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Tournament of Terror Round of 16!

Welcome to the first proper round of the Longbox Graveyard Tournament of Terror. Thanks to everyone who voted to set our field of sixteen! In the end, there was a pretty clear divsion between the top fourteen monsters and the rest of the field, letting us go forward with clear voters’ favorties plus two write-ins based on reader comments. So before we get to the bracket, join me in bidding a not-so-fond farewell to Man-Wolf, Brother Voodoo, Satana, the Zombie, the Living Mummy, Scarecrow, the Golem, and It! The Living Colossus.

(Poor It! scored but a single vote … and then only after I went to Twitter to plead his case).

All right, on to the main event.

In years past, I’ve seeded our tournaments according to the selection round vote, but this has lead to static and predictable tournaments, with the higher seeds naturally marching through the early rounds. This time — given that our topic is monsters, and given that monsters are all about chaos and mayhem — I randomized the seeds of the qualifying creatures. It could have been a disaster, but the RNG gods were on-point, yielding some intriguing brackets and tasty first-round match-ups.

Let’s get to it! Please vote for your favorite monster in each of the eight contests below, then join me back here in a week for tournament results and voting in the round of eight!

Our Bracket!

The Match Ups!

Man-Bat: Punch line? Unwise line extension? Doesn’t matter — Man-Bat is in our tournament! Wikipedia credits Man-Bat’s creation to Frank Robbins, Neal Adams, and Julius Schwartz, and also notes his first appearance was in 1970 (earlier than I would have guessed). I remembered Man-Bat from his short-lived solo series in the mid-seventies, which ran just long enough to qualify Man-Bat for our ballot. And the world is better for it! He’s a freaking bat guy! And he fights Batman! And he got his powers from injecting himself with a bat extract. If someone injected themselves with a Batman extract, would they become Man-Bat-Man? (I need that book!). A bit of good luck awarded Man-Bat the #1 seed in our tournament … immediately offset by being matched with a #16 seed Swamp Thing! Alas, poor Man-Bat …

Swamp Thing: Top vote-getter in our preliminary voting, and the odds-on favorite to win it all. The immortal creation of the late and deeply-missed team of Len Wein and Bernie Wrightston, blessed by later and brilliant re-invention by Alan Moore, Swamp Thing isn’t just a great horror comics character, he is one of the all-time great comics characters of any genre.

Vampirella: I didn’t try to sneak Vampirella into my house when I first started buying comics at twelve years old — the Warren books in general were pushing my parental luck, and Vampirella surely would have been a bridge too far. Character creation is credited to my horror godfather, Forrest J. Ackerman, but I doubt we’d still be buying Vampirella comics without the costume design by Trina Robbins and Frank Frazetta’s cover work. Vampirella started off as a “horror host” character before being developed into a protagonist by Archie Goodwin — so I suppose a vote for Vampirella can serve as a vote for her Warren stablemates Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie, too.

Fin Fang Foom: Got into the field as an Editor’s Choice, as he failed the series headlining requirement, but gets a pass because of his Jack Kirby pedigree and those ludicrous, giant blue shorts. He’s supposed to show up in the Shang-Chi movie but you know the film version will never measure up against the original. Fin Fang Foom enters our tournament as the unofficial standard-bearer for decades of one-and-done monsters from Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko in Marvel’s pre-superhero days.

Blade the Vampire Slayer: The most memorable of the supporting cast from Tomb of Dracula, Blade has more than held his own, spinning off into several solo series, and most memorably transitioning to film in a series of movies that (along with X-Men) arguably birthed Marvel’s modern cinematic presence. A vampire who hunts vampires is cool enough by itself — when you mix in all of Blade’s vampire-fighting gadgets and add in the “daywalker” business you have a rich character that maybe still hasn’t lived up to his full potential. A new film has been announced and I expect Blade’s best days are still to come.

Werewolf (Werewolf by Night): Every time I remember this character’s name is Jack Russell, I can’t help but think he should be Terrier By Night. The Hardest Working Werewolf in Show Business (he never takes a night off, baby!), Werewolf By Night was one of the more successful 70s Marvel horror books, running 40-odd issues and assorted Giant-Sizes.

Morbius, the Living Vampire: Got his start as a super-villain, and sported a Gil Kane-designed supersuit pretty much throughout his career. He’s got a bit of everything — there’s a mad scientist angle, the anti-hero angle, of course all the vampire stuff, and super-hero origins that made him easier to cross-over with mainstream Marvel books than was the case with Marvel’s other monsters. He’s pretty irredeemably evil in his black & white Vampire Tales appearances.

