(Golden Age material) (part #1)
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy.
Solomon Grundy is a notable DC Comics character.
He first appeared in 1944, and was one of Green Lantern (Alan Scott)’s most noteworthy enemies.
His name comes from an English nursery rhyme of the 1800s, used to teach the days of the week. No, I won’t be singing it.
(The name reportedly comes from “salmagundi”. Which is apparently derived from the French “salmigondis” (a mix of leftover meats, plus whatever’s handy that would go well with those), after that word was used to describe a Jamaican dish. But I’m always wary when it comes to such etymologies).
Men with large feet also have a large footprint
Grundy appeared four times during the 1940s. This is somewhat notable for a non-Batman, non-Superman villain.
Writer Roy Thomas brought him back during the 1980s, as part of his work to refurbish and revitalise largely forgotten 1940s super-hero comic book material.
This in turn led to something of a Grundy resurgence during the 1990s and beyond.
One suspects this is because Grundy can easily be used in a Hulk-like role. As a nearly elemental brickA character with superior strength and endurance, but usually (not always) lacking in mobility. with horror elements. Though Grundy draws more from Frankenstein’s Monster than the Hulk does, and has no Jekyll/Hyde component.
(And has a much stronger “oh, vagrants are so scary” vibe than the Hulk ever did).
This profile covers Solomon Grundy’s appearances during the 1940s – his Golden AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. material.
The character changed and evolved a fair bit, so it’s best to cover him in smaller slices.
I’ve added a few notes about Grundy material that appears later. But it’s more a “before I forget” thing. It’s def not a comprehensively researched review of later material.
This article is a bit too long to be presented in one go – since most folks read this on smartphones. So it’s presented as two small articles for convenience.
- Real Name: N.A..
- Known Relatives: N.A..
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base of Operations: Slaughter Swamp (near Gotham City).
- Height: 7’5″ (2.26m). Weight: 517 lbs. (235 Kg.).
- Eyes: White. Hair: White.
Powers & Abilities
Solomon Grundy is nearly invulnerable. He can completely ignore bullets, fire, tear gas, etc..
He’s even immune to Green Lantern (Alan Scott)’s power ring. Because Grundy’s body incorporates rotting wood, and Alan’s ring can’t affect wood.
His body is made of random bits of dead swamp flora. This suggests that he doesn’t have a physiology per se, or vital needs.
- Green Lantern states that Grundy doesn’t breathe.
- He seemed impervious to fatigue.
- It is strongly implied that he doesn’t need to eat or drink.
Grundy is superhumanly strong. He could tear a 1940s bank vault door free from its hinges.
Yet Green Lantern — an exceptionally strong and beefy man — could survive one of his blows without having to be hospitalised. However, even Alan will be knocked out and probably concussed with a single punch.
In a melee, Solomon Grundy is quite fast and accurate. He fought the Lantern on a somewhat equal standing.
During his 1947 return, Grundy was observably less strong. He was about on the level of a “Class 10” character, such as Spider-Man (Peter Parker).
But that remained sufficient to destroy most man-made obstacles with his bare hands. Say, wrenching reinforcing steel doors from a wall after partially bending them.
In 1947, Grundy was driven by “distorted instincts” that allowed him to track Green Lantern. This was a plot device to expedite the story, but perhaps prolonged exposure to green energy temporarily endowed him with an ability to detect it.
It is repeatedly stated that Solomon Grundy cannot die. This — conflated with his invulnerability — is his main hook as a nightmarish, unstoppable creature.
During the 1890s, one Cyrus Gold was murdered near Gotham City.
The murder site, Slaughter Swamp, was soon rumoured to be haunted by his ghost. The body was never found, and locals gave Slaughter Swamp a wide berth.
(Gotham isn’t a retconMaking changes to a character or story after the fact.. Grundy appears in a 1944 adventure of Green Lantern (Alan Scott), at which point Mr. Scott is already stated to operate in Gotham City).
Alan Scott theorised that, over 50 years, rotting wood, leaves and the like became packed between Gold’s bones. And that “an incredible biological miracle”, likely involving a reaction to sunlight, turned this into an improbable form of animated life.
(The concept would get reused during the early 1970s, with the Man-Thing and the Swamp Thing. But it preceded Solomon Grundy, as the Heap (Baron von Emmelman) appeared in 1942).
Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home
In 1944, two escaped convicts tried to hide in Slaughter Swamp. They ran into a ghastly, invulnerable creature. The thing killed them and took their clothes.
The creature then stumbled upon camping hobos, and seemingly killed their leader. The drifters acclaimed the monster as their new boss, to convince him to take them on a robbing spree so they wouldn’t starve anymore.
One of the few random things the swamp creature remembered about itself was that it had been born on a Monday. The hobos therefore nicknamed him “Solomon Grundy”.
(Hobos were subcultures of penniless workers, moving across the country in search of jobs by illegally hopping aboard freight trains. This population peaked during the 1930s, due to the Great Depression. But by 1944 their numbers were about to sharply drop, thanks to the post-war boom, Great Compression and pro-labour policies).
In brightest day…
The gang, armed with a fake pistol, robbed a sporting goods store to get actual firearms. This worked in large part because Grundy was so scary.
It soon became clear that neither the GCPD nor Green Lantern could stop him. This greatly encouraged the gang, who chained its hold-ups and robberies.
Green Lantern confronted Grundy a second time. Scott only survived thanks to an odd interaction between his ring and his nearby magic lamp. He was left concussed.
