Solomon Grundy is a fictional character, a zombie supervillain in the DC Comics Universe and as an antihero in the DC Animated Universe. Named after the 19th century nursery rhyme, Grundy was introduced as an enemy of the Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott), but has since become a prominent enemy for a number of superheroes, such as Superman and Batman. He also has ties to DC/Vertigo's Swamp Thing character, vital in the sprout storyline (Swamp Thing #66 November 1987). He first appeared in All-American Comics #61 (October 1944). Solomon Grundy is one of the earliest if not the first depiction of a zombie in the comic medium.
Grundy is the focus of one of the four Faces of Evil one-shots that explore the aftermath of Final Crisis, written by Scott Kolins and Geoff Johns, with art by Shane Davis. It is the introduction to a seven part mini-series featuring the character.
The miniseries depicted a young Cyrus Gold brought to life in the present by The Spectre and The Phantom Stranger. Their goal is for Gold to identify his killer within seven days so that he can rest and thus destroy Solomon Grundy. Etrigan is trying to take him to Hell, instead.
Gold has a habit of getting killed. No matter how much damage is done to his body, he resurrects as a complete Solomon Grundy, driven to kill. Killer Croc attacks him, then Bizarro attempts to be his friend. He attacks Green Lantern Alan Scott and Harlequin in their house, destroying it, temporarily destroying the power battery as well. He seemingly kills Poison Ivy. He then kills Amazo, who rebuilds himself as "Amazo-Grundy." Ultimately he is brought down by Frankenstein just as he realizes that he was his own killer. Finally, he is brought back to life as a Black Lantern.
Fictional character biography
Earth-Two version's history
In the late 19th century, a wealthy merchant named Cyrus Gold is murdered and his body disposed of in Slaughter Swamp, near Gotham City. Fifty years later, the corpse is reanimated as a huge shambling figure (composed partly of the swamp matter that has accumulated around the body over the decades) with almost no memory of its past life. Gold murders two escaped criminals who are hiding out in the marsh and steals their clothes. He shows up in a hobo camp and, when asked about his name, one of the few things he can recall is that he was "born on a Monday". One of the men at the camp mentions the nursery rhyme character Solomon Grundy (who was born on a Monday), and Gold adopts the moniker.
Strong, vicious, and nearly mindless, Solomon Grundy falls into a life of crime—or, perhaps returns to one as his scattered residual memories may indicate—attracting the attention of the Green Lantern, Alan Scott. Grundy proves to be a difficult opponent, unkillable (since he is already dead) and with an inherent resistance to Scott's powers (which cannot affect wood, a substance of which Grundy's reassembled body is now largely composed). He apparently kills Green Lantern, who gives off a green flash. Liking this flash, Grundy commits murders hoping to see the flash again. However the first fight ends when Grundy is hurled under a train by Green Lantern.
Grundy is revived when a criminal scientist, known as the Professor, injects Grundy with concentrated chlorophyll. After this second encounter Grundy is trapped in a green plasma bubble for a time, until a freak weather occurrence releases him from his prison. Making his way across country, Grundy heads for JSA HQ. Meanwhile, Green Lantern arrives early for the meeting, when there is a knock on the door. He opens the door and gasps, "You!" Later, when the other members arrive, they find their HQ smashed to pieces and one of their members, G.L., missing from the ranks. Johnny turns on the radio, which blares the warning that Solomon Grundy is on the loose; the members believe, based on a large, muddy footprint on the floor, that Grundy got to HQ and took Green Lantern. The radio continues its report, listing cities where Grundy was seen, so each member picks a city and heads for it [Wonder Woman staying behind] to try to find Green Lantern. The scene now shifts back to the moment at JSA HQ where Green Lantern had opened the door. To his surprise, Doiby Dickles walks in, and informs him that Grundy has freed himself and is on the loose. Green Lantern leaves immediately, hoping to find Grundy before any of the JSA members are hurt going after him. Minutes later, Grundy arrives at JSA HQ, and, not finding the Lantern there, he smashes the place up, then leaves. Green Lantern and Doiby use a special radio-like device Alan Scott had developed that is attuned to the mental wavelengths of Grundy himself; Green Lantern calculates the path of Grundy and announces over the radio in JSA HQ where Grundy will strike. When Green Lantern and Grundy meet, Grundy rips a tree out by its roots and smashes it into the Lantern. Green Lantern fights back with his power ring and fists until both men fall into a nearby stream and over a small waterfall. The Lantern is severely dazed and tries to ward off Grundy with his ring, but he is much too weak. Grundy grabs Green Lantern by the throat and begins to squeeze the life out of him, holding his head underwater. However, Hawkman strikes Grundy with his mace, and Mid-Nite is able to revive the Lantern. A combined attack brings down Grundy, and Green Lantern deposits Grundy on the moon.
