*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.
Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.
Monster Mash (Part 2)
Way back at the start of “Comics Lust,” we talked about our favorite classic monsters, or rather, those based on the Universal Monsters like Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, and the Wolfman; all of the ones we looked at came from Marvel’s stable of books. But they weren’t the only ones dabbling in the mythos immortalized by the classic black and films of way back when. The other half of the Big Two, DC Comics, had their share of titles about vampires, man-made monsters, and other things that go bump in the night, and that is what we are looking at here today.
Werewolf by Night), they had their vampire book (Tomb of Dracula), the had their Frankenstein’s monster book (The Monster of Frankenstein), they had their mummy book (Supernatural Thrillers Starring the Living Mummy), and they had their zombie book (Tales of the Zombie), but DC thought better of having multiple monster titles on the shelf and asked themselves why not put a bunch of monsters in one book? Thus the Creature Commandos were born.
Originally appearing in 1980 in the pages of Weird War Tales #93 (written by J.M. DeMatteis and others, and illustrated by Pat Broderick and many others), the Creature Commandos were created to aid in the more supernatural aspects of World War II, and had the following lineup:
- Warren Griffith (a werewolf)
- Pvt. Elliot “Lucky” Taylor (Frankenstein’s monster)
- Sgt. Vincent Velcro (a vampire)
- Dr. Myrna Rhodes (a gorgon…aka Dr. Medusa)
- Lt. Matthew Shrieve (a normal, red-blooded, all-American soldier)
- J.A.K.E. (Aka the G.I. Robot, who joined later)
Back when I was a kid, I had a bunch of Weird War Tales issues that someone gave to me as my starter comic book collection, but I only ended up with a couple of the issues that featured the Creature Commandos as you never really knew when they would pop up again. Dang, though, I really wanted all of them, and who in their right mind wouldn’t want them? You had monsters fighting monsters, monsters fighting human monsters (ie. Nazi scum), dinosaurs on Dinosaur Island, and they even battled Atlantian robots. Thankfully, you don’t need to track down the miscellaneous issues (Weird War Tales #93, 97, 100, 102, 105, 108–112, 114–119, 121, and 124) but you can instead pick up The Creature Commandos TPB and get them all in one fell swoop!
This, however, was not the end of the Creature Commandos, Denizens, not by a longshot…
Creature Commandos…which is news to me. For this series, the commandos are found by Superman aboard Brainiac’s ship and brought back to Earth where they continue the good fight. This time, Shrieve is not in the picture, the surviving members have cool code names, and they are joined by a few new members:
- Aten (a mummy communications specialist)
- The Bogman (the Creature from the Black Lagoon)
- Gunner Mackey ( a cyborg of a man who died in WWII)
- Captain. Lucius Hunter (the new normal, red-blooded, all-American leader)
Unfortunately, there is no trade for this series and you need to hit the back issue bins to find them, but you best get to them before I do, as I am quite interested in picking them up.
Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1–3 arrived with a both familiar and new cast of characters to thrill and chill, including the Bride of Frankenstein and a female amphibian creature. Some members die, some lose their powers, and others go on to fight in the Atlantis/Amazon war. The series was written by Donist World favorite Jeff Lemire in 2011 and had three different sets of artists for three issues, which is kind of mind-boggling, but it is still one heck of a read. The great thing is that although you might be bummed about the various deaths by the end, you don’t need to worry your pretty little head about the state of some of the monsters, because things get reset in…
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. also appeared in 2011 as part of the New 52 and was also written by Jeff Lemire for issues #1–9 and by Matt Kindt for issues #0, 10–16 with a luckier go of an artist this time around with Alberto Ponticelli illustrating every issue. Here the Creature Commandos are special agents of S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive), a group comprised of mostly monsters who protect the world while remaining hidden in the shadows. This time around, we have Frankenstein (no longer called Frankenstein’s monster and taking on the shorter name of Frankenstein), the Bride (Bride of Frankenstein), Vincent Velcoro (the vampire), Warren Griffith (the werewolf), Dr. Mina Mazursky (female amphibian woman), Khalis (a mysterious mummy medic), and Dr. Ray Palmer (the Atom, and resident scientist). The monster-stomping exploits of this monstrous team can be found in single issues or in the two trades.
The Creature Commandos also had a bunch of appearances in other titles over the years, including in 2006’s Seven Soldiers Frankenstein (written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Doug Mahnke), which I sadly have to admit to not yet having read, which is something I will remedy in the near future with the lovely omnibus!
And speaking of vampires…
House of Mystery #290, 291, 293, 295, 297, 299, 302, 304–319, and Brave and the Bold #195. I…Vampire was also created by J.M. DeMatteis with help along the way from other writers and a whole mess of artists. I had a couple of these issues, but never enough to have any idea of what the heck was going on. Thankfully, the recently collected trade made it possible to read the entire story. I…Vampire follows the vampiric Andrew Bennett and an assortment of human sympathizers as they track down the evil vampiress Mary Seward, Andrew’s former love. Can Andrew save Mary from herself? You’ll have to read it to see.
I, Vampire, written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino. Trust me when I say that I LOVED this series when it first started, Denizens, but alas it was canceled and rushed to a hasty conclusion. I knew things were going to get rocky when Constantine showed up in issue four, Batman in issues five and six, and then a crossover with another series in issues seven and eight. Dang. I can only imagine the story we could have had if Fialkov and Sorrentino—this was my first exposure to his gorgeous art—had been allowed to tell the story they wanted to tell without the interference of guest appearances and crossovers. That said, even though the series ended way before I wanted it to, I still greatly enjoyed issues 0–19, and you can as well with the three trades. Again, Sorrentino’s art is stunning and Fialkov’s story compelling as this rebooted version of Andrew Bennett and Mary (now called Mary Queen of Blood)
Seward’s tragic conflict of love and hate.
That’s it for this installment. Thank you for reading and see you next time.