Cyrus Gold (Solomon Grundy), is a Zombie supervillain who has clashed with many heroes over the years, including Green Lantern, Superman, Batman, the Justice Society of America, and the Justice League of America. Solomon Grundy frequently dies and resurrects in new incarnations, each of varying levels of strength and intelligence. Although primarily evil, some of his incarnations have shown the capacity for heroism.
Cyrus Gold was born some time around the early to middle 19th Century. Although accounts of his origins differ, the tale is fairly consistent that he was a Gotham City gentleman of ill repute who came to his death in Slaughter Swamp, and resurrected some years later as a horrible creature. Stories of his origins include:
The most common origin of Solomon Grundy is that in the late 19th century, a wealthy merchant named Cyrus Gold was murdered and his body disposed of in Slaughter Swamp. He was supernaturally reanimated fifty years later, where parts of his body were actually composed of swamp material.
Another origin tells that in the year 1895, he was killed in Slaughter Swamp by the pimp of a prostitute. The pimp was trying to blackmail Gold by claiming that he was the father of the prostitute's unborn child. Gold refused to yield to the blackmail, and thus was bludgeoned over the head and buried in the Swamp where no one would think to look for him. Over the span of fifty years, Gold’s body interacted with the detritus and vegetation of the swamp, resulting in his resurrection.
The next tale comes from the Parliament of Trees, a high council of Plant Elementals, who tried to turn him into the newest Plant Elemental. However, the process was missing one vital piece, as a Plant Elemental cannot be fully created unless it died in flames first. Since Grundy's death did not involve fire at all, the process was not complete, and he became a sort of half-functional Plant Elemental.
Another possibility is given by a mysterious group called the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp. They recount the death of a miserly pedophile, Cyrus Gold, at the hands of an enraged mob. However, they also mention 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. The same Unknown Man who tells the tale, 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.
Pre-Crisis - Earth-Two
In the original Multiverse Solomon Grundy existed on Earth-Two, home of the Justice Society and the All-Star Squadron.
Cyrus Gold's corpse was first reanimated in 1944, as a huge shambling figure with almost no memory of its past life. Gold murdered two escaped criminals who were hiding out in the marsh and stole their clothes. He showed up in a hobo camp and when asked about his name, one of the few things he could recall was that he was "born on a Monday." One of the men at the camp mentioned the nursery rhyme character Solomon Grundy, and Gold adopted the moniker.
Strong, vicious, and nearly mindless, Solomon Grundy fell into a life of crime — or perhaps returned to one, according to his scattered residual memories — attracting the attention of the Green Lantern. Grundy proved to be a difficult opponent, unkillable (since he was already dead) and with an inherent resistance to Scott's powers (which could not affect wood, a substance of which Grundy's reassembled body was now largely composed). Their first fight ended when Grundy was hurled under a train.
The third battle with Grundy involved Green Lantern and his fellow members of the Justice Society of America tracking him across the country, depositing Grundy on the moon once he was defeated. A subsequent battle between the two ended up with Lantern burying Grundy in 1947.
At this point, he was pulled back to 1941 by the time-traveling criminal Per Degaton, who had enlisted the aid of several super-villains to capture the Justice Society of America on December 7, 1941 (the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor). The All-Star Squadron came to their rescue, and Grundy was then thrust back to the moon where he remained for over two decades.
Grundy eventually mastered the use of the stored up emerald energy he had absorbed over the years from the many battles with his arch-foe, and returned to Earth to battle Green Lantern, along with Hourman and Doctor Fate. At this point, he had temporary mastery over all wooden objects, though he subsequently lost this power with his next death.
He was briefly a member of the Injustice Society of the World, a group of villains banded together to fight the Justice Society. In the interim, he had battled the combined might of both the Justice Society, and later their counterparts the Justice League, nearly to a standstill, though he was eventually defeated again.
Grundy went on to clash with Green Lantern and his teammates again, including the Huntress, the first female for whom he developed an affection. After Solomon Grundy was rescued from a glacier by Alan Scott's daughter, Jade, Grundy became loyal to her and for a while joined Infinity, Inc., a team of younger superheroes. Eventually, this affectionate relationship turned to tragedy as the villainous Harlequin, Marcie Cooper of the Dummy's Injustice Unlimited, used her illusion powers to disguise herself as Jade. Harlequin manipulated Grundy to attack the members of Infinity Inc. one by one. She convinced him to press the unconscious Mister Bones's bare hand against Skyman; since Bones's skin constantly exudes a cyanide-based compound, this quickly led to Skyman's death. This was the beginning of the end for Infinity Inc. and for Grundy's quasi-heroic career.
Solomon Grundy consistently haunts Gotham City, and has been known to take residence in the Gotham sewer system. In the early years, his primary enemy was Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, though he also fought Batman as well. During The Long Halloween, he struck up an odd kinship with Harvey Dent, as Dent was on the path to becoming Two-Face. Grundy even joined Dent's team of "costumed freaks" that was responsible for the deaths of Gotham city crime lords such as Carmine Falcone and his successor Sofia.
