Part I looked at DC Transformations broken down by Superheroes. This is part II and will look at transformations broken down by type of transformation.
Alien Collage Key
Action Comics #239, Adventure Comics #270, Aquaman #16, Batman #140, Blackhawk #177 (Alien Blackhawk), Detective Comics #251, Jimmy Olsen #32
Animal Collage Key
Action Comics #243 (Lion Headed Superman), Action Comics #296 (Ant Superman), Action Comics #303 (Kryptonian Monster), Adventure Comics #330 (Gorilla Braniac 5), Black Hawk #205 (Dinosaur, Gorilla), Jimmy Olsen #66 (Cat Headed Lois Lane), Lois Lane #13 (Cat Headed Lois Lane), Lois Lane #92 (Lois Lane Centaur), Supergirl #8 (Medusa Hair), Superman #165 (Lion Headed Superman). Is a Sphinx an animal? If so then in Superboy #103 there is one more animal transformation.
Baby Collage Key
Action Comics #284 (Baby Superman), Adventure Comics #317 (Baby Legions of Superheroes), Batman #147 (Baby Batman), Jimmy Olsen #66 (Baby Perry White), Lois Lane #10 (Baby Lois Lane)
Action Comics #324 (Devil Supergirl), Jimmy Olsen #68 (Devil Superman), Jimmy Olsen #81 (Devil Superman)
Doppelganger Collage Key
Action Comics #312 (Clark Kent vs. King Superman), Adventure Comics #255, Wonder Woman #62 (Triplet), Wonder Woman #90 (Giant Double), Wonder Woman #98, Wonder Woman #102 (Triplet), Wonder Woman#111. Action Comics #341 doesn’t really belong in the collage since the Clark Kent is a Phantom Zone imposter but the decision to include was done for visual aesthetic reasons.
Action Comics #284 (Two Headed Supergirl), Aquaman #21 (Aquaman Giant Freak), Brave & Bold #68 (Bat Hulk), Batman #162 (Batman Creature), Challengers of the Unknown #50 (Giant Green Freak), Jimmy Olsen #53 (Giant Turtle Man), Jimmy Olsen #59 (Fat Freak), Lois Lane #66 (Lois Lane with Green Furry Feet), Rip Hunter Time Master #28 (Giant Blue Fanged Creature)
Gender Collage Key
Superboy #101, Superman #349, Superman/Batman #24, Jimmy Olsen #67, Jimmy Olsen #84, Jimmy Olsen #95. Incredibly there are some gender bending transformations is the normally stodgy pages of DC Comics. Jimmy Olsen was a cross-dresser in Jimmy Olsen #67, 84, 95, 159; Bah, Hembeck! #4 and Real Girl #6. Krypto became Kryptonia in Superboy #101. Krypto was not just turned into a female but a female collie! This happened due to red kryptonite. I would say the human equivalent of a breed is race. So if Superman ran into that particular piece of Red Kryptonite then he would become a woman and also change race. This would be a very politically correct Superman. Superman runs into female versions of himself in Superman #349 and Superman/Batman #24. Actually the whole topic of Superwoman versus Supergirl is rather complex but so far Superman has never been transformed into Superwoman and that’s ok with me! However, in Supergirl (vol. 4) #79 (2003) Superman is exposed to Pink Kryptonite and then shows gay tendencies. This was a spoof of the Red Kryptonite transformations of the silver age.
Flash #124 (Mirror-Flash), Justice League of America #7 (Fun-House Mirror), World’s Finest #121 (Mirror Batman)
Negative Being Transformations
Negative Collage Key
Detective Comics #284 (Negative Batman), Mystery in Space #78, World’s Finest #126 (Negative Superman)
The Negative Superman should not be included since this is not a transformed Superman but another Superman but the decision to include makes sense visually and most of all I needed two covers to justify a category. Possibly, the Negative Superman should also be included in the Doppelganger category. Creating taxonomy of transformations has not been easy!
Old Collage Key
Action Comics #251 (Oldest Man in Metropolis), Action Comics #270 (Superman’s Old Age), Action Comics #396 (Crippled and Old Superman), Action Comics #397 (Part II), Batman #119 (Rip Van Batman), Flash #157 (Oldest Man Alive), Jimmy Olsen # (Old Jimmy Olsen), Lois Lane # (Lois Lane’s Old Age)
Ghost Collage Key
Action Comics #595 (Superman Ghost), Adventure Comics #357 (The Ghost of Ferro Lad), Blackhawk #127 (The Ghost of Blackhawk), Superman #186 (Clark Kent Ghost vs. Superman Ghost), World’s Finest #130 (Batman Ghost)
Phantom Collage Key
Action Comics #131(Superman in 4th Dimension), Adventure Comics #283 (The Phantom Superboy), Green Lantern #20 (Phantom Green Lantern), Jimmy Olsen #12 (Invisible Jimmy Olsen – title), Jimmy Olsen #40 (Invisible Jimmy Olsen – title), Lois Lane #33 (Phantom Lois Lane), Lois Lane #101 (Invisible Lois Lane), Superboy #162 (The Super-Phantom of Smallville)
In the Silver Age the words phantom and invisible are used in a sloppy manner. For example, Jimmy Olsen is twice turned into a phantom i.e. an insubstantial and invisible being but the title refers to an invisible Jimmy Olsen rather than a phantom Jimmy Olsen. This is rather strange since the Legion of Superheroes of the Silver Age has a Phantom Girl versus an Invisible Kid and their powers are very well delineated. You can see the Phantom Girl but not touch her. You can touch the Invisible Kid but can’t see him. Only by having both the powers of the Invisible Kid and the Phantom Girl could you have the powers of a ghost!
