101 This Is A Tale Of Solomon Grundy
by Simon Brown
For years Solomon Grundy has been a mainstay of the DCU, menacing the JSA, the JLA, Superman, Infinity Inc, and most recently Starman. However, he started life as a Green Lantern villain in All American Comics #61, way back in October 1944, and since this month has a Golden Age theme, I thought I'd recap that story.
At the beginning of the tale, two prison escapes are hiding in the haunted Slaughter Swamp. They're talking about the legend of the ghost of Cyrus Gold, who was said to have been murdered in the swamp 50 years ago when a giant form rises from the mire. The criminals shoot the figure, but the bullets have no effect. The next day, a Tuesday, the creature turns up at a hobo campsite, wearing the prison clothes from one of his attackers. They ask him his name, and he says he has no name. However (in true golden age style) he offers that he was born on Monday. One of the hobos recalls the nursery rhyme of Solomon Grundy who was born on a Monday. The creature likes this name, and adopts it. The hobos make him there leader and move into town with the intention to resume their life of crime.
Their first target is a sports store, where they steal guns and ammunition. In the store is Alan Scott who attacks them with a golf club, but runs from the store when they start shooting. The police arrive and start shooting at Grundy, but their bullets have no effect on the monster. Alan then returns in his 'other' identity of Green Lantern, aided by his friend Doiby Dickles. Together they take out the hoods, but when Grundy turns on them, he clobbers Green Lantern and manages to resist the power ring. Doiby helps Green Lantern home where they hear on the radio that Grundy dropped a silver ring with Cyrus Gold's name engraved on it.
The gang sweep through the city, robbing one place after another until Green Lantern and Doiby eventually catch up with them. Green Lantern confronts them, but Grundy knocks him unconscious and throws him out a window. The ring and the lamp work together to cushion GL's fall, but he is left unconscious, and Doiby leaves him at the apartment while he goes out to look for the gang.
Eventually Lantern wakes, and in a stupor staggers through the city looking for the gang, until he eventually hears Doiby's voice at the train yard. He then awakes from his daze, and realises that he's left his ring behind in his confusion. Regardless he rushes to save Doiby, and together they overcome the crooks. However, it's still up to Green Lantern to overcome Solomon Grundy, and the pair wrestle until GL is able to push Grundy in front of an oncoming train.
Lantern realises that Grundy had Cyrus Gold's ring because the Gold's skeleton lay in the swamp, and on top of the bones wood and leaves formed to create Grundy. As the power-ring was powerless against wood, so it was powerless against Grundy.
Heading Home, Doiby mentions how relieved he is that they'll never see Grundy again, but Green Lantern isn't so sure .
So, there is the beginning of Solomon Grundy, an enduring villain who has been a favourite for many years, from his beginnings on Earth-2, moving across to Earth-1 to look for his counterpart, menacing all sorts of hero groups, and as I mentioned before, recently appearing in Starman with Sentinel and Batman. Always an interesting character, I'm hoping to see more of Grundy in the years to come!