The creature was first seen in one of the classic 1950s Universal monster movies – in 1954, specifically. It had two sequels before the decade was over.

This monster (also called the “Gill-Man”) is a minor horror icon, and thus often comes to mind when making references to classic monster mashes. It’s simple and it just works.


  • Real Name: N.A.
  • Marital Status: N.A.
  • Known Relatives: The African Lungfish.
  • Group Affiliation: N/A.
  • Base Of Operations: The Black Lagoon.
  • Height: 6’5” Weight: 300 lbs Age: Unknown.
  • Eyes: Yellow Hair: None


Powers and Abilities

The Gill Man is an amphibian. But it is only able to breathe surface air for a few minutes before returning to a watery habitat and reacts adversely to bright light.

The Gill Man is quite adept at moving in its natural aquatic environment. It has demonstrated a superhuman degree of strength, durability, and stamina. It’s even resistant to small-arms fire.

While the Gill Man is to all appearances not sapient , it is highly cunning and even intuitive.


The Creature from the Black Lagoon, more properly known as the Gill Man, is either the last remnant of a 15 million year old species, or has itself survived since the Devonian age .


The existence of the Gill Man was unknown to science. But eventually, archaeologist Dr. Carl Maia discovered an unprecedented skeletal hand with amphibian traits dated back to the Devonian period. Dr. Maia subsequently led an expedition down the Amazon River in search of a possible remnant of this hitherto-unknown species.

The expedition discovered an isolated lagoon branching off of the river. And this is how they came across the last of the Gill Men.


The Gill Man and the scientists quickly came into conflict. The scientists wished to capture it for study, and the Gill Man was willing to kill to stay free. Furthermore, it was captivated by Dr. Maia’s girlfriend and fellow scientist Kay Lawrence, and actually blocked off the expedition’s escape with an underwater log dam at the mouth of the lagoon.

The expedition managed to escape and even mistakenly believed that they had killed the Gill Man in the process (The Creature from the Black Lagoon).

A second, better-prepared expedition returned and actually captured the still-living Gill Man. They took it to a marine tourist park in Florida. There, it was subjected to behavioral experiments to tame it, using an electric cattle prod. The Gill Man eventually escaped its cruel imprisonment and returned to its home in the Amazon (Revenge of the Creature).

A third team tracked the Gill Man down again, only to accidentally burn it so severely in their capture attempt that its gills were singed off. This forced the Gill Man into a spontaneous mutation. Its lungs adapted to breathe air instead of water and its appearance began to become more streamlined, closer to human.

The Gill Man experienced great distress at being involuntarily exiled from its home and spent long hours simply staring at the sea.

The Gill man also had the misfortune of witnessing the perfidy of the corrupt individuals who held it and their victimization of others. In the end, the Gill Man escaped and choose to return to the depths, knowing that it would drown. It preferred death in the sea to life on the land (The Creature Walks Among Us).


Despite its amphibian biology, the Gill Man actually looks more like a humanoid iguana than anything else. That is less true for its head, which has a distinct ichthyic countenance.

The Gill Man had a slight dorsal crest running down its back, forking to run down the backs of its legs. It has large webbed hands. While out of the water, the gill flaps on its neck expanded and contracted with its breaths.

Detailed medical examination will reveal that the Gill Man shares qualities of both marine and mammalian life. For example, its blood is composed of 35% white corpuscles, placing it “halfway between fish and man”. And the Gill Man’s amphibian scales cover a mammalian epidermis.


The Gill Man’s goals are very simple : get fish to eat, be left alone. Though he killed several people in the course of the trilogy, he only attacked those who were a threat to him or had previously hurt him in some way.

Like any other unattached monster, it has a fascination for beautiful human women. It will try to kidnap any it comes across, but it won’t hurt them and will actually become very protective. A Gill Man will even endanger itself to keep her safe.

