When it comes to the world of comic books, everyone has a general idea of what a superhero looks like. It's an average person, man or woman, who either has extraordinary powers or has the will to become a vigilante and fight for justice. Yet over the years the definition of hero has evolved and grown to reflect the complex nature of the universe as a whole.
Monsters, once used only as threats for the hero to stop, are now given character growth and context to make them heroes themselves. Here are the 10 best monsters who became heroes in comics.
10 Mobius The Living Vampire
This iconic monster who started out as a villain and became an anti-hero and tortured soul. That monster is Michael Morbius, otherwise known as Morbius the Living Vampire. A biologist, Michael experimented on himself in an attempt to cure his rare blood condition, and instead transformed himself into a vampiric creature.
Originally battling Spider-Man as one of his villains, Michael began a career as a vigilante and later joined supernatural warriors like Blade and Ghost Rider, and has even cooperated with SHIELD. He has gone back and forth between hero and villain.
9 Frankenstein’s Monster
The next monster to become a hero is actually a classic monster of literature, Frankenstein’s Monster. Referred to simply as Frankenstein in DC Comics, the creature was shown to survive his encounter with his maker from the end of the classic novel and swam to America. He would battle an immortal being known as Melmoth, the Ringmaster of the Circus of Maggots.
They battled time and again over the centuries until Frankenstein defeated him in the year 2005 on Mars. He later went on to join SHADE, a government agency led by Father Time, who would become a major villain.
8 Werewolf By Night
One classic Marvel monster who became a hero has to be Werewolf by Night, real name Jack Russoff, Jack learned on his 18th birthday the complex nature of his family and the curse of lycanthropy after his mother perished next to him in a car accident, organized by the villainous organization known as The Committee.
Jack would go on to live a life of travel very similar to Bruce Banner’s hulk, enduring the transformation on the full moon a couple days a month. He would encounter heroes like Blade, Moon Knight, Spider-Man, and Tigra, fighting villainous forces like Hydra.
Another major monster from DC Comics who has a history of traversing the line between good and evil has to be Dr. Kirk Langstrom, aka Man-Bat. The doctor’s history has been retconned a couple of times, but the general story involves Kirk inventing a serum to give people sonar-like hearing.
Instead, the serum transforms him into a Man-Bat creature. A sometimes villain of Batman, Kirk has worked before to be a force of good, helping Superman with Kryptonite radiation poisoning and even recently joining Justice League: Dark, always working to protect his wife Francine from his creation.
One of the most unique monsters to appear in Marvel Comics has to be FrankenCastle, a Frankenstein-like creature that brought Frank Castle back from the land of the dead. Otherwise known by his vigilante name The Punisher, Frank had his life ended and his body dismembered by Daken during the Dark Reign storyline, thus explaining his patchwork like reconfiguration by Morbius and the Legion of Monsters.
He joined the Legion to protect the innocents of Monster Metropolis from the Hunter of Monster Special Force. Afterward, he used the Bloodstone to heal himself and revert back to a human being.
5 Etrigan The Demon
One of the next heroes of the DC Universe who is a monster is Etrigan the Demon. The unique nature of this character is the fact that it's two entities in one body. Etrigan himself is the demon son of Belial, another demon, whose half-brother is none other than Merlin the Wizard.
Merlin bound Etrigan to the body and soul of one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, Jason Blood. Together they have fought for and against the Justice League, battling Morgaine le Fey and others while struggling with demonic and evil tendencies themselves.
Both DC and Marvel comics have a hero who is deeply connected to the supernatural and the natural order of the Earth’s magic. For Marvel, that hero is Man-Thing. Originally young biochemist Dr. Theodore “Ted” Sallis, Ted worked alongside others like Curt Connors and Dr. Barbara Morse to rebuild the Super Soldier formula that created Captain America.
When he was betrayed to the terrorist group AIM in the Florida Everglades, Ted injected his only vial of the serum he created into himself and destroyed his notes, before crashing into a swamp, mixing magic and science to create Man-Thing.
3 Killer Croc
One of the more tragic figures of DC Comics roster of villains who would become a villain has to be Waylon Jones, aka Killer Croc. A major Batman villain, Waylon had a rare form of atavism that gave him reptilian scales and traits, and after being subjected to psychological abuse at the hands of his Aunt who raised him, he became a monstrous criminal in Gotham.
Eventually, he's forced to join the Suicide Squad, and here he finds a calling as a sort of hero, befriending Harley Quinn and even in the Rebirth era falling in love with Enchantress.
2 Devil Dinosaur
One of the largest and most powerful monsters in the current Marvel Universe has to be Devil Dinosaur, of the parallel world Dinosaur World. Originally a companion of Moon Boy, the duo often fought the hostile forces of the Killer-Folk, a tribe native to their home world. Later however the two were transported to Earth for good.
After Moon Boy lost his life in the Savage Land fighting the Killer-Folk, Devil traveled to New York and met Lunella, the smartest person on 616 Earth and a 9-year old with the Inhuman gene. She would become Moon Girl.
1 Swamp Thing
The most powerful monster to become a hero in DC Comics has to be Swamp Thing. There have been many iterations of the character, but the most famous is Alec Holland, a biochemist in Louisiana who was attacked by thugs for a secret formula to solve food shortages, and perished in an explosion.
In the explosion, his body fell into the swamplands, where his formula interacts with local plant life to imbue his consciousness and memories into them. The plants reform into a human-like creature to become Swamp Thing. Alec works with John Constantine and the Justice League Dark.