However, I would say the Phantom Zone precedent means that a being that is both invisible and insubstantial due to scientific means is a Phantom. Silver Age science even established that the Phantom Girl could visit the Phantom Zone and say “hello” to Mon-El but the Invisible Kid could not enter the Phantom Zone. Ghost Boy could have kept Mon-El company 24/7, if he had wanted to and that might have been a nice subplot I had never thought about at the time. Ghosts as opposed to phantoms have supernatural origins and generally control of both their visibility and maybe their insubstantial nature. Are you confused? Well too bad because if you had grown up on Silver Age comic books then this would all make perfect sense. Still the ghosts should be easy enough to label!
However, ghosts in the DC universe often turn out to be phantoms i.e. there is a scientific rather than supernatural explanation. The Ferro Lad ghost turns out to be a controller created phantom but the real Ferro Lad ghost then causes the controller to die of fright. Because of all this terminology confusion, the decision was made to make one category for phantom, ghost and invisible transformations. The visual effect is the same and comic books are all about the visual effect.
Radioactive Collage Key
Detective Comics #17 (Radioactive Batman), Jimmy Olsen #17 (Radioactive Jimmy Olsen)
Robot Collage Key
Action Comics #225 (Robot Superman), Action Comics # (Clark Kent Metallo), Adventure Comics #237 (Ma and Pa Kent Robots), Green Lantern #36 (Green Lantern Robot), Jimmy
Small Person Transformations
Small Collage Key
Action Comics #283 (Small Supergirl), Adventure Comics #330 (Small Colossal Boy), Detective Comics #127 (Small Batman and Robin), Detective Comics #148 (Small Batman and Robin), Flash #109 (Small Flash), Justice League of America #10 (Finger Puppet Justice League), Justice League of America #18 (Shrunken Justice League), Justice League of America #60 (Bee Drone Justice League), Superman #245 (Super-Mite)
Tree Being Transformation
Trees Collage Key
Justice League of America #9 (Justice League Trees), Lois Lane #112 (Superman Tree)
Underwater Being Transformations
Underwater Collage Key
Batman #118 (Merman Batman), Superman #244 (Superman’s Undersea Kingdom)
Transformations at DC comics during the Silver Age showed definite patterns. Certain heroes were transformed more than others. Batman and Superman suffered a lot of transformations but this could be function of the fact that both Batman and Superman were in multiple titles that had extremely long runs. Transformations were popular and the transformation of the top superheroes at DC during the Silver Age made marketing sense. Lois Lane did not have as many transformations as Jimmy Olsen but her 12 transformations seems like a high number given that she only starred in one title. The marketing logic might have been to use popular transformations that worked with one of the Superman family members with the other Superman family members that had a comic book title and hope for similar success. Wonder Woman suffered the doppelganger transformation five times and this is an extreme case of the same transformation being used again and again with the same character almost obsessively. Wonder Woman in the Silver Age was a strange little title and someday I am going to write an in depth analysis of what was done to Wonder Woman during this time period. Transformations at DC during the Silver Age are almost always one-shot affairs. The exception is in the Legion of Superheroes were Lightning Lad lost his arm for several issues and Matter Lad was turned into a fat boy for several issues.
Marvel handles transformations in an entirely different manner. Transformation is an ongoing plot device in the case of the Hulk, Iron Man’s many armors, the Thing, the six-armed Spider-Man and X-23’s vampirism. Even the relatively short term transformation of Captain America into a werewolf lasts more than one issue. I will eventually write another DC vs. Marvel article comparing the role of transformation in the comic books of the two companies.
Many comic fans know that Jimmy Olsen suffered any number of transformations during the Silver Age at DC Comics. This article will explore the transformations of the Silver Age first by hero and then by condition. A transformation for the purposes of this article is limited to an outwardly physical transformation rather than an internal psychological transformation.
Transformations involving costumes are more problematic. There are so many one-shot novelty costume changes among Silver Age heroes that this should really be another article. A decision was made to only include categories of costume change that occurred more than once rather than one-shot costumes including: caveman wear, jungle wear, and kingly wear.
The hero titles analyzed include Aquaman, Batman, Challengers of the Unknown, the Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League of America, Lois Lane, Superboy, Supergirl, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Jimmy Olsen is excluded as a character but not from the types section since I have dealt with Jimmy Olsen’s transformations in another article.
The transformations were also broken down by type and this will be dealt with in part II, the follow up post. The types of transformations that occurred more than one time and generally with more than one hero include alien transformation, animal transformation, baby transformation, caveman transformation, devil transformation, doppelganger transformation, fat transformation, freak transformation, genie transformation, giant transformation, giant head transformation, half body transformation, jungle person transformation, king transformation, mirror transformation, negative being transformation, old, phantom/ghost/invisible transformation, radioactive transformation, robot transformation, small person transformation, tree being transformation, underwater being transformation, and werewolf transformation.
