Seeing as that it is Halloween, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass by without talking about some of the greatest monsters to ever appear in comics. Now, I’m going to put these in order, but it’s kind of arbitrary, isn’t it? So don’t take it too hard. I’m also going to leave out a lot of people. I don’t really care much about Fin Fang Foom and his pants, and Vampire Batman really is cool, but he won’t make it here just for the virtue of being Batman. That being said, let me know who you think deserves to be on this list. And, hey, for once, I’m going mainstream, so get ready to see some faces you recognize.
10. Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein
DC, you are so rarely on this list, and I’m sorry. But the ones you brought along count in a big way. I have a soft spot for Frankenstein, and while there are tons of comic book Frankensteins out there, this is the one that flashed into my head. And I know this is technically two monsters, but stick with me here. First of all, Frank worked with Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory, then with S.H.A.D.E., which was full of wonderful monsters. Secondly, he has a big gun and a very cool sword. Then, take a look at his wife, FOUR ARMS. And she has lots of guns! The reason they are lumped on here together is that their relationship is a key part of what got them on their list. They went from lovers to bitter enemies who…kind of had feelings for each other still? After Frank had to kill their monstrosity of a baby. If I have my lore correct. These Frankensteins come off as a pair of dysfunctional lovers/cowboys. I’m into it.
9. The Thing
The Thing, as well as the next entry on this list, are this high up because, in the end, it’s hard to picture them as strictly monsters. Sure, the Thing is LITERALLY a monster, and if I woke up looking like that, no one could tell me otherwise. But in the end, he’s ever-lovin’, blue eyed, and has a catchphrase. So while I absolutely LOVE the Thing, he doesn’t strike me as going bump in the night. Now, that being said, he is an absolute cornerstone of the Marvel Universe and does an amazing job with the unwilling monster bit. We feel bad for Ben Grimm because he’s a good guy and being an orange rock monster has kind of ruined his life. That’s part of what makes him a great monster. The other part is that he is literally made of rocks and looks like something out of a 50s sci fi movie. The other other thing that makes him great is the above mentioned catchphrase. “It’s clobberin’ time!” Come on, I love it, I can’t hear it enough. It might come off to hoaky as some these days, but not this true believer.
8. The Hulk
Now I understand if this one upsets you. It might upset you that he’s not higher on the list, or it might upset you that he’s on the list at all. But here’s what I say to those points: 1. The Hulk would be higher on the list if his storylines stuck to more basic “I’m a big scary monster” stuff, instead of fighting off aliens with the Avengers and blasting into outer space. 2. You might not think of Hulk as a monster, but I assure he is. He is the monster. He’s the thing inside of us that we don’t want to let out, he’s the Hyde to our Jekyll. And, when his stories are done right, they don’t feel like super hero smash ups, they leave us with a sense of uneasiness, of fear. We don’t know what the Hulk will do, and neither does the Hulk. Add to this that, in his great storylines, he is a lurking, mindless destruction machine, and the fact that no matter what he can’t die, and my friend, you have a monster.
7. Werewolf By Night
You might ask why Werewolf by Night is on this list above those other guys, well here’s the thing: he’s the Werewolf by Night, pal. I discovered this comic as a kid and, for various reasons, it’s stuck with me to this day. There was just something really cool about werewolves. There always will be. But other than that, he was having real werewolf adventures. Not like, “how can I use my werewolf powers to beat this evil magician?” But like, “I might black out and eat someone.” I know that sounds grim, but it really stood out in the landscape of what I was reading at the time. Now, I haven’t read a ton of his stuff, but I’m sure he went on to be a more traditional hero. But when he’s done as a straight horror comic, are there many werewolves who compare? This the Universal Wolfman of comics. Artists draw him not to be a hero, but to be a terrifying wolfman. Just look at that picture!
6. Morbius The Living Vampire
As I said above, Vampire Batman didn’t make the cut. And Tomb of Dracula was pretty close, but I went with Morbius for a couple of reasons. First of all, his name is Morbius, the Living Vampire, which I find to be just about the coolest vampire name out there. The other thing is I loved Spider-Man as a kid, so that probably has something to do with him making the list. Morbius has a great look. Dracula can be suave dude, but Morbius looks straight up feral. He’s gaunt, pale, and has long hair, going against the romanticized pretty vampires that got popular somewhere along the way. The other really great thing about him is that he’s a tragic figure. He was only trying to cure his own blood disease, and turned himself into a vampire. Dang. Thus, Morbius sometimes plays the hero, and sometimes the villain. And that’s interesting in a largely black and white field like super hero comics.
