Comics
Published October 5, 2020

Top 10 Scary Stories on Marvel Unlimited

Get ready for a season of scares with Marvel’s most macabre Halloween tales.

Have you tried Marvel Unlimited yet? It’s your all-access pass to now over 28,000 Marvel comics, all available at your fingertips. Sign up now!

Super Heroes might be the current heavyweights when it comes to Marvel comics, but horror stories have always been a strong contender too. For a while, frightful anthologies fueled the comics market, but fell to the wayside after the Comics Code Authority was implemented in 1954 with strict restrictions on what was deemed “too terrifying.” When the CCA became less strict in the 70s, a whole new era of mainstream comics came to undead life chock full of monsters and scare fare. And today, we have multi-part crossovers and events all dedicated to some of the most horrifying characters around!

[RELATED7 Scary Super Hero Stories for a Merry Marvel Halloween]

With Halloween right around the corner, we're celebrating some of the scariest, most horrific stories to ever haunt the hallowed halls at the House of Ideas. All available on Marvel Unlimited, the following ten tingling tales feature classic anthology entries crafted by absolute legends, long-form epics, and smaller stories that still pack an incredible Hulk-sized punch!

1. JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY (1952-1966)

Journey Into Mystery
From JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #1.

A decade before a certain Thunder God took over in issue #83, JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY played home to some of the weirdest and wildest stories published by Marvel forerunner Atlas Comics. The very first entry in JOURNEY #1, called "One Foot In The Grave," shows the perils of dealing with amoral florists who steal arrangements off of gravesites so they can resell their wares! In issue #5, a young Stan Lee teamed with Atlas-era legend Russ Heath on "Fright," a horrible recounting of how poorly those dubbed "feeble-minded" were treated in a home where they were supposed to be cared for.

[RELATEDThe Atlas Era: Before Marvel Became Marvel]

Another highlight from the series includes the Joe Kubert-drawn "The Hog!" in issue #21, about a man turning into the animal that represents his baser nature. Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko got involved with issue #33's "There'll Be Some Changes Made," which features a genius inventing time travel to satisfy his own greed! This is just a sampling of what you'll get as you read through the first forty issues of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY! You might recognize some of the creator names you come across, the early work of comic greats who would go on to forge foundational Marvel stories. This anthology pulled off its intention of scaring readers with brief tales of horror, often with twist endings to keep us coming back for more!

Journey Into Mystery
From JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #21.
Tomb of Dracula
A Vampire vs. a Vampire hunter in TOMB OF DRACULA #12.

A loosening of the Comics Code resulted in one of the best eras for fright fans. MAN-THING (1974), WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (1972), and FRANKENSTEIN (1973) are all worth a look, but the real star of that era is TOMB OF DRACULA. While legendary artist Gene Colan kicked off the series, writers like Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, and Gardner Fox got the book up and running before Marv Wolfman came on with issue #7. With that chapter, Wolfman and Colan began spinning a perfect gothic tapestry that is equal parts moody British horror and thrilling comic book adventure… with all the vampire drama you could hope for.

Throughout the course of the series' seventy-issue run, the title vampire lord found himself chased not just by Rachel van Helsing and Hannibal King, but also by a newcomer known as Blade. Along the way, Drac crossed paths with many of his fellow monsters, but also Doctor Voodoo, Doctor Strange and even Silver Surfer. To this day, TOMB OF DRACULA stands as one of the best long-run horror comics thanks in part to Wolfman's plots and Colan's sumptuous pencils. Do yourself a favor this Halloween and carve out some time to indulge in the entire series!

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #1

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Demon Bear
A strange encounter from NEW MUTANTS #18.

Many of the best horror tales revolve around the past coming back to haunt a particular character. That's exactly what happens to young Dani Moonstar in NEW MUTANTS #18-20. The mutant who can make others face their deepest fears thought she had dealt with her own back in NEW MUTANTS #3, but the Demon Bear returned with a wicked vengeance to torment Moonstar and the New Mutants team.

[RELATEDWho, or What, Is the Demon Bear?]

With "The Demon Bear Saga," Chris Claremont crafted a story that starts off on a personal note for Dani, drudging up fears from the very depths of her soul, to expand into a Super Hero battle in another dimension. This arc also brought in the perfect person to render such a surreal story: Bill Sienkiewicz! Sienkiewicz’s frenetic style perfectly captured the escalating, feverish mood throughout this classic arc.

New Mutants (1983) #18

New Mutants (1983) #18

What is Marvel Unlimited?

4. BROOD “EARTHFALL” (UNCANNY X-MEN #232-234)

Brood
An invasion of a body snatcher from UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #232!