Batman #72 (Jungle Batman), Batman #118 (Underwater Batman), Batman #119 (Old Batman), Batman #125 (King Batman), Batman #134 (Two-Dimensional Batman and Robin), Batman #140 (Batman and Robin Aliens), Batman #147 (Batman Baby), Batman #162 (Batman Freak),
Green Lantern #20 (Phantom Green Lantern), Green Lantern #29 (Half Body Green Lantern), Green Lantern #36 (Robot Green Lantern)
Justice League of America Transformations
Justice League of America Collage Key
Justice League of America #7 (Mirror), Justice League of America #9 (Trees), Justice League of America #10 (Finger Puppets), Justice League of America #18 (Small), Justice League of America #60 (Drones)
Lois Lane Transformations
Lois Lane Collage Key
Jimmy Olsen #66 (Cat Headed Lois Lane), Lois Lane #5 (Fat Lois Lane), Lois Lane #10 (Baby Lois Lane), Lois Lane #11 (Jungle Lois Lane), Lois Lane #13 (Cat Headed Lois Lane), Lois Lane #12 (Mermaid Lois Lane), Lois Lane #27 (Giant Head), Lois Lane #33 (Phantom Lois Lane), Lois Lane #40 (Old Lois Lane), Lois Lane #66 (Freak), Lois Lane #92 (Centaur Lois Lane), Lois Lane #101 (Invisible Lois Lane), Lois Lane #106 (Black Lois Lane), Lois Lane #107 (Snow), Lois Lane #124 (Jungle Lois Lane)
Lois Lane is given a cat head not once but twice! I guess this means that Lois was considered catty in the Silver Age. At least the cat heads were different colors and the art wasn’t just recycled even if the concept was recycled.
Ma and Pa Kent Transformations
Ma and Pa Kent Collage Key
Adventure Comics #237 (Robot Ma & Pa Kent), Adventure Comics #270 (Ma and Pa Kent Aliens)
The doppelganger theme dominates the transformation of Wonder Woman that is unique among the heroes of the Silver Age. I did not even include issues in which Wonder Woman is not transformed but fights some sort of robot double. Wonder Woman is also constantly reduced not via transformation but by fighting giant opponents. Wonder Woman is then treated as a toy or trinket, or an object by the giant opponent. Reduction is used to create the objectification of Wonder Woman. In Wonder Woman #122, Wonder Woman fights a giant robotic double and in this issue the reader sees the juxtaposition of the objectification themes of reduction and duplication. The giant doppelganger is clearly not a transformation since this double is clearly a robot. I do include the similar plot of Wonder Woman #90 since the giant double challenges the identity of Wonder Woman and is therefore transformational.
Superboy (Adventure Comics #255) and later Superman (Action #312) face a doppelganger dilemma when red kryptonite splits him into two selves. In both cases, Superman faces a Clark Kent doppelganger. The Superman doppelganger plots also take a very different direction since there are not two Supermans but rather the two sides of Superman are split physically and must see reunification to create a whole Superman identity. In the case of Wonder Woman the doppelganger is not a side of Wonder Woman but a duplicate that challenges Wonder Woman’s unique identity.
The objectification of women as sex objects is recurrent feminist theme. One of the characteristics of an object as opposed to a subject in existential terms is reproducibility. An object is reproducible. A person is unique and not reproducible. Even in a future of clones presumably we have a unique soul even if a physical duplicate could be made. The industrial reproduction of feminine beauty and images is a hallmark of 20th century mass media and consumer culture. Paradoxically women have greater opportunities and education at the precise moment when technological objectification reaches and apex causing a unique post modern historical feminine anxiety. The constant use of doppelganger themes in the Silver Age Wonder Woman title may be an unconscious response to this feminine anxiety and a naïve form of pop culture driven existential exploration.
What is a monster? According to the online version of Merriam-Webster:
“1 a: an animal or plant of abnormal form or structure b: one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character. “
Using definition (b), then just about every super villain would be a monster. If you add (a) then you still have super villains like Doctor Doom who are deformed. IGN already wrote an excellent article about DC versus Marvel super villains and I do not want to go over ground already covered. This article instead will focus on big monsters. The ultimate archetype of the big monster would be Godzilla. There is even a particular word in Japanese for this sort of monster: daikaijū. Monsters generally are big but how big does a monster have to be a daijuku? I think over 20 feet and if the monster can wrap his/her hand around your waist with one hand like King Kong picking up a damsel in distress then that’s the clincher.
The Silver age was all about big monsters and although Kirby’s Silver age monsters over at Marvel get all the attention, you can actually find a ton of big monsters at DC if you know where to look.
