Marvel's Scariest Moments

Creators and editors share the Marvel moments that scared the crap out of them!

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Hey True Believers! Think that comic book professionals don't get scared once in awhile by the frightening features of their favorite funny books? Think again! We polled some of the best and brightest writers, artists and editors from the House of Ideas to find out what moments from Marvel Comics history sent them crying for their mommies. Here's what they came up with…

STRANGE TALES
#100: "The Man in
the Crazy Maze"

Bob Gale (writer of "Back to the Future" and upcoming AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) "Okay, I'm really dating myself here, but when I was ten or eleven years old, I read STRANGE TALES #100. I didn't have a very big comics budget back then, so I read it in the drug store. The cover story was "The Man In The Crazy Maze" by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, about a guy who found himself stuck in a spook house from which the only exit was literally hell. I can't say it exactly scared the crap out of me, but being a normal 5th grader who loved going into spook houses, I thought it was pretty creepy! And due to my overactive imagination, I think that NOT owning the comic always made it scarier in retrospect."

AMAZING
SPIDER-MAN #138:
The debut of Mindworm

Bill Rosemann, (Marvel editor): "So there I am, about eight years old, and I'm flipping through an issue of MARVEL TALES, which at the time was running reprints of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Anyway, this one issue reprinted AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #138, featuring the first appearance of Mindworm. I don't know if it was his giant head, his bugged-out eyes, his bizarre mouth, his thinning but still long hair, his overly-muscled but pale body, his funky brown shorts or his hippy sandals…BUT HE SERIOUSLY FREAKED ME OUT!" Mark Millar (upcoming writer of FANTASTIC FOUR): "The scariest comic I ever read was an issue of AVENGERS from the '70s. I don't know the number because we used to read reprints of American material years later, but this was a big Marvel Treasury Edition and also had the wedding of Yellowjacket and The Wasp in there. Anyway, the story at the end of the collection was a Halloween thing based around the real-life parade held somewhere upstate where American college kids dressed as superheroes and guys like Roy Thomas, Len Wein and Marv Wolfman used to go along and hang out too. But the scary part was one of the characters walking along beside the superhero float and I literally couldn't look at the page. When I'd re-read the story I used to put my hand

UNCANNY X-MEN #143:
Kitty's creepy X-Mas

over the character's face and read around it and I remember my mum asking me what was wrong. It was just a character dressed as a witch, but this was 1975 and I'd have been about five years old so it was the scariest thing I had ever seen in my life. God, I wish I hadn't told you this story now because I suddenly feel like a total arse." Lauren Sankovitch (Marvel assistant editor): "Gotta say it's the spooky X-mas issue of [UNCANNY X-MEN] with little 'ol Kitty Pryde being stalked by that 'Alien' knock-off, the N'garai demon. Yikes!" Juan Doe (artist of FANTASTIC FOUR: ISLA DE LA MUERTE): "As far as scariest comic I read, that would easily have to be the ['Decalogue'] arc on DAREDEVIL by [Brian] Bendis & [Alex] Maleev with the 'devil baby.' I distinctly remember thinking to myself that this was the first time that a comic had managed to put some fear in me. Excellent stuff..."

TOWER OF SHADOWS:
"Pickman's Model"

Mike Carey (writer of X-MEN): "If you don't like spoilers, look away. As a kid back in the seventies I picked up a Marvel horror anthology called TOWER OF SHADOWS. It had an adaptation of Lovecraft's short story 'Pickman's Model' in it, which is pretty dark, atmospheric stuff but not all that scary, until you get to the end. The artist, Pickman, who specializes in painting horrendous monsters, has told the narrator that he sometimes uses photos as reference for his backgrounds. In the course of the story, Pickman goes missing and the narrator goes down into his cellar studio to search for him. There's no sign of Pickman, but his latest painting, of a creature so hideous your eye can barely stand to look at it, is on the easel. There's a piece of paper pinned to the edge of the easel, and the narrator picks it up. It's just the same creature, against the background of Pickman's cellar wall. And here's the sting in the tail, so to speak, the last line of the story: 'By God Eliot, it wasn't a sketch. It was a photograph from life!' Hey, I was only twelve, what can I tell you?"

