By Nick Authenrieth
With the release of Shrek The Third this weekend, monsters--from ogres to dragons and even a cyclops--have been thrust back into the pop culture consciousness. Like it or not, monsters will be grabbing headlines and touching hearts this weekend. Don't think for a second we here at Marvel.com will escape unscathed. And that got us to thinking. We've got quite the roster of monsters at the House of Ideas, going all the way back to the late '50s with series such as WORLD OF FANTASY and TALES TO ASTONISH. We've got a few favorite beasties that we've plucked from the pages of Marvel Comics. Will they get their own blockbuster movies? We can only hope so! (Who wouldn't go see a slick CGI flick starring Spragg the Living Hill?) So, in no particular order, here are five of our favorite Marvel Monsters.
FIN FANG FOOM
Fin Fang Foom, the talking, ornery alien dragon--and probably the most recognizable of all of Marvel's giant monsters--was an obvious choice to make the list. Hailing from China's picturesque Valley Of The Sleeping Dragon by way of the alien planet Maklu IV, Foom has long been a thorn in the side of superheroes such as Iron Man and the Fantastic Four. While his shade of emerald is similar to Shrek's, Foom has a much worse reputation and a far nastier disposition. That tends to be the case with 30-foot tall fire-breathing aliens who leave their home worlds in order to find new planets to conquer.
Ever the lounge-lizard, Fin Fang Foom has to be awakened from his slumber (which can been induced by various herbs), before he can wreak havoc on the mass populous. A few daring souls have succeeded in stirring the sleeping beast, most notably the Mandarin. After numerous defeats, exiles and forced naps and awakenings, Fin Fang Foom remains a relevant character in the Marvel Universe. While he has on occasion fought for good, Foom was recently featured in NEXTWAVE, terrorizing humanity again and, true to form, loving every second of it.
Good, bad, it's irrelevant. According to the Marvel Monsters Handbook, Fin Fang Foom translates to, "He whose limbs shatter mountains and whose back scrapes the sun." With a handle like that, it's easy to see why he made the list.
IT, THE LIVING COLOSSUS
Next up is It, The Living Colossus! Originally a 100-foot tall stone sculpture built in protest of the former Soviet Union, The Living Colossus doesn't exactly have a mind of its own, making the true monster whoever happens to be controlling It. He instead sits sentient, a simple statue until someone's consciousness is thrust into its form. The Living Colossus possesses incredible strength (Would you expect anything less from a stone monster of that height?) and a highly durable body when activated. Constructed by a Russian sculptor and brought to life by a member of the Kigor alien race who crash landed near the monster, imprinting it with a "psycho-kinetic nervous system," It, The Living Colossus's is a story everyone can relate to. Obviously.
It has rampaged through Moscow, been ground into dust by The Incredible Hulk and fought alongside Fin Fang Foom to repel an alien race (a little hypocritical of Foom, if you ask us). Various beings have attempted to take control of the Living Colossus, such as the evil Aloysius Vault, who shrunk the Colossus to a mere 30 feet tall for his own evil purposes and Bob O'Bryan, a special effects wizard who took control of It and brought his skills to the silver screen. Throughout It's storied history, The Living Colossus has been rebuilt as a robot, reformed as a statue, set loose on Wonder Man and battled Dr. Doom. As a rampaging piece of granite, freedom fighter, movie star and even a piece of art, It, The Living Colossus is a monster of many hats.
With a name like some kind of fungal infection and twice as hard to get rid of, Groot is a truly bizarre Marvel monster. Often referring to himself as the Monarch Of Planet X (sounds like a figurehead title to us), Groot--comprised of plant materials and capable of summoning and absorbing all sorts of wood to expand his already gigantic body--first came to Earth in 1960 in hopes of stealing a small town so he could bring back and research its inhabitants back on Planet X. Which, as you can imagine, is a really long flight. Little did Groot know that he landed on the wrong forest. Giant, egomaniacal wood monsters don't steal towns on local resident Mr. Leslie Evans' watch. And they certainly don't steal the trees from his front yard. Giving his body a jumpstart at Mr. Evans' expense and growing larger every minute, Groot proved impervious to bullets and anything the puny humans could come up with. But, as any homeowner will tell you, wood has a race of mortal enemies: Termites. Apparently Groot hadn't done his research. Leslie sicced an insane amount of specially bred termites (we're guessing Leslie was single) upon Groot.