Aquaman faced three major giant sea monsters during the Silver age. The following Aquaman, volume 1, issues have a giant monster: #7- The Creatures from Atlantis, #20 – Two-Headed Beast, and #56 – The Creature that Devoured Detroit. All the monsters are one-shots and not memorable. Aquaman is often fighting a whale, giant jellyfish or giant shark or whatever but these are little two panel exercises not even worth mentioning. The author looked at 61 issues. The ratio of issues to monsters is 61 / 3 = 20.3
Batman has faced at least 20 giant monsters. In Batman volume 1, Batman fought: #75 – Gorilla Boss, #104 the Creature from 20,000 Fathoms, #134 – Rainbow Creature, #138 – Sea Beast, #142-Tezcatlipoca, #143 – Bat-Hound and the Creature, and #162 – The Batman Creature.
In Detective Comics, Batman fought giant monsters in #252-Creature from the Green Lagoon, #255 – Robot Dinosaurs, #270 – Creature from Planet X, #272 – Menace of the Crystal Creature, #277 – Jigsaw Creature from Space, #278 – Giant, # 279 – Creatures that Stalked Batman, #282 – Cave Eel, #288 – the Multiple Creature, # 291 – Creature of the Bat Cave, # 295 – Secret of the Beast Painting, # 297 – Beast of Koba Bay, and #303 – Murder in Skyland. The author looked at 667 Batman issues and 800 Detective Comics issues for a total of 1,467. The ratio of issues to monsters is 1467 / 20 = 73.35
Green Lantern faced four monsters in the Silver age in Green Lantern, volume 1, in issues: #6 – Giant monster on Xudar, #8 – Giant Gila Monster from the Future, #30 – Dinosaurs, #34 – Giant Iguana, #53 – Giant Alien. All the monsters are one-shots and not memorable. The author looked at 201 issues to find these four giants monsters. The ratio of issues to giant monsters is 201 / 4 = 50.25
The Legion of Super-Heroes deals with several alien and interstellar monsters in volume 1. The Monster Master even created the Legion of Super Monster’s which includes: the earthquake beast that can cause earthquakes, the eye monster can shoot lightning, heat-vision, x-rays, and blinding light, the mirror monster can reflect any energy force off its shiny armor-plated hide, the drill beast can drill through anything. Finally, the omnibeast can travel in space, air, land, or sea. Computo is yet another giant robot conqueror created by Braniac 5 who kills one of the bodies of Triplicate Girl in the Silver age and death in the Silver age is rare and special plot wise. The Sun-Eater is probably the biggest, baddest, giant monster in the DC universe. Galactus is the devourer of worlds but the Sun-Eater is a devourer of suns! The Sun-Eater is a weapon created by the Controllers, a super race in the DC universe and is generally mindless. Lighting Lad loses his arm to the Super-Moby Dick of Space in Action Comics #332. Any sort of permanent injury was almost unheard of in the Silver age so the giant monster is an integral part of an important story.
Superboy faced Validus when he was a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Validus is actually stronger than Superboy and it took the combined might of Superboy, Mon-El and Ultraboy to defeat Validus. The Silver age Superman and Superboy are much much stronger than the Modern Age Superman. Validus is probably the second most powerful giant monster in the DC universe after the Sun-Eater which did defeat Validus (Adventure Comics #353). Three important, powerful, giant monsters come out of the Legion of Super-Heroes including Computo, the Sun-Eater and Validus. The Legion of Super-Heroes breaks the pattern of many one-shot monsters that are not memorable in order to create monsters of great power that are memorable and an important part of the DC Universe history.
Superboy faced a few giant monsters as well. In Adventure Comics #30 there is a creature quite similar to Jimmy Olsen’s transformation into a Giant Turtle Man in Jimmy Olsen #53. Superboy fought a giant Thought Monster of Krypton as a baby and a boy in Superboy #87 and #102 respectively. In Adventure Comics #185, Superboy fought a Griffin. In Adventure Comics #196, Superboy fought Kingorilla, a giant ape.
Superman’s most famous giant monster is Titano the Super-Ape who was like King Kong with Green Kryptonite vision. In Adventure #295, the world is introduced to Bizzaro Titano that has Blue Kryptonite vision which is deadly to Bizzaros. Superman has also faced 17 other giant monsters in the pages of Superman including: #78- The Beast from Krypton, #86 – The Dragon from King Arthur’s Court, #110 – Giant Ant, the Flame Dragon of Krypton, #127 – Titano, #138-Titano, # 151-Child of the Beast from Krypton from issue #78, #246 Danger Monster at Work, #324 Titano Returns, #348 Storm God, #357- Cosmic Monster, #379 – Chemo.
In Action Comics, Superman faced monsters in #326 – Legion of Super-Creatures, #343 – Eterno, #502 – Galactic Golem, #516 – Army of Dinosaurs, #519 – Cosmic Creature, #664 – Tyrannosaurus Rex, # 671 – Sea Serpent, and #758 – Rock Lobster. The author looked at 666 Superman issues and 873 Action Comics for a total of 1539 to find the 18 monsters mentioned. The ratio of issues to monsters is 1539 / 18 = 85.5.
