The Avengers' Greatest Battles with Nightmare
As the Avengers face Nightmare in 'Avengers' #10, revisit a few other battles between Earth's Mightiest Heroes and this Fear Lord.
Even Avengers have nightmares, and the villainous Nightmare grows more powerful every time they do. As one of the Fear Lords, this longtime Doctor Strange foe draws on the power of bad dreams to become a cosmic powerhouse and universal threat.
Although it fluctuates in the real world, Nightmare wields a godlike amount of power in the Dream Dimension, the physical embodiment of humanity's unconscious mind. While the reality-warping Beyonders were strong enough to destroy the Multiverse in SECRET WARS, they were mere playthings for Nightmare within his realm. In his tireless efforts to grow even stronger and step further into the waking world, Nightmare has also faced heroes like the Hulk, Captain America, and Moon Knight, in addition to his regular bouts with Doctor Strange.
Now, let's take a closer look at some of the Avengers' greatest battles with Nightmare. In this list, we'll break down the Avengers' encounters with Nightmare, along with some of their individual battles with the supernatural menace, just as Nightmare's latest encounter with the team takes a surprising turn in AVENGERS (2023) #10 by Jed MacKay, C.F. Villa, Federico Blee, and VC's Cory Petit.
Nightmare may be an ancient entity, but he has spent much of his time in the modern age dealing with Doctor Strange, who he debuted alongside in STRANGE TALES (1951) #110 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. In one of Nightmare's early battles with Strange, the villain captured Eternity, the all-powerful living embodiment of the Marvel Universe, in DOCTOR STRANGE (1968) #180 by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan.
While trying to merge Earth's past, present, and future into one nightmarish world under his power, Nightmare unleashed rampaging dinosaurs and barbarians from the distant past on a crowd celebrating New Year's Eve. Doctor Strange challenged Nightmare in the Dream Dimension but lost when Nightmare reflected Strange's Eye of Agamotto.
However, the Juggernaut happened to wander into the chaotic battle while looking for a way back to Earth. Strange manipulated the villains into freeing Eternity, who quickly restored the world's natural order and banished Nightmare to another realm.
In another attempt to attack Doctor Strange, Nightmare took a particular interest in one of the magician's fellow Avengers: the Hulk. By tormenting Bruce Banner with dark dreams of losing control over the Hulk, Nightmare sent Hulk on a rampage in INCREDIBLE HULK (1962) #298 by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema. Despite S.H.I.E.L.D.'s best efforts, Hulk tore through New Jersey and New York City while tracking down Strange.
Once Strange found the Hulk, he realized what was happening and weakened Nightmare, leading Banner's unconscious to transform into the Hulk and attack Nightmare in the Nightmare World. After knocking Nightmare out, the Hulk shook the foundations of Nightmare World itself. However, Banner did not retake control once the battle was over, which left the Hulk as a truly mindless, rampaging monster.
After CIVIL WAR (2007), the young heroes of the Marvel Universe assembled at Camp Hammond, where they trained to be government-sanctioned heroes under the supervision of veteran Avengers. One of these young heroes was Trauma, the son of Nightmare. With the ability to shapeshift into whatever someone near him feared most, Terrance Ward struggled to control his powers and was inadvertently responsible for the death of one of his classmates.
In one of his attempts to take over the waking world, Nightmare possessed his son in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE (2007) #29 by Christos Gage and Jorge Molina. After tormenting the nearby heroes and villains, Nightmare forced Speedball—who was then operating as the tortured hero Penance—to remember the details of his life, including his presence at the lethal attack that kicked off CIVIL WAR. After Penance worked through those memories, he helped Trauma overcome Nightmare and escape his father's shadow.
While trying to start a global nuclear conflict, Nightmare targeted Captain America by possessing accomplished individuals who believed they had achieved the American Dream in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1998) #9 by Mark Waid and Andy Kubert. In the "American Nightmare" storyline, U.S. Agent and several other prominent figures began acting violently out of character. With the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Sharon Carter, Captain America entered the Dream Dimension and encountered Nightmare, who bragged about corrupting through the idea of the American Dream.
While the heroes were in his realm, Nightmare took over their bodies and launched a nuclear missile. However, Captain America and his allies overcame their fears and tore through Nightmare's creatures. Once they regained control of their bodies, Captain America stopped the nuke with help from his new energy-based plasma shield.
BLACK PANTHER: NIGHTMARE
While Nightmare usually stays in the Dream Dimension, he ventured into the Land of the Dead in a failed attempt to increase his power in BLACK PANTHER (1998) #21 by Christopher Priest and Sal Velluto. When Black Panther was left in a comatose state after a fight to the death with Killmonger, he and Moon Knight traveled to the Panther God Pavilion to restore his connection to Bast. After trying to draw power from the dreams of T'Challa's ancestors, Nightmare found himself trapped in the afterlife with no path back to his Nightmare World.
