The Fantastic Four battles monsters to usher in the Marvel Age!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

Some might think that the rebirth of the super heroes at Marvel with FANTASTIC FOUR #1 rang an immediate death knell for the giant monsters who had ruled the roost for the previous few years, but that’s not quite the case. In fact, the two carried on side by side for a while.

FANTASTIC FOUR #1 marks an interesting merging of the two genres as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby pitted their brand new first family of comics up against, you guessed it, giant monsters. Just look at the cover if you don’t believe us!

The issue from 1961 began with each member of the team already equipped with their powers out in New York City until a mysterious figure sent out a Fantastic Four flare that grabbed their attention.  Upon the group getting together the reader discovered that Reed Richards called the meeting. After recounting their cosmic ray-filled trip to outer space that granted them amazing powers, the quartet focused on the task at hand: stopping The Mole Man from sending his enormous monsters surface-side to destroy nuclear plants.

Reed tracked the creatures to a place called Monster Isle and all four set out to investigate. There they first encountered incredible creatures and then their leader, Mole Man. He explained that the surface world had shunned him because of looks, so he retreated underground where an accident left him mostly blind. Still, he turned the negative into a positive and soon mastered control of the subterranean creatures.

Fantastic Four (1961) #1

Fantastic Four (1961) #1

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He ordered them to destroy the nuclear plans in hopes of sending his minions on a full-on destruction mission. This, of course did not sit well with the fledgling heroes who soon made a break for the exit with Human Torch sealing up the tunnel after them along with their leader.

Mole Man has returned numerous times with his monsters to fight the Fantastic Four as well as other heroes in the Marvel Universe. While this marked the first time the FF has gone up against the kinds of monsters that preceded them, it would be far from the last.

Creators in the early 60’s like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby quickly learned the popularity of huge, wild creatures which has inspired writers and artists to continue mixing them with super heroes in a variety of ways including Monsters Unleashed!

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The original Hulk brings telepathic trouble to the Marvel Universe!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

One of the best things about looking through these monster stories that preceded the super hero-filled Marvel Universe as we have come to know it is seeing some of the prototypes that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby eventually turned into icons. Take 1960’s JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #62 for instance. The title blurb screams, “Here comes…THE HULK!” While the huge orange beast on the cover might not resemble the Jade Giant—who officially debuted two years later in 1962’s INCREDIBLE HULK #1—it’s fun to see how they went from one monster to another.

In the earlier story plus its follow-up in issue #66, Xemnu landed on Earth because he’d run out of fuel. There he met a young man named Joe Harper who the alien immediately possessed with his telepathic powers. Xemnu did the same to the entire planet in an effort to rebuild his ship. When the project neared completion, the alien freed Harper who immediately sabotaged some important systems which zapped the alien into unconsciousness. After waking, Xemnu returned to Earth and tried getting revenge on Joe, but the young man used a mirror to bounce his foe’s mental abilities back at him, seemingly destroying the beast in the process.

After that, the alien’s consciousness traveled the galaxy until it found an American astronaut named Richmond Wagner and took control of his body. Back on Earth the invader parlayed the man’s intense popularity into a kids show that he used to brainwash children in an effort to take them back to his planet to aid in repopulation. He would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for those pesky Defenders as seen in the pages of MARVEL FEATURE #3. This issue solidified his appearance as a furry white creature with wild eyes and a metal skullcap while also pitting the creature against the real Hulk for the first time. 

The two would battle again in the pages of INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL #5 when Xemnu seemingly resurrected several of the monsters we’ve already discussed in an effort to defeat the gamma-irradiated hero. The Titan appeared here and there over the next few decades, appearing briefly in BEYOND! and as one of the Phalanx Select in Annihilation: Conquest. Later, in HULK #30, Impossible Man imported the white giant to battle the Red Hulk. Xemnu easily used his mental abilities to make Red Hulk punch himself in a face, but things got more interesting when the other Hulk entered the fray.

Seeing an opportunity for even more entertainment value, Impossible Man first brought more monsters into the battle and then combined the two gamma guys into Compound Hulk. Not to be outdone, Xemnu brought his own Hulk clone Kluh into the picture and the real fight got under way. Great fisticuffs ensued!

