sunspot as the head of A.I.M., Avengers Idea Mechanics. Sunspot purchased A.I.M., fired its evil scientists, and started using the remaining mad scientists as a force for good. Naturally, this upset the US government, which responded with Project: Troubleshooter, headed by General Robert L. Maverick.
General Maverick is basically a more deranged version of long-time Hulk nemesis General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross. He charges his scientist underlings to re-create the super-soldier serum, and they do, after a fashion. They bash together every possible transformative substance they can get their hands on, from Mutant Growth Hormone to gamma radiation, Pym Particles and Curt Conners' Lizard formula. Maverick, never one for safety measures or careful consideration, orders the serum to be administered to one Corporal Todd Ziller.
WHO IS AMERICAN KAIJU?
While Todd Ziller's character isn't terribly well defined, he is completely and totally dedicated to his country. He's not here to be a deep empathetic look into the human cost of the war on, he's here to turn into a Godzilla-esque figure, and that's exactly what he did. After being injected with the serum, Ziller turned into a 30-story-tall giant lizard, although he lacks the standard Godzilla Atomic Breath.
In the midst of the "Avengers: Standoff" crossover, A.I.M. is sheltering perennial Marvel sidekick Rick Jones from S.H.I.E.L.D. and the US government alike. Maverick takes this as the perfect opportunity to deploy the American Kaiju against A.I.M. and unleashes his soldier. Todd Ziller transforms into the American Kaiju, complete with an American flag painted on his chest and face, and yells "YUUU ESSSSS AAYYY" at the top of his monster lungs.
WHAT HAPPENED TO AMERICAN KAIJU?
To stop American Kaiju, the New Avengers deploy Avenger-5, a giant robot. American Kaiju nearly destroys the robot, but the Avengers vent the robot's gamma-powered core, which neutralizes Ziller's gamma enhancements, reverting him back to human form. Maverick and Troubleshooter scoop him up, and flee to fight another day.
About a year later, the New Avengers were rebranded as the U.S.Avengers, and A.I.M. became American Intelligence Mechanics. Maverick has joined the team as a new Red Hulk, and the team now fights for truth, justice, and the American way.
In the midst of their new struggles, American Kaiju resurfaces in a small Eastern European country wedged between Symkaria and Latveria. Todd Ziller enlisted the services of mad scientist Victor Vandoom (with an A) to become the American Kaiju once again, experiencing withdrawal-like symptoms and craving the feeling of having a tail again. Maverick deploys to clean up his mess, and after a mildly irritating run-in with Deadpool, throws the newly retransformed American Kaiju right through Vandoom's mad scientist castle. Although Ziller has not been seen since this run-in, he still stands as one of Marvel's most unique creations in recent memory.