Nevertheless, in a haze, he made a third attempt.
… in darkest night
During this brawl, Scott managed to flip Grundy and throw him behind him, with a messy combination of kick and supplex. As it happened, an express steam train was passing right next to them.
Grundy was hit by the train and didn’t come back. But it was unclear whether he had been slain or simply carried away.
(That Grundy is taken away by a train could be a minable angle. If you’re one of the two persons interested in a reading of Solomon Grundy as a metaphor about the fear of hobos.)
In 1945, a gang led by the self-proclaimed Baron of York located Grundy’s remains. He had been smashed into the ground by the train, and had been inert and buried ever since.
The Baron was an impoverished, embittered, not necessarily sane academic polymath. His theory was that “concentrated chlorophyll” could revive the flora-like Grundy, and he had prepared such a serum.
However, Green Lantern (Alan Scott) was alerted about this by one of the Tibetan wise men who had given him his magic lantern. The sages considered that Solomon Grundy was “your world’s greatest menace”.
But the Baron revived Grundy in time, and the creature easily defeated Green Lantern and “Doiby” Dickles.
Crime wave #2
Grundy’s second crime wave was comparable to the first. But he and the Baron’s gang hit multiple cities and kept moving. As before, no police force could stop Solomon Grundy.
(There’s a confusing panel that implies that Gotham is on the West Coast. Let’s assume instead that the crime wave cut a swath through New Jersey rather than across the entire US of A.).
During that panic, at least one gang fielded a thug disguised as Solomon Grundy, riding hidden stilts. But Johnny Thunder defeated this impostor.
Gang of New York
The Baron’s goal was to become the feudal lord of New York, as he insisted he was the genuine heir of York. No, that made no sense. Also, York is a duchy.
The gang invaded New York City via the George Washington Bridge. But while on the bridge, Solomon Grundy murdered the professor, and claimed that *he* was now the Baron of New York, ha-ha-ha !
The bridge was deserted. It is possible that the island had been partially evacuated.
Alan Scott and “Doiby” Dickles then came in. They determined that the chlorophyll-infused Solomon Grundy :
- Now was somewhat vulnerable to the effects of Alan’s ring. Presumably, he now “counted” less as wood, and more as grass, leaves and the like.
- Now breathed, but in the same way that plants do.
Confused that he now could be harmed, Solomon Grundy fled. He ran all the way to Arizona (!) – specifically the Petrified Forest National Park . But in his new state, he could experience fatigue.
Scott trapped him in a green bubble, which Grundy was by then too tired to smash. He breathed all the carbon dioxide within, then seemingly became inert.
The chlorophyll drained away, leaving him all white and petrified – like the nearby plant fossils.
Solomon Grundy lost his chlorophyll, but didn’t actually go inert. He reverted to his previous, white state. However, he seemed weaker now — too weak to burst the green bubble.
Eventually, a stray lightning bolt shattered the force structure.
Craving revenge, Grundy jogged all the way back to New York. He was spotted near New York City, triggering a national police warning.
The revenge of Solomon Grundy !
The Justice Society thought that Grundy had captured, and likely killed, Green Lantern. They split up to intercept the creature, but none — not Hawkman, not Doctor Mid-Nite, not the Flash, not the Atom — could prevail.
Meanwhile, Green Lantern tracked down the creature. He too was losing his fight when the others came in. But even the whole Society could barely keep Solomon Grundy pinned down, as Johnny didn’t summon his Thunderbolt.
Green Lantern eventually pushed himself. He trapped the creature in a bubble and dropped him on the Moon. That was the only way to keep Earth safe from Solomon Grundy.
The case of the withered flower
Solomon Grundy returned within mere months. He had “learned secrets” on the Moon (?). He now :
- No longer was super-strong, though he was still assumed to be unkillable.
- Was markedly smarter, craftier – but also uncharacteristically cowardly.
- Could use the “secret of anti-gravity” for teleportation. If observed using a telescope or similar, he could project himself to that device by “riding the light waves”.
- Could morphImpossibly shifting into another form. into the perfect duplicate of another person he held captive. But this didn’t register on photographs.
- Somehow had access to information he couldn’t have known. Say, that an astronomer was observing him on the Moon using a telescope, and that man’s family secret. Some sort of telepathic sense, perhaps.
He pretty much was a different character. This sort of discrepancy would be rationalised, decades later, by revealing that Grundy recreated himself after each defeat.
When an astronomer spotted him on the Moon, Solomon Grundy teleported to Earth and captured this man.
He somehow knew that this was Richard Cashmere, the long-lost heir of a millionaire. He kept Cashmere captive and passed himself for him. Then he contacted the elder Mr. Cashmere, to establish his inheritance then murder both Cashmeres.
When a photographer took a shot of “Dick Cashmere”, the disguised Grundy threw a tantrum and smashed his camera. He then followed him and murdered him, to steal the photograph showing his true form.
(The plot point about the photo is reminiscent of the Monster (Jason Rogers)).
This alerted Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and “Doiby” Dickles. They pieced the mystery together, saving the Cashmeres in the nick of time.
Solomon Grundy attempted to flee, but GL encased him in a bullet-shaped green field, and shot him deep under the earth.
This article continues in its second half.
Source of Character: DC Comics found on the back seat of Goitrude.
Helper(s): Doiby Dickles, Darci.
Writeup completed on the 17th of August, 2022.