Monsters Have Always Played a Major Role in Comics – Here’s 13 of the Fiercest
Comic books have been focused on the monstrous and supernatural from the very beginning. Monsters are often the villain, but many of our favorite heroes are also monstrous. And many more have become monstrous – at least for a story arc or two.
Comic books were built on the backs of monsters. Alongside detectives and pirates, funny animals and teens, monsters thrilled and excited the very first comic book fans. Legends like Jack Kirby and Stan Lee cut their teeth creating monsters, particularly during the 1950s reign of the Horror Comic. Some were from space, some from secret labs, others were mutated accidents and the rest came from strange places not meant for man to wander.
With Halloween right around the corner, and we all love monsters, here’s a list of 13 fierce comic book monsters.
Created By: Stan Lee & Gil Kane
First Appearance: Tales To Astonish #90 (1967)
Though the film version says differently, the Abomination’s alter ego is actually KGB Agent Emil Blonsky. In an attempt to become a new Hulk, Blonsky uses a machine Bruce Banner created to commit suicide to give himself immeasurable power and transforms him into a giant scaly beast. In his first battle with the Hulk, Abomination beats the “strongest there is” almost to death. Throughout his history with the Marvel Universe, Abomination was always a multi-faceted and layered character. At first driven by brute strength, then evil intelligence and finally, before his death, repentance, Abomination was never a one-dimensional monster.
Created by: Jerry Siegel and Curt Swan
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #340 (1966)
You have to love a good robot monster, especially one with as fucked up a lineage as Computo has. Before Crisis On Infinite Earths, Computo was created by Legion of Superheroes’ Brainiac 5 to be his assistant. As can happen with advanced computer help, Computo became self-aware and then homicidal, trying to destroy the Legion of Superheroes. After the “Crisis” reboot, Computo becomes C.O.M.P.U.T.O (Cybercerebral Overlapping Multi-Processor Universal Transceiver Operator), a robot built by Brainiac 5 to help the Legion of Superheroes get from the 20th Century back to the 30th Century. He betrays the Legion and later becomes “Mister Venge,” an advisor to the 31st Century President Ra’s Al Ghul. So how does one super badass computer top that? In the New 52, Computo is part of the tech that brought Superman to Earth and he’s the Internet.
Created By: Grant Morrison And Frank Quitely
First Appearance: New X-Men Annual 2001
Wow, Xorn, here’s a mind fuck for you. Originally thought to be a Chinese mutant with a “star for a brain,” Xorn is about to remove his protective skull mask and destroy the world when Emma Frost connects with him and convinces him not to do it. Xorn joins the X-Men and even manages to heal Professor X. However, it turns out Xorn is really Magneto who then destroys New York, returns Professor X to his crippled state and has a nervous breakdown. At the end of Morrison’s run, Magneto dies at the hands of Wolverine, but he’s not really dead. Between the always-confusing writing style of Grant Morrison and the continuously convoluted X-Men history, who and what Xorn is remains a mystery. Whatever he is or isn’t, Xorn is a full-on baddie who belongs on this list.
10. Morbius The Living Vampire
Created By: Roy Thomas & Gil Kane
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #101 (1971)
Morbius was a Greek-born biochemist who attempted to cure himself of a rare blood disease using vampire bats and electroshock therapy. Instead of a cure, Morbius acquired a thirst for human blood, white skin, a bat face and an aversion to the sun. He also managed to get super strength, the ability to fly and healing powers. His first match brought him face to face with not only Spider-Man, but also the Lizard. Morbius was such a hit with fans that he reappeared in Marvel Team Up, Vampire Tales and two different series baring his name. In an interesting side note, Morbius made his debut in Amazing Spider-Man #101, the first issue of the series not written by Stan Lee.
9. Vampire Batman
Created By: Doug Moench and Kelley Jones
First Appearance: Batman & Dracula Red Rain (1991)
Imagine a man with the intelligence and drive of Batman being turned into a vampire. That’s exactly what writer Doug Moench and artist Kelley Jones did in their 1991 Elseworlds graphic novel Batman & Dracula: Red Rain. Turned into a creature of the night by a rogue vampire named Tanya, who needed the Batman to stand against Dracula, the Dark Knight manages to kill his nemesis but loses his humanity in the end. In the first sequel, Bloodstorm (1994), Batman is joined by Catwoman, now also a vampire and the only one who can control Batman’s bloodlust. The two team up with Commissioner Gordon and Alfred to take out the rest of Dracula’s army, who now follow the Joker. In the end, Catwoman dies at the hands of the Joker, which drives Batman insane. Our bloodsucking hero kills the Joker and then stakes him. Then, in an act of kindness, Alfred and Gordon stake Batman. Vampire Batman returns in Crimson Mist (1999) and proceeds to kill all of his old enemies. In the end, all those close to Batman die and the Dark Knight walks into the sun hoping to find peace forever. The three graphic novels presented a terrifying idea of Batman as a vampire with stories that continue to intrigue people to this day.
8. Dire Wraith
Created By: Bill Mantlo and Al Milgrom
First Appearance: Rom #1 (1979)
Though not the most popular monsters in the Marvel Universe, you can’t deny the disgusting nature and general vileness of the Dire Wraith. A genetic off-shoot of the Skrulls from the Andromeda Galaxy, the Dire Wraiths are also shape shifters, but spend most of their time in their in-between states as giant amorphous, humanoid creatures. Not only can they change form and use super strength, the Dire Wraiths also use a fork-like tongue to kill victims. A few of the Dire Wraiths are known to be practicing sorcerery and spend most of their time being to Rom The Space Knight what the Daleks are to Doctor Who.
