The first volume of The House of Mystery was a horror anthology. Kate the Devil Girl never made the cover The House of Mystery but was a back story that had a loyal following in the seventies and DC has collected her six appearances into a single volume. Kate the Devil Girl is a normal high school student until she finds a demonic wand that gives her various demonic powers including super strength, limited invulnerability and the ability to shoot magical flames from her hands. The catch is that every time she picks up her wand, she has evil impulses that become stronger and stronger and she is in danger of becoming a full blown demon and therefore also more powerful.
At the end of the adventure, Kate always resolves to never use the wand again but there is always some emergency that forces her to use the wand again. In her third appearance, the wand accidentally absorbs the life force of a Cambodian exchange student and the head of the wand can now talk and give her advice but mostly the wand urges Kate to figure out a way to return him to his human form. In the sixth and final appearance of Kate the Devil Girl the various plot lines that had developed were not resolved. Many people thought that Kate the Devil Girl would become a Vertigo title eventually. In this incarnation, the various loose plot lines of the original would be resolved but this never happened. Perhaps this reprint means new adventures of Kate the Devil Girl are possible in the future.
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.
This post looks at the horror genre. I had problems separating the horror genre from the superhero genre. This would not have been a problem when I was reading comic books in the sixties and seventies when I was younger. However, since at least the eighties, DC and Marvel heroes that belong to the horror genre have been incorporated into their mainstream comic book universes to the point that they are often just another type of superhero.
For example, Blade, who fights vampires, has done so many crossovers with mainstream Marvel characters that he is no longer a hero of the horror genre but a hero with horror roots who inhabits the Marvel superhero universe. The mystery that is essential in horror is lost when the characters of horror are overused in a flashy superhero universe that in many ways is the antithesis of horror. Superheroes wear bright colors and fly off into the sunset versus inhabiting a world beneath the moon, moss and worms. When you juxtapose a creature of horror with a superhero the creature of horror is lessened. The suspension of disbelief is just too much. I can temporarily believe in a world of horror. I can temporarily believe in a world of superheroes. I can only believe in a world with both superheroes and horror with difficulty.
The entire Vertigo line, a DC imprint, can be seen as an excellent attempt to bring the sense of horror back to DC by creating boundaries between creatures of horror and superheroes for the purposes of better story telling. So who represents pure horror in the DC and Marvel universes? I would argue the horror hosts do! Most horror comic books are anthologies with one-shot characters that often die a horrible death at the end and are never seen again. You have the same problem with romance comics. Both genre focus on single shot stories and finding ongoing characters in both genres is hard do. So what sort of character survives in a horror comic book? The host of the stories is who!
A horror host is the host of a horror comic book anthology. The most famous horror host does not belong to either the DC or Marvel line but to EC Comics. The host for the EC comic book Tales of the Crypt was the Crypt Keeper and perhaps the only horror host to make the transition to TV where the same character hosted the very popular and long running TV show of the same name and also two movies and even a Saturday morning cartoon named Secrets of the Cryptkeepers Haunted House. The Crypt Keeper was one of the GhouLunatics and that included fellow EC horror hosts the Vault Keeper and the Old Witch.
The DC horror hosts include Abel, Cain, Charity, Destiny, Eve, Mad Mod Witch, Madame Xanadu, and Macbeth’s witches (Mordred, Mildred and Cynthia). Abel was the host of the House of Secrets. Cain was the host of the House of Mystery. They are the Cain and Abel of Biblical fame and an ongoing gag is that Cain kills Abel over and over again whenever there is a crossover between the two brothers. The two houses sit next to each other so a little neighborly interaction is only to be expected. Charity was the host of Forbidden Tales of the Dark Mansion and probably wins the title of most obscure and forgotten DC horror host. Destiny hosted Weird Mystery Tales. Eve hosted Secrets of Sinister House from issues # 6-16. Eve later generally replaced Destiny as the host of Weird Mystery Tales. Abel and Cain are officially cousins of Eve. The Mad Mod Witch was the, on again of again, host of Unexpected from issue #108 onwards and with the alias Fashion Thing was rebooted by Neil Gaiman in the Sandman. Madame Xanadu was the host of Doorway to Mystery. Madame Xanadu returned in the first direct sales only comic book in Madame Xanadu. The series is a one-shot. The witches Mordred, Mildred and Cynthia hosted the Witching Hour. Lucian was the host of the short lived Tales of Ghost Castle. Neil Gaiman made use of all the DC horror hosts, except Charity, in his Sandman series. Heck, even Lucian, perhaps the most obscure of the horror hosts became a librarian of the Sandman. All the horror hosts have gone onto new fame and prominence in the Vertigo line that probably exceeds the fame and prominence they had during their original title runs in the sixties and seventies.