Wonder Woman faces 36 giant monsters in Wonder Woman volume 1 during the Silver age including #64 – The 3-D Terror, #66, #87 – Island of Giants, #91 – The Eagle Who Caged People, #97 – Dinosaur, #100 – The Forest of Giants, #105 – The Eagle of Space, #106 – Giants Olympic Contest, #109 – Wonder Girl in Giant Land, #112 – Chest of Monsters, #113 – Invasion of the Sphinx Creatures, #114 – The Monster Express, #116 – Cave of Secret Creatures, #119 – Sea Serpent, #120 – Secret of the Volcano Mt., #121 – The Island-Eater, #123 – Giant Cobra, #128 – Living Seaweed, #135 – The Attack of the Human Iceberg, #138 – Stone Giant, #143 – Fire Breathing Dragon, #145 – Phantom Sea-Beast, #146 – War of the Underwater Giants, #147 – Griffin & Giant Centipede, #148 – Dinosaur in a Department Store, #149 – Giant Flame Creature, #150 – The Phantom Fisher-Bird, #151 – Gooey Monster, #152 – Ice Bird, #154 – Boiling Man, #171 – Trap of the Demon Fish-Man, #233 – Jaws of the Leviathan, #239 – Animated Statue of Liberty, #257 – Dinosaur, #265 – Dinosaurs, and #284 – A Dragon Stalks the Streets. The author looked at 327 issues. The ratio of issues to monsters is 327 / 36 = 9.083. Wonder woman has the highest number of monsters among major heroes!
The Justice League of America had two memorable giant monsters including Starro and the Shaggy Man. Starro first appeared in Brave and Bold #28 and was the very first super villain that the Justice League of America faced! Starro has reappeared many times since then. The Shaggy Man first appeared in JLA #45 and is another giant monster that reappears several times albeit different persons assume the identity of the Shaggy Man. The Justice League had plenty of one shot monsters as well. The Justice League fought several Dungeons and Dragons type of giant monsters in JLA #2. In JLA #15 the Justice League fights an Easter Island sort of monster. Superman fights a giant purple roman robot in JLA #34. There are also one shot monsters that don’t even rate a proper name in JLA #36, #40, and #52. If you don’t count reappearances of Starro or the Shaggy Man then the Justice League fought eight monsters in 261 issues looked at (261/8 = 32.6).
The Second Tier Heroes
Jack Kirby’s contribution to monsters in the Marvel universe will be discussed in that section of the article but Jack Kirby also created a large number of monsters for the silver age Challengers of the Unknown. The tone was set in one of their earliest adventures in Showcase #7 when they fought a giant robot called Ultivac. In Challengers of the Unknown volume 1 there are giant robots 13 in the following issues: #16 -the Incredible Metal Monster, #18 – Invincible Beast of Tomorrow, #19 Beasts of Tomorrow, #20 Cosmic Powered Creatures, #22 the Creature Challenger Mountain, #26 – Aqua Beast, #27-Volcano Man, # 32 Volcano Man returns, #35 – Moon-Beast, #41 – Quadruple Man, #47 – Sponge Man, #51-Sponge Man returns, and #59-The Petrified Giant. The author looked at 91 issues to find the 13 giant monsters. The ratio of monsters to issues is 91 /13 = 7.
The Silver age Doom Patrol had one giant monster they fought more than once and that was the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man. Doom Patrol ,volume 1, had the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man in #89, #93 – Giant Robot, #95 Return of the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, #96 – Giant Jukebox, #97 – Elasti-Girl Transforms to Crystal Giant Menace, #100 – Dinosaur, #103 – Meteor Man, #105 – Mr. 103, #106 – Mr. 103 returns looking like the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, #109 – Mandred the Executioner, #111-Zarox 13 King of the Criminal Cosmos, #113 – Arsenal, #114 – Kor the Conqueror, #115 – The Mutant Master, and #116 – The Galactic Gladiator. The Doom Patrol fought 14 monsters in 39 issues. The ratio of issues to monsters is 39 / 14 = 2.7.
The Metal Men battled several giant robots that fit the giant monster definition but one of the more famous giant monsters of DC is not a robot: Chemo. Chemo is a collection of chemicals that comes to life. Chemo is vaguely malevolent but mostly mindless. Unlike the giant robots that the Metal Men fought, Chemo survived past the Silver age and made it to the Modern Age. Chemo was a major character in the Infinite Crisis series (2005). Some of the giant robots the Metal Men fought include the Skyscraper Robot, Torgola, the Rebel Robot, Robot Juggernauts, and Volcano Man, who is not a robot. The Doom Patrol and Challengers of the Unknown also fight a Volcano Man but I don’t think this is the same one. The author looked at 56 issues. The Metal Men battled 6 big monsters. The ratio of issues to monster is 56 / 6 = 9.3.
Rip Hunter Time Master in the Silver age is another “B” title that has more than its share of big monsters. Ripe Hunter is a time traveler that seems to find big monsters in every age not just the prehistoric ones. Rip Hunter and his time traveling team fought ten giant monsters. Big monsters are in #1 – 1,000 Year Old Curse, the volcano Creature, #2 – The Alien Beasts from 500 BC, #3 – Giant Octopus sort of creature, #5 – Alien Beast, #7 – Dinosaurs in the past, #8 – Giant Genie, #9 – Alien Flying Creature, #18 – Dinosaur but in the future, 2550 AD, #28 – Rip is turned into a giant monster, and #29 – Giant insects in the present. The author looked at 30 issues. The ratio of issues to monsters is 30 / 10 = 3.
