Movies & TV / Columns

The Scariest Comic Books Of All-Time

October 9, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

I’m Steve Gustafson and thanks for stopping by. If you enjoy reading or discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. I throw out a subject, you comment below. Easy. Let’s get started. 

Previously on…

Last time we discussed The Greatest Superhero Costumes!. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Before I do that I want to say a number of you pointed out that I should have included a plethora of pics to go along with such a subject as greatest superhero costumes. And you are absolutely right. While the costumes shine bright in my memory, I should have put a visual for each hero listed. I’ll rectify that next year. Now, on with your thoughts…
Al Lobama: “I think the greater question is which comic artists are the best costume designers.

Steve Ditko remains my favorite, and I think the biggest testament to his ability is how many characters he designed that were either never redesigned or the characters always went back to their original design. Sandman, Mysterio, the Green Goblin, Dr. Strange, Dormammu, Eternity, the Creeper, the Question, and even Spider-Man himself all wear the same costume design they did when they first appeared.

Gil Kane was a master of costume design, and his gift was his ability to keep things simple, yet streamlined. More often than not, he kept his costumes in a basic human silhouette (Green Lantern, the Atom, Sinestro, Captain Marvel, Iron Fist), and I think that lack of clutter made the designs on the body suits even more striking. And how can you talk about great costumes and not mention his redesign of Him into Adam Warlock?

Dave Cockrum did so many great costume designs during his time on Legion of Superheroes and ANAD X-Men, and when you think of characters like Storm and Colossus, your first mental image is of those original Cockrum designs. And Nightcrawler is still using that same costume today. Ditto for Gladiator, who’s overall design doesn’t get the love it should.

While John Byrne gets plenty of praise for his artistic skills, he doesn’t get nearly enough praise for his costume designing skills. Alpha Flight, for example, were supposed to be one-off characters who existed for a single issue to fight the X-Men, but the characters took on a life of their own thanks mainly to their costume designs. Vindicator, in particular, is an awesomely simple design, and personally I prefer his yellow and brown costume for Wolverine.

And how can you forget George Perez? Deathstroke, Starfire, Taskmasker, Cyborg, the Anti-Monitor, and the Tim Drake Robin costume may be best costume redesign in comic book history. And all of the costume redesigns he did for the Heroes Return Avengers line-up are all high water marks for those characters (Firestar and Giant Man being personal favorites). If anything hurts his designs, it’s the fact that many of them don’t look nearly as good as when Perez himself isn’t the one drawing them.”

Nihilist Arbys: “Definitely spawn”

Robert Stewart: “So many of the Spider-adjacent costumes are great. The black suit, obviously. The Scarlet Spider red/hoodie look. Spider-Gwen. But my favorite comic costume of all time is Spidey 2099.”

MoMoney1985: “Jean Grey as the Black Queen”

Steed: “Classic Spiderman
Black costume Spiderman
Miles Morales Spidey
Scarlet Spider
Moon Knight
The Punisher
Ghost Rider
Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell aka original male version)
Wolverine’s classic yellow as well as brown attire during the 80s
Also with DC you can’t beat JLA in general with Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman for all being iconic in their classic iterations of course. Also Shazam too!
Always been fond of Catwoman’s costumes (be it the classic black leather or even the purple costume from the 90s).
I used to find the Captain America costume lame (still do a bit), but there’s simply no denying how classic and recognisable the costume is (perfect for that kind character as well).”

John: “Juggernaut – it’s a 50 year old costume that has barely been changed and it’s mostly brown and it still works for me.

Batgirl – especially Y’vonne Craig’s 60’s version is just so good it’s likely the best live action costume ever put together.

Dr. Doom 2099 – is best underrated costume of all-time in my eyes. It’s one of the few cases where the extreme version of the outfit improved upon the original.”

The Man Who Met Andy Griffith: “I’ve always liked the simplicity of the red Daredevil suit. Anytime it adds more colors or armor/padding pieces it loses its mojo. As far as the original brown/yellow suit goes? Well, what do you want from the guy? He is blind afterall.”

Earpaniac: “I always have to go with Superman. It’s so simple, yet is so iconic. I remember reading once, well before the internet, that Superman and his “symbol” is one of the few fictional characters that is known and recognized worldwide by people of any age. His costume, outside of a few minor changes, has basically remained the same for 80+ years. That he was the “first” superhero and his costume is as good as it is, is amazing in itself.
(I believe Santa and Mickey Mouse were the other 2)”

Too many great comments to share. Go back and see for yourself. Also, as always, thanks for the input!