DC Universe History

The Gill Man could be a royal Atlantean sorceror who was part of Kordax’s family line. He would have gone a bit too far while using his magic to protect Atlantis from a major crisis. He succumbed to his bloodline’s curse, which mutates those who abuse the power to control undersea life.

The curse manifested itself in a slightly-different manner than usual. The Gill Man did not become evil, but he did devolve into an animal intelligence.

He is now shunned by the same Atlanteans he saved because his curse is an unpleasant reminder of their sordid past. Yet he still instinctively intervenes to protect Atlanteans in danger. In this case, it might be interesting to add — in DC Heroes RPG terms — a 4-6 APs of Animal Control (Marine Life Only).

Another possibility is to use the stats above as a template for a Creature Commando. The modern Tim Truman Creature Commando mini-series even had a cameo of a Gill Man soldier. In this case, one simply needs to remove the Nonsapient Drawback and replace the Mental and Mystical stats with those appropriate to a superhero.

Secret Age, part 1

In a combined DC/Marvel Universe that uses Kansas Jim’s proposed Secret Age (set after the House of Un-American Activities Committee forced the JSA and other heroes underground), Namor left the surface world soon after WWII, returning to Atlantis. He found out that the Emperor had died in his absence and that his fully Atlantean brother, Kartek, who had taken the title of King.

Kartek was resentful of Namor’s fame, and believed his tales of the surface men’s now-hostile attitude was a ploy to keep others from building the same advantageous relationships with humanity that Namor had. Thus, the familiar tale of two brothers battling for control of Atlantis began anew.

By 1950, Kartek had grown so jealous over his brother’s popularity that he secretly contacted USN Captain Strom, hoping to engage in renewed relations with the surface. Kartek’s speeches about building “new communal relations” convinced Strom that the Atlanteans were Godless Communists. As a result, he assembled a secret submarine force to destroy Atlantis.

Namor discovered his brother’s secret negotiations and tried to convince him of his folly. But Kartek just accused him of attempting to subvert the King’s leadership. Then the submarine attack began, and Kartek realized his folly.

He drove his ability to control sealife to its utmost, and destroyed the naval attack force, preventing the destruction of Atlantis as well as killing every surface-dweller that knew its location.

Secret Age, part 2

Kartek’s victory came at a terrible price — the curse of Kordax. From this point, the Gill Man’s fate proceeds just as described above for the standard DCU. Namor was sickened by what had happened and left Atlantis to roam the seas.

A few years after Namor left Atlantis, the newly-appointed Emperor exiled a blond-haired baby named Orin, fearful of the curse which had time again brought ruin to Atlantis. This child would grow into the hero known as Aquaman.

As an interesting historical note, Admiral Strom’s body was recovered by a secretive alien race that used him as the template for an android spy in the United States Navy. The aliens’ recent attempt to conquer the seas was foiled by Aquaman and an assemblage of other undersea heroes, whom the Gill Man might have assisted.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Dex: 03 Str: 07 Bod: 06 Motivation: Survival
Int: 01 Wil: 02 Min: 02 Occupation: N/A
Inf: 02 Aur: 01 Spi: 02 Resources {or Wealth}: N/A
Init: 006 (009) HP: 010

Skin Armor: 02, Swimming: 05, Ultra Vision: 04, Water Freedom: 06

Area Knowledge (Black Lagoon), Scholar (Oceanography), Slowed Aging.

Area Knowledge also allows the Gill Man to find his way back to the Black Lagoon from distant locations.

Attack Vulnerability (-1CS to RV vs. Flash), Fatal/Loss Vulnerability (Lack of Water Immersion, All Physical Attributes and Powers, after 8 APs (10 minutes) of time), Miscellaneous (Non-sapient), SIA (Attractive Human Women), Strange Appearance.

By Roy Cowan.

Source of Character: The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature, The Creature Walks Among Us (movie trilogy).

Helper(s): Vinnie, John Colagioia, Jackson, Sébastien Andrivet, historical and statistical information from Universal .