Usually, classic monsters are all about scaring you, stealing ladies during the witching hour and just being a bunch of malcontents. Sometimes, though, just for a change of pace, they are something else entirely—superheroes. Hey, in the world of comics, anything is possible.
Here, for the 29th post in our 31 Days of Halloween series, is a look at some of the most interesting examples of classic baddies gone good.
In 1966, the decision was made that Frankenstein would look pretty boss if he wore some bright red spandex and became a do-gooder. His backstory was altered. In this version, Frankenstein was created as a superior intellect with the strength of 10 men, only to lie dormant for over a century. Awakened by a bolt of lightning, he befriends millionaire philanthropist Henry Knickerbocker, only to inherit the man's fortune shortly after his death. With an alter ego, Frank Stone, he has all the money and power he needs to be a tights-wearing hero by night.
Speaking of taking liberties with origin, Dracula in Dell Comics is actually the descendant of the original count. While experimenting with bat blood to develop a serum to cure brain damage, Dracula develops strange vampire-like powers such as turning into a bat, along with superhuman sight and hearing. With his newfound ability, Dracula heads to America, where he fights injustice, corruption and evil to make up for his ancestor's bad deeds. This Dracula isn't so much a vampire as he is some kind of ... bat man. Now there's a name for a superhero. Shame no one ever used it.
Pilot Wiley Wolf (yes, really) crash-lands in the arctic and, developing amnesia, lives among wolves, becoming one of the pack. When he is finally rescued, Wiley and his wolf friend, Thor (no relation), are recruited by the CIA. There Wolf becomes a kind of James Bond type, a super spy with all the gadgets. In addition, he is trained to physically alter his facial features so that he can blend into any scenario with a minimum of makeup. He gains the code name "Werewolf."
Morbius, the Living Vampire
When Nobel prize-winning biochemist Michael Morbius attempted to create a formula to cure his very rare blood condition, he instead curses himself with a kind of vampirism that requires him to feed off the blood of the living. While he gains the gift of flight, superhuman strength and fast healing, he becomes hideously deformed, becoming extremely pale, with long, sharp canines and an intolerance for sunlight. A true antihero, he has a desire to do good, but his nature is that of pure predator.
As a member of the Inhuman's Royal family, Triton was exposed to Terrigan Mist as a child. His transformation gave him green skin and the ability to breathe underwater. He also has a large fin on his head, which is a nod to the Creature From the Black Lagoon. Unfortunately for Triton, his powers also cursed him with an inability to live out of water without a special apparatus.
How could we ever do a list like this without including comics' most famous homage to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Physicist Bruce Banner gets doused with gamma radiation by his own G-bomb, only to be transformed into the monstrous and superhuman Hulk whenever he gets angry. Interestingly enough, the original transformation took place at night, much like a werewolf. As for the giant, green Hulk, Stan Lee cites Frankenstein as a major influence. That's three different classic monsters for the price of one!
Holding such villains in his realm as Hitler, Blackbeard and Atilla the Hun, Mephisto may not technically be the devil, but he's pretty darn close. Recently known as the dude who erased the marriage of Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, Mephisto is also the supernatural entity who created Ghost Rider. He's a perennial baddie who feasts on the evil deeds of man. Technically, he's a villain, not a superhero, but his evil is just too good to pass up on our list.
While Hellboy's erstwhile companion, Abe, originally had no memory of his identity other than being an icthyo sapien (that's science-speak for Creature From the Black Lagoon), it would later be discovered that he was former scientist, Langdon Everett Caul, a businessman who got caught up in the occult. During an arcane ritual, Caul accidentally releases an ancient deity and is transformed in the process. Nothing quite like mixing classic Universal monsters with Cthulhu Mythos, we always say.
N'Kantu the Living Mummy
N'Kantu was once leader of an African tribe, the Swarili, before he and his people were enslaved by the Egyptians. In an attempt to lead a revolt, N'Kantu was paralyzed and transformed into a living mummy, only to be locked away in a sarcophagus for three millennia. Often teaming up with other supernatural heroes, the Immortals, N'Kantu has super strength and super durability. He can speak, but, because he has no liquid in his body, it's extremely painful. Yuck!
A little Jekyll and Hyde meets the devil. Former knight of King Arthur's Camelot Jason Blood becomes immortal when he is bound to the demon Etrigan by Merlin. Together they fight throughout the ages against Mordru and the Questing Queen. Later Blood will become a magical expert for the Justice League, and Etrigan will gain prowess as one of the more powerful demons in hell. Plus, Etrigan speaks in rhyme, which, depending on your point of view, is either fun or incredibly annoying.