Created By: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Gray Morrow
First Appearance: Savage Tales #1 (1971)
Dr. Ted Sallis, a biochemist working in the Everglades, is sold out to a terrorist group called Advanced Idea Mechanics by his girlfriend. Sallis escapes and takes with him a serum he’s been working on. In an attempt to save himself, he injects the serum and is transformed into the Man-Thing, a giant swamp creature with huge red eyes and tentacles for a face. Man-Thing is sentient but not intelligent, he also secretes acid when he finds himself affected by emotions of violence, fear, or hatred. While the original stories were interesting, it was really writer Steve Gerber’s 39-issue run that gained a cult status and influenced young writers like Neil Gaiman. Man-Thing always interested me because his adventures were so hardcore, so steeped in horror and the bizarre that I immediately gravitated to him. Man-Thing is a harder story to get into than Swamp Thing, but it’s well worth it.
6. Simon Garth
Created By: Stan Lee and Bill Everett
First Appearance: Menace #5 (1953)
Not every zombie comes from George Romero or Robert Kirkman. For your consideration, I give you Simon Garth, the man known as The Zombie. This is no typical zombie story of returning from the dead. This is a tale about a coffee company executive that pisses off his gardener – who happens to be part of a satanic cult – and gets kidnapped and taken to be a human sacrifice. Thankfully,k a woman who works for Garth and loves him is also in the cult. She rescues Garth, but is forced to mystically transform him into a zombie. From there on, Garth wanders the world, mindless unless you take control of the duplicate amulet he wears. These stories were rich with human tragedy and really well written. It’s probably the first and last time I ever rooted for a zombie to win.
Created By: Mike Mignola and John Byrne
First Appearance: Hellboy: Seeds Of Destruction (1994)
If you stand outside the Hellboy Universe, then Sadu-Hem might not be a name you recognize. Allow me to clue you in. Sadu-Hem is the faceless, tentacled and incredibly disturbing monster that was part of a plan to release the Seven Old Ones, aka Ogdu-Jahad, onto the Earth. Some might say we should cower in fear of the Ogdu-Jahad and they would be right. Who doesn’t fear a Lovcraftian apocalypse brought on by a resurrected Nazi? That being said, the Sadu-Hem just stuck with me a lot more than his seven bosses. I mean, really, just look at it!
4. Fin Fang Foom
Created By: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
First Appearance: Strange Tales #89 (1961)
So why does Fin Fang Foom rule? You mean you need more than his name? Okay, well, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created him. He’s an alien creature from a planet called Kakaranathara (say that fast three times), which nestles itself in a system called The Greater Magellanic Cloud. It was through Fin Fang Foom’s ship that we got the villain the Mandarin. He can fly, he has super strength, he spits acid mist and, did I mention, he’s a fucking dragon! Last but not least, he’s the first alien shape-shifting acid spewing monster dragon that becomes a Buddhist. Yep, Fin Fang Foom is the Mack.
3. Solomon Grundy
Created By: Alfred Bester and Paul Reinman
First Appearance: All-Star Comics #61 (1944)
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the origin is of one of the DCU’s most enduring monsters. Thus far, we know he was killed in the 19th Century in the Slaughter Swamp, which gave him the ability to regenerate whenever he needs to. His strength and intelligence varies depending on when he comes back so his threat level is always different. Part of Grundy’s appeal is his 19th century zombie look, plus he comes equipped with his own nursery rhyme. Though some of my fellow comic book nerds enjoy a smart Grundy, I’m more partial to a Grundy who is stupid, pissed off and ready to fight. One of my favorite incarnations was the mini-series during Blackest Night.
2. Swamp Thing
Created By: Len Wein & Bernie Wrightson
First Appearance: House Of Secrets #92 (1971)
Though House Of Secrets #92 is the first official appearance of Swamp Thing, it’s really not the jumping on point for most of the fans. In that stand-alone horror tale, Swamp Thing’s real name was Alex Olsen, not Alec Holland. Though both men were caught in explosions caused via espionage, Olsen’s Swamp Thing kills his creator and then lumbers back into the swamp forever. In the updated Swamp Thing #1, Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson set the story in the ’70s and made Holland the human identity of the new Swamp Thing. During the Wein/Wrightson run, Swamp Thing stayed mainly a monster-of-the-week hero. It wasn’t until Alan Moore stepped in to write Swamp Thing that business picked up. Moore made the monster more elemental, something closer to a protector of the Earth. Swamp Thing is incredibly smart and incredibly strong, but the supernatural and mystical elements of the stories are what we tune into. It’s also nice that we get an anti-hero monster, a creature that is as tragic as he is heroic.
1. The Hulk
Created By: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
First Appearance: The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962)
Come on, who did you think would be number one? Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, The Incredible Hulk has stayed a relevant and exciting hero for fifty years. He’s the strongest there is, he is the one beast that makes all other beasts tremble. Not only is The Hulk a fierce creature to contend with, he’s also the most tragic of all the Marvel characters. It’s Hulk’s humanity that draws us in. This is a character you can root for, even when he’s doing the wrong thing. The anti-hero, the outcast, Hulk is a metaphor for the outlaw, the forgotten or the downtrodden. There is no way a creature as powerful and as fallibly human as The Incredible Hulk isn’t top dog on this list.
So, what would you add?
courtesy of Crave Online