Turns out the plan worked. The monster was sent reeling and he was assumed to be dead until the Collector, a fine purveyor of all that is monstrous, scooped him up for his creepy menagerie. Freed with all the other monsters when Mole Man attacked the Collector's base and set loose upon New York, Groot was eventually sent to the Negative Zone via a portal opened by the Thing. And just when you thought you'd seen the last of Planet X's finest, he's set to make his cosmic return this summer, fighting as a hero on a covert mission for the Kree, alongside Rocket Raccoon, Captain Universe and Mantis in the Annihilation: Conquest mini-series STAR-LORD.
So far, the monsters we've dished out have all been huge. But they aren't Krakoa huge. This guy's literally his own island. One of the X-Men's most famous foes and a fan favorite, Krakoa is a floating sentient being who can control every element of life that sits upon his back. When angered, he's fully capable of standing upright and getting on the shoe-leather express. Created by having the poor fortune of being within spitting distance of nuclear test sites, Krakoa, with the help of his Professor X-level psychic powers, successfully defeated the original X-Men. Surely no small task, but hey, that's nuclear radiation for you. Unfortunately, Krakoa happens to feed on mutant energy, so when it trapped the original X-Men and began to feed on them, Professor X had a perfect opportunity to bring the new X-Men on board. Wolverine, Storm, Colossus (the other Russian Colossus), Nightcrawler and others were hired on by Professor Xavier to bail out his crew.
Unfortunately, that's not the real story.
Recently revealed in X-MEN: DEADLY GENESIS, the real Krakoa may not have exactly been the "island that walks like a man." The original telling of events was a deception perpetuated by Professor X, who covered up the fact that he led a junior group of X-Men to their deaths at the hands--er, soil--of Krakoa. Not quite as sentient as originally explained, Krakoa shot into space by the combined might of Storm and Polaris. Xavier later erased this from the memories of his X-Men. It's believed that Krakoa was ultimately found in space by cosmic intellectual The Stranger and teleported to his laboratory for study, eventually running into the recently deceased Quasar. But another theory exists that Krakoa still floats, lifeless in the cold void of space. Whether dead or on display, Krakoa will forever live on in our hearts.
DEVIL DINOSAUR (AND MOON BOY)
We've seen living islands, stone men and alien dragons, but one of the most enduring and downright cool monsters in the Marvel pantheon is, of course, a Jack Kirby creation: Devil Dinosaur. A giant red Tyrannosaurus-like dinosaur who weighs in at roughly three tons, Devil Dinosaur is a prehistoric force to be reckoned with. As intelligent as he is ferocious, Devil Dinosaur can lift weights up to 25 tons with his jaws and his skin is as tough as it is red. Along with his sidekick Moon Boy, a small ape-like creature intended by Kirby to be the first human on Earth, Devil Dinosaur has had run-ins with numerous Marvel characters including the Wolverine and Ghost Rider, the latter of whom stopped a Devilish rampage on New York City. There are varying accounts of Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy's origins. Some claim them to be from Dinosaur Planet, others as Mutants from an alien world.
Whatever the case, Devil Dinosaur cut his teeth (literally) defending his partner Moon Boy in their homeland, The Valley Of Flame. Devil has rescued MB from a race of giants, destroyed robots by unleashing giant ants on them and most notably, fought alongside Godzilla himself, who was sent to their world by Reed Richards rather than back in time. Smooth, Reed. Real smooth. Moon Boy's tribe, called the "Small-Folk," is in a constant struggle with another tribe called "The Killer-Folk." This war has even seen the Hulk caught up in the ages-old struggle. Devil Dinosaur has recently been re-imagined in NEXTWAVE as a smoking-jacket-wearing, champagne sipping terrorist boss who has since eaten Moon Boy on suspicion that the poor guy never really liked him. But with that attitude, who would?
While these five warm our hearts to no end, they're but a smattering of monsters seen in Marvel comics. There's also Spragg (again!), Elektro, Grogg, Mole Man's crew of creaters and many, many more. Who's your favorite monster? Let your voice be heard in the forums!