Like a few of the other classic monsters, Xemnu has carried on through the years thanks to his massive powers, unique presence and connections to The Hulk. He’s carrying those over into MONSTERS UNLEASHED as we speak and will probably keep popping up well after.

Finally, we close out Unleash the Beasts with an iconic synthesis of big monsters and super heroes in FANTASTIC FOUR #1.

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A trip to the center of the Earth brings forth a terrifying new menace!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

Just the other day, we mentioned that Metallo held the distinction of only showing up in his first appearance and then again decades later in MONSTERS UNLEASHED. Well, move over Metallo, because The Crawling Creature’s joining the club too! Introduced in TALES TO ASTONISH #22 from 1961, this Stan Lee-Jack Kirby creation made trouble for a high school student by the name of Walter Carter who fit in the Peter Parker mold in that this very intelligent young man failed to earn the respect of his classmates.

Instead of devoting his intelligence to physics or engineering, though, Walter focused his studies on folklore, specifically the stories revolving around huge creatures like trolls and giants that lived inside the Earth. So, when he saw an ad looking for someone “young and thin” to ride in an experimental drilling machine, he eagerly applied and got the gig!

Once down in the depths of the planet, Walter got out to look around armed with a flashlight and pistol. He soon came across a spear and unknowingly passed a caveman-like individual hiding in the shadows. The sentinel leapt from the darkness and knocked Walter out, only for him to come to in a primitive society underground that luckily also spoke English.

Tales to Astonish (1959) #22

Tales to Astonish (1959) #22

  • Published: August 01, 1961
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 21, 2012
  • Penciller: Steve Ditko
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
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Walter’s new acquaintances showed him their livestock and farms, but also explained that their existence would be even better without the constant threat of The Crawling Creature. The young man instantly offered to help them out by blasting it with his gun. He soon made his way towards the Black Pool, the creature’s home, and came face to face with the enormous, orange lizard-like monster. That didn’t work out so well for Walter who ran back to the village where the natives dumped huge piles of salt, a substance that bothered The Crawling Creature.

A plan then formed in Walter’s mind and he returned to the tunneling machine, racing back to the surface. Just after he got rid of all the people who had been waiting to hear about his journey, The Crawling Creature burst into the bright light of day. Walter lead the beast down into the Grand Canyon. They both soon found themselves stuck in a cavern they couldn’t escape from. Feeling doomed, Walter was ecstatic to see a nearby helicopter that swooped down and picked him up. They both flew away, convinced the Crawling Creature would never escape from the hole.

The young man asked the pilot not to say anything about what he’d seen that day and returned to school feeling good about not only living his dream but keeping the underground dwellers’ existence from prying eyes or ears.

Next time, see how Xemnu went from “Hulk” to “Titan!”

 

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A monster with familiar origins spouts a unique plan!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

1961’s TALES TO ASTONISH #23 introduced readers to a monster with somewhat familiar origins, but a fun new plan to dive into.

Moomba may come off as a kind of greatest hits monster in that he’s an alien from a tree-based planet, like Groot, who also happens to be the subject of statues carved by those who live near his location in Africa, like Kraa. However, Moomba earns all kinds of originality points for the specifics of his plans to dominate the Earth.

Instead of an insulted professor, this story focuses on a human hunter by the name of Frank. He wanted to kill animals, but his exporter friend explained that the only thing anyone actually wanted to buy was sculptures. Though not excited about the job, Frank went into the jungle to find “weird tribal carvings” as he called them. During his journey, people tried warning him of the dangers of messing with the wooden statues, but the great white hunter sallied forth.

Tales to Astonish (1959) #23

Tales to Astonish (1959) #23

  • Published: September 01, 1961
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 21, 2012
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
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Ignoring the blatant fear of his horse, Frank searched for the source and soon came face to face with a 20-foot statue of Moomba. The hunter planned on cutting the piece into parts and then nailing it back together, but that idea took flight when Moomba tried stomping on the surprised man. The topic of conversation then turned to Moomba’s alien origins and how he planned on taking over the world. See, he didn’t travel to Earth alone; he came with an army that disseminated itself across the planet in the form of exported tribal statues!