WHAT IF? #25:
Everybody on
this cover dies
(except the snake)

Tom Brennan (Marvel assistant editor): "The scariest moment for me as a Marvel Comics reader is, admittedly, one of my dumber moments as a child. The comic was [an issue of WHAT IF? With the story] 'What if the Marvel Super Heroes had lost Atlantis Attacks?' At this point in time I was too young to really grasp the concept of the WHAT IF? series, so it really didn't occur to me that this wasn't in continuity. Even if it had been, the concept of comic book deaths was pretty lost on me then too, so as far as I was concerned everyone who died in this story was really dead. And to put it bluntly, pretty much everyone dies except for the Silver Surfer. The conceit of the story was that Namor died before he could come back and lead the Marvel heroes to the final battle of the 'Atlantis Attacks' series. End result, the heroes lose the battle and the demon Set leads his minions to enslave the Earth. Now when I said 'everyone dies,' I mean EVERYONE gets iced, and in the most horrible ways possible. Captain America is stabbed in the back, Iron Man and Dr. Doom are melted in their armor, The Thing is eaten alive, Thor and Wolverine get incinerated—all that's left of Wolvie is a skeleton—everyone goes down and goes down big time. Now when you're seven years old, that's a tough read. It wasn't until my dad, concerned that his son seemed visibly depressed over a comic book, informed me that WHAT IF? probably meant that it was made up and my favorite heroes would be alive and well in their own respective books. But for a brief week in 1990, second grader Tom Brennan lived in a world where his heroes were dead. I still get chills thinking about it."

"Kraven's Last Hunt"
Spidey rises
from the grave

Matt Fraction (writer of THE ORDER): "[My personal scariest moments] all came from 'Kraven's Last Hunt,' whether it was Spider-Man being buried alive, or Kraven being swarmed by spiders, or Vermin summoning a wave of rats to eat a cop, or Kraven pulling the gun on Spidey and he realizes Kraven's not screwing around and is actually out of his mind, or Mary Jane freaking out and killing the rat with her boot...man, that whole storyline is chock-full of spooky moments." John Barber (Marvel editor): "1983. My comics reading habits were random issues of G.I. JOE and STAR WARS, and the odd thing that jumped out at me, like a Superman comic here, or a Spider-Man one there. I was seven. On a trip to the grocery store with my mom, I wind up with a copy of UNCANNY X-MEN #167. I'd never read the X-Men before. I have no idea why the cover—a dude in a black costume carrying a dead bald guy while a bunch of other people look sad—attracted my attention, other than it's a great cover. The issue opens with a bunch of kids watching 'Magnum, P.I.' on TV in a creepy mansion, but they're just

UNCANNY X-MEN #167:
The horror of...
the X-Men

going about their day, joking with each other, enjoying 'Magnum,' just like I did every week. Suddenly the wall blows apart and this terrifying group of…super heroes? Villains? …plows in and starts attacking the kids. There's the guy from the cover—dressed head-to-toe in black, with one eye that shoots bright red laser beams. There's a blue demon with a tail. There's a guy made of metal, and a girl who's like a ghost, and white-haired woman who makes it rain…and there's a short guy whose power is he has knives sticking out of his hands. I'd never seen anything like that. Sure, super heroes had weapons that could do bad things. The G.I. Joe guys all carried guns and were Vietnam vets. They killed people—in those days before the cartoon TV show, they sure as hell killed people. But this guy in the X-Men comic, he was dressed like a super hero, and super heroes didn't kill people—but there's only one thing you can do with knives sticking out of your knuckles. And this guy, he wasn't afraid to use those knives. His teammates engaged the kids, who also all had horrible powers—one guy glowed with black energy, this girl turned into a wolf, another guy shot into the air glowing with sheer force—and the guy with the knives went after the kids' mentor, the bald guy from the cover, in a wheelchair—who suddenly turns into a disgusting, giant insect! The knife-guy makes as if to kill the bald-guy-cum-insect, but the dude in black holds him back and says something like 'I'll be damned if I let this happen again!' He SWORE! A super hero SWORE at another super hero who was about to KILL somebody! I was terrified. I didn't read another X-Men comic until after SECRET WARS. Once I'd seen them hanging out with Spidey, they seemed more approachable. But I still owe a lot of thanks to Chris Claremont and Paul Smith for that issue."