A battle soon commences when Grundy's body gravitates towards young astronomer Dick Cashmere as he learns to ride light waves, resulting in his assuming Cashmere's identity for a time while leaving the real one bound and gagged, though the Society finds him soon after. In this incarnation he gains intelligence he subsequently loses when Green Lantern defeats and buries Grundy in 1947.
At this point, he is pulled back to 1941 by the time-traveling criminal Per Degaton, who has enlisted the aid of several supervillains to capture the Justice Society of America on December 7, 1941 (the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor), hoping to change history enabling him to take over the World though he does not want the heroes involved, and tells Grundy he will be able to destroy Green Lantern. However Degaton is planning to get rid of him once his plan succeeds. He encountered Green Lantern, the Flash, and Wonder Woman in Echo Park. None of the heroes have fought Grundy yet the villain claims to have fought them before. Grundy bests the costumed trio and is summoned by a mysterious voice to deliver them or "pay the penalty." The All-Star Squadron comes to their rescue, Sir Justin faces off against Solomon Grundy and Grundy is the last villain to be transported back, he is thrust back to the moon where he remains for over two decades, as this timeline is erased once Degaton is defeated.
Grundy eventually masters the use of stored up emerald energy he has absorbed over the years from his several battles with his arch-foe, and returns to Earth to battle Green Lantern, Hourman, and Doctor Fate. At this point, he has temporary mastery over all wooden objects. He subsequently loses this power over time. He is imprisoned in a bubble in space made by Green lantern and Doctor Fate.
He was once pulled to Earth-1 and substituted for the superstrong Blockbuster due to a machine that was accidentally pulling the Earths together in warp-space and substituting people. During this event he had absorbed some of Dr Fate's magic, is stronger than before, and is even able to telekinetically lift the Flash into the air. He hates Green Lantern so much he thinks everyone he sees is Green Lantern. He is imprisoned inside a mountain by Earth-1 Green Lantern after being lifted up by Earth-1 Hawkman and dazed by blows from all the heroes, but when the machine is turned off he is substituted for Blockbuster on Earth-2 and renews the attack, defeating numerous heroes. However the JSA and JLA went to battle an Anti-Matter being that was threatening both Earths in Warp-Space after being summoned by Doctor Fate, who had sensed the threat due to the Spectre. To occupy the villains Green Lantern placed them together to occupy them, as the heroes return they find Grundy and Blockbuster have knocked the hate out of each other. He is then taken back to his Earth by the Justice Society.
He is briefly a member of the Injustice Society of the World. In the interim, he battles the combined might of both the Justice Society, and later their counterparts the Justice League, nearly to a standstill at Slaughter Swamp, when he develops an affection for a lost alien child who has accidentally been sent to Earth-2 and is dying due to separation from his pet. His magic even enables him to defeat Superman. The alien child is finally reunited with his pet and sent back to his own dimension. Soon after, Grundy crosses over from his Slaughter Swamp prison on Earth-2 to Earth-1 where he encounters that Earth's Superman (see more details below).
Grundy goes on to afflict Green Lantern and his teammates, including the Huntress who is the first female for whom he develops an affection. After Solomon Grundy is rescued from a glacier by Alan Scott's daughter, Jade, Grundy becomes loyal to her and, for a while, is an ally of Infinity, Inc. Eventually, this affectionate relationship turns tragic as the villainous Marcie Cooper, a.k.a. Harlequin of the Dummy's Injustice Unlimited, uses her illusion powers to disguise herself as Jade. Harlequin manipulates Grundy to attack the members of Infinity Inc., one by one. She convinces him to press the unconscious Mister Bones' bare hand against Skyman; since Bones's skin constantly exudes a cyanide-based compound, this quickly leads to Skyman's death. Once Grundy found out that Marcie had duped him, he savagely beat her within an inch of her life. This is the beginning of the end for Infinity Inc., and for Grundy's quasi-heroic career.
