Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: Scariest Comic Book Moments

October 21, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Joker Killing Joke

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 Scariest Comic Books Here’s what some of you had to say:

StinkFinger: “Not so much scary or nightmare-inducing, but certainly creepy as hell for me was Batman’s Death Of The Family arc. Joker at his most psychotic; faceless, doing horrific things to everyone. Made every other portrayal of him ever look like an angel.

Batman making his way through Arkham to confront him was darker and more twisted than it ever had been. The one part especially (no spoilers), which made the hair stand up on the back of my neck when I first saw it.

I had heard a faint rumor years back that Snyder and team had originally written and drawn portions of that storyline to be legitimately terrifying, but DC stopped them. Not sure if it was true, but I could see parts where it seems like they had to tame it down a bit.

Regardless, still one of my faves. And I’ll be sure to check out those on your list.”

D2Kvirus: “Junji Ito’s good for…oh let’s say half a dozen at least
Hellstar Remina
The Enigma of Amigara Fault
The Hanging Balloons
Ice Cream Truck
Slug Girl
Hell Doll Funeral

mcdropkick: “It’s a manga, but The Enigma of Amigara Fault freaked me the hell out the first time I read it. People-shaped holes start appearing in the fault of a mountain. I don’t want to spoil too much in case anyone wants to see it for themselves.”

El Atomico” “Oh man, I know I say it everytime, but definitely The Killing Joke. That’s the one that really ‘made” the Joker as a sinister threat, for me.

Didn’t Spider-man have a storyline with Kraven the Hunter that was pretty intense, the one where Spidey ditched the black costume and went back to the Red and Blues?”

Benjamin Kellog: “Walmart’s “Swamp Thing Giant” contained so many great examples of what I feel made prime scary comics, but the best I saw was New 52 “Animal Man.” A few choice bits of nightmare fuel from that run: People are turned inside-out and warped into unearthly eldritch abominations, three of which are our main bad guys who kill just about everyone they make contact with. Buddy Baker himself and his signature animal-power feats are creepily rendered as he takes on the partial appearances of the animals he’s imitating, often resulting in some downright unsettling chimera creatures. Buddy and his daughter routinely venture deep into “the Red,” a bizarre flesh-covered manifestation of the “morphogenetic web,” the source of Buddy’s abilities, and its every iteration makes me question my/the creative team’s sanity. Oh, and did I mention this version of the series has tenuous connections to New 52 “Swamp Thing,” a fairly messed-up book itself, and was apparently leading to a massive war between Buddy’s animal-based “Red” and Swampy’s plant-oriented “Green” that would likely create the most disturbing visuals in mainstream comics at that time? The Walmart run cut off shortly after this somewhat shocking reveal, but I am left curious enough to one day seek out the rest of the run and see what happened when the two did cross paths. I might also dip into the classic Morrison version, just because, as a Looney Tunes fan, “The Coyote Gospels” sounds like the best kind of deep-cut comic.”

Tayo Jones: “The Anatomy lesson from Swamp Thing was both scary and tragic. The moment Swamp thing discovers he was never Alec was heartbreaking, but the moment he goes after the old man was very terrifying. The art emphasises the terror of the chase scene.

The first issue of Secret Six where Junior made her debut. We do not see her face but her cracked voice and watching her kill that man was very scary. As soon as I saw that trunk I knew there was going to be a horrific reveal.

24 hours from Sandman. Dr Destiny uses his powers to manipulate a group of diner patrons into indulging in several shocking and disturbing acts.

Tomie is a not a comic but a horror manga about a seductive immortal girl who drives men completely mad and usually ends with her death,but she always comes back. The art by Junji Ito adds to the disturbing and horrific tone of the stories.”

poopsadaisy: “A few of Danzig’s “Verotik” comics were absolutely vile. I only read a few issues but what I saw was pretty terrifying and I should caveat that by noting I was equally horrified that a group of writers and artists were able to think up and create such content as I was by the content itself.”