INDIGO VOID:
Surrealism meets
torture

Brian Michael Bendis (writer of NEW AVENGERS): "I was on a road trip with my family and somehow I had bought a Marvel graphic novel called VOID INDIGO, which is as esoteric as it gets. It's about a barbarian that ends up in the future or in the present or something. But this barbarian is gruesomely tortured on panel for pages. His eyes get gouged out—real torture porn stuff. I don't know if it was sitting in the backseat with it on the bumpy car ride or what, but all I remember is it creeping me out and making me sick." Ben Morse (Marvel.com assistant editor): "As a kid, I don't remember how old, I somehow got my hands on an issue of WHAT IF? that was 'What If the Fantastic Four's Second Child Had Lived?' On the surface it seemed pretty innocent—how could a baby being born be scary? There were two stories and one was pretty lame, with the little girl becoming a great healer or something, but the other one was terrifying! It's all told from the viewpoint of Franklin Richards, which, as a kid, made it all scarier. Sue

WHAT IF? #30:
The FF's
daughter lives...
to destroy them

Richards dies during childbirth, but her daughter survives. Reed gets all weird and lavishes all his attention on the new child, but all this creepy stuff is happening all around him that he doesn't notice. I can't remember if The Thing was even in the story, but I distinctly remember the Human Torch getting all sickly and only Franklin seems to notice. The same thing happens to Alicia Masters and Franklin tries to tell his dad, but he won't listen. Both the Torch and Alicia die, and I believe some other FF associated character as well, but Reed refuses to heed Franklin's warnings that it has something to do with his little sister. When Franklin pushes the point, Reed actually hits him! Things get crazy from there as Franklin goes to friggin' DR. DOOM for help and they go back to the Baxter Building to find Reed practically dead of exhaustion in his lab, cursing at his son for bringing Doom, but then the little girl becomes a giant monster and kills him! Doom takes on the monster, but she kills him too leaving only Franklin. Details on the ending are fuzzy, but I believe Franklin opens the portal to the Negative Zone or something and banishes his sister there, but the final panel of him crying on the floor over his father's lifeless corpse was haunting. I didn't want to throw the comic out, but I was so scared I made my mother hide it from me—years later as a teenager I found it and it STILL terrified me."

The face that
haunts Nicole Boose's
nightmares

Nicole Boose (Marvel editor): "My introduction to Marvel characters was from TV, and they scared the bejeezus out of me. I might have understood that Spidey was supposed to be a good guy, but he still frightened me in his 'Electric Company' skits. The giant eyes! The webs! The fact that you couldn't see his mouth moving when he talked! The terror!!!!! I was about four. Around the same time, the 'Hulk' show was on TV. There, too, my vague understanding that the Hulk was actually good was irrelevant. At the time, I used to watch 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' religiously. Remember how he would visit different places and explain how things were done? Well, there was one episode where he explained how they created the Hulk for the TV show. At least, I think that's what he explained. As soon as Mr. Rogers mentioned the Hulk, I fled. That was the only episode of 'Mister Rogers' that I refused to watch, and I don't think I've seen it to this day." What Marvel moment scares you most? Sound off in the forums!

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