Wednesday, October 7, 2015

They're Changing... Changing!

Marvel heroes have been known for their incredible changes and transformations in their time, whether in shape, size, form, or a radical shift in appearance--some of them impressive, a few of them head-scratchers, and maybe some which fell into the "you've got to be kidding me" category. Off the top of your head, what are some of the more memorable transformations that occur to you when looking back at Marvel's characters?

As for myself:

...well, you've probably already guessed that I couldn't stop with just Gorilla Man.

Perhaps one of the pioneers of memorable changes in physical appearance had to be the size-changing abilities of Henry Pym, whether as the Ant-Man:

...or, later, Giant-Man.  (Et al.)

But since size-changing doesn't really fall into the category of transformations, there's always old age to fall back on.  There have been a few characters who transformed into much older versions of themselves--such as the Fantastic Four, or Captain America, or even Pym himself.

Cap has also been transformed in the reverse direction, as when he was investigating a disappearing persons case.

Donald Blake's transformation into Thor has always been way cool to me. Here, artist Jack Kirby offers two versions of the change--the very first transformation, slowed down for effect, and the second where Blake's gnarled cane seems to have been sanded down a heck of a lot.

Though Thor's most startling transformation would have made even Batroc green with envy. But not as green as Thor.

Naturally, there's the more than memorable transformation of Marvel Girl into a character that would soon have the universe as her playground.

Though as far as the X-Men were concerned, Hank McCoy had them all beat when he isolated the chemical cause of mutation and decided to try it on himself:

Aside from Ant-Man, those characters of the insect persuasion were well-represented in undergoing shocking transformations. For example, the Wasp, who transformed into a form twice as eye-catching as Janet Van Dyne:

...while Spider-Man has at times become more spider than man.

There are of course, like Thor, the more classic transformations which stand out to this day. The incredible Hulk:

The tragic Thing:

And... the Falcon!?

(All right, maybe the Falcon is one of the more "you've got to be kidding" choices.)

And then there's ... (sigh) ... the all-new, all-spectral Vision.

Well, Vision, to answer your final question: "If it ain't broke," pal.


Anonymous said...

General Thunderbolt Ross becoming the Red Hulk. Betty Ross as the Harpy and the Red She-Hulk (both the Red Hulk and the Red She-Hulk are currently cured thanks to the Hulk a.k.a. Doctor Green). Does Doctor Octopus becoming Spider-Man (in Superior Spider-Man) count - it's not really a transformation as such. Aunt May as the herald of Galactus hee, hee.

david_b said...

Believe it or not, that ish CA&F 164 was my first Cap comic in several years (first comic of my 'active newsstand collecting', not just 'a 5yr old sick in bed' and Dad brings home comics..).

I didn't quite know what to make of Cap and Falc in that issue, but Alan Weiss did a pretty bang-up job for a 'one issue' stint.

I found out later it was quite a difference from the existing storyline, but nevertheless pretty cool.

Comicsfan said...

Both Aunt May and the Harpy are excellent examples, Colin. As for Ross, I can't help but be curious as to how he's now living with the fact that he spent time as a creature he'd once pursued as a soldier. That pic probably won't be going on his mantel anytime soon.

david, that's a fair topic for discussion at some point: What was your first issue of a comic featuring [INSERT CHARACTER HERE], and what did you think of it? You can find my own under the "1st issue" tag here at the PPOC.

Anonymous said...

Truly, turning back into a teenager is the most horrifying transformation of all! Have you ever taken a close look at one of those things? They're monsters, I tell ya.
I get the willies just thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

CF, Thunderbolt Ross loved being the Red Hulk and was forcibly cured against his will - he's now under military arrest and is probably itching to be the Red Hulk again. Who knows what will happen in the "All-New All-Different" (that's the official description) post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe - the Red Hulk might soon be back - that's why I carefully said he was "currently cured" :)

Warren JB said...

Don't start on the Red Hulk - one of my biggest bugbears about current superhero comics, and a big factor in giving them up. But not for the reasons of most Red Hulk complainers: I thought he was one of the best characters (or iterations of a character) Marvel had produced in a long time!

Granted, Jeph Loeb's characterisation and twists from 'Rulk's' debut up to his defeat in World War Hulks/Fall of the Hulks, were not that great. I don't blame people for a little grumbling about that. But Jeff Parker's literal and figurative rehabilitation of Ross were fantastic.
It started off with Ross in SHIELD custody, and otherwise unable to return to his old life thanks to his 'death' (thanks to a Ross-shaped LMD) and the Hulk's threat of exposing him to a charge of treason. (More on that later) After being given some time-out to think about his actions, Banner and Steve Rogers (someone Ross genuinely respects) convince him to help foil the Intelligencia's scorched-earth plans, triggered by their defeat, and that's where it begins. Over the rest of the Hulk title's run, he's given some payback by characters he licked too easily before (Iron Man, Thor, etc.); learns what it's like to be hounded by the military (as you say); what it's like to be feared; what it's like to be a hero, defending people (though to be fair, in all his two-dimensional Hulk-hating history, I felt his motivation was saving people from the Hulk. I believe the 'jealousy' justification as much as I believe it for Jameson vs. Spider-Man) and even that those people can be grateful to have a big, powerful monster around. (The twister incident. Let's see if these linky-dinks work)

During all this he connected with his minders (LMDs as they may have been); reconnected with Betty; rediscovered himself and his own, pre-Hulk-obsession past; risked his life and even came to some (grudging) terms with Banner. His inclusion in the Avengers may have been a little abrupt, but I thought that after all the trials he'd been through as Rulk-making-good, it cemented this brave new direction for the character of Thunderbolt Ross, away from the tired Captain Ahab schtick of the last fifty years. And I thought an intelligent Hulk with some notion of combined arms was a much better fit for the Avengers than certain among their founding members.

And then they threw it all away.

The Hulk title was taken over by Red She-Hulk. Rulk was shifted to the new Thunderbolts, and there he was shoehorned right back into shady, nefarious deeds and destructive obsessions. To the point that even Elektra and the Punisher condemned him as a 'murderer' - which, of course, they weren't. I was pretty aghast at that one.

When he was arbitrarily depowered during the execrable 'Doc Green' arc, I was pretty torn in my feelings. Mostly that the potential was squandered (despite what the Rulk-haters said, the difference between the Hulks wasn't just that one was green and one was red) and there was nothing Marvel couldn't screw up, but that it also felt like a mercy-killing, in some way.

It didn't help that 'Doc Green's' final insult was to give him up to the authorities, vis-à-vis those treason charges. It might have been inevitable, with no more Red Hulk persona to hide behind, but it seemed unnecessarily petty. 'A slap in the face' might be too hyperbolic a statement, but that's the term that comes to mind most readily.

Maybe Red Hulk will be back again, some day, as Colin says (After all: Bucky, Gwen Stacey, Norman Osborn, Jean Grey, Hank Pym, etc. etc.) but I can't say I'm on the edge of my seat to see how they might eff him up a second time.