Comics Should Be Ridiculous #1: DC Comics Presents #8

I would imagine the act of filling out the application form for the Monster Society of Evil would be a very difficult and confusing task for Solomon Grundy.

Physiologically speaking, Mr. Grundy most closely resembles the traditional zombie. Recall, if you will, his pre-Crisis origin wherein the body of fatcat, Cyrus Gold, was dumped in Gotham City’s Slaughter Swamp only to be reanimated fifty years later as the gray-skinned, fashion-challenged Moe Howard jacked on Venom monstrosity we all know and tolerate. To the eyes and ears, however, Grundy does appear to have been designed as yet another of Victor Frankenstein’s infernal offspring (had the good doctor resided in Al Capp’s Dogpatch). His hulking form, super-strength, and stilted, childlike grasp of language definitely fit classic Frankenstein monster mold (at least in the comics.) To confuse the matter even further, like Alec Holland and Ted Sallis, the swampy location of Grundy’s diabolical resurrection does classify Grundy as a muck monster.

So, is Grundy a zombie, science project, or swamp creature? Who cares? He’s ridiculous which makes him a perfect target for the first Comics Should Be Ridiculous featuring DC Comics Presents #8!

DC Comics Presents #8
The Sixty Deaths of Solomon Grundy
Written by Steve Englehart
Illustrated by Murphy Anderson
Color art by Jerry Serpe
Letters by Ben Oda
Edited by Julius Schwartz

Although operating at cross-purposes, Superman and Swamp Thing seek the same target: Solomon Grundy. Superman wants to stop the monster from terrorizing his beloved Metropolis, while Swampy, aware of the similarities of their origins, wants to study the creature and possibly glean information into his own creation. Superman and Swampy track Grundy to the Metropolis sewer system and cross paths for the very first time in the history of the DC Universe. While startled at his appearance, Supes gives Swampy a pass because Batman claims he’s a chill dude (see Brave and the Bold #122). Things turn sour quickly as our heroes’ agendas — and the fact that Swampy can’t communicate his intentions to Big Blue — cause them to get in the way of each other while Grundy pounds the stuffing out of Superman. After Superman carelessly rips off Swampy’s arm, Grundy delivers the knockout blow and the Swamp Friends head off to another branch of the sewer to get acquainted.

Superman’s no fool, so he calls Batman to confirm Swampy’s on the up-and-up. After a thumb’s up from Bats, Superman brings a bag of sewer water to his gal pal, Dr. Klyburn, at S.T.A.R. Labs for analysis, having a hunch that there’s some kind of weird chemical interactions going on in Metropolis’s sewers. Get this: Superman apologizes to Klyburn for calling her out of a sound sleep but, while he’s apologizing, who shows up but Lois Lane, and in a new dress (which Superman, being Superman, notices.) After Supes smells Lois’ upper lip for a while, it’s back on the case!

Back in the sewers, Swamp Thing shifts to Mime Thing in order to procure a sample of Grundy’s DNA for analysis (Swampy has a makeshift laboratory hidden away in a tiny alcove). While Grundy stomps rats, poor Swampy comes to the conclusion that there’s no similarity between himself and his new buddy. All Swampy knows is the monster he’s shacked up with is not even alive. Meanwhile, Grundys start popping out of every manhole in Metropolis. If there’s one thing I learned from this comic, it’s that they do love their manholes in Metropolis.

Superman can’t seem to keep his hands off of Lois this issue, but reluctantly disengages to quell the monster mash erupting around him. Thankfully, Dr. Klyburn has concocted a mason jar of stuff to render all of the Grundys inert! Unfortunately in earshot, Swampy’s not happy about this development because, “Not even a monster…wants to die…!” Silly Swamp Thing, no one dies in comics for long.

Insult to injury, we never get to see the effects of Dr. Klyburn’s formula on the Grundys. All we see are some poor stick-figure Grundys littering the streets of Metropolis while Superman hopes the concoction didn’t hurt Swampy (Little late for that, don’tchathink?) and poor Swamp Thing sloshing away in solitude.

While the plot is ridiculous enough on its own, Murphy Anderson compounds the outrageousness with his inability to settle on a set size for Mr. Grundy. In some panels, he’s a large man. In others, he’s a giant. Anderson even throws in some unfortunate juxtapositions that makes Grundy resemble one of the creatures in War of the Gargantuas.

Stir in off-kilter images of Swampy’s regenerating arm (Dainty!), and you’ve got a recipe for a heck of a good time.

And why not? Because…Comics Should Be Ridiculous!

  • Herman Louw

    Yeah, this is what DC’s Silver Age would have been like if editors allowed zombies (Grundy) or Swamp Monsters in the stories. For all its silliness, this is a great issue

  • Christopher Barber

    I have this issue loaded on my ipad. Now I have a reason to check it out sooner rather than later.

  • Iain Spillane

    Perfectly ridiculous!

  • Jeff C

    Love this, Vince. I look forward to reading your future columns. I always really enjoy hearing you go off on why you love the comics you do–your passion really comes through. Thank you.