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Comics 411: Terrifying Comic Book Moments

October 28, 2022 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

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 Scariest Comic Book Characters. Here’s what some of you had to say:
“Filthy” Jake Fury: “Anton Arcane from Swamp Thing. I never read much classic DC stuff growing up and never touched a Swamp Thing comic until the New 52 reboot.”

JJ McClure: “I think the version of The Riddler that’s presented in the “One Bad Day” one shot is among the scariest comic characters in recent memory. I’d also give a shout out to Ra’s Al Ghul, if only for his enduring belief that his goal of purification is just and noble. The scariest villains are the ones that firmly believe their actions are justified.”

El Atomico: “First one I thought of was the Joker, good to see Vermin as well!”

Madness74: “I cannot remember being legit scared of any comic book or character. The creepiest i read was Tales From the Crypt reprints in the early 90s. And i loved those! Side note, anyone remember those rock comics from the same era? Motley Crue and so on? I bought them all but not so good lol”

Chad Kuhns: “Death of the Family’s Joker is one the very best iterations of Joker ever….until the end. The story kind of hampers the character a bit in the end by going a little too grand and stretching the story a little thin, but turning the Joker into a more calculating killer along with that visual was very iconic.”

D2Kvirus: “Seiko Osabe from A Trail of Blood (aka Blood on the Tracks) is genuinely so terrifying that her welcoming Seiichi home from school feels threatening, because it’s entirely believable to see somebody who was already a controlling parent have a mental breakdown that leaves their child trapped with them in their home as their lives become a hellish downward spiral”

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

This week we discuss…

Terrifying Comic Book Moments

Here we go! Halloween is almost upon us and as we continue the “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 cuts 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 in the scene of Dr. Destiny going into a diner and using 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!