The Silver age Teen Titans were a second tier super hero team. In the Modern age the Teen Titans became a first tier super hero team and giant monsters disappeared from their pages. In volume 1, the Silver age, Teen Titans giant monsters appeared in the following issues: #1 – The Beast-God of Xochatan, #2 – The Million Year Old Teenager (Giant Caveman), #8 – A Killer Called Honey Bun (Giant Robot), and #32 – A World Gone Mad (Sea Monster). There were four monsters. The author looked at 53 issues of volume 1 of the Teen Titans. The ratio of issues to monsters is 53 / 4 = 13.
Tomahawk is an especially odd Silver age second tier hero in an era of odd heroes. Tomahawk is an American Revolution hero who fights British redcoats and their Native American allies except they are definitely called American Indians in these pre-PC comic books. Tomahawk has the distinction of fighting lots of giant American Indians during the Silver age. Tomahawk fights giant monsters in the following Issues: #46 – The Valley of Giant Warriors (Giant Indians), #58 – The Frontier Dinosaur, #64 – Mystery of the Giant Warrior (Giant Indian), #67 – The Beast from the Deep, #70 – Secret of the Iron Chief (Giant Indian Robot), #73 – Secret of the Indian Sorceress (Giant Sea Serpent), #74 – The Beast from the Labyrinth (Pink Stegosaurus), #75 Master of the Legendary Warrior (Giant Indian with fangs), #78 – Legend of the Sea Beast (Sea Serpent), #82 – Lost Land of the Pale-Face Tribe (Dinosaur), #86 – Tomahawk vs. King Colosso (Giant Ape), #89 – The Terrible Tree Man (Giant Tree Man), #90 – The Ranger vs. the Prisoner in the Pit (Giant Reptile), #91 – The Indian Tribe Below the Earth (Giant Salamander), #92 – The Petrified Sentry of Peaceful Valley (Giant Petrified Indian), The Return of King Colosso (Giant Ape returns), #94 – Rip Van Ranger (Giant Bird), #95 – Tribe Beneath the Sea (Giant Fish), #99 – King Cobweb and his Giant Insects (Giant Insects controlled by Indian), #100 – The Weird Water-Tomahawk (Giant Water Creature), #102 – The Dragon Killers (Dragon), #103 – The Frontier Frankenstein (Giant Frankenstein), #104 – The Fearful Freaks of Dunham’s Dungeon, #105 – Attack of the Gator God (Giant Reptile), #107 – Double-Cross of the Gorilla-Ranger (Giant Ape), #109 – The Caveman Ranger (Dinosaurs), and #115 – The Deadly Flaming Ranger (Giant Flame Creature). The author looked at a 129 issues of Tomahawk. Tomahawk fights giant monsters in 27 issues. The ratio of issues to monsters is 129 / 27 = 4.7. Tomahawk also has the honor of having fought four giant Indians! I think this has to be some sort of hero record.
Blackhawk had several one-shot monsters including Blackhawk #120 (Metal Cyclops), #140 (Tyrannosaurus Rex), #146 (Giant Mechanical Scorpion), #148 (Flying Serpent), #150 (Giant Eagle), #152 (Octi-Ape, Ape with eight limbs), #154 (Beast that Time Forgot), #164 (Twin Creatures of Blackhawk Island), #193 (Valley of the Angry Giants, Giant Mesoamerican Indians), #198 (Giant Nazi Robot), and #226 (Secret Monster of Blackhawk Island). The author looked at 96 issues and found monsters in 11 of them. The ratio of monsters to issues is 8.7.
Speculative Fiction Anthologies
In the Silver age both DC and Marvel had speculative fiction anthologies and these were the true homes of monsters and big monsters in general. The vast majority of monsters in both the DC and Marvel universes were created in these speculative fiction anthologies.
House of Mystery, volume 1, has big monsters in the following issues: #41 – Brontosaurus, #53 – Forbidden Statues, #70 – The Creatures from Nowhere, #71 – Moon Goddess, #74 – Dragon of Time Square, #79 – Creature of Inner Space, #80 – Earth’s Super Prisoner, #85 – Easter Island Monsters and similar to Marvel’s the Things on Easter Island, #86 – The Beast that Slept 1,000 Years, #87 – The Menacing Pet from Pluto, #89 – Secret of the Cave Light, #90 – The Runaway Bronc from Venus, #91 – The Forbidden Face of Fa-San, #96 – Pirate Brain, #99 – The Beast with Three Lives, #101 – The Magnificent Monster, #102 – Cellmate to a Monster, #104 – The Seeing Eye Man, #107 – Captives of the Alien Fishermen, #109 – Secret of the Hybrid Creatures, #110 – The Beast that Stalked Through Time, #111 – Operation Beast-Slayer, #112 – The Menace of Craven’s Creatures, #113 – Prisoners of Beast Asteroid, #114 – The Movies from Nowhere, #118 – Secret of the Super-Gorillas, #119 – The Deadly Gift from the Stars, #120 – The Cat-Man of Kanga Peak, #123 – Lure of the Decoy Creature, #125 – The Fantastic Camera Creature, #130 – Alien Creature Hunt, #131 – Vengeance of the Geyser God, #132 – Beware the Invisible Master, #133 – The Captive Queen of Beast Island, #134 – The Secret Prisoner of Darkmoor Dungeon, #138 – The Creature Must Die, #140 – Giant Alien, #141 – The Alien Gladiator, #143 Martian Manhunter’s sidekick Zook becomes a giant monster, #149 – Giant Insects, #152 Martian Manhunter fights a giant alien named the Creature King, #153 – Martian Manhunter fights the Giants who slept 1,000 years, and #154 – Prisoner of the Purple Demon. House of Mystery had 46 giant monsters. The author looked at 300 issues. The ratio of issues to monsters is 300 / 46 = 6.5.
