Happy Halloween from the Odinson,
The Odinson’s Countdown to Halloween 2018: Part 4 of 4
The Dichotomy of Man and Monster
“Moonlight is thought to transform some people into strange creatures to drive others mad…”
Mankind has come a long, long way from its humble beginnings. Crawling out of the muck and swirling pools of prehistory, evolving into primitive bipedal primate-like creatures, and ultimately developing tools and technology. Monsters, these oft times large, ugly, hideous things, haunt the imaginations and superstitions of mankind.
Over the centuries, man has proven himself capable of many monstrous and horrific acts against his fellow man. Oft time man has visited pain and suffering on others because of fear those others might be monsters. Such fear led to the Salem Witch Trials.
As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster…”
If man is capable of evil, and that man becomes a monster, is that man’s conscience clear because the monstrous acts committed by the beast are the fault of the monster, or is the violence and chaos unleashed by the monster driven by the dark seeds already growing within the man himself? Where does the man end the monster begin, and vice versa?
Here are 10 Man/Monster characters in fiction that deal with this very perplexing dilemma.
Larry Talbot and the Wolf Man – Larry Talbot is cursed with lycanthrope. He spends his days seeking a cure for his curse. He pleads desperately with anyone that will listen to him, lock him up, and/or kill him before the night falls. For when the moon rises full, Talbot transforms into a werewolf, a beast of pure savagery, a monster that prowls the night and slaughters anyone unfortunate enough to cross its path. Is Talbot a bad man for not ending his own life thereby saving the lives of those that would fall victim to the violence and danger the Wolf Man brings to all those he is around?
No, Talbot is not a bad man, but is he a selfish man?
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Dr. Jekyll seeks to suppress the evil that resides within all men. He does this by concocting a special formula. Unfortunately, instead of suppressing his darker side, the formula actually transforms the regal, posh doctor into a diminutive, gnarly and cruel man, a creature of pure id. Mr. Hyde is selfish, ruthless, aggressive, violent, and murderous. Mr. Hyde is the evil of man in its purest form, a true monster.
Doctor Bruce Banner and the Hulk – Bruce Banner is one of the most brilliant minds in all of fiction. But after being caught in the fallout of an exploding Gamma bomb, his body’s chemistry has been altered. Now, whenever he becomes angry or agitated, Banner transforms into the walking typhoon of rage and destruction known as the Incredible Hulk! Banner/Hulk is easily one of the most complicated and diametrically interesting man/monsters in the history of fiction.
Is he a man? Is he a monster? Is he a hero? One moment he is a brilliant man of science, the next he is a monstrous uncontrollable force of nature. Has there ever been a man/monster more loved, feared, respected, and loathed all at the same time by friends, family, allies, and enemies alike?
Professor Curt Connors and the Lizard – Easily a Top 5 favorite Spidey villain of the Odinson’s, Curt Connors encapsulates all the best qualities the wall-crawler’s rogues gallery has to offer. He has a personal connection with Peter Parker, and he is basically a good man. He is a family man and a mentor, but he is also cursed and transforms into a monster from time to time.
As with most great super villain origins, Connors’ story started with a man trying to accomplish good with science. He used DNA splicing to develop a formula to grow back lost limbs. Unfortunately, the reptilian DNA he used asserts itself in a most bizarre and ill-fated way. It transforms him into a walking, talking, scheming lizard-man in a lab coat with a megalomaniacal plan to destroy mankind and the power to back it up.
Karl Lykos and Sauron – Lykos is cursed with a very peculiar strain of vampirism. He drains the life force energy of human beings for sustenance. But, when he feeds off the energy of mutants, the side effect is that he transforms into a monstrous pterodactyl-man. As a man, Lykos had a woman who he cared for greatly, but his monstrous side proved fatal for her.
Sauron started out as a pretty unique and interesting villain with a lot of potential. Unfortunately, in the modern era of Marvel Comics he has become a C-List villain at best and a throw away punchline. It’s a shame too because it seems like there is really a lot of man/monster exploration that has yet to be covered with a character like this.
Jason Blood and Etrigan the Demon – Jason Blood was a knight in King Arthur’s court. He was cursed by the wizard Merlin to walk the earth for all eternity, forever bonded with a demon from hell. In modern times, Blood acts a liaisons with the world of heroes to the world of the supernatural and the macabre. But, when he recites the dark incantation – “…Gone! Gone! O form of man, and rise the demon Etrigan!” – Blood transforms into the titular fiend of the rhyme.
Blood and Etrigan differ from the others I’ve spoken of for they are in fact two different entities sharing the same body, not two different aspects of the same person. Because of this fact, they bring a totally different dynamic to the table, one that can be combative at times, and humorous at others. The truly scary thing about Etrigan is that because he is a creature of darkness, he is just as likely to devour Batman as he is to help the Caped Crusader. It can be quite a gamble, for when Jason Blood recites the chant, you never know what kind of mood the Demon will be in.
Johnny Blaze and the Ghost Rider – When stuntman Johnny Blaze made a deal with Mephisto to save the life of someone he cared for, his soul was forever bonded with the demon Zarathos. Now, as the devil’s repo man, the Ghost Rider blazes through the night astride a fiery motorcycle with a flaming skull and a cackle that makes the blood of evildoers run cold. Of all the man/monsters on this list, Ghost Rider probably does the most good. As the Spirit of Vengeance, he seeks out all those that would harm others and balances the scales.
Professor Seth Brundle and the Fly – A brilliant scientist, Brundle creates a device that can teleport matter from one location to another. However, when using himself as the first human test subject, an errant fly enters the pod with him. When they emerge from the second pod their DNA has been fused.
As Brundle’s physical form begins to mutate and devolve into a grotesque monstrous shape, his superior brain also begins to skew. No longer compelled by the conscience of man, he seeks to further his horrifying experiment by merging himself with the woman he loves and their unborn child. Brundle’s decent into madness and transformation into a monster is truly one of the most tragic and horrifying stories of its kind.
I hope you all have enjoyed the 2018 Countdown to Halloween as much as I have. Now, always obey the Rules of All Hallow’s Eve – 1) Wear a costume. 2) Offer candy. 3) Never blow out a Jack-o-Lantern. 4) Always check your candy before eating it.
Remember, Sam is watching.
This is Odinson bidding thee a Safe and Happy Halloween