In the Sandman title, Destiny and is one of the Endless who in turn are mightier than gods. Destiny has been able to resist the influence of Zeus. Zeus is in turn much mightier than for example Superman. Zeus can create a female version of Superman, Wonder Woman. Destiny is one of the most powerful characters in the DC universe but is also considered the most boring story teller by Abel, Cain and Eve.
Despite a slew of horror tiles by Marvel/Atlas including Beware, Chamber of Chills, Chamber of Darkness. Creatures on the Loose, Crypt of Shadows, Dead of Night, Fear, Giant Size Chillers, Journey into Mystery (2nd series), Tomb of Darkness, Tower of Shadows, Uncanny Tales (2nd series), Vault of Evil, Weird Wonder Tales, Where Creatures Roam and Where Monsters Dwell only one of these titles had a horror host! Digger and Headstone P. Gravely hosted Tower of Shadows that was designed to go head on against DCs House of Mystery and House of Secrets. I do remember Tower of Shadows and I even remember the story of the first issue and I was like 14 years old at the time! I don’t remember the horror hosts at all. Two unknown hosts versus an interconnected family of DC hosts that are major part of the current DC/Vertigo universe? This contest doesn’t seem fair at all and I am going to change the rules! I am going to bring in a Marvels number one comic book host! The Watcher!
The Watcher acted as a host to futuristic stories in Tales of Suspense starting in issue #39 in the sixties. The Watcher acted as second story to the main Iron Man story. The stories were titled Tales of the Watcher. I actually often preferred the Watcher stories to the Iron Man stories and am totally aghast that Marvel has not made an Essential version of Tales of the Watcher. I mean Werewolf by Night and Spiderwoman get an Essential volume but not those great stories by the Watcher? The tradition was carried on in the first volume of the Silver Surfer. Later still the Watcher became the host of What If stories that were 100% superhero stories but the original Tales of the Watcher were mainstream science fiction complete with a Twilight Zone sort of lesson about the universe and/or humanity told by the Watcher at the end.
Despite their genre difference the Watcher and Destiny actually have an awful lot in common. The Watcher is a cosmic entity. Destiny is a cosmic entity. Destiny is a lot more powerful but like the Watcher mostly tells stories, and despite being blind, “observes” and doesn’t really do much. The Watcher is bald and for all we know Destiny might be bald as well. Destiny always wears a cowl and this is probably to hide his baldness. I would see Destiny as being somewhere in the power class of the Living Tribunal over at Marvel. Destiny and the Living Tribunal both wear cowls by the way. The Watcher is at least two hierarchical levels below the Living Tribunal.
The Living Tribunal is even more powerful than Eternity or Death that only represent the totality of one universe. Both Destiny and the Living Tribunal are multiverse type beings that more or less bring balance to the multiverse. There isn’t a different Destiny or Living Tribunal in each universe but one for the whole dang multiverse. A being that performs a balancing multiverse function has to be more powerful than any being limited to one universe no matter how powerful they are in that one universe. Destiny could squash the Watcher but this won’t happen.
Destiny and the Watcher are hyper rational, Mr. Spock is emotional compared to those two, and I do mean the old Mr. Spock, not that new guy French kissing Uhura, and would never engage in aggressive behavior except in self defense and neither would attack the other first since that would be illogical, uncivilized and just bad manners. Destiny and the Watcher both exchange the very best stories from their mutual universes and agree I am not a very good story teller and perhaps should find another hobby. This “DC versus Marvel” story ends in a draw.