As his power waned, Nightmare attempted to trick the heroes into leading him back to his realm. However, Black Panther outsmarted Nightmare and started destroying the Book of the Dead, the only map out of the realm, which compelled Nightmare to release his grip on T'Challa's royal line.
LOKI VS. NIGHTMARE
Shortly after Loki was crowned King of the Frost Giants in Jotunheim, he seemingly abandoned his throne, and Nightmare saw that as an opening in LOKI (2019) #1 by Daniel Kibblesmith and Jan Bazaldua. Nightmare wanted to invade the land of the Frost Giants to give himself a foothold in the waking world from which he could conquer the other Nine Realms. However, the former Young Avenger returned to his throne and made quick work of Nightmare.
Hungry for revenge, Nightmare unsuccessfully tried to show Loki his worst fear, but the God of Stories had already lived through it. So, after a mystical battle, Loki convinced Nightmare to give up his immortality and agree to a duel to the death. As soon as the duel started, Loki briefly killed Nightmare by crashing a prototype Stark Unlimited flying car into him.
ALONE AGAINST ETERNITY
During one of his efforts to merge his realm with Earth, Nightmare inadvertently caused the temporary destruction of the world. Nightmare captured Eternity again, only for the omnipotent cosmic entity to decide to destroy the planet. After a crazed Baron Mordo helped Eternity carry out his plan, Doctor Strange traveled to the Dream Dimension in DOCTOR STRANGE (1974) #13 by Steve Englehart and Gene Colan.
Nightmare found Strange and attacked him with a flock of demonic birds. However, Doctor Strange called on his newfound power as the Sorcerer Supreme and overwhelmed Nightmare with color and light. After freeing Eternity, Strange and the Ancient One convinced the cosmic being to recreate the world just as it was. However, Strange retained his full memories of the Earth's destruction and rebirth, which has haunted the Master of the Mystic Arts ever since.
DOCTOR VOODOO: AVENGER OF THE SUPERNATURAL
When Doctor Strange lost the title of Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Voodoo (Jericho Drumm) took over that role as well as Strange's spot in the Avengers. But after a fight with Doctor Doom left him in the Dream Dimension, Doctor Voodoo left open a path back to Earth, which allowed Nightmare and his forces to enter the waking world in DOCTOR VOODOO: AVENGER OF THE SUPERNATURAL (2009) #2 by Rick Remender and Jefte Palo.
As his creations ravaged the world. Nightmare used his powers to turn most of the world's magic users and supernatural heroes into his soldiers. With the spirit of his brother Daniel and Doctor Doom, Drumm took on Nightmare's army and killed most of its members. Using Doom's Actuality Shield, Drumm briefly gave Nightmare a vulnerable physical body. The Drumms and Doom ultimately sent him into another dimension, which undid the damage he caused in the waking world.
AVENGERS: NO ROAD HOME
Despite Nightmare's villainous history, he has occasionally worked with the Avengers when they've shared a common enemy. Thousands of years ago, Zeus entrusted Nightmare with the Night That May Yet Be, a stone containing the partial spirit of the Night Goddess Nyx. When Nyx tried to reclaim the stone, Hypnos, her son, attacked Nightmare and his realm in AVENGERS: NO ROAD HOME (2019) #3 by Al Ewing, Jim Zub, Mark Waid, and Paco Medina.
Despite his weakening powers, Nightmare briefly tormented Rocket Raccoon, Hawkeye (Clint Barton), and the Hulk by pulling them into his dimension and making them face their worst fears. However, the Hulk realized where they were, and the heroes eventually teamed up with the villain to protect his Night Shard. After Hulk killed Hypnos and took the Night That May Yet Be, Nightmare restored his realm and sent the Avengers away.
In "Twilight Dreaming," Nightmare grabbed the Avengers' attention by convincing them they had failed to save the world. Just as the heroes were settling into their new base, the Impossible City, Nightmare plunged them into an apocalyptic dream in AVENGERS (2023) #7 by Jed MacKay and C.F. Villa. When Scarlet Witch realized what was happening, Nightmare sent her out of the dream.
In the waking world, Scarlet Witch returned to consciousness just in time to help Vision take on the Twilight Court, the servants of Myrddin. The mysterious Myrddin targeted the Avengers to reach Kang, who was recovering in the team's custody due to his previous encounter with the Twilight Court. After the Scarlet Witch alerted Thor, the Thunder God bargained with Nightmare, and the Avengers joined their teammates in the waking world. However, Myrddin managed to erase Kang's knowledge of the oncoming Tribulation Events.
Following the battle, Thor and the Scarlet Witch approached Nightmare, who admitted these cataclysmic events could destroy the universe and wipe out the source of his power. Now, Nightmare must depend on some of his oldest enemies to preserve his dark power.
Enter Nightmare World in AVENGERS #10, now on sale!
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