Mojotheclown: “Bedlam is a great comic/graphic novel, well worth investigating.”
So many great comments! Big thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts!

This week we discuss…

Scariest Comic Book Moments
Here we go! Halloween is almost upon us and as we continue are “scary” theme, what better way to get ready than talk about some of the scariest moments in comics?

Let’s begin with a couple of moments from the creepiest guy in comic books…the Joker! We could include such moments like when he killed Robin in A Death in the Family. Shocking and brutal, it showed Joker in a sadistic light.

Topping that has to be when the Joker terrorized, shot, and molested Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke. I still remember reading it for the first time. Breaking into Jim Gordon’s home, the Joker beats him, then proceeds to shoot Barbara in the stomach, paralyzing her. It gets even worse as he strips her naked and takes pictures of her suffering. Gut-wrenching.

Of course I’m going to throw in when he cut off his own face and then wears it as a mask. Thinking about it, the Joker could have his own scariest moments Top 10 list. Seriously, I have a rough draft of that but it’s too much. 

Batman’s not too shabby with his own creepy moments. One that stands out to me is the Batman & Dracula trilogy. The third, Crimson Mist, gave us a vampire Batman draining and decapitating all of his old enemies. A vampire Batman is not someone you want to cross.

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman saga is another list by itself. To pick just one is almost impossible but I’ll throw the scene of Dr. Destiny going into a diner and uses his reality-bending powers to control the patrons there to become his deviant minions. Sadistic and disturbing.

Add another Doctor to the list with Doctor Light. Identity Crisis showed us that Doctor Light had raped Sue Dibny, the wife of Elongated Man, on the JLA Satellite. It showed us a more dangerous Doctor Light and changed the way we view him forever.

Where to begin with Kid Miracleman’s story and his London rampage? The sad, tragic tale of Johnny Bates is a must read for mature readers but the battle between Kid Marvelman and Marvelman, Marvelwoman, Firedrake, and the Warpsmiths with the ravaging of London and the horrific murdering of much of the city’s population will never leave you.

Another scary and disturbing moment in comics can be found in the pages of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen between Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man. The Invisible Man beats Miss Murray savagely and then is confronted by a true savage. Hyde grabs the Invisible Man and has his way with him, tearing him apart. Not for the faint of heart. Trust me on this.

Preacher has a number of disturbing scenes but early in the series run we meet Si Coltrane, a friend of Cassidy’s, who is an investigative reporter on the trail of the serial killer known as the Reaver-Cleaver. We first see the Reaver cut off a man’s face and then nail the removed skin mask upside down to the still living victim. A lasting impression that stands out among many.

Another comic with a plethora of scary moments is The Walking Dead. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve held my breath while reading but nothing made me gasp louder than when Lori and the baby get shot and killed. Even Negan’s beating of Glenn didn’t get me as much as that moment. Pure horror.

Another zombie moment comes from when we’re first introduced to the Marvel Zombies. In the pages of Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimate Reed Richards finds himself in a strange universe, one that appears to be the Silver Age 616. Except it’s not even close and when we first see the Marvel Zombies for the first time, it’s a jarring and creepy moment.

One of my favorite horror comics is Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s vampire tale 30 Days of Night. In the second issue, head vampire Niles provides a poignant and dark moment when he states, “This is how it’s meant to be. Humans like bottles waiting for their caps to be popped.” The visuals accompanying this scene still linger with me.

When I tried to think of ONE scene from Swamp Thing to include…I couldn’t pick one! Too many moments to pick from but trust me, the series is worth a read. 

Wrapping up, back in the 1990s, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner gave the industry one of the most shocking and scary moments in mainstream comics when Rayner’s girlfriend Alex DeWitt was found murdered and stuffed in the fridge by the hands of Major Force. A shocking twist and horrific moment.

Sorry, I won’t even mention “A Taste of Cherry” out of common decency. 

What are some of your scariest moments in comic books?

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