Thursday, October 29, 2020

The A-Z Of Marvel Monsters!

Marvel Comics, now part of the galaxy-spanning evil empire called Disney is quick to mine the riches from its illustrious past, especially the work of Steve Ditko who gave visual birth to the Amazing Spider-Man among others, and of course Jack Kirby who more than any other single person aside from possibly Stan Lee, is responsible for the success of the company in its heyday and even beyond. Kirby's work is used and reused time and again to  scrape another nickle or two from its carcass. And I confess that I have supplied more than a few of those nickles. I did so again when I picked up (second hand mind you for small money) a copy of The A-Z of Marvel Monsters, a book which as all things in comics these days was part of some largely forgettable larger project attempting to reinvigorate those Atlas behemoths. That project is already mostly forgotten but the artwork that inspired it is well and truly not. Here is the line-up. 

The Awesome Android from the pages of the Fab 4 gets the "A" spot in the rotation. This silent synthetic creation is jointly the work of Reed Richards and the Mad Thinker and has always stood resolute on the boundary between good and evil. Inscrutable don't begin to get at it. 

"B" is for Blip a blistering behemoth from the stars come to Earth to shock and amaze the population. Blip has had something of a career in the actual Marvel era as well, battling the Hulk among others.  

The Crawling Creature of course is "C". There's  little to recommend this somewhat ho-hum Kirby monster, though as this cover shows its a dangerous beast indeed if you met on a cliff  with its caveman buddies. 

"D" for Devil Dinosaur seems utterly logical. This Bronze Age concoction of Kirby's during his ballyhooed return was at once charming and gonzo in a good way. The blue-furred Moon-Boy was around for the exposition but Devil handled the raucous Kirby action. 

Elektro is "E" and this giant robot later gave his name to the more famous Spider-Man villain. I always think of the The Iron Giant when I see this cover. 

Fin Fang Foom! Let me say it again - FIN FANG FOOM! "Triple F" is my favorite Marvel monster ever since he rose from his drowsy sleep in the pages of the reprint mag Fantasy Masterpieces number two. He was orange when I met him, but that didn't matter. His relentless pursuit of the man who awakened him was super scary. 

Groot is in for "G" and is likely the most famous of the monsters in this comic collection now thanks to his transformative portrayal in Guardians of the Galaxy. As you can see there was a time when Groot was more loquacious than when he was portrayed by Vin Diesel. 

Hidden within the pages of Tales of Suspense the Hypno-Creature is "H". He's a little fellow from another dimension who gets bigger and bigger and more threatening. 

It's back to the Fantastic Four for "I" and the Infant Terrible. He causes much trouble here on this Blue Marble, but he can't help it, he's just a tot. 

"J' if for Jinni as in the Evil Jinni variety from the back pages of Thor in those delightful Tales of Asgard romps. Thor and his mates travel into the mythic lands of The Arabian Nights and find all sorts of trouble when a tyrant named Mogul acts out with the aid of his two-toed ally. 

"K" stands for Kraa, a monster that started out as a statue worshipped until he came to life and ripped up life in the jungles of Africa. Later apparently he reformed and joined SHIELD. Take that Dum Dum. 

Lo-Karr steps into the "L" slot and comes from outer space loaded for trouble. He's a robot monster of the most dangerous kind. Now that's a movie!

Mangog is the result of the fusion of a billion alien souls and gets the nod at "M". He's among the very first Marvel monsters I encountered when this issue of Thor was the first I bought for my own self, and my little comic reading soul did tremble a bit as he lumbered toward the destruction of Asgard itself.  

There are lots and lots of Celestials, beings who come form space evaluate and judge mankind. They all mighty and mighty big, but "N" is for Nezzar the Calculator who like his brethren once stood implacable on this planet of ours in the pages of the The Eternals. He debuted in issue seven but gets cover checked in issue eleven. 

"O" represents Oorgo, another hypnotizing creature from the depths of space who has big plans to enslave all of mankind with those giant peepers of his. Strange Tales indeed. 

Poker Face is tucked away within the pages of Strange Tales of the Unusual. He's a different kind of alien menace, not a looming building-smashing giant, but a prospector who ultimately cannot find what he wants and promptly skedaddles. 

"The Monster from the Lost Lagoon" is actually an alien of the Quonian race and he debuted in one of my favorite Fantastic Four yarns. Getting the "Q" position he's just trying to look out for his family. 

"R" features Rommbu, a monster who runs up against a criminal Earthman who values this planet more than his life in the pages of Tales to Astonish.  

Ant-Man fought the Scarlet Beetle in the pages of Tales to Astonish. Getting the "S" slot, the Scarlet Beetle is a gabby tyrant who wants to rule the world and who doesn't. 

Tales to Astonish again is tapped and hosts the alien Thorr (no not that one) who fits this roster to a "T". Those giant stone heads on in the South Pacific have more punch than we all imagined. 

"U" is for Ulvar and he's the tricky concoction of a movie special effects man who turns away the invasion of the Goliath "the Monster that walked like a man" and  who thought he was the big "man" on this here Earth. All things are relative it just goes to show. Check out those lush Ditko inks over Kirby's might pencils on this page of original art. 

Vandoom's Monster offers up a "V" for victory when this creation of wax is given life by a scientist in the Frankenstein mold and sends his creature to stop a Martian wave. He's misunderstood by mankind nonetheless. 

Returning to the Fantastic Four one final time, the Fab 4 head out to the desert and Hulk country when they hear he's creating trouble. But they find it's not Jadejaws but a robot created by an enemy agent dubbed the Wrecker. That fills the "W' position. 

And speaking of Hulks, "X" marks the spot when Xemnu is dubbed a "Hulk" and tries to use his mental powers to conquer Earth. When he makes his debut in the Marvel Universe proper his title is changed to Titan but his name is still Xemnu. 

The mythical Yeti is "Y" the Black Panther has so much trouble finding a lost land in the Himalayas. Created during Kirby's zany stint on the Panther, the Yeti serves as a guard dog of sorts. 

"Z" is for Zetora, the proper name of the Martian who steals a man's body to hide from the alien cops of his own world. That's a real Journey into Mystery and a properly confusing way to wrap up one of the most peculiar and fascinating alphabets of this or any era. 

Rip Off


  1. Great post Rip, it must have taken oyu an age to complete but appreciated. I recall most of the monsters mentioned here but how can you not have put the mighty "ZZUTAK" under the letter "Z" :)

    1. You are so right. Zzutak is the best choice by far.