5 Supposedly Real Monsters that Should Be in Comic Books
The pseudoscience of “cryptozoology,” with its gaggle of marvelous animals, is rife with imaginative fodder fitting for four-color fantasies. While it’s sometimes fun to ponder what it might mean if our favorite cryptids actually existed – as Scientific American blogger Darren Naish does in his new book “Cryptozoologicon” – it’s clear that the improbable beasts are better suited for illustrated fiction.
Yeah, there’s already the much maligned, tangential-to-Kevin-Smith “Cryptozoic Man,” but we can do better than that, can’t we? And I’m not just talking classic characters like Bigfoot and Nessie. If you dig a little deeper into the folklore’s catalogue, you’ll find some potential breakout super villains just waiting to terrorize the unfortunate citizens of your favorite alternate universe.
Every rogues gallery needs a mastermind, and the Goatman of Maryland’s backstory fits the role perfectly. Legend has it that the evil experiments of U.S. Department of Agriculture mad scientist Dr. Stephen Fletcher went awry and in the 1950s mutated him into a crazed, hairy, horned humanoid that used an axe to slay its innocent victims, as many as 14 in 1962. Of course local authorities have little or no official records of such murders, but the myth persists, as the psychotic criminal staked out his territory by tagging city walls with the defiant phrase, “Goatman Was Here.”
Don’t cross the boss, or he’ll cut you down!
Tales of a similar monster spread through the Lake Worth area of Texas in the summer of 1969, though the Goatman apparently dropped his precision implement in favor of getting things done with his bare hands (hooves?) Descriptions of the Lake Worth Monster are more chaotic, as it was sometimes seen in trees and evidently liked to run aimlessly atop ridges while hurling tires and howling at the moon. A bestial regression for the doctor, further solidifying his disdain for humanity? Or did he just get a hold of the brown acid at Woodstock?
The Dover Demon
A famous phantom, despite only ever being seen three times over a two-day period in Dover, Massachusetts in April of 1977. The spindly thing with a “watermelon-like” head and glowing, orange eyes was first noticed crawling along a stone wall by Billy Bartlett as he drove by. Another witness later chased and treed the dog-sized lollipop-man, but gave up pursuit when its gaze creeped him out. Explanations of the enigma include possibly a baby moose, but maybe we shouldn’t even bother speculating when it was only observed by a few local teenagers, Bartlett’s willingness to “swear on a stack of Bibles” notwithstanding.
The Dover Demon’s actually appeared inside floppies before, as a precognitive creature in Alex Grecian’s Image series, “Proof.” Obviously the head of Goatman’s psi-ops division.
Any cackling megalomaniac worth his salt needs an army of conquering brutes, too. Enter the Jersey Devil. In true super villain fashion, his minions even look like him! Well, according to some. While the various descriptions include a goat’s head and cloven hooves, others differ dramatically with reports of a devil-like tail, bat wings or kangaroo legs. The Jersey Devil was said to be the 13th child born to a woman in 1735. When the baby emerged, it immediately transformed and climbed up the chimney, flying away and residing in the woods ever since. After a spate of sightings in 1909, the Devil’s presence faded to infrequency, despite a group of them often making appearances on stadium ice rinks.
“What else is scary, antlers? Yeah, throw that on there, too.”
It’s easy to imagine the Goatman genetically engineering and mass producing such a cut-and-paste creature. Customize it by swapping out limbs for a particular purpose!
The Van Meter Visitor
If the Jersey Devils are the shock troops, they need a general. Part sci-fi and part prehistory, the Van Meter Visitor was another interloper only observed over a short period of time, but the tale is truly terrifying. In the autumn of 1903, a tiny town in Iowa was plagued by a giant, bat-winged monster with an apparently Dr. Evil-inspired headlamp on its forehead. The townspeople decided it came from the local abandoned mine, and were able to chase it back there after it hopped the rooftops for three nights, even though the Visitor seemed immune to the their bullets.
A laser pterodactyl! Beat THAT, Dr. Doom!
During its last appearance, before it shuffled off down the shaft, the Van Meter Visitor was accompanied by a smaller version of itself. A future legacy villain, consumed by vengeance when the heroes bump off dear old dad!
Mongolian Death Worm
Come on, even the name! The failsafe secret weapon in Goatman’s arsenal, a cousin to Fin Fang Foom on loan from the Mandarin, ready to erode Iron Man’s armor with its acid spray! Or even shut down his operating system with electrical projectiles!
What if the Melter, Electro and Nightcrawler had a collective spawn? (Get it, Nighcrawler?!)
Called the “intestine worm” by the indigenous people due to its bloated, red appearance, this disgusting thing is described as hiding in the Gobi Desert sands until unsuspecting prey happens by, at which point it springs forward and “drills” into its chosen meal, eating it away from the inside. The worm is reportedly only 5 feet in length, but surely it could be jacked up to enormous proportions to become a multi-talented, kaiju killing machine. “Deliver the world to my doorstep, or face the wrath of the Mongolian Death Worm! Goatman commands you!”
Better known as “Dog” to friends and weirdos, Russ is a wannabe scientist who wears a safety vest instead of a labcoat. He writes about why science is important, comic book musings, and combinations thereof over at Adventures in Poor Taste and drinks beer wherever he can find a nice tap selection.