Earth-One version's history
The Earth-One Grundy arises when the Parasite uses an enhanced crystal to metabolically hasten the growth of residual cells left over in the sewers from when the original version had crossed over from Earth-2, which becomes a new, much more bestial version. During a clash with Superman, it is determined that his might is too much for the Man of Steel, so Superman flies the monster to an alien world inhospitable to all save the hardiest life forms. There, under the planet's reduced gravity, the Earth-1 Grundy is appeased when Superman gives him a cape to wear as the zombie propels himself through the air mimicking his one-time adversary.
This version repeatedly plagues Superman for years until, during an encounter wherein multiple Grundys are spawned, Superman and the Swamp Thing both encounter the clones. Soon, Superman obtains a compound from S.T.A.R. Labs which causes the Grundys to become inert, in effect killing the seemingly unkillable man-thing. Swamp Thing attempts to cry out for Superman to stop, as he believes Grundy to meet the definition of life, but Swamp Thing is unable to express this, due to physical difficulty in speaking. This version of Grundy returns one final time, without explanation, leading a gang in the Earth-One Gotham City. He is apparently destroyed yet again when Batman tricks the creature into a blast furnace, where it is apparently consumed by the flames.
This version of Grundy was retroactively erased from history after the revamping of Superman in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Green Lantern and Solomon Grundy clash many times over the years, though he also squares off against other DC heroes. One storyline (Batman: The Long Halloween, #12) involves Grundy and a newly disfigured Harvey Dent striking up an odd friendship after Dent escapes to the sewers to plot his revenge on Carmine Falcone. Grundy also appears early in the story while Batman pursues one of the suspects who bombed Dent's house into the sewers during Thanksgiving. Grundy attacks both of them, but Batman drives him off by blinding him with a shot of mace. Later, as a somewhat humorous twist in the The Long Halloween, Batman provides Solomon Grundy with a Thanksgiving dinner.
After Infinity, Inc. disbands, Solomon Grundy loses his loyalty towards Jade. A clash with Alan Scott and Jade in the pages of Green Lantern Corps Quarterly ends with Grundy turning into a statue of petrified wood. The heroes believe the threat of Grundy to have ended once and for all, but they are mistaken. Shortly thereafter, Grundy reappears in Gotham in the pages of Batman: Shadow of the Bat, battling Batman once again and killing the female descendant of one of the killers of Cyrus Gold.
Grundy's next major appearance is in Starman, lurking in Opal City's sewers. Jack Knight befriends Grundy, who has become innocent and childlike. Grundy also becomes friends with previous Starman Mikaal Tomas, and dies while sacrificing himself to save Jack Knight from being crushed by a collapsing building. When Grundy appears again, he has returned to his malicious persona; the joint efforts of Jack Knight, Batman, Alan Scott, and The Floronic Man are needed to stop him.
The origins of Grundy's resurrection come from the fact that the Parliament of Trees, a high council of Plant Elementals, tried to turn him into the newest Plant Elemental. However, the process was missing one vital piece: fire, as a Plant Elemental cannot be fully created unless it died in flames. Since Grundy's death did not involve fire at all, the process is not complete, and he becomes a sort of half-functional Plant Elemental. Grundy has been seemingly destroyed on several occasions, only to rise from the swamp again in a new incarnation. Each version of Grundy has been somewhat different from the last, depending on the medium used to dispatch him (and the drawing style of the current artist. The original Grundy, for example, had prominent front teeth). Some have been truly evil; some much less so. Some versions are more mindless than others; some are actually moderately intelligent, recalling the literate, well-spoken monster of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Grundy hides out for a time in the Arrowcave, the long abandoned former headquarters of the Emerald Archer, Green Arrow. While searching for artifacts of his former life, Oliver and his former ward, Roy "Arsenal" Harper, stumble onto Grundy's new hideout. The story, "Grundy No Like Arrows in the Face!", is found in Green Arrow (vol. 3) #18. Green Arrow notes that this version seems much more violent, and manages to kill him by choking him with the string to his broken bow (despite the fact that Grundy does not have a heartbeat, functional veins, or need to breathe). In Green Arrow (vol. 3) #53, "Solomon's Revenge", Green Arrow helps Dr. Chrissie Cavendish, a S.T.A.R. Labs employee, who claims she is the great, great granddaughter of the man the monster spawned from, to find and cure him. Her cure, however, warps her into a monster much worse than Grundy. Green Arrow subdues the new monster, and leaves Grundy to be. It is not known if Grundy is still using this building.
