Comics' Colossal Craniums
Of all the freakish distortions of the human body depicted on the covers of superhero comics, none of them quite compared to the spectacle of Big Head Covers (not to be confused with Floating Head Covers).
Huge, swollen craniums have been a staple of science fiction dating back to the pulps of the 1920s and '30s, usually associated with malevolent alien masterminds or highly evolved future-men.
As pulps gradually gave way to comic books, big-headed characters found their way into the burgeoning superhero fad, usually as villains...such as Brainwave (All-Star Comics #37, 1947).
During the science-fiction craze of the late 1950s and early 60's, Big Head covers began appearing at an alarming rate. It should come as no surprise that the constantly transforming Superman Family was hit particularly hard.
On the cover of Jimmy Olsen #22 (1957), Superman's pal not only gained the distinctive lightbulb-head of a "super-intelligent brain" but possessed "Kryptonite eyes" as well!
An "evolution ray" gets Lois Lane both a super-brain and a marriage proposal from Bizarro in Lois Lane #27 (1961). As they say, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas"!
Continuing the "highly evolved" theme, super-outlaw Evolvo Lad claims to have a brain "more super than Brainiac's" on the cover of Adventure Comics #324 (1964). As an aside, I feel compelled to point out the less-than-ideal villain name of Gas Girl.
Action Comics #256 (1959) finds Ultra-Superman from the year 100,000 terrifying Lois with his intensely disturbing (and vaguely X-rated) futuristic head.
As impressive as a Superman from the year 100,000 might be, the Caped Crusader becomes "The Batman of 800,000 A.D." in World's Finest #151 (1965). His "future brain" would soon be pitted against the primitive might of "The Cave-Man of Steel."
Earlier in his career, Batman encountered a Cagney-like "Mental Giant of Gotham City" in Detective Comics #217 (1955), apparently a "greater detective" than Batman himself.
Wonder Woman meets Egg Fu the Fifth, "the most startling villain ever devised" (not to mention one of the most racist... at least since the end of WWII). Looking a bit like a giant Asian Humpty Dumpty, Egg Fu was an evil supercomputer bent on world domination, this time employing his devious "mustache trap" on the cover of Wonder Woman #158 (1965).
Longtime Green Lantern foe Hector Hammond gained a giant head and psionic powers after exposing himself to an evolution-accelerating meteor. A recent appearance on the cover of Green Lantern #4 (2005) reveals that Hammond's head has grown bigger than ever.
Over on the Marvel Comics side of the aisle, it should be noted that their superheroes rarely (if ever) sported big heads, leaving that particular deformity to the villains.
For whatever reason, The Hulk seemed to have the lion's share of Big Head villains. The Gargoyle, appearing in The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962), was a super-intelligent Russian spy killed in that same issue. Years later, his son The Gremlin (who'd obviously inherited pop's good looks) took up the Hulk Villain mantle.
An unusual variation on the Big Headed villain theme was the Bi-Beast, first appearing in The Incredible Hulk #169 (1973). Bi-Beast's totem-pole head was almost cool enough to overcome the lame name. Almost.
Of course, Hulk's most famous Big Head villain was The Leader, seen here on the cover of The Incredible Hulk #115 (1969). As a "common laborer" who gained super-intelligence from Gamma-Ray exposure, the Leader later traded the "ultimate receding hairline" look for a much more revolting head formation.
The most cosmic of Marvel's Big Head Bad Guys was the planet-devouring Galactus, making his cover debut on Fantastic Four #49 (1966). However, it's unclear exactly where Old Buckethead's actual head ends and his helmet begins.
Despite the prominence and power of Galactus, Marvel's top Big Head villain remains the repugnant MODOK (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing), appearing in a variety of Marvel titles over the years. Essentially just a huge, super-intelligent head with tiny, atrophied limbs, MODOK remains one of the ugliest creatures ever to grace the page of a comic book, seen here on the cover of Sub-Mariner #49 (1972).
As if one ugly mega-head with tiny limbs wasn't enough, Marvel brought forth a female version of MODOK named MODAM in Captain America #387 (1991). I won't even bother asking who confirmed (or how it was confirmed) that this creature was, indeed, female. (shudder)
We end our Big Head flyover with the Flash, the character that experienced not one, not two, but THREE sudden expansions of his hat size.
A little-known ability of GL's power ring is revealed on the cover of Green Lantern #13 (1962), as Flash's body (especially his head) is distorted, to the shock of the stylish onlookers.
The Flash gets another swelled head on the cover of Justice League of America #7 (1961). "Do these boots make my legs look fat?"
Finally, the Saga of the Giant Flash Head reaches its surreal climax in Flash #177 (1968), as the citizens of Central City gape in horror at his massive, balloon-like head.
Obviously, a massive head is no laughing matter. Well, maybe it is ...but hopefully you'll remember what you've learned here today and think twice before screwing around with Evolution Rays, Gamma Rays or Evolution-Accelerating Meteors. It's just not worth it.