When it comes to Halloween reading, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, and Bram Stoker may first come to mind. But how often do you reach for your back issues or reread your dogeared trade paperbacks when Halloween hits? There are a whole lot of horror tinged heroes in the pages of your favorite comic books, and this Nerdoween we’ve compiled a list of our favorite spooky supers for your perusing pleasure. So grab your creepiest comics and join us for our list of nine horror heroes!
When it comes to Halloween themed heroes look no further than Blade. Marvel‘s half-human, half-vampire was originally introduced in the company’s classic horror title, Tomb of Dracula. Born in early 1900s London, Eric Brookes was raised by a vampire hunter to become the legendary slayer that we all know and love. Though he’s changed much over time, largely due to the influence of Wesley Snipes’ trilogy of Blade films, Eric is still daywalking across the world and staking vampires.
This hardboiled Golden Age hero is the spirit of murdered cop Jim Corrigan, who goes on a supernatural spree of revenge after being rejected from the afterlife. Co-created by Superman‘s Jerry Siegel and artist Bernard Baily, the Spectre became a huge hit for DC with his own title and a role in the first ever superhero team, the Justice Society of America. The character has been resurrected throughout comics history, and if you’re looking for some particularly gruesome reading check out Jim Aparo’s 1970s run.
Ever since the symbiote first bonded with Eddie Brock in Amazing Spider-Man #299, Venom has been a fearsome fan favorite. Co-created by Todd McFarlane, it’s no surprise that the hulking black-suited anti-hero has a horror flavor, originally enjoying tormenting Spider-Man and occasionally eating brains. Still, even from his early days Venom has walked the line between hero and villain. Brock often found himself trying his best to fight his sociopathic symbiote counterpart, Carnage. Brock’s venomous mantle was later assumed by ex-bully turned war hero, Flash Thompson.
Everyone’s favorite billionaire with anger issues, Bruce Wayne definitely fits the bill. I mean, his entire life/costume/moniker is based on a debilitating fear of bats–and poor people. From his earliest days, Batman has been influenced by the dark noir and horror comics of the past, with horrifying villains like the Joker and the Penguin. In the Elseworlds Universe, he’s even more horror influenced battling Jack the Ripper and even becoming a vampire himself.
One of DC’s many doomed trapeze artists–seriously why do they hate circus folk so much?–Boston Brand was resurrected by a Hindu god after he was murdered by the mysterious Hook and subsequently became an undead superhero. Deadman has teamed up with numerous heroes, including Spectre, whom he joined to fight a whole bunch of mythical creatures like werewolves and an evil demon created from skeletons of souls in hell.
Everyone’s favorite member of Generation X, Jubilation Lee was the stand out star from the beloved ’90s X-Men cartoon and has always been one of the best additions to later X-canon. Though originally just a mutant teen, Jubes has had it rough in the 21st century. Depowered following House of M and then later hit with a biological weapon containing the blood of a bloodsucker, these events left our fave firework shooting teen stuck as a vampire.
Al Simmons is a decorated war hero who’s brought back from the brink of death by the Devil to become his messenger, catching evil criminals and sending their souls to hell. One of comics defining black superheroes, Spawn was the biggest non-Big Two comic book the 90s: the first issue sold nearly 2 million copies. With Spawn, Todd McFarlane–along with a notable contribution from artist Greg Capullo–created a gothic tragedy for the comic book age.
Another Image Comics invention, Top Cow’s creation is steeped in sci-fi and horror. NYPD’s Sara Pezzani becomes the holder of the Witchblade, an alien artifact that gives her superpowers and–thanks to the ’90s–a very sexy costume. This cult comic took classic noir and horror tropes, mixing them to make something uniquely weird and wonderful and very much an artifact of its time.
Originally intended to appear in one episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn is now one of DC‘s most popular characters. Though regularly portrayed as comic relief, Harley’s origins are steeped in the horrific acts of her one time partner, the Joker. No matter what canon you follow, Harley has been tortured and brainwashed by the Clown Prince of Crime over her 25 years of capers. No wonder she was so quick to leave him for her true love, Poison Ivy.
How do you feel about our horror heroes? Did we miss some of your frightful favorites? Let us know in the comments!
Images: Image Comics, DC, Marvel
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Welcome to Nerdoween! Throughout the month of October, we’ll be celebrating everything spooky, macabre, and just plain weird. Nerdoween 2017 is presented by Alpha, our interactive membership service, which offers you exclusive content from Nerdist and Geek & Sundry, as well as a 10% discount on all of our merch.