DC Comics are home to many wonderful and terrifying creatures, some of which derive from existing mythology. All cultures have stories of creators, heroes, monsters, and the forces that impact our lives. Occasionally, DC’s super-folk are measured against those great mythic heroes and their ancient foes.
Other times, myths intersect with pop culture such that new tellings of these mainly oratory histories emerge through the words and images of comics. Many myths involve bizarre creatures, and DC readers have been lucky to see more than the average ghost bear or Sasquatch. Most people know what vampires, werewolves, and giants are, but they likely haven’t seen them like this.
10 The Three Are One Of Many Weird Sandman Creatures
Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is steeped in world mythology and filled with new and ancient renderings of Gods, monsters, and fantastical creatures. Norse Gods have anachronistic inflections, dreams and nightmares take physical form, and Morpheus takes many different forms from different cultures.
The most bizarre myth to come to life in DC Comics’ premiere gothic epic is that of the fates. The Three Who Are One is a conglomerate being, composed of three witches, a motif that appears in several different mythologies. Shakespeare called them the Weird Sisters, a name Dream uses along with the Kindly Ones, Gray Ladies, and Hecate.
9 Bizarre Giants Are Everywhere
Nearly every belief system makes reference to giants at some point in its mythology. From David and Goliath to Jack and the Beanstalk, giants have been mythological staples since the dawn of civilization. Fomorian, Nephilim, and Jötunn are all varieties of giants from different international cultures, and several appear in DC Comics.
Several unnamed giants appear in 1960s House of Mysterybooks, some resembling cavemen and others normal humans apart from their massive size. Superman later battled frost and millennium giants, which are increasingly bizarre in an increasingly populated and globally vigilant world.
8 DC’S Mesoamerican Pantheon Is Bizarre
Quetzalcoatl is the Aztec name for the great mesoamerican feathered serpent. DC Comics has several versions of the god-creature, most of whom show up at bizarre times. The hero Aztek believed he was Quetzalcoatl’s champion, mirroring Mesoamerican hero myths and eventually turning on his actual creator, Lex Luthor, before sacrificing himself for Superman.
Coincidentally, the Superman family have tangoed with the great serpent one-on-one more often than pretty much anyone else. In Superman #3, written by Louise Simonson with pencils by Jon Bogdanove and inks by Dennis Janke, the Olympian Phobos travels to Antarctica to resurrect Quetzalcoatl. The feathered god wipes out a bunch of terrorists, then lets Superman beat it up.
7 DC’s Genies Further Adapt The Jinn Myth
Jinn are beings from pre-Islamic Arabian folklore, romanized and anglicized into the beings widely known throughout pop culture as genies. The motif of genies bound to inanimate objects could come from the practice of wearing talismans and charms for warding off attacks from jinn and other evil spirits.
Yz, the lightning genie, exemplifies all the strangeness of the modern genie myth, having motives of its own while serving its human wielder at the click of a pen or utterance of a magic word. Dybbuk, on the other hand, mixes Jewish folklore and self-describes as a “Jewish supercomputer” in a humanoid box.
6 Nanaue Resembles A Hawaiian Myth
Nanaue, in the mythology of Hawaii, was the son of a god, the King of all Sharks, and a mortal woman. He was born with a shark’s mouth on his back, and his mother was instructed never to let him eat meat. She had limited control because of gender separation, and Nanaue’s path led him to become a full wereshark.
DC’s King Shark is indeed a shark god’s son, but that certainty is a relatively recent development. His true origins were unknown for a long time, and many theorized he was just another mutant or Wild Man. He can’t shapeshift like his mythic counterpart and his father has a different name, but both are tragic villains in their own right.
5 Brother Power Is The Strangest Artificial Life-Form
Dolls and artificial bodies in mythology have long been used as vessels for the souls of the dead or evil spirits. Egyptian mythology binds souls to statues, Golems protect their makers in Jewish folklore, and multiple mythic heroes from DC were originally made of clay and other inanimate material, including Wonder Woman. Brother Power is a truly bizarre addition to the list.
An abandoned tailor’s mannequin, Power was found by a group of young hippies who dressed him and set him by a radiator to dry. Animated by a lightning bolt, he lived a life of psychedelic adventure and tragedy, often sacrificing himself to save his friends and absolutely pummeling villains, just like artificial beings of myth and legend.
4 DC’s Demons Mix All-New & Ancient Myths
As jarring as it can be to see DC heroes battle monsters and gods, demons have been in DC Comics since the ’40s in many forms. Some adhere to demonology, others ancient myth, but the most strange are the originals, created for the stories they could fit. Apart from many bug-eyed, winged versions of the damned, there stands the beastly hero readers know as Etrigan.
His behavior, speech, and path toward the knowledge of humans draw from Goethe’s Faust with many twists, but his dad Belial and siblings Merlin, Scapegoat, and the rest, trace back to theological myths. The most bizarre form of Etrigan is Earth-13’s Superman.
3 Invunche Comes Directly From Chilean Mythology
Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing is, at times, a gloomy stroll through pop-cultural mythology that sees the very concepts of good and evil reaching equilibrium. Before its climactic bizarre and beautiful depiction of ultimate divinity, Swamp Thing, who resembles many nature deities, takes on a menagerie of monsters both classic and reimagined.
Werewolves stemming from Native American myths all make societal statements through original takes on old myths. The Invunche, or Imbunche, on the other contorted hand, is a grotesque guardian spirit ripped straight from Chilean myth. As in the original stories, it serves its dark masters tirelessly and causes oodles of trouble for the magical world.
2 The Hemo-Goblin Is Overtly & Intentionally Offensive
Virtually every culture has some type of vampire myth, and many have stalked the dark crevices of DC Comics. Different renditions have different abilities and weaknesses, but few are as bizarre and disturbing as the Hemo-Goblin. It appeared once, in New Guardians #1, written by Steve Englehart with pencils by Joe Staton and inks by Mark Farmer.
A white supremacist created the Hemo-Goblin with the express intention of giving the New Guardians HIV and killing anything but white males. Its South African location may indicate a reference to mumiani, a substance supposedly made from human blood that lends its name to vampiric myths about white missionaries and soldiers who came looking for it.
1 A Giant, A Fictional Political Figurehead, & A Demonic Wizard Beat Up Nazis
Published in February 1941 under Quality Comics, National Comics #8 considerably predates DC Comics’ official rebranding. The issue contains a whopping eleven stories. Several rely on racist and sexist stereotypes, most concern the war, and three directly involve mythological creatures or beings. It’s a bizarre look back into the depths of DC’s past.
Taking it from the top, Uncle Sam, a fictional man from American myth, flies onto the battlefield to wail on Nazis. In another story, Merlin, the half-demon wizard of Arthurian legend, wears a business suit under his cloak in the modern age and feeds dictators to cyclops and sea serpents. Finally, the giant Paul Bunyan, another American myth, joins the war effort.
Next: 10 Best Ghost Stories In DC Comics
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