Grundy's appearances were not limited to Gotham, however. He fought Superman several times in Metropolis. For a time, a new innocent, child-like Grundy lurked in the sewers of Opal City, where he was befriended by Starman Jack Knight, who affectionately referred to him as Solly. Solly also became friends with Starman Mikaal Tomas, and sacrificed himself to save Mikaal from being crushed by a collapsing building. This left Grundy in critical condition. In return for his sacrifice (as well as trying to stop the old Grundy from reemerging), Jack and Ted Knight and Alan Scott enlisted the aid of the Floronic Man, who like Grundy was a creature of The Green, to try and save his life. Woodrue was accompanied by Batman, and had them all eat seeds, allowing them to enter the consciousness of Grundy in order to pull out the Solly aspect of Grundy's personality, rather than one of Grundy's evil versions. Unfortunately the bad aspects of Grundy were too overwhelming and the Solly version couldn't be saved. When the heroes returned to the normal world, Grundy disappeared.
Grundy's next appearance saw the return of his malicious persona, where he was found by Jack Knight on a strange blue planet, apparently having landed there when he was cast into orbit by Alan Scott and Dr. Fate in the 40's. The crash on the planet killed him, apparently allowing him to resurrect with a different body on Earth. This suggests that Grundy's consciousness may be able to inhabit multiple bodies, though only one at a time. This new Grundy had a much higher intelligence than normal, but claimed to have no knowledge of Jack Knight or his previous exploits on earth since he was cast into orbit. This version of Grundy was summarily destroyed.
Mikaal Tomas was the next to battle Grundy. This Grundy displayed an average intelligence and was once again malicious. However, when as assassin (Frankie Soul) tried to take out Mikaal with a sniper rifle, Grundy sensed the coming shot and stepped in front of it, sacrificing himself once again to save Mikaal. With his dying words Grundy claimed that this was not a result of the Solly personality reemerging, but was unable to explain why he had done it.
Grundy next joined the new Injustice Society, led by Johnny Sorrow and fought the JSA once again. During the Joker's Last Laugh, Grundy was jokerized and fought the JSA again.
It is known that Grundy hid out for a time in the Arrowcave, the long abandoned former headquarters of the Green Arrow. While searching for artifacts of his former life, Green Arrow and his former ward Arsenal stumbled onto Grundy's new hideout, where he tried to kill them. Ollie notes that this version seems much more violent, and manages to kill him by choking him with the string to his broken bow. Later, Arrow helped a Dr. Chrissie Cavendish, a S.T.A.R. Labs employee who claimed she was the great, great grand-daughter of the man the monster spawned from, to find and cure him. Her cure, however, warped her into a monster much worse than Grundy. Green Arrow subdued Cavendish, and decided it was best to leave Grundy to be.
Grundy helped attack Superman and Batman when a bounty was placed on both of them by President Lex Luthor, although he was being mind controlled by Gorilla Grodd at the time. He was defeated by Batman.
During the Infinite Crisis in Villains United, Grundy joined the Secret Society of Super-Villains. He turned on them briefly when Rag Doll of the Secret Six compared their disfigurement and convinced Grundy to join his side. In the Battle of Metropolis, Grundy fought alongside the rest of the Society again, but was killed once more by Superboy-Prime, along with the Blood Pack.
Solomon Grundy returned from this death to fight the Justice League of America, in a much more advanced form. He is depicted as intelligent and sophisticated, seemingly serving as the brains behind a complex operation to willingly transfer Professor Ivo's immortality to Grundy. Through the interference of the Red Tornado, his wife, and the Justice League, Grundy's scheme failed to achieve its ends. In later appearances, he seemed to have lost this intelligence.
He was exiled to the Prison Planet during Salvation Run, where a large number of supervillains were exported several lightyears into space, and left to fend for themselves on a foreign planet. He joined Lex Luthor's camp, but was killed in the gigantic Parademon raid shortly before the villains could escape.
Even millions of miles away from Earth, upon his death Cyrus Gold was resurrected once more in Slaughter Swamp with a strange new level of perception. Noticing that Gotham City had changed much, Gold went to a mobile home, where he killed the owner. Walking to his former house, he had a flashback to his murdering his Uncle John, expressing remorse over it. Suddenly, Cyrus remembered his past as Solomon Grundy, and becomes terrified of dying and becoming Solomon Grundy again. He attacks a woman who offered him help, then assaulting two police officers who try to stop him. In the process, Cyrus is shot through the chest, discovering that he still has no physical heart. Running away, he jumps into the highway, where he is run down and killed. Gold is resurrected as Solomon Grundy again, and flees into the sewers. A week later, he encounters Killer Croc, battling him and eventually breaking his jaw. At dawn of Sunday, Grundy transforms back into Cyrus Gold at the cemetary which holds his tombstone. Here, he is found by the Phantom Stranger, who became aware of his resurrection and change last week. He is unable to help Cyrus in these changes, but had drafted Green Lantern Alan Scott into helping. Though Green Lantern was hesitant to help, the Stranger insisted: there was an unholy night coming, and it would be best if Solomon Grundy were gone before another could claim him for themselves. Grundy and Alan Scott are now on a quest for Grundy's redemption. It is his mission to find the person who is responsible for killing him the first time... and forgive them. Cyrus discovers shockingly that in a fit of madness, he actually committed suicide in Slaughter Swamp, taking his own life... he is unable to forgive himself, and pass on to the next world. Instead, he receives a Black Lantern Ring and is commanded to RISE. His corpse is destroyed when Bizarro drives it into the sun. With Cyrus Gold in Hell, and Solomon Grundy's corpse destroyed, the curse on Solomon Grundy is finally broken. He is no more.