Last year, when I posted my popular Ten Lesser Known Bronze Age Monsters, one commenter asked about Man-Wolf (who probably should have made the list, but that's the problem with Top Ten lists. There's only so much room.)
Thinking about Man-Wolf though, it occurred to me that when he appeared in his first solo outing in the pages of Creatures On The Loose...
He was still in full-on werewolf mode. However when he later appeared in his second solo outing in the pages of Marvel Premiere 45...
... the monsterous element was no longer an essential part of the character. He was more of a sword and sorcery character who just happened to look like a werewolf.
This caused me to ponder: What other creature characters had undergone a similar personality or appearance metamorphosis wherein they evolved into something less monstrous?
The first and best representative of this group has got to be the Fantastic Four's Thing. Originally, Jack Kirby DID play up the monstrous aspect of Ben Grimm:
But by the time the Bronze Age rolled around, his appearance and personality had changed. His face became more expressive and his lumpy clay hide became the trademarked rocky scales.
John Byrne dramatically demonstrated the differences in his early appearances when he had The Thing travel into the past to adminster a cure to his younger self in the pages of Marvel Two-In-One 50.
Later, when he became the regular writer on Fantastic Four, John Bryne tried to revert the character back to his roots in the 80's, but I think my reaction as a kid was like most fans, so that was quickly rectified. Over the years, other people have tried to tinker with his appearance...
...but those alterations never stick.
Now another character who went through a different monster-makeover is Deathlok.
When he first appeared in the pages of Marvel Spotlight, his decayed facial appearance and futuristic army outfit made for a striking contrast.
But most recently, Marvel has revamped (or is it a retcon?) the character to where he now pretty much looks like Cyborg from Teen Titans.
And while I'm not wild about losing so much of the original look, the latest version is a far cry better than the Marvel M-Tech version that appeared for a few issues in the early 2000's.
Another example of a personality makeover is Werewolf By Night. When Jack Russell's furry alter ego first appeared, there was no mistaking his grisly intent.
But as the series continued through the years (and the Bronze Age Monster fad lost its charm) the beastial nature was downplayed as Russell gained control of the werewolf aspect (except on nights with a full moon.)
Over the years, attempts have been made to revitalize this character by bringing him back to his roots. The most recent being the 2009 Dead of Night limited series:
But ultimately, I think these attempts to revitalize the monster characters by restoring their roots fail because when the creatures all first appeared, their hook was the suggested potential for violence and terror which they had by dint of their monsterous nature.
Now, however, in a world where Wolverine routinely stabs 30 people in an issue of X-men and DC can't go 7 pages with someone getting a sword shoved in their back...
...a flesh rending werewolf and blood sucking vampire seem a bit quaint.