Ghost Rider: Born of the Satanic Panic era of Marvel comics, Ghost Rider has remained more relevant than many of his contemporary characters thanks to frequent reinvention. Not every reboot has been for the best (and those Nic Cage films didn’t help), but Ghost Rider continues to get times at bat. A burning skull on a flaming motorcycle will always be kewl.

Frankenstein (Monster of Frankenstein): Frankenstein got his book as part of Marvel’s “try everything” horror explosion of the 1970s. Hey, he’s public domain, why not? He got his solo series start under Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog (Marvel’s horror book go-to guy) in what was initially a fairly faithful gothic-era adaptation; later he would come to the present day, where he’d cross-over with Marvel’s superhero characters (rarely to good effect). More recently, he was part of Phil Coulson’s Howling Commandos … poor Frankenstein can never die.

Solomon Grundy: A “play-in” monster who wasn’t part of our initial ballot, but was one of the best suggestions to come out of our reader comments. His solo series was brief, but it was longer than Man-Bat, so he’s in! Plus he brings an additional DC Comics presence to a Marvel-heavy tournament, AND he traces his origins to a 1944 Green Lantern story by Alfred Freakin’ Bester … so he’ll also serve for all the forgotten monsters of Golden Age Comics. And no, it doesn’t matter that “Grundy” doesn’t really rhyme with “Monday!”

Hellboy: I admitted to a DC and Marvel Bronze Age fixation when I put together the first contenders of this tournament, but even that doesn’t excuse overlooking Hellboy, the singular and intriguing creation by Mike Mignola who has also enjoyed his share of film success. His series has demons, monsters, weird science, Nazis … really, I hang my head in shame for failing to mention him. So into the field he goes!

Man-Thing: Eternally the “other” swamp monster, but don’t sleep on Man-Thing. He polled exceptionally well in our first voting, and he has a Steve Gerber pedigree. Plus, with out Man-Thing there would be no Giant-Sized Man-Thing jokes.

Dracula (Tomb of Dracula): The Wolfman/Colan/Palmer run is an all-timer, though little remembered today outside of places like Longbox Graveyard. Had one of the longest headlining runs of the characters in our tournament.

Son of Satan: Exhibit A in any survey of “Books You Could Never Make Today,” I always loved that Damien Hellstrom was shocked to discover that he was Satan’s son. I mean, the guy has a horned haircut, a pentagram on his chest, and the name of the book is freaking SON OF SATAN! His solo series was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair, but Steve Gerber (the patron saint of weird and abandoned characters) made room for Damien in the Defenders, where he probably enjoyed his best years.

Godzilla: I don’t know if giant monsters really fit with “horror” monsters, but Godzilla has appeared on more than one cover of Famous Monsters magazine, and that’s good enough for me. His Marvel Comics run in the 1970s was better than it had and right to be (and he fought the Avengers, the Champions, the Fantastic Four, and S.H.I.E.L.D. to a standstill), and of course Godzilla has had a long comics career at other publishers, as well.

The Demon: One of several off-kilter books Jack Kirby created at DC after bolting Marvel in the 1970s, the Demon was a bit of a bastard child. Kirby reportedly had little interest in horror characters, and fans may well wonder why we got the Demon instead of more Fourth World stories. But considered on his own, the Demon has much to offer, from his penchant for rhyme through the opportunity his stories provided for Kirby to draw Arthurian knights and monsters.

That’s the field! Vote early, vote often, tell your friends, and explain your hardest choices in the comments section, below!

TOMORROW: Marvel Value Stamps!

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About Paul O'Connor

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978, published every now and then at www.longboxgraveyard.com!

Posted on October 7, 2019, in Halloween Month and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I like Son of Satan, one of those quintessential Bronze Age characters for me, but is he really only losing to Tomb of Dracula 5-4?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. …It begins!!!!!

    Now I know why I felt a shroud of dread over me when I woke up this morning. I could sense something diabolical in the future.
    My money’s on Swamp Thing, though I confess a sentimental fondness for Solomon Grundy.
    How many swamp monsters are there in comics, anyway?
    I could come up with at least half a dozen at the top of my head.
    They’re everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Something Wicked This Way Blogs!

      The apparently-parallel development (and near-simultaneous release) of Swamp Thing and Man-Thing is one of the great mysteries of Big 2 comics.