This week we discuss…

The Scariest Comic Books Ever!

As with every October, I like to do several Halloween-themed columns and while some might find it hard to believe that a comic book could give them the chills, I counter that some of these are just as scary as any movie or novel. I suggest reading this at night, under a blanket, with a flashlight.

Someone recommended American Vampire to me and it was an incredible read from Scott Snyder and drawn by artist Rafael Albuquerque. The book sets up vampires as a population made up of many different secret species, and charts moments of vampire evolution and inter-species conflict throughout history. A fun read with plenty of twists and spookiness to keep you riveted.

If you’re looking for a book to read by candlelight that will make you look over your shoulder every few minutes, grab 30 Days of Night. I recently reread it and it still holds tight. Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s vampire tale takes place in Barrow, Alaska where the small population experiences 30 days of continual night during the winter. Niles provides perfect pacing and Templesmith’s art gives the book a truly horror-inspired look. The book hits all the beats and the slow build will have you turning the page with dreaded anticipation. “This is how it’s meant to be. Humans like bottles waiting for their caps to be popped.”

When it comes to a book being masterfully done, we have to talk about Sandman as well. While the series has its darker moments, I enjoy Season of Mists during this time of year as Neil Gaiman use of mythical figures from around the world in a way that makes them familiar. In the story, ten thousand years ago, Morpheus condemned a woman who loved him to Hell. Now the members of his family, The Endless, have convinced him that he needs to return to Hell to rescue his banished love. Lucifer, Hell’s ruler and fallen angel, won’t be making it easy. Sublime and superbly written, read this one outside on a cool night.

Joe Hill, who happens to be the son of Stephen King, and artist Gabriel Rodriguez have created a modern horror classic with Locke & Key. This gripping series follows the Locke family’s attempt to rebuild after the father/husband is murdered by a deranged high school student. The family moves in with the deceased father’s brother at the family homestead in Maine and things go from bad to worse when the youngest Locke discovers a doorway with spectral qualities, along with a well that houses someone or something that desperately wants out.

Hellboy was summoned from Hell to Earth as an infant demon by Nazi occultists. He was discovered by the Allied Forces; amongst them, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, who formed the United States Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). In time Hellboy grew to be a large, red-skinned man with a tail, filed off horns, cloven hooves for feet, and an over-sized right hand made of stone. His adventures cover many aspects of the occult and while the book isn’t the spookiest out there, several stories linger with you long after you put them down.

A while ago someone suggested I check out Severed. I’ve regretted it ever since! Not because it’s bad but rather it does its job too well! A limited series that’s set in 1916 that can be described as a “historical fairy tale” that has a cannibal boogeyman who takes on various identities to hunt children. Unpredictable, chilling, and terrifying. To say anymore would ruin the fun for you.

Speaking of fun, the recently ended The Walking Dead should be a no-brainer. No pun intended for you Negan fans. Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore focus on Rick Grimes, a sheriff who is shot in the line of duty and awakens from a coma in the zombie apocalypse. He finds his wife and son, and meets other survivors, gradually taking on the role of leader among a group and later a community. I would say 99% of you know all this and know what happens after but the comic series is excellently written and full of genuine shocks and surprises.

You might scratch your head at my inclusion of Afterlife with Archie but give it a try. Depicting a zombie apocalypse that begins in the town of Riverdale in an alternative reality, this series surprised and created some real scares.

Another recommendation made to me was Hack/Slash and I’m glad I gave it a read. From the mind of Tim Seeley, the series follows horror victim Cassie Hack as she fights the monsters, known as “slashers”, who prey upon teenagers. The cool hook is these slashers are a mix of original baddies and crossover appearances like Army of Darkness, Vampirella, and Reanimator.

Harvest by A.J. Lieberman and artist Colin Lorimer isn’t a horror series in the classic sense but its subject matter covering black market organ selling is certainly unsettling. A great read that will leave you looking at things a little different.

A friend let me flip through Alan Moore’s Neonomicon but I knew it would cause me nightmares. Read at your own risk! That same friend said I should included Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising on this list.

Of course I should add in issues of Swamp Thing and Hellblazer. Those should be read any time of the year though. As is Tales from the Crypt. But if I had to pick one book that might be the most scariest out there is Garth Ennis’ Crossed. This booked crosses the line more than any other comic out there. The simple premise follows survivors dealing with a pandemic that causes its victims to carry out their most evil thoughts. And they get evil. See for yourself but this series isn’t for the faint of heart.
I didn’t even touch any Japanese manga, which has plenty of titles that could be added to this list. 

What comic book gives you nightmares?

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!