To show Frank his plan in action, Moomba easily traversed Pygmy country and climbed a mountain for a good point of view. As he sent out the signal, the alien creatures sprung to life, attacking anyone nearby. Moomba exhibited his own superior strength as he took on the military while his minions did their part all across the globe. However, the invasion came to a halt when a witch doctor hit Moomba with a dust that froze him where he stood and diminished his mental capacity. The shaman then offered the monster an ultimatum: leave with his soldiers or allow the powder to render him inert.

Moomba agreed, erased the memories of the events from human memory, and then joined up with his fellow aliens, turned into a rocket and blasted off towards home. However, Frank remembered because he wrote about the events in his diary. If nothing else, he walked away with a newfound, though begrudging respect for native people.

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An escaped con uses an experimental suit to go on a rampage!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

We’ve covered quite a few classic Stan Lee-Jack Kirby monsters, but Metallo here holds a special distinction. So far, he’s the only creature to only appear in his debut story and then not again until MONSTERS UNLEASHED!

Metallo debuted in 1961’s TALES OF SUSPENSE #16. In that story, felon Mike Fallon broke out of prison, stole a car, and headed to a big city to blend in. Worried about too many cops in the area, the con applied for a radiation test suit experiment. Looking like a more aerodynamic and bulky version of Tony Stark’s first armor, the radiation suit supposedly allowed the wearer to survive a nearby atomic blast. After a week of training in the contraption, Mike stood on a deserted island, ready to test the suit against an underwater nuclear explosion.

The ensuing tidal wave flooded the small island and sent the suit underwater, but Fallon stayed safe, encased within the armor. Of course, the ocean depths boast their own dangers and he soon found himself fighting off an octopus. After killing the creature, Mike found salvation in military frogmen diving in to pull him up.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #16

Tales of Suspense (1959) #16

  • Published: April 01, 1961
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: July 06, 2010
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The next experiment found Mike suspended in the air with an atomic warhead blowing up about 50 yards from him. After walking away unscathed, Mike decided to keep the suit, reveal his true identity and get back to “the business of crime.” Lacking any kind of fail safes—the suit locked from the inside—the military men just stood and watched as Mike lumbered off with their lead behemoth. He made the First National Bank his first target, bursting his way up into the building through the sewers, dubbing himself Metallo in the process.

Metallo then decided to try his hand at a prison break from Alcatraz. After smashing into the island fortress he started feeling sick and went to the infirmary where the doctor informed him that he might have radiation poisoning. Mike quickly realized that, in order to receive treatment, he’d have to come out of the suit, which would most likely lead to another incarceration. Loathe to that idea, he instead wandered off into the mountains, contemplating his last days on the planet.

Next, TALES TO ASTONISH #23 introduces us to another alien wood-based lifeform whose visage inspired African tribal sculptures: Moomba!

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The original Spider-Man spins his deadly web!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

Do you remember when the Spider Man debuted in 1961 and tried taking over the Earth? Probably not, because JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #64 didn’t quite get as many eyeballs as the next year’s AMAZING FANTASY #15. And yet, the issue introduced the world to Rorgg, King of the Spider Men. The Stan Lee-Jack Kirby story revolved around a race of Spider Men who could travel through the cosmos on their webbing.

Those strands eventually lead Rorgg and his posse to Earth where they decided to take over. A young man and comic fan named Tim discovered the first strands in his New Mexico town. Soon enough everyone around tried chopping up the webs to no avail. Rorgg revealed himself along with his intentions before long, but that didn’t stop Tim from trying his best to stop the menace. He ran into a hardware store, grabbed some DDT and blasted the baddie, killing him in the process.

The issue ended with Tim’s dad extolling the virtues of comics: “Those science-fiction stories stimulate their imagination, their desire to know, to understand!” he said. “And in a universe filled with countless unknown dangers, we need inquiring, imaginative minds! We may someday need them for our very survival!” It seems a safe bet that at least a few comic fans memorized that very speech and tried it on their parents!

Rorgg actually returned along with a few other famous monsters in the pages of books like FANTASTIC FOUR UNLIMITED #7, HULK MONSTER-SIZE SPECIAL, JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #649 and even UNCANNY X-MEN #33.

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A visitor from beyond the stars succeeds in uniting sworn enemies!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby came together once again in 1961 to stir up trouble in TALES OF SUSPENSE #21 when they created Klagg. In this case, the mysterious alien didn’t land and immediately claim he intended to dominate the planet. Instead, he agreed to hold meetings with representatives from all around the planet, including the “Iron Curtain Countries.” Before long, Klagg explained that he had been traveling nearby and simply intended to get his bearings without knowing the planet held life.