      But I suppose it makes a kind of sense. With the relaxation of the Comics Code in the early 70s we had decades of monster comics demand suddenly addressed, all at once. That sudden window of availability compressed time such that the simultaneous launch of multiple swamp monster books is slightly more likely. But only slightly …

      Like

  3. Well, there’s the Heap and the Glob and Grundy himself was a swamp monster.
    I think Atlas Seaboard had a swamp monster of some sort.
    Jude the Entropic Man was a dead guy who got reanimated in a swamp. There was the short story “It” by Theodore Sturgeon which they made a comic out of.
    Now that I think about it, the ancient story Beowulf was about a swamp monster.
    There’s the Skunk Ape and the Legend of Boggy Creek…
    I think if there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that if you find yourself in a marsh you better keep your head on a swivel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A boggy brigade of bombastic baddies!

      With so many swamp monsters to choose from, it is worth examining why Swamp Thing and (to a lesser extent) Man-Thing still endure. Much is down to the reach of publishers that are still in business today (unlike many of the characters you mention). But I think Man-Thing benefitted from a booster rocket if Steve Gerber weirdness (that also birthed Howard the Duck), while the Wrightston character design for Swamp Thing (particularly the face) is just perfect.

      Like

  4. 1) How can Man-Thing lead over Hellboy??? Is there some kind of digital error? Hellboy is comic book literature with actual horror. We’re talking chills. And humor! Romance! A talking snarky corpse that HB has to carry on his back into supernatural battle. Baba Yaga! HB has it all.

    I liked Man-Thing as a child, thought he looked cooler than Swamp-thing, but after I grew a brain, I realized there was very little substance to MT besides muck. So, for HB to potentially lose to MT…. This cannot stand! Whom do I have to bribe? Has anyone reading this blog not read Hellboy? C’mon! HB is a work of genius. The same cannot be said for MT (re: formulaic tripe). In fact, I wholly expected HB to make it to the finals where he would have to slug it out with Tomb o’ Dracula, and then the dark prince of evil would fall–inevitably–to the Harbinger of Armageddon. “Hello?? Is this thing on??Helloooo!!!”

    Alas, my plea for sanity in an insane world fall on deaf, cauliflowered ears.

    2) Godzilla versus the Demon! I love me some Demon, but Godzilla was my first monster. He started as a villain and still captured my five-year old heart. Talk about dead heat. That was unfair to have such a tough choice so early in the voting. Sorry Demon and so long!

    3) I can see where this is going. Werewolf by Night over BLADE? At this rate Vampirella will win!

    4) No one mentioned the Walking Dead? (Not even me.) Simon Garth, the Marvel Zombi? (Or did he get buried in the election round? He’s a better choice than MT! He had horror in his title. For that matter, what about iZombi? That book was awesome and I loved the show. Yeah. I said it.

    5) Lucifer? The Sandman by Gaiman?

    6) I love these tournaments! Thanks Paul!

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, no … it is I who should thank you, I love passionate comics ravings! That’s what this silly competition is all about.

      I was going to attribute Man-Thing’s lead over Hellboy to the Marvel Bronze Age bias of this blog (and by extension, this blog’s readers), but that logic doesn’t hold up when you look at some of the other contests. Blade is by far a more significant and well-known character than Werewolf-By-Night, and both those characters have a Bronze Age pedigree so … I dunno. Maybe my readers are just idiosyncratic? (Maybe this is your cue to drive voters to the site to stuff the ballot box for Hellboy, the way dear old Krakels did for the Fantastic Four a couple years back).

      Simon Garth did indeed fail to gain traction in the voting round, and neither Lucifer or Sandman earned a reader’s mention. (This is also my DC blind spot showing up).

      Don’t think Walking Dead qualifies because (despite the title) it is the humans who headline that book. The Walkers, by Kirkman’s own admission, are more like “weather patterns” and don’t rise to the definition of the kind of charismatic, named monster character I was seeking for this showdown. If that book has a villain, it’s Negan, and Negan can bite me.

      Thanks for your votes and fist-shaking! Still plenty of time for comebacks in the voting … and the random seeding and low(ish) vote turnout is lending some delicious volatility to the competition! (I’m well-please so far).

      Like

      • Blade the movie imho is better than Blade the comic (original). In ToD he seemed too much of a caricature–of course that’s with my adult glasses on. I like WbN–bought the B&W trade and got cheap color copies on comixology, but as much as I love werewolves–the stories are so flat and unbelievable. It feels like work reading those issues. S’like every issue: oh no! I forgot the moon is coming out tonight! Blade was a hero I would like to be. He had a quest, etc.

        I think people are put off by Mignola’s drawing style. It took me a few pages to overlook the outsized dimensions and by then the mood and shadows just had me hooked. I devoured those pages. It is manna from heaven. Man-Thing has nothing nothing nothing in comparison. And I like Man-thing! I do. I liked that he was silent. Primordial. A creature. A real thing. Swamp-Thing is a great character with arcs. MT just is. Just never read a story that struck me as well-written. Anyway.

