Like those leftover fun-size candy bars at the bottom
of the Halloween candy bowl, a final installment of
October MONSTER MASH!
The Scarier Side of Superhero Comics (part four of four)
“Even a man who is pure of heart
And says his prayers by night
Can become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms
And the moon is full and bright.”
–Gypsy fortune teller Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya) from The Wolfman (1941)
Stories of the good and decent transformed into a monstrous evil are as ancient as humankind itself. These potent mixtures of superstition and human psychology have long served to terrify even the most upstanding among us that somewhere, deep inside, exists a monster just waiting to claw its way out. Even comic book superheroes, our fictional paragons of human goodness, have been twisted and warped into frightening, darker versions of themselves.
Robin, Wonder Girl and Mal are overcome by sinister versions of themselves on the cover of Teen Titans #38 (1972), as they are forced to confront their innermost fears by their mentor, Mr. Jupiter.
After accidentally getting splashed by a growth serum, Aquaman is transformed into a gigantic “Fearful Freak” in Aquaman #21 (1965), laying waste to his beloved Atlantis.
Reed Richards is attacked and replaced by a frightening doppelganger in Fantastic Four #366 (1992), as were many more of Earth’s heroes during the Infinity War crossover event.
The Girl of Steel transforms into an evil of the ancient world on the cover of Supergirl #8 (1973), as she takes on the powers and snaky locks of Medusa.
As a continuation of a storyline that began a few months earlier in X-Men #159, Storm once again falls under the vampiric spell of the one and only Dracula in X-Men Annual #6 (1982).
In Judge Dredd #2 (1986), Mega-City One’s top lawman succumbs to “The Cry of the Werewolf”!
The curse of the werewolf also hits Superman’s pal in Jimmy Olsen #44 (1960), with the only cure being a kiss from “a pretty girl” (the perfect addition to your pick-up line repertoire, fellas).
A scant eight issues later, Jimmy is once again a Wolf-Man in search of a pretty girl’s kiss. However, Superman’s troubled thoughts reveal that Jimmy’s a Wolf-Man “for keeps”, immune to the restorative powers of a pretty girl’s kiss. Adolescence allegory, anyone?
In one of the goofiest storylines of the 90’s (and that's saying something), the Star-Spangled Avenger becomes Capwolf on the cover of Captain America #405 (1992)…
…followed by the exponentially goofier Captain America #406, picturing Capwolf and The Wolfpack, an assortment of Marvel’s famously feral characters.
This nightmare-inducing cover of Superman #422 (1986) reveals the shocking sight of a Superman Werewolf, as illustrated by cover artist supreme Brian Bolland. Oddly enough, this issue was the final regular issue of the original Superman series, with the next issue featuring part one of “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, Alan Moore’s stirring wrap-up of Superman’s Silver Age mythos.
Instead of a were-wolf, the Nuclear Man finds himself transmuted into a were-hyena on the cover of Firestorm #12 (1983), courtesy of his arch-foe The Hyena.
Spider-Lizard terrorizes Manhattan in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #40 (1980), a side effect of his exposure to the “portable enervator” of Dr. Curt Connors (a.k.a. Spidey’s perennial foe The Lizard).
“KILL ME” begs a demon-possessed Batman on the cover of Brave and the Bold #99 (1971), as a pistol-packin’ Flash looks on in horror!
Taking a page from King Kong, it’s The Batman Creature vs. the U.S. Air Force in Batman #162 (1964), as Robin pleads for his monstrous mentor’s life!
Finally, prepare yourself for the most shocking, gut-wrenching superhero transformation of them all as Whiz Comics #133 (1951) depicts the mind-numbing horror of Captain Marvel transformed into….
A witch? That’s IT?
(Man, I’ve gotta have a talk with that research staff of mine).
Well, despite that less-than-spectacular finale, I hope you’ve enjoyed our little fly-over of the monstrous (and occasionally goofy) mutations of superhero comics.