House of Secrets, volume 1, had monsters in the following issues: #1 – House of Doom, #11 – The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Growing, #19 – Lair of the Dragonfly, #24 – Beast from the Box, #25 – Secret of the Sea Monsters, #26 – Menace of the Alien Ape, #27 – Secret of the Fossil Egg, #28 – Horse like Monster, #29 – Queen of the Beasts, #30 – Creature City, #31 – Hybrid Monster, #34 – Puzzle of the Plundering Creatures, #37 – Secret of the Captive Creature, #38 – The Fantastic Flower Creatures, #39 – Alien Bird of Prey, #40 – Master of the Space Beasts, #41 – Dinosaur in Times Square, #44 – Valley of Doomed Creatures, #45 – Destiny of Dooms, #47 – Creatures of Camouflage Forest, #48 – Beware the Guardian Beast, #51 – Mystery of the Stolen Creatures, #53 – Mark Merlin’s Giant Double, #55 – Battle of the Titans, #63 – Cave filled with various giant monsters, #69 – Kill the Giant Cats, #71 – Giant Who Once Ruled Earth, #72 – Revolt of the Morloo, and #73 – Eclipso Battles the Sea Titan. House of Secrets had 29 big monsters. The author looked at 153 issues. The ratio of issues to monsters is 153 / 29 = 5.2.
Strange Adventures did “spawn” one memorable giant amphibian and that is the giant frogs. The frogs appeared in issues #130 and # 155. The giant frogs are pictured below:
Also the Faceless Hunter from Saturn first appeared in issues #124, #142, and #153. The Faceless Hunter from Saturn has made several appearances in the Modern age and even was in a cartoon episode of Batman: Brave and Bold (Siege of Starro! Part Two, Season 2, Episode 15). Also yellow giants with ears shaped like butterflies who collected humans like humans collect butterflies appeared in issues #119 and #159. Giant monsters that appeared in volume one of Strange Adventures include: #7 – Giant Ants, #11 – Serpent, #21 – The Monster that Fished Men, #28 – Indestructible Giant, #30 – The Great Ant Circus, #41 – Dinosaurs, #44 – Giant Plant, #50 – World Wrecker Robot, #52 – Prisoner of the Parakeets, #72 – The Skyscraper came to Life, #76 – The Tallest Man on Earth, #82 – Giants of the Cosmic Ray, #91 – Giant from Jupiter, #97 – Secret of the Space – Giant, #101 – Giant from Stalk, #104 – World of Doomed Spacemen, #112 – Menace of the Size-Changing Spaceman, #113 – Deluge from Space, #118 – The Turtle Men from Space, #119 – Raiders from the Giant World, #120 – Attack of the Oil Demons, #122 – David and the Space Goliath, #123 – Secret of the Rocket-Destroyer, #124 – The Face-Hunter from Saturn, #125 – The Flying Gorilla Menace, #127 – Menace from the Earth Globe, #129 – The Giant Who Stole Mountains, #130 – War with Giant Frogs, #133 – Invisible Dinosaurs, #139 – The Space Roots of Evil, #142 – Return of the Faceless Creature, #151 – Invasion via Radio-Telescope, #153 – Threat of the Faceless Creature, # 155 – Return of the Giants Frogs, #157 -Plight of the Human Cocoons, #159 – The Maze of Time, #165 – Secret of the Insect Men, #167 – Gorko the Night Creature, #168 – The Hand that Erased Earth, #170 – The Creature from Strange Adventures (Infinity Cover), #193 – Zomzu the Living Colossus, and #194 – The Bracelet of Deadly Charms. Some of the monsters already identified were reprinted in later issues of Strange Adventures. Strange Adventures yields 42 giant monsters! The author looked at 232 issues for this article. The ratio of issues to big monster is 232 / 42 = 5.5.
Tales of the Unexpected had big monsters in issues #17 – Moon Beast, #20 – You Stole Our Planet, #36 – Prisoners’ of the Lighthouse Creatures, #40 – Battle of the Colossal Creatures, #48 – The Beast from the Invisible World, #50 – Sun-Creature, #51 – Mercurian Quill Thrower, #52-Guardian Beasts of the Life Stone, #53 – Creature in the Glass Ball, # 54 – Dinosaurs of Space, #55 – Ghost Creatures of Phobos, #57 – The Jungle Beasts of Jupiter, #59-Org, #60-The Beasts from Space Seeds, #61 – Guardians of the Moon Emperor’s Treasure, #63 – Secret of the Space Circus, #65 – The Alien Brat from Planet Byra, #67 – The Beast that Space Ranger Protected, #68 – Prisoner of the Giant Robot, and #70 – Xorog, #201 – Giant Rabbit! Tales of the Unexpected has 21 big monsters. The author looked at 208 issues. The ratio of issues to monsters is 208 / 21 = 9.9.
