|Solomon Grundy's first appearance - art by Paul Reinman|
Solomon Grundy. Born on a Monday. Christened on Tuesday. Married on Wednesday. Took ill on Thursday. Worse on Friday. Died on Saturday. Buried on Sunday. This is the end of Solomon Grundy.
The second muck-monster in comics is not a creature you may not think of as being part of the genre, at least not initially, but on closer examination there are a number of reasons for my including him here. The character is, as you may have guessed, Solomon Grundy, originally introduced in an story entitled "Fighters Never Quit" in All-American Comics #61 (October 1944) as a villain for the original 1940s Green Lantern. Although his appearance is that of a brutish, chalk-faced humanoid, rather than the shambling mounds of vegetation we would normally associate with these creatures, his origin story is all too familiar...
The scene is Slaughter Swamp in the latter part of the 19th Century, where the body of the murdered merchant Cyrus Gold in unceremoniously disposed of. Fifty years on, his corpse rises from the mire, a huge lumbering mockery of a man, part human, part swamp matter. He has little memory of his previous life, but one thing he does remember, however vaguely, is that he was born on a Monday. When a vagrant he encounters likens him to the nursery rhyme character Solomon Grundy, because of that fact, the creature that was once Cyrus Gold adopts the name.
Grundy fought Green Lantern a few times in the Golden Age and even took on the entire Justice Society Of America on one occasion. The character was later revived in the Silver Age and became a thorn in the side of many heroes including Batman and Superman.
At times Grundy is seemingly destroyed, but is then reborn in a new incarnation, some of which are more violent than others, and his intelligence also varies from the initial almost mindless creature, to more intelligent versions.
It is later revealed during Rick Veitch's run on Swamp Thing, that Grundy was in fact a failed attempt at the creation of a plant elemental by the Parliament Of Trees, who we'll learn more of further down the line. Their attempt was doomed to failure, as the human part of the elemental has to have died in fire. Without that fiery death, the transformation was not completed, leaving a form of semi-functional Plant Elemental.
As with The Heap from last week's Muck Monster Monday, Grundy's origin has changed at various times over the years, but the basics remain the same. He may not look like the traditional swamp creature, indeed he resembles a neanderthal zombie, but in his origin at least he firmly belongs to the Muck Monster family.
Next time, a return visit from The Heap. Sort of. Things get Mad around here as we visit The Outer Sanctum!
Before that, I'll be back Thursday, with the next Fourth World Thursday.
See you soon,