5. The Violator
Look. At. This. Dude. If I saw that in real life, I would literally explode in fear. Todd MacFarlane is a little confusing to me because his writing can be so-so, and I don’t know how to feel about that. But he does not cut corners when it comes to drawing. He has drawn some of the most complex designs in all of comics. Seriously, imagine trying to draw Spawn over and over and over. But this dude might take the cake. Look at his weird arms, his crazy jaws and his proclivity to rip out hearts. He is literally called the Violator, as well. All of this AND his other form is a fat, disgusting clown. This dude is from Hell and it shows. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read a lot of Spawn, but I know enough to be scared of the Violator. I actually have read this above scene, and he tears these guys limb from limb. I already mentioned the heart on the ground. And the blood. THE BLOOD.
4. Man Thing
Let’s get this out of the way: Man Thing is unfortunately named. But, other than that, he’s a great monster. Now, I have a fondness for swamp monsters, so I’m a little bias. His look is memorable and actually scary, unlike a lot of monsters. He’s got glowing red eyes, and weird face vines. To add to his terrifying effect, he lurches forward in the night, silently. The Man Thing doesn’t speak…well, actually, I think he has come to, but I like it better when he doesn’t. But you know what tops it all off, though? His catch phrase. The one he doesn’t even say. His tagline has always been: “Those who know fear, burn at the touch of the Man Thing.” Wow, that is seriously great. I’m spooked just thinking about it, which means I will burn. Also, Mr. Thing is the guardian of the Nexus of All Reality i.e. the Everglades. This is all thanks to the genius of writer Steve Gerber. Good on you.
3. Judge Death
I was debating if Judge Death was actually a monster or not, and then I looked him up again and realized holy hell, this guy is the definition of a monster. His design is amazing and, I’m sure, infuriating to draw. But the folks at 2000 AD don’t mess around. If you’re unfamiliar with the above evil grin, he was created as a nemesis for Judge Dredd. In Judge Death’s world, life itself is a crime, and the punishment is violent, terrible murder. What a great villain! He came to Dredd’s world and got stomped, but then guess what? He doesn’t die! He just floats around as a creepy cloud until he can possess someone and start killing people again. Eventually, he brings his buddies with him, the other horsemen of the apocalypse, and things get wild. Death is a great monster not only because of his solid premise (humans don’t like to die) but also he’s genuinely creepy. I’m uncomfortable just writing about him!
OK, I’m kind of cheating on this one, in a couple ways. The first thing is, Hellboy is actually kind of a figure head on this list. He really stands for all the amazing and terrifying monsters Mike Mignola has created. Frog Monsters, ancient gods, were jaguars, wendigos, etc., but Hellboy is THE Mignola monster. It’s also a little bit cheating because it’s hard to consider him a monster when he is so human. That fact alone is what stops him from getting the top spot. But, when it comes down to it, when something bumps in the night, Hellboy bumps back. Yes, I stole that from the first movie, sorry not sorry. Plus, he’s a literal demon sent to Earth to bring about the end times. But he just wants a beer. Though he’s too human to be number one, it serves as a great lesson that monsters can be like us, even if they look like him. Still, you can’t go through all the stuff Hellboy has without being at least a little bit of a monster. Now that I’ve got to the end about Hellboy, I think that the monsters of the Mignolaverse could just have their own list. Hm…
1. Swamp Thing
Claiming the number one spot is this charming swamp monster: Swamp Thing. This particular bog creature holds a very special place in my heart, so that might have a little to do with his top spot. Saga of the Swamp Thing is the comic that finally inspired to me to stop just reading comics, and make my own. The thing about, uh, Swamp Thing, is that it’s a sophisticated read that blends philosophy with horror in a masterful way. Some of the craziest, scary concepts have come from this guy’s books, and at the same time, the constant thread is: what does it mean to be human? When Alan Moore started Saga of the Swamp Thing he took the book to strange heights, like literally outer space. He showed us that Alec Holland was actually dead, and the plant monster just thought he was Alec Holland. He introduced us to the Green and Swamp Thing’s being the avatar of our planet. I don’t think anyone bumps in the night, or the bog, harder than Swamp Thing.