        Okay, anyone else reading this? I will mail the first person interested in exploring HellBoy a copy of HellBoy volume 1 if–IF– they vote for HB over MT. I actually have extra copies of the graphic novels (and I bought the entire set on comixology–that’s how much I love re-reading Mignola’s mythos. How many books in general can you say you love to re-read. I re-read The Unbearable Lightness of Being a few times (in my 20s okay? Give me a break–it was a phase). I re-read the novelization of Star Wars something like 14 times. Mignola–I can re-read his stories and admire his composition over and over.) I am not bribery! Not sure of the logistics, but we’ll figure it out. Graphic novels for votes!

        I was thinking the The Walking Dead just for horror, and for me the “zombies” constitute a villain en masse. But, okay. Negan. Yeesh. Governor on steroids. Although, he curses like me when I get angry, so I kind of have a soft spot for him in my heart–the heart that was ripped out of my chest! Throbbing and beating! Undying!

        Too much? Too much.

        Viva Tournament of Terror!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve got a couple Hellboy graphic novels on my shelf, and will take this as a mandate to read them before the month is up. I admire your dedication to the cause, and I hope a reader takes you up on your kind offer! Inquiries can be routed through longboxgraveyard@gmail.com if it makes thing easier.

          The Wikipedia entry for Blade (I know, I know) quotes Marv Wolfman as saying he didn’t have a handle on Blade’s dialogue at first — that he wrote Blade in imitation of Marvel’s other black heroes at the time (So Luke Cage, I guess). I gather he found it all a bit cringeworthy so he withdrew the character until he found the right voice for him. Wolfman would later go on to lose a copyright beef with Marvel over ownership of the character — another in a long, sad series of disputes over where work for hire ended and IP development began (something that rarely seemed important before the crazy comics started powering the most significant movie franchise of the century).

          Like

          • Thank you Sir! That’s great. We can coordinate through you. Hopefully I can sway a few votes Hellboy’s way! And even if someone just wants to read Mignola, that’s okay with me. I eventually have to do what you did a little while ago: a thorough house cleaning b/c we don’t have enough space with all these books and comic books. I got rid of furniture to make room for long boxes. My parents give me the stink eye whenever they stop by: “When are you going to get rid of all these comic books?” (NEVER! HAHAAHAHHA)

            Re: the Wolfman, this ruthless world, … we all love our Marvel heroes, but damn if they are not tainted with the stink of corporate greed. I am not a lawyer or a businessman–but, come on! Would it kill these gazillionaires to share the wealth with their creators? I guess we better not open that can o’ worms. Thanks Paul!

            Again, anyone interested in HB vol 1, just drop Paul a line and I will be happy to send you some comic book deliciousness! On to the voting! (I envision myself as Captain Jack Sparrow leaping into the maw of the KRAKEN! –but yeah, the middle-aged, uglier, poorer version naturally!)

            Like

  5. I voted for Swampy over Man-Bat, FFF over Vampirella, Damien over Dracula(I don’t see Dracula ultimately losing this one though, Manny over Hellboy, even though Hellboy will probably win having more supporters, Etrigan over Gojira, GR over Morbius, and Solomon Grundy over Marvel’s Frankenstein. Hey, overall, not a bad list this year Paul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thank the “wisdom of crowds” for our field. I didn’t get everyone, but we did pretty good, and a contest that doesn’t spark outrage over the bubble teams is a poor contest indeed.

      I’m figuring Swamp Thjng shambles off with the title in the end. There is a long way to go yet, but with Blade looking like he won’t get out of the first round, I don’t see anyone on the left side of the bracket keeping Swampy from at least getting to the final (unless the dreaded Longbox Graveyard Marvel Bias propels Werewolf By Night to an upset in the semis).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Am I too late to vote on the round of 16? I feel dumb but I never saw where I should choose my winners.

    Like

    • Problem solved. When I use Firefox to view the blog, the “vote widgets” do not appear. I am switching to another browser so I can vote .. mmmmmmm tough choices!

      Like

      • Sorry that WordPress is acting up for you … I’ve stayed with WordPress all these years out of basic inertia but may change platforms next year. The volume and quality of ads served through WordPress have really gone sideways over the last year or so — I apologize to everyone seeing that toe fungus photo! (At least it kind of fits in a horror month).

        Like

  1. Pingback: Vote In The Tournament of Terror Round of 8! | Longbox Graveyard

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