Everything moved along smoothly until Klagg explained that his craft harnessed the power of wind to propel itself through space. This of course garnered immediate interest from both sides fighting the Cold War. This exchange revealed to the visitor that Earth still waged conflicts between its own nations. He then explained that his race made it their business to squash warmongering worlds in creative ways from making them sleep for a thousand years to planet shrinking.

Klagg then ran to his ship and started using its impressive wind abilities to wreak havoc. The turbines proved so powerful that missiles fired at his ship were actually blown out of the air.

While Klagg fought with government forces, a young man named Phil decided to infiltrate the ship one night, grab the plans for the wind-generators, and painted a target on himself for foreign agents who wanted the same plans. Once they sprang upon the youth, Phil revealed the truth: that he had no plans, but that the Cold War continued to rip the planet apart and should be ended so they could focus on their true enemy Klagg.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #21

Tales of Suspense (1959) #21

  • Published: September 01, 1961
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 20, 2012
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
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With petty differences forgotten and put aside, the world’s military forces all joined together to stop the invasion. Seeing this, Klagg ceased his attack saying, “I do know that by banding together you’ve shown me you are not hopeless savages.” With that, he left the planet in hopes that we’d move further towards peace and progress.

This story marks an interesting occasion where the image on the cover doesn’t completely represent that creature seen in the first story. Though mostly covered in shadow on the book’s front, you can see it’s an orange figure of some sort. In the story, the human-sized Klagg matches that color, but his giant, humanoid ship looks more blue aside from the opening splash when it’s red. Still, the actual visage of Klagg remains an impressive and memorable one to the point that it’s popping back up in MONSTERS UNLEASHED!

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A farmer attempts to feed the world and ends up creating a monster!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

1962’s TALES OF SUSPENSE #26 kicked off with huge claims about it’s opening main character Jed Hanson. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby set the man up as the kind of person everyone should strive to be as he dedicated himself to finding a plant that could grow in the most inhospitable of climates in order to help feed those in other nations. Jed didn’t let anything silly like a stray meteorite landing in a nearby field deter him from breeding and cross-breeding until he developed a plant packed with “every vitamin in the alphabet and then some!”

What Jed didn’t know, though, was that his plant had been hijacked by a creature from outer space that could stretch its body around other trees as the first step in fully uprooting them! Just beginning, the creature continued to grow throughout the day, grabbing sheep and bulldozers with equal ease. Feeling guilty at his contribution to this menace, Jed did everything he could to stop the creature, but it just kept expanding no matter how much he and the others cut away. Hope seemed fully lost until the farmer literally stumbled over the original meteorite which he posited “must contain some element fatal to the plant.”

Tales of Suspense (1959) #26

Tales of Suspense (1959) #26

  • Published: February 01, 1962
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 27, 2012
  • Penciller: Steve Ditko
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

With a plan in mind, Jed drafted his wife and son to help him chop the space rock up with axes and distribute them around town. As the stone touched the plant-like creature, it immediately shriveled up and died. Glad to be done with the menace, the townspeople asked Jed to give up his dream of helping feed the world and he easily agreed: “I won’t monkey with anything I don’t know about!”

If he kept his word, it makes you wonder how The Thing That Crawls by Night appeared in the second and third issues of MONSTERS UNLEASHED!

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An alien looking to recharge its batteries meets the usual angry mob!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

In 1961, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby kicked the year off by introducing readers to The Blip in TALES TO ASTONISH #15. The story began with an airport radar operator noticing an unexplained blip on his equipment. Unbeknownst to him, that signaled the arrival of an electricity-based creature who had just landed on Earth.

The next morning, people in the surrounding town woke up to find their electrical devices completely drained of power. Fueled by curiosity, the radar operator used an electrometer to scan the town in search of the source. It took him hours, but he finally found the creature in a cave. The being quickly explained that it simply needed time to rest and had no intention of causing any harm to the town or planet. Blip relayed that he had traveled to another planet to help out, but got caught in a space warp on his way home which sent him to Earth. He’s been drawing electrical power from the nearby areas to recharge and get back.

