Monday, May 18, 2015

The Secret of the DC Kaiju: A list of the Giant Monsters of the DCU

Everybody knows Jack Kirby made a big deal of awesome giant monsters for Marvel Comics, but what about DC? It turns out they are not as recurring but the DC Universe features a great number of the type of fictional creatures that Pacific Rim popularized as 'kaiju'. Here are some of the best known:

Mr. Atom

We start with a giant robot built by a mad scientist. A bit silly-looking, but he fits the trope.
First appearance: Captain Marvel Adventures #78 (1947), "Capt. Marvel Meets Mr. Atom". Story by Otto Binder, art by C. C. Beck.


A huge, artificial intelligence with a humanoid body created by Darkseid to conquer Earth or something. He can generate fire and is incredibly strong.
I prefer the DCAU version.

First appearance: Legends #1 (November 1986), "Once Upon a Time...!". Story by John Ostrander and Len Wein, art by John Byrne.

The Centre

It turns out the Centre is Dinosaur Island, has been here longer than us and it wants us out. That's good enough to gather the entire superhero community.

First appearance: DC: The New Frontier #1 (March 2004), "Our Fighting Forces". Story and art by Darwyn Cooke. 


Chemo is the most recognizable enemy of the Metal Men. So much that his popularity rivals theirs. He is not a mastermind like Starro, but when it comes to gigantic havoc makers, along Validus, he is go-to kaiju of DC Comics.
First appearance:  Showcase #39 (July - August 1962), "The Deathless Doom!", story by Robert Kanigher, art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.

The Construct

Somehow he tends to be overlooked as a generic robotic villain, but the Constrict has both the right visuals (ok, a bit too 70s), and the perfect sci-fi story: "an artificial intelligence created from the electromagnetic spectrum broadcast from Earth, the Construct has an inherent hatred of humanity due to his lack of a physical body".
First appearance: Justice League of America #142 (May 1977), "Return From Forever!". Story by Steve Englehart, art by Dick Dillin.

Faceless Hunters

Can't help but love how the 50s they looked. I'm so glad they became a thing. They come from "Klaramar - a world revolving within an atom on the planet Saturn". How about that? 
First appearance: Strange Adventures #124 (January 1961), "The Face-Hunter From Saturn". Story by Gardner Fox, art by Mike Sekowsky.

Fire Trolls

These are some of the most recurring enemies of Aquaman. I think they qualify both as kaiju and invader races (I'll do a post on that later).
First appearance: Aquaman #1 (February 1962), "The Invasion of the Fire-Trolls". Story by Jack Miller, art by Nick Cardy.

Giant Frogs

It's probably just because of the cover, but these guys get a lot of attention on the web. They never returned, but Jim and Rhonda Trent, the "scientists" from this silver age story, appear in a previous issue.
First appearance: Strange Adventures #130 (July 1961), "War With The Giant Frogs". Story by Jack Miller, art by Nick Cardy.


DC's resident 50-foot woman can actually grow bigger than that at will. If that wasn't enough, she used to be a gorilla.
First appearance: Wonder Woman #9 (June 1944), "Evolution Goes Haywire". Story by William Moulton Marston, art by Harry G. Peter.


I can't believe it's not Cthulhu. No seriously, I think it would have been more awesome. The Ghostbusters did it, anyway.
First appearance: Justice League, season 2, episode 39 (Original Airdate - November 15th, 2003), "The Terror Beyond". Story by Dwayne McDuffie.


Bruce Timm loves Lovecraft. Not surprisingly, when the White Martians became weird, awesome gooey things, their leader became a creepy, floating balloon with tentacles.
First appearance: Justice League, season 1, episode 3 (Original Airdate - November 17, 2001), "Secret Origins, Part III". Story by Rich Fogel.

Jimmy Olsen, the Giant Turtle Man

Yep, [among many other things] Jimmy Olsen became a Giant Turtle Man. 
Because silver age. 

And because stealing.
First appearance as Turtle Man: Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #53 (June 1961), "The Giant Turtle Man!". Story by Jerry Siegel, art by Curt Swan.
By the way, as awesome as it would have been, this is not Jimmy (or Gamera), but it the intention doesn't get more explicit than this.
First appearance: Justice League Unlimited, season 2, episode 3 (Original Airdate - September 24th, 2005), "Chaos at the Earth's Core". Story by Matt Wayne.

Mageddon, the Anti-Sun

If you think Kirby was creative, check out this jewel from the mind of Morrison: "Mageddon is an ancient weapon created by a race of now extinct Old Gods. It is a huge (larger than the planet Earth) semi-sentient orb with a squid-like face that incites hatred and violence in life forms as it approaches the heart of a galaxy".
First appearance: JLA #15 (February 1998), "Rock of Ages, Part Six: Stone of Destiny". Story by Grant Morrison, art by Howard Porter.

Millenium Giants

Meh. I really find them boring. If somebody can offer me a shot with all of them, maybe I'll put them.


A kaiju based on cancer and all life comes from it. That's a happy thought.


An entire sentient planet. Good thing he is a good guy. 

The Monster that fished for men 

Only four pages. Being on the cover goes a long way. These creatures were created by Jack Miller and Murphy Anderson. 

Mr. Nebula

This guy is as silly as it gets for the Justice League International. He is just like Galactus, only he wants to redecorate the planet.


As Kirby as it gets. A defense weapon that reacts to energy, created by an alien race that couldn't handle him.

The Rainbow Creature

As ridiculous as this monster looks, he has had a revival thanks to Grant Morrison and even Batman: The Brave and the Bold TV series.


A creature that doesn't require food or rest and just wants to destroy anything that moves. There goes your average 50s monster film.


Moore did a freaking planet, so Morrison had to top it with a sun (even if it is a small one). And since it can't get more epic than fighting the sun itself, Solaris makes a great foe for Superman. 

The Stone Sentinels of Giant Island

One-shot characters that never returned. However, being brainchildren of Jack Kirby and with the story reprinted a couple of times these guys get a great reputation. The concept is pretty good: Mindless guardians left by an alien race to protect the island from the living. I think the island could still return with them.


Starro is silly and creepy at the same time. He became one of the most recurring enemies of the Justice League and one of the most recognizable giant monsters of the DCU.


Superman vs. King Kong on an even field. Titano is a landmark of the Superman mythos. They should make a graphic novel about it.  In the 50s, it could have been an interesting movie, now it would be tricky.  


...I think I prefer the regular size lovable octopus.

Ultra-Humanite (T-Rex)

A mad scientist on the body of a kaiju, two archetypes in one.
I don't think the albino gorilla is big enough to count in this list.


A human mutated into a giant, super-strong, invulnerable monster who can project "mental lightning". Along with Chemo, Validus is the most recognizable of the giant monsters of DC.

Volcano Man

A giant made out of lava. He is an enemy of the Challengers of the Unknown.

The World Wrecker

A jaeger went out of control, thus becoming a giant monster. With a crowd of 7 controlling the robot from the head, this guy might have been one of the earliest examples of mechas.

Only appearance: Strange Adventures #50, "The World Wrecker", story by Otto Binder, art by Carmine Infantino, cover Murphy Anderson. The story was reprinted in "From Beyond the Unknown" with another Anderson cover.

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