With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures…
Frank Johnson just wanted to make amazing art, as seen in his tale from STRANGE TALES #88. The 1961 story by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko features an artist for sci-fi magazines receiving a magical set of paints that allow whatever he creates to come to life!
After testing his paints out with a flower, Johnson traveled to Mexico, got himself a giant canvas and went to work creating Zzutak, a giant orange dragon-like beast. With Zzutak’s rampage—revealed to be an Aztec plot—threatening everything around, the artist got to work creating another monster to stop the original. The ploy worked and the battle destroyed the temple they had been in, seemingly burying both baddies in the process.
Strange Tales #88
Frank dug a hole for the magical paints themselves and departed, thinking he’d left them behind forever—until FANTASTIC FOUR UNLIMITED #7 in 1994, when that same Aztec cult returned, kidnapped Frank’s son and forced him to bring Zzutak back. He obliged, but also brought back the enemy monster, this time imbuing it with the FF’s minds.
Since then, Zzutak tends to appear when his fellow monsters do. He can be seen sitting in the evil Iron Man’s lab in the pages of MARVEL BOY #1, pictured as a potential member of Blackout’s gang in GHOST RIDER #33, fighting the green and red Hulks in HULK #30, protecting Bloodstone Manor in THUNDERBOLTS ANNUAL #1, and hanging out with his larger-than-life pals on Monster Island in UNCANNY X-MEN #33.
Next time, Ant-Man faces off against an incredibly smart insect with control over other bugs dubbed Scarlet Beetle in TALES TO ASTONISH #39.