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The Heap is the name of several fictional comic book muck-monsters, the original of which first appeared in Hillman Periodicals' Air Fighters Comics #3 (cover-dated Dec. 1942), during The Golden Age of Comic Books. The Heap was comics' first swamp monster.

The character was created by writer Harry Stein and artist Mort Leav, and revived in the 1980s by Eclipse Comics.

The character almost certainly drew inspiration from the Theodore Sturgeon short story "It!", and would go on to inspire other swamp monsters in comics: most notably Marvel Comics' Man-Thing and DC Comics' Swamp Thing.

On October 12, 1918, Baron Eric Von Emmelmann, a German pilot, was shot down over Wausau swamp, near the small town of Rodz in Poland. Lying lifeless as his body slowly merged with the morass, he had nothing left but his will to live, to rise, to return to the world of humans. Over next 24 years, Von Emmelmann's will to live, coupled with vegetation of swamp covering his body and replacing the flesh, allowed him to arise again, now formed from the muck and vegetation of the swamp. Eric's body merged with the "dreary vegetation" of Wausau to make him a massive humanoid plant that was forced to drain animals of blood in order to get oxygen.

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Resembling a huge humanoid haystack whose most visible facial feature was a dangling root-like snout, the mute monstrosity first battled the lupine-cowled Blackhawk-style Allied ace SkyWolf before turning against its fellow Germans who were now fanatical followers of the evil Nazi cause. Then it took to wandering the globe, helping in its semi-mindless and often misunderstood way those in need and battling those monsters more malevolent than itself.

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Tropes associated with the Heap:

  • Ace Pilot: Eric was a World War One German flying ace. After rising as the Heap, some later stories had him take to the skies again despite being a near-mindless Muck Monster: the long buried instincts of Eric allowing him to fly fighter planes against Axis flyers.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: In Airboy Comics #103, the Heap battles the Great Black Crab of Brittany, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Green Thumb: The Heap is capable of quickly rooting itself to the ground and blending itself into foliage. It is also able to exert limited control over plant life in its immediate vicinity.
  • Healing Factor: The Heap is capable of withstanding a few gunshots or axe strokes without being impaired, and it is able to quickly heal any wounds that it does have.
  • Heroic Willpower: Baron Eric Von Emmelmann was shot down over Wausau swamp, near the small town of Rodz in Poland. Lying lifeless as his body slowly merged with the morass, he had nothing left but his will to live, to rise, to return to the world of humans. Over next 24 years, Von Emmelmann's will to live, coupled with vegetation of swamp covering his body and replacing the flesh, allowed him to arise again, now formed from the muck and vegetation of the swamp.
  • Mother Nature: A later retcon of the Heap's origin is that as he was lying in the swamp, mortally wounded but refusing to die, the goddess Ceres came to his aid, and decided to save him from death, to transform the Baron into her champion against evil. Later re-tellings changed Ceres into the more generic Mother Nature.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: The Heap is capable of withstanding a few gunshots or axe strokes without being impaired, and it is able to quickly heal any wounds that it did have.
  • Muck Monster: The Heap is formed from the decaying vegetation of the swamp, wrapped around Von Emmelman's skeleton, and motivated by his indomitable will to live.
  • Plant Person: Baron Eric von Emmelman was shot down in 1918 over a Polish swamp. Clinging to the smallest shred of life through sheer force of will, through the decades his body decayed and intermingled with the vegetation around him, becoming one with the marshland itself until at last a shaggy, shambling half-world creature neither animal nor man nor plant arose from the muck.
  • Super Strength: The Heap possesses superhuman strength and has performed such feats as wrestling a bull, effortlessly smashing through a steel subway barrier, etc.
  • Swamps Are Evil: Eric Von Emmelman lay rooting in the fetid waters of Wasseau swamp for 24 years before rising as something no longer human.
  • Token Enemy Minority: The Heap is WWI German flying ace who fights alongside the allied heroes in WWII.
  • Vampiric Draining: The Heap is forced to drain animals of blood in order to get oxygen. He targets birds, dogs and livestock, but he usually does not attack men, unless they are evil.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: The Heap is forced to drain animals of blood in order to get oxygen. However, despite being a near mindless beast with almost no memory of his prior human existence, he targets birds, dogs and livestock, but he usually does not attack men, unless they are evil.
  • Walking the Earth: After its first clash with the hero SkyWolf and turning against its former countrymen who were now fanatical Nazis, the Heap took to wandering the globe, helping in its semi-mindless and often misunderstood way those in need and battling those monsters more malevolent than itself.
  • Was Once a Man: The Heap was once Baron Eric von Emmelman, a World War I German flying ace who was shot down in 1918 over a Polish swamp. Clinging to the smallest shred of life through sheer force of will through the decades his body decayed and intermingled with the vegetation around him, becoming one with the marshland itself until at last a shaggy, shambling half-world creature neither animal nor man nor plant arose from the muck.


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