Overall, the secret to finding big monsters in the DC universe is to focus on the Silver age. Also do not to look in the mainstream hero comics like Aquaman, Batman, Green Lantern and Superman. The range of ratios for first tier heroes is 20.3-90.5.
However, every other issue in the second tier comics hero comics like the Doom Patrol, Metal Men, Rip Hunter Time Master, Teen Titans, Tomahawk, Challengers of the Unknown, and the Sea Devils has big monsters. The range of ratios was 2.7-9.3. So a big monster is more or less ten times more likely to show up in a second tier hero adventure than a first tier hero adventure.
My theory is that the editors felt that if the hero could not sell the magazine then maybe a giant monster plastered on the cover could. Also, one of the defining flaws of the second tier heroes is a lack of a roster of strong recurring super villains. Big monsters were used as a substitute for strong villains and this strategy in hindsight was not very successful.
The speculative fiction anthologies: House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Tales of the Unexpected, and Strange Adventures are the place to find the vast majority of DC monsters. The speculative fiction anthologies are generally called science fiction comic books but I think this is a misclassification. These Silver Age anthologies spanned the spectrum of horror to fantasy to science fiction and actually quite a bit of supernatural fiction. They were the comic book equivalent of the Twilight Zone, definitely speculative fiction rather than the Outer Limits, a more narrowly science fiction show. The monsters in these anthologies span the gamut of supernatural to horror to science fiction monsters. The Vertigo Modern Age reboots of the House of Mystery and Strange Adventures stay far away from giant monsters that are still popular but considered cheesy and not up to the artistic standards of the Vertigo press. The range of ratios for the speculative fiction anthologies was from 5.2-9.9. This range of ratios is similar to the range of second tier heroes. However the range is greater for second tier heroes.
Wonder Woman (9.083 ratio) is an exception to the first tier hero rule. In particular, the Silver age, Wonder Woman was fighting giant men in a large number of issues. More detailed analysis shows that these giants often treat Wonder Woman like a plaything or even jewelry of the giants. All the giants in Wonder Woman probably reflect some weird psychosexual dynamic at work as is often the case with the Wonder Woman title from the Golden age all the way the way to the present. Could some sort of role reversal be at work? Young boys who are sick of being pushed around by their giant mothers derive vicarious pleasure from seeing Wonder Woman being played with by giant men? Or did Wonder Woman just attract the weirdos of the comic book industry?
First of all I want to give special thanks to the Monster Blog! This website is the ultimate online resource for anyone who is interested in the vast number of monsters that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created. These monsters are often referred to as Kirby monsters. The blog lists 210 monsters and almost all of them fit the big monster definition. If you remove all human monsters, monsters that are too small, and imaginary monsters, then are still left with the following list of big monsters:
I have not included Godzilla in the list of giant monsters at Marvel! Godzilla is a Toho Studios monster and his foray into the Marvel universe was poor fit. Marvel no longer has the licensing rights to Godzilla and hopefully this sorry episode in the Marvel Universe is dead, dead, dead, forever. Godzilla could lift 20,000 tons with ease. Thor and the Hulk are 100 ton lifters! So this interloper is about 200 times stronger than the heavyweights of the Marvel Universe! How can Marvel superheroes fight this guy at all? Yet they do rather than being squashed like ants! Suspension of belief is a delicate thing that Godzilla in the Marvel Universe practically destroyed. Just a poor fit on every level. Keep in mind I am the author of Hello Kitty vs. Godzilla so when I find a story to be over the top then that’s saying a lot.
There is a misconception that Marvel has more monsters, especially giant monsters, than DC. DC actually created more monsters during the Silver age than Marvel but they were much less memorable and spread across many titles as one-shots and many of the monsters did not even have names. Ironically, Kirby did have a monster comic book at DC, Challengers of the Unknown, but the fact that this comic book was filled with monsters has been totally ignored until now.
Fing Fang Foom is easily the premiere giant monster at Marvel. Fing Fang Foom has appeared in over 20 issues across the spectrum of Marvel titles. Fing Fang Foom appears in toy form in Iron Man 2008. Fing Fang Foom in the only Kirby monster to be made into a HeroClix giant figure! Fing Fang Foom is arguably one of the more interesting Kirby monsters visually as you can see from the HeroClix figure picture below:
Validus faces off against Fing Fang Foom. Fing Fang Foom can sense that Validus has a the mind of a child and tries to communicate with Validus but Validus is immune to telepathy. Validus rips off one of Fing Fang Foom’s arms with ease. Fing Fang Foom is a genius level strategist and decides it.s time to run for the hills. Fing Fang Foom starts to fly away. Validus does not have the power of flight. Validus zaps Fing Fang Foom from the sky with his unique mental lightning which can even knock out the Silver Age Superboy. Fing Fang Foom decides to die ironically, and as Validus cradles the dying Fing Fang Foom, Fing Fang Foom says, “Rosebud” with his dying breath. Validus doesn’t get the joke and looks for something else to smash.