Seven Soldiers of Victory
In the first issue of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory, Issue #0 of the same name, one of the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp recounts the death of the miserly pedophile, Cyrus Gold, killed at the hands of an enraged mob, but also mentions that Gold could just as easily have been the innocent victim of a misunderstanding, as Slaughter Swamp is a point in space where time means nothing. In the final issue - Seven Soldiers #1 - the same Unknown Man punishes another of his group - the Eighth Man, Zor - by dressing him in Cyrus Gold's clothing and leaving him for the mob to find, implying that Zor - an extremely vain character, notable for attempting several times to overthrow the Universe and for having defeated The Spectre - would later become the first Solomon Grundy.
Prior to Infinite Crisis, Grundy is manipulated by Gorilla Grodd via mind control into attacking Batman and Superman for President Luthor for the bounty of one billion dollars in Superman/Batman. Batman is able to stop Grundy. While no specifics are given, Solomon Grundy is also coerced into joining the Secret Society of Super Villains. He participates in the final strike against the Secret Six. Ragdoll II encounters Grundy in a doorway. Ragdoll's scarred face relates to Grundy, and Grundy goes on to turn against the Secret Society. The aftermath of that battle is inconclusive, but Grundy evidently survives, as he was last seen in a murky swamp in JSA Classified. In it, he is convinced by Icicle to help Wizard, who is in trouble.
After helping Icicle free Johnny Sorrow from Prometheus' cosmic key, Grundy stays with the newly formed Injustice Society.
In Infinite Crisis #7, Solomon Grundy is seen fighting against the Blood Pack in the Battle of Metropolis, until he is vaporized by Superboy-Prime's heat vision, which apparently kills the Blood Pack and destroys Grundy's current incarnation.
The Tornado's Path
In Brad Meltzer's Justice League of America, Grundy is reborn with intelligence after being killed in the Battle of Metropolis. He is revealed to be the mastermind behind the abduction of Red Tornado's robot body (it is revealed he gained this intelligence when he was reborn after being burned by Prime). Grundy expresses a desire to stop his cycle of dying and being reborn and so it appears he enlists the help of Professor Ivo to build him an Amazo body to live in forever. The Red Tornado kills Grundy with F5 tornado winds, ripping him apart.
He later appears in the Salvation Run mini-series in which he is killed during a battle with Parademons. His body, awaiting its inevitable resurrection, is left behind when the villains leave the Hell Planet. However, when the villains exit, Grundy's hand trembles, accompanied with a groaning sound.
In the one-shot Faces of Evil: Solomon Grundy (March 2009) by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins, Cyrus Gold returns to life in Slaughter Swamp, as he was prior to becoming Grundy. He returns to Gotham City, but is shot by police after attacking a charity worker. In the police morgue, he transforms into Solomon Grundy. Grundy is once more an unintelligent monster, repeating the opening line of the nursery rhyme. A week later, having retreated to the sewers, he has a fight with Killer Croc. At the end of the fight, exhausted, he reverts to Cyrus Gold again. He finds himself in front of his own grave, where the Phantom Stranger tells him he has seven days to undo his curse, as "There is an unholy night coming, as black as the dead's blood. And it's best if Solomon Grundy was not around for it." (A reference to the upcoming Blackest Night storyline.) Alan Scott serves as his reluctant guide, as the story continues in the Solomon Grundy miniseries.
In the count down to Blackest Night, Cyrus Gold was given one week to discover the truth of who murdered him, so he could repent for all of his sins and gain absolution. Alan Scott and the Phantom Stranger were given as his guides throughout the week. Eventually it is revealed that Gold committed suicide, meaning he forced the curse of Solomon Grundy on himself. At the end of the series' run we see Grundy reanimated as a Black Lantern, and Cyrus Gold in hell. Grundy then tracks down and attacks Bizarro, using a past friendship they had to stir up the creature's emotions. Bizarro eventually manages to defeat Grundy by flying him into the sun, which completely incinerates him, and the black ring.
In the Batman Beyond reality, Grundy resurfaces in the future Metropolis as a powerful crime boss known as Mr. Stone operating out of a nightclub called Vanity. He is offered nanotechnology stolen from GNX's Supercop program by Lex Luthor's daughter, Lucinda Luthor.
