Super-Sized Supervillains

Super-Sized Supervillains

(pop culture)
Giants have long stomped through legends and mythologies, leaving behind very large footprints and trails of devastation. Goliath in the Old Testament, the giant in the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk, and Gog and Magog from British lore are among the titans whose towering terrorism has intimidated even the mightiest heroes. Superman has upon occasion had to “Look! Up in the sky!” at gigantic menaces endangering his beloved Metropolis, including Titano the Super- Ape, the King Kong–sized gorilla with kryptonite vision he first fought in 1959. Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen's disregard of the Man of Steel's warning against fiddling with an enlarging ray led to Jimmy's transmogrification into the mindless Giant Turtle Man, a green-scaled rampaging beast that ripped through suspension bridges in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #53 (1961). One of the most dangerous creatures from the Man of Tomorrow's homeworld, Krypton, the bat-winged, fire-spewing Flame-Dragon threatened to destroy Earth in Superman vol. 1 #142 (1961), with a second Flame- Dragon hatching in issue #151 (1962). Lex Luthor, in a move worthy of Dr. Frankenstein, created a “pseudo-life” form of cosmic energy called the Galactic Golem in Superman #248 (1972); while the Golem stood only a few heads taller than the Man of Steel, his ability to siphon the hero's energy magnified his menace. Yet none of Superman's foes has used size as a weapon more effectively than Brainiac, whose shrinking ray has reduced the Man of Steel to the height of a doll; the same fate has befallen the Fantastic Four, first shrunken by Dr. Doom in Fantastic Four vol. 1 #16 (1963). Batman and Robin were turned into pygmies in several Golden Age (1938–1954) stories, a notable example being Detective Comics #148 (1949), in which the miniature Dynamic Duo were trapped under glass by the insane scientist Professor Zero. To Batman's Justice League 6-inch teammate the Atom, the Tiny Titan, virtually any normal-height foe, from an angry thug wielding a shoe to costumed criminals like Chronos, becomes a super-sized enemy. The Golden Age's Doll Man had similar problems with eccentric nemeses such as the Skull and the Mad Hypnotist, as did Marvel Comics' Ant-Man, who, with his pocket-sized heartthrob the Wasp, was nearly trampled by the blob-like Creature from Kosmos and the one-eyed Cyclops in 1960s adventures. Mega-sized menaces are common in the Marvel Universe—the world-devouring Galactus, Ego the Living Planet, the cosmically imbued mutant the Living Monolith (aka the Living Pharaoh), biocomputer the Supreme Intelligence, the realitymanipulating Shaper of Worlds, and mutant-seeking giant robots the Sentinels have brought superheroes and average Joes and Janes to their knees. The DC Universe has weathered attacks from entities larger than Earth itself: the presence of interdimensional wanderer the Anti-Matter Man almost obliterated the Justice League's Earth-One and the Justice Society's Earth-Two in the teams' fourth crossover (Justice League of America #46–#47, 1966), and the gargantuan Anti-Monitor came close to eliminating all of DC's parallel worlds in the landmark Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985–1986). A prototype for the Anti-Monitor was Shathan, a red-skinned demon that grew to unbelievable proportions and used Earth itself as a weapon to battle the similarly enormous Spectre, in Showcase #61 (1966). The Incredible Hulk, no small threat himself, has gone fist-to-fist with super-sized supervillains. One of his recurring enemies, the Absorbing Man, has often grown to mammoth proportions, and the stone-totem Umbu the Unliving and the Leader's giant android the Super-Adaptoid were among Hulk's early foes. Several of Hulk's larger-than-life adversaries were closer to the Green Goliath's brutish size, such as the Neanderthal-turned-supervillain the Missing Link (first seen in The Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #105, 1968), and the “disaster eight miles high,” the Bi-Beast (Hulk #169, 1973), a twin-faced grotesquerie as strong as the Hulk and as smart as his alter ego Bruce Banner. In the somber superhero realities of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, supersized supervillains are usually relegated to cosmic-scale crossovers, like Darkseid's hell-on-Earth minion Brimstone, who blasted DC superheroes in the crossover Legends (1986) before doing the same on television in 2004 on Justice League Unlimited. Occasionally, however, comics creators can't resist telling a tall tale, as the creative team of Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire did in JLA Classified #9 (2005) by turning the dimwitted canine Green Lantern G'Nort into a Godzilla-sized troublemaker, proving once and for all that size does matter!