At the same time, the townspeople gathered up their guns and a dynamo to get their power back. They showed up at the caves just after Blip finished telling his new friend about his journey. Though he intended to simply explain himself again to this larger group, he frightened them and they started shooting. The angry mob wouldn’t even listen to the radar operator’s claims that the creature meant them no harm and labeled him a traitor. Realizing they couldn’t hurt the alien, the people turned their rage towards the man. This did not sit well with Blip who only then used his actual powers and strength to attack the humans.

Tales to Astonish (1959) #15

Tales to Astonish (1959) #15

  • Published: January 01, 1961
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: June 22, 2010
  • Penciller: Paul Reinman
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Disgusted by humanity, Blip used the energy from the dynamo to fully recharge himself and returned to the stars. As his new friend ascended, the radar operator tried defending his fellows. “Perhaps, next time our races meet, you frail mortals will have grown up—perhaps then you’ll be ready to join your brothers on other worlds, in other galaxies! Until then…farewell!” responded the alien.

Since that first appearance, “Blip” has come to stand for not just the alien who appeared in this issue, but a member of the whole race as well. Xemnu created a double to attack Hulk in the monster-filled INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL #5. Wolverine ran into some of this race in the pages of his first solo book while running around space in issues #136 and #137. Some pals of Logan’s encountered another Blip in UNCANNY X-MEN #33 when Kitty Pryde and Illyana Rasputin traveled to Monster Island to track down a powerful young girl named Bo, but only briefly. And, of course, most recently the electric alien has most recently been spotted in the pages of MONSTERS UNLEASHED #2 and #3 alongside all of the other classic creatures!

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Deep in Africa, what secrets does this craggy creature hold!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

How can a flip comment from a young girl lead to the discovery of a massive monster in a remote African village? For the answers, you must turn to the story of Kraa the Unhuman in the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE #18. In this Stan Lee-Jack Kirby tale from 1961, a teacher overhears one of his students commenting that he’s never been outside of their small town during a lecture on African sculptures. Spurred on by the young woman’s words, he decided to take a trip that summer.

Once in Africa the teacher sought out the Wabuzi tribe to find out “why they’ve been making so many statues, all of the same grotesque figure!” The journey itself proved fraught with danger as other tribes refused to help him get there, mysterious strangers robbed him, and everyone whispered of angering Kraa.

Undeterred, the man carried forth, even when the presence of larger statues and huge footprints in the Earth would have made others turn back. Upon arriving in the Wabuzi village, he saw the giant, stone-like Kraa for himself, but the creature saw him as well and sent the villagers after the intruder.

Quickly captured, the man found himself held in Kraa’s mighty grasp about to die. However, being somewhat merciful, Kraa offered him one last request. Remembering why he came there in the first place, the teacher asked about the giant’s origins.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #18

Tales of Suspense (1959) #18

  • Published: June 01, 1961
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: July 16, 2010
  • Penciller: Steve Ditko
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Instead of coming from the skies, Kraa started as an average villager who became stranded in a hunting trap after some Russians parachuted in and decided to use the area for nuclear tests. Caught in the blast, the man who became a monster grew to such impressive heights that he easily caught a leaping lion who wanted him for breakfast. Upon revealing himself to the villagers, the new life form was dubbed Kraa and asked them to look for the invaders who proved either dead or gone. With that, he dedicated himself to destroying all of the civilized world.

Instead of seeing a would-be conqueror in front of him, the teacher saw Kraa for what he really was: a man suffering from radiation poisoning. Unable to admit this in front of his worshipers, the man-monster had just lived with the pain for months, but the teacher applied ointment up a desolate mountain. There, an enormous python attacked the traveler, but Kraa stepped in to wrestle it away from his new aid. The two tussled, but ultimately tumbled off a cliff, both apparently dying in the process.

Back home, the teacher’s students didn’t believe his wild stories about visiting the Wabuzi tribe. That is, until one of them ran in with a newspaper emblazoned with a picture of a new Wabuzi monument, this one looking exactly like their teacher!

Kraa’s another one of those old school monsters who made a big splash with his first appearance, but then remained quiet over the decades aside from brief appearances in NICK FURY’S HOWLING COMMANDOS and, most recently, the third issue of MONSTER’S UNLEASHED.

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