Space Needle History: Thursday at the Needle
Knute Berger, Writer-in-Residence
I had lunch at the Needle with Peter Blecha recently. Peter is staff historian with HistoryLink.org, former senior curator at EMP, and an author. He also knows a great deal about Northwest pop music and he had a bunch of Space Needle-related albums to show me. But, it was something non-musical in his collection that caught my eye: A comic book featuring Godzilla attacking the Needle. "SEATTLE UNDER SIEGE!" screams the cover (comics never say anything in lower case).
The cover features a picture of the monster grabbing the Needle and biting into the top house like a hungry teenager attacking a Dick's Deluxe fresh off the grill. The Needle is part of national pop culture, and this comic is a prime example.
The comic book is "Godzilla: King of Monsters" #2 from September, 1977. It was written by Doug Moench and the artist for Herb Trimple, both famous in the comics field. I picked one up off of eBay for $1.
Godzilla, of course, is a long dormant prehistoric monster brought to life by exposure to radioactivity. He's usually seen tearing up Japan, but in this series he's set loose on the world and appears by surprise in Seattle where he rises out of Puget Sound and begins smashing up the waterfront. Hey, it needs a makeover, right?
Godzilla is particularly attracted to large towers. Sci-fi buffs have watched many times as he's demolished the famed Tokyo Tower. In Seattle, Marvel's Godzilla heads right for the Needle where he terrifies and panics diners when he peers into the window of the revolving restaurant. "THE PANDEMONIUM TURNS AN EVENING OF ELEGANCE INTO A NIGHT OF TERROR."
How does the Needle get out of this fix? A flying commando group called the Godzilla Squad is up to the job. It turns out, the creature is attracted to light, like a moth. So they blow up City Light, black-out the city, and lure Godzilla out of town with a series of aerial flares that lead him across the Sound, the Olympics, and into the sea where he swims off to who knows where. Maybe Portland. Or Honolulu. Or back to Japan.
The story ends with the lights of "SEATTLE'S GLORIOUS SKYLINE" going back on, and the Needle still standing tall.