Few alien races in the Marvel Universe illicit as much immediate fear and dread as the Brood. These bug-like creatures look like they skittered right out of a nightmare with their huge teeth and insectoid wings, but you really have to watch out for the tail spines which can inject eggs inside a person's body! In UNCANNY X-MEN #232-234, these horror shows crashed to Earth in the Rio Diablo Mountains outside of Paris.

[RELATEDThe Brood’s 8 Baddest Battles]

Soon enough, the X-Men got involved and realized that the Brood could threaten all life on their home planet, a plot plucked from the best sci-fi thrillers of the 1950s. Writer Chris Claremont upped the ante though, making some of the infested Earthlings mutants with their own powers! The team came through, but not before Wolverine went through an incredibly painful—and nearly fatal—transformation. Once again, Claremont worked with a perfect artistic partner—Marc Silvestri's hyper-detailed pencils made the already-goosebump-inducing creatures all the creepier!

[RELATEDA Complete Guide to Marvel’s Galactic Empires]

Brood
A Brood-y takeover in UNCANNY X-MEN #234.

5. ULTRON UNLIMITED (AVENGERS #18-22)

Ultron
The cover to AVENGERS (1998) #22.

Over the years, Ultron implemented a variety of dastardly plans against humanity, but in Kurt Busiek and George Perez's AVENGERS (1998) #18-22, the Avengers’ android abomination went from mechanical menace to genocidal monster when he killed everyone in the country of Slorenia. And that was just his opening move. Ultron also unleashed a legion of dead cyborg Slorenians to keep the United Nations’ forces out.

In addition to the widespread devastation, Ultron also kidnapped and psychologically tortured members of his "extended family," including Hank Pym, Janet Van Dyne, Vision, Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, and Grim Reaper. Meanwhile, some of the all-time most powerful and experienced Avengers struggled against an army of nefarious Ultron drones. Finally, the battered Avengers made their way to their foe's stronghold and ultimately triumphed over Ultron's deadly machinations.

Avengers (1998) #18

Avengers (1998) #18

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Marvel Zombies
Zombie Heroes vs. Zombie Villains in MARVEL ZOMBIES #5.

For decades, being dubbed a “Marvel Zombie” was a badge of honor to be worn that directly expressed your fandom for the House of Ideas. That all changed in 2005 when Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips launched the five-issue MARVEL ZOMBIES, which spun out of ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR (2003). The series did not pull any punches, kicking things off with Magneto staring down nearly a dozen undead heroes wearing their classic costumes!

Magneto
An undead assembly from MARVEL ZOMBIES #1.

Seeing the ways that the characters changed in their undead state added a fascinating level of drama to a series also heavy on the violence and gore! The stakes rocketed up several more notches when Silver Surfer showed up in advance of his master, Devourer of Worlds Galactus. What happens when two ravenous forces of nature come up against one another? The results changed the very landscape of the MARVEL ZOMBIES reality!

7. “WHITE LIGHT, BLACK HEAT” (BLACK PANTHER #12-13)

Black Panther (2005) #13
From BLACK PANTHER (2005) #13.

During Reginald Hudlin's legendary run on BLACK PANTHER (2005), the writer managed to hit a number of different genres ranging from Super Hero stories, martial arts melees, plus sci-fi and romance. But with issues #12-13, Hudlin and artist Scot George Eaton dropped T'Challa and his then-traveling companion Luke Cage into the horror pool. While in a historical quarter of New Orleans, a horde of vampires led by Beatrice and Victor Montague set up shop in dark alleys and underground waterways.

Joined by Blade, Doctor Voodoo, and Monica Rambeau, T'Challa and Cage all worked together to put a stop to this predatory menace. Black Panther not only donned knightly armor to fight these bloodsuckers, but also inspired those around him to use their abilities in the best ways possible. In just two issues, Hudlin and Eaton offered an excellent synthesis of super-powers, vampire horror, and all-out action!

Black Panther (2005) #12

Black Panther (2005) #12

What is Marvel Unlimited?

8. JASON AARON'S GHOST RIDER (GHOST RIDER #20-35)

Ghost Rider
ALL the Ghost Riders in GHOST RIDERS: HEAVEN'S ON FIRE (2009) #6.

These days, Jason Aaron might be known as the writer who launched STAR WARS at Marvel and currently shepherds the Avengers' adventures, but back in 2008 he took over GHOST RIDER (2006) with an epic grindhouse-inspired tale of demons, angels, killer nurses, haunted highways, serial stalkers, supernatural Super Villains, nunchuck-wielding nuns, and the actual children of Satan among other wild threats.

Running through GHOST RIDER (2006) #20-35