The New 52
In The New 52, Grundy is once again a villain for Alan Scott. First appearing in Earth 2 #3, Grundy personifies "The Grey" life-destroying forces and opposes the "The Green" forces that choose Alan Scott as their champion. He attacks Washington DC to get Alan's attention. Flash, Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern fight him, but Atom brings him down temporarily by jumping onto him at giant size. The battle continues until Scott once again exiles Grundy to the moon where neither he nor the "Grey" can do any damage.
Eventually Grundy's origin was revealed: a slaughterhouse worker in 1898, his wife was raped by his callous foreman, and she killed herself on the job. When the foreman made the workers feed the body to the crocodiles, Grundy snapped, killed his foreman and everyone else in the slaughterhouse, then committed suicide, but apparently something happened immediately afterwards.
Powers and abilities
Solomon Grundy has superhuman strength and stamina. His strength has varied greatly through the years; for instance, in the Long Halloween story arc, Batman beat Grundy, while at various points his strength is on par with Superman's. He is virtually indestructible and immortal thanks to the elemental energy that imbues his form with pseudo-life. He is nearly invulnerable to physical, magical, and energy attacks and he is not affected by fire or cold. He has proven highly resistant to the effects of the original Green Lantern's power ring (which is attributed to his part-plant essence; originally because he had absorbed plant matter from the swamp, and later because he was a partial "plant elemental" like Swamp Thing).
Grundy possesses a healing factor. While he has occasionally been destroyed, he has always returned to life sooner or later, though often with different personalities and powers.
When it came to The New 52, the Earth-2 Solomon Grundy also possesses powers associated with The Grey.
Anti-Matter Earth Post-Crisis version
Solomon Grundy had a counterpart on the Crime Syndicate of America's Earth called Sir Solomon Grundy who was a member of Quizmaster's Justice Underground. Sir Solomon Grundy is a distinguished, poised mountain of a man. During an aerial bombardment of Dover, he is blasted to life out of the rock from the white cliffs. Sir Solomon appears to be identical in physical appearance to the mainstream Solomon Grundy with the exception of a trimmed mustache and a small goatee. In keeping with his educated personality, Sir Solomon dresses himself as a 19th-century Englishman would, and speaks accordingly. His super strength and invulnerability made him a formidable hero, until Ultraman renders him inert on a Saturday.
The Skulk is a hero of the Amalgam Universe. He is an amalgamation of Solomon Grundy and the Hulk.
Bruce Banner was a scientist working with gamma rays. He was testing his gamma bomb out in the desert, but a tall figure walked out into the testing area. When Banner went out see who it was, the man turned out to be Solomon Grundy. The bomb went off fusing Grundy and Banner together. When Banner gets angry, he becomes Grundy. The creature chose a new name calling itself Skulk.
In Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers series, the Witch-People of Limbotown (who are descended from the immortal Melmoth) bury their dead, and later dig them up, at which point they become animate and are used as slave labor. These zombies are called "Grundies" or "Grundymen", and resemble Solomon Grundy. It has also been established that the Spawn of Frankenstein is partly animated by the immortal blood of Melmoth, making him a Grundyman.
In Cullen Bunn's Sorcerer Kings storyline in Superman/Batman, The Creeper leads an army of Grundymen in a battle with Batman, Superman, and vampire Nina Skorzeny.
In the JLA/Avengers crossover, Grundy is among the villains enthralled by Krona to defend his stronghold. He is shown being defeated by Thor.
In the Justice Riders reality, Solomon Grundy is featured as a normal human. His entire gang was put down by Kid Baltimore with a single bullet each except for Grundy who took two.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Solomon Grundy was invited by Lt. Matthew Shrieve to be the new member of the Creature Commandos, but Solomon Grundy then betrays him, killing his family. It is revealed that Solomon Grundy had been working by General Sam Lane who is responsible for the deaths of Miranda's family.
In other media
Solomon Grundy appears in the animated movie Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. He appears as one of the villains hired to make a bounty to hunt down Superman and Batman voiced by an uncredited Corey Burton. Gorilla Grodd controls Solomon Grundy's mind to kill Batman. Batman defeats Grundy after he fails to drown him. He is considerably more intelligent due to Grodd's mind control, and Batman comments that "Grundy sounds like William F. Buckley".