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Comics 411: Scariest Comic Book Characters

October 19, 2022 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
The Joker Death Of the Family

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we discussed the The Most Terrifying Comic Books. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Wool Hat: “I liked Neonomicon too. I’m guessing you know it was a sequel to The Courtyard, and then he followed it with a third part of the series called Providence. But Neonomicon is the best of the three.
And I’ll never read it, but I’ve heard Killing Stalkings is very disturbing. I don’t know that it’s considered scary, but I’m sure there are lots of tense moments.”

El Atomico: “I just picked up Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft from the library, but haven’t started it yet.

I don’t know if “scary” is the right word, but I found The Killing Joke to be graphic and dark”
Maple Leaf Muscle: “The only time a comic book ever scared me was when I was little and the X-Men and Ghost Rider had to rescue some kids from The Brood. That was pretty scary. I only read Marvel back then, and don’t get scared by much now.”

DandySkull: “Junji Ito’s stuff always ranges from horrific to bizarre in a strange body horror way. (Or cats. he loves cats.)

Immortal Hulk was damn good too.

Crossed is just kinda gross, but not in a fun way. More of a, “why the hell would someone make it.” kinda gross.”
Jed Shaffer: “Just here to show some love for Cry For Dawn.”

D2Kvirus: “While I wouldn’t necessarily call That Texas Blood terrifying, it’s certainly very good at building up dread, especially in the current Red Queen Killer arc. Similar can be said for Black Magick

For out-and-out terrifying, Junji Ito has that on lock, with Uzumaki and Hellstar Remina being the obvious standouts”

Spacecowboy: “American Vampire was pretty awesome. I know new 52 had a some problems but this was one of the bright spots. Would have liked for it to get a longer run.”

SynysterBob: “There’s an old series back in 1986 called Gore Shriek that gave me nightmares! The first issue was brutal for a little 13 year old like myself at the time and I have no idea how I was allowed to buy it.”

Camiwaits: “Uzumaki by Junji Ito is the most unsettling thing I’ve read.”

kbwrestlingreviews: “I wish I could remember the name (I’m almost certain it was a Free Comic Book Day book from a few years ago) but there was a one shot about a young girl who kept hearing voices. The voices kept telling her to get rid of her parents and eventually she murders them. She keeps hearing the voices and opens a door, revealing a world of demons, saying come join them. She walks through the door and apparently becomes one herself. End of story.

I was in my early 30s and felt the need to turn on all the lights for the next few hours.”

Too many great comments to list! Thank you to everyone who commented last week!

This week we discuss…

Scariest Comic Book Characters
Every October I open the tomb and pull out some spooky themed comic book columns for us to enjoy. This week we take a look at some of the scarier comic book characters out there. There’s plenty to choose from but these disturbing collection of characters make my list.

Growing up, Tales from the Crypt Zombie from E.C. Comics scared me on looks alone. Then I got a good look at the Joker. Easily the first character you think of when it comes to horrifying behavior in comics. The Joker is the polar opposite of Batman. Both were created by a great tragedy, but Batman has since vowed to do whatever it takes to prevent similar incidents, the Joker revels in creating chaos and destroying lives, believing that life’s a big joke and psychotically demonstrating that in a moment, it can all change. From killing Jason Todd (sort of) to Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke (still holds up and becomes even more haunting as you get older), the Joker is without equal when it comes to scary. The man cut off his own face and then wore it as a mask. That alone gets him on the list.

Someone who would give the Joker a run for his money in the scary department, if he was more well known, is Kid Marvelman, later known as Kid Miracleman. Let me try to explain without going too far for those who don’t know him. Just know that Alan Moore got his hands on him and created one…wicked character. Kid Marvelman is a violent, sadistic sociopath who is near invulnerable. I urge you to look him up and read up on him on your own time. You’ll see what I’m talking about.  

Comic books are littered with the classic monsters like the Werewolf, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Dracula. I’d put Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein from IDW Publishing on the list along with Morbius, the Living Vampire (NOT the movie) and Werewolf by Night (Great short, by the way!). Note, their earlier stories are much creepier than their modern ones. I was just on Ebay and you can get them for a steal. Get moving…after you read (and comment) the rest of this column, of course.

The devil makes his rounds as well across a number of publishers. In comics, a wide spectrum of demon related characters have popped up like Mephisto, who have both battled our superheroes and put fear in us. Add in Trigon, Surtur, Satana, and the Violator, who can all claim terror from some aspect of hell.

While Marvel’s The Zombie is scary, I’d put The Walking Dead’s The Governor and Negan as scarier. Both villains proved to readers that it wasn’t only the undead who they should be afraid of. Both villains have intense, horrific moments under their belt and are just as dreaded just as much as any monster on the list.

While Swamp Thing and Man-Thing may not come to mind at first, each have been involved in creepy stories and used in effective spooky ways.

Another character whose very presence draws the spooky is Ghost Rider. In fact, search out the 90s run that focused on Danny Ketch and tremble at the likes of Deathwatch, Scarecrow, and Blackout.

Other standouts that come to mind are Vermin and Man-Bat. Again, while they have been used in inconsistent ways, they’ve been in stories that showed they can be truly terrifying to readers. Vermin’s backstory and subsequent evil deeds are the stuff horror films are made of. Vermin is easily one of the most underrated baddies out there.

Every year one or two of you mention Batman’s Zsasz and he absolutely deserves a spot at the scary table. It’s those non-powered ones that creep up on you.

Rounding out my list is Saint of Killers and Sadu-Hem. The Saint of Killers first appeared in the pages of Preacher and was a heartless murderer, who is transformed into the Angel of Death under the condition that he takes up the role of collecting the souls of those who die by violence. His presence was heavy and his purpose was clear. A memorable villain and even scarier presence. Making his appearance in Hellboy, the Sadu-Hem was one of the 369 Ogdru Hem, the children of the Ogdru Jahad. No spoilers but to find out why he’s on the list, pick up Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1.

I named plenty of big ones but there’s plenty of meat still on the bone. Especially in the independent scene. Who makes your scary comic book character list?

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!

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Comics 411, Steve Gustafson