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Comics 411: Scariest Comic Book Characters

October 7, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Joker Negan Scariest Comic Book Characters

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 week we discussed Batman’s Worst Villains Here’s what some of you had to say:

Spacecowboy: “Condiment King”

William Jansen: “Kite Man was redeemed in the Harley Quinn-series. I actually enjoyed him there.”

D2Kvirus: “Joel Schumacher”

Maurizio RC: “The Condiment King. I mean, he’s not a villain at all. Imagine you’re Batman and you are about to sit down to eat your weekly gluten free hamburger when you discover you’re all out of mayo and ketchup.

Et voila.

You don’t put a guy like that in jail. You offer him a lifetime contract with benefits.”

Richard C: “If Joe Coyne (Penny Plunderer) was given a reboot today — he would probably be a Madoff-styled villain.”

Tayo Jones: “Penguin may look silly but that us the point. His appearances makes it easy for people to underestimate him. In his debut issues, he joined a gang, killed the boss and took over and framed batman for a crime. Penguin is not a terrible villain. He is an awesome villain and deserves more respect.

Clue master, polka dot man and kite man are pretty rubbish and are not in the sane league as Penguin.”

El Atomico: “To be honest, I found almost all of the Batman villains to be lame-O’s, except Joker. Even then, I thought he was lame until the Killing Joke.”

Benjamin Kellog: “I might have to be stockaded in the town square for saying this, but in terms of someone in opposition to Batman, I think Bat-Mite is the worst representative of such a role. He’s a carbon copy of Mr. Mxy from “Superman,” but with needless fanboy tendencies and not as much enthusiasm or innovative novelty as his older, more experienced counterpart. He’s an interesting obstacle for Bruce to negotiate, but a bit too derivative for the DCU and too oddball for the grounded realism of Gotham. (I do love “World’s Funnest,” but that’s more of a goofy Elseworlds tale than a true villainous outing for the mighty Mite, so I didn’t take that into consideration for this nomination.)

Also, several of my fellow commenters have beat me to it, but it bears repeating: how dare you accuse Kite Man of being a terrible villain after both Tom King and the “Harley Quinn” TV show have elevated him to a more prominent and exciting status than I feel anyone could have predicted. King’s the one who gave Charles Brown (nice Peanuts reference BTW; I believe he also has a friend named Linus mentioned somewhere?) his name and origin, as well as redeemed him into a fairly useful member of the Bat-Family for a short while. Some brilliant characterization went on here that made him a popular meme, then a great supporting character on “HQ” with largely the same traits King gave him. He might have a lousy gimmick, but he’s hardly considered a bad character these days. “Kite Man, hell yeah” indeed!”

Big thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts!

This week we discuss…

Scariest Comic Book Characters
It’s that time of year again! Every October I open the tomb and pull out some spooky themed 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 make my list.

Growing up, Tales from the Crypt Zombie from E.C. Comics scared me on looks alone but let’s start with 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 was 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 and Werewolf by Night. 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 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 the 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 were 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.

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.

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!