Halloween is imminent and pop culture aficionados’ thoughts are turning toward the spooky! Comic bookdom is full of spooky titles, including plenty of monster superheroes using their terrifying abilities for good. You’ve probably already checked out movie and TV stars like Ghost Rider and Swamp Thing, so who else is out there? Let us tell you!
1st Appearance: Free Comic Book Day 2007: Astounding Wolf-Man #1
Gary Hampton, an average (albeit very rich) family man, is mauled by a werewolf while vacationing with his family. As one would expect, this leaves him cursed to turn into a werewolf every full moon. With the help of a new mentor, the vampire called Zechariah, Gary takes control of this curse to fight crime as The Astounding Wolf-Man! His self-titled series ran for 25 issues and ended with a definitive conclusion, but the Wolf-Man and his pack still showed up around their shared universe long afterward.
Created by Robert Kirkman, The Astounding Wolf-Man explored the spookier side of his Invincible universe. Wolf-Man even joined The Guardians of the Globe, Invincible’s equivilent of the Justice League. If you enjoyed the gory humor and devastating drama of the Kirkman-produced Renfield, then you’re going to love The Astounding Wolf-Man!
1st Appearance: Detective Comics #135 (historical), Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #1 (Modern)
Although DC’s had a variety of undead patchwork men over the years, they didn’t introduce their defintive take on Mary Shelley’s classic misunderstood monster until 2006. Writer Grant Morrison and artist Doug Mahnke reimagined the creature as an agent of SHADE, guarding humanity against threats too weird (in all senses of that word) for the Justice League. Armed with the sword of the Archangel Michael and his steam powered pistol, he was the secret hero that had defended the DC Universe since his creation in the 1800s.
He’s been a member of The Seven Soldiers of Victor and Justice League Dark, but he really shined as the leader of monster superheroes The Creature Commandos and The Gotham City Monsters. Frankenstein’s been a cult favorite in the DC Universe for years, and he’s coming to James Gunn’s DC Universe in its first wave!
The Immortal Hulk
1st Appearance: Incredible Hulk #1 (historical), Avengers #682 (Immortal)
The Hulk has been a monster since 1962, but he only went full-on horror in 2018! That’s when writer Al Ewing and artist Joe Bennet launched “The Immortal Hulk”. That fifty-issues series which saw Marvel’s Jade Giant deal with the idea that he was, at hear, an undead colossus. No matter how Bruce Banner meets his end, the Hulk always rises again to exact his raging vengeance. Woe be upon anyone who stands in his way.
Immortal Hulk took on the horrifying implications of returning to life after gruesome deaths, transforming into a radioactive monster, and sharing your very body with something that terrifies you in a way superhero comics traditionally avoi. Marvel’s many Gamma mutants have never been scarier. It was an instant classic and time will tell if it becomes the new standard for Hulk storytelling.
1st Appearance: Malibu Sun #13 (preview), Spawn #1 (full)
One of the first characters launched by Image Comics, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn has gone on to set the record for longest-running independent comic book. It stars Al Simmons, a U.S. government assassin who was betrayed and killed by his colleagues. His soul was condemned to Hell, where he was given the chance to return to Earth as their soldier. Reborn as a Hellspawn, Al would rebel wage war against Heaven and Hell alike for humanity.
He’s been joined over the years by other rebellious Hellspawn (including She-Spawn, Gunslinger Spawn, and Medieval Spawn), the rogue angel Redeemer, the human ghost called Haunt, and a whole host of creepy monster superheroes. His series, as well as that of his allies The Scorched, are still going strong to this day.
1st Appearance: Dime Press #4 (Prototype), John Byrne’s Next Men #21
The undisputed king of the monster superheroes! A whole universe has sprung up alongside Mike Mignola’s demonic hero, and all of it has one uniting theme: horror! Inspired by the pulp fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and his contemporaries, with a hefty dose of 1800s spiritualism for flavor, Hellbnoy’s world is unabashed in its spookiness. Hellboy is a demon brought to our world from Hell by Nazi mystics circa 1945. Intercepted by Americans and raised by the kindly Professor Broom, Hellboy grew up to be an average joe. An average joe with demonic strength and resilience, but a working class hero all the same.
He and the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense have battled evil wizards and Lovecraftian horrors for decades. Hellboy’s gathered up a cast of psychics, ghosts, monsters, and other things that go bump in the night. This has led to creation of over a dozen spin-offs set in this strange world, any of which make for good reading on a gloomy October evening.
Who’s Your Favorite Monster Superhero?
If we missed your favorite heroic monster, let us know in the comments or hit us up on social media @b2pcollect! And if some of those key issues sound familiar to you, we’re happy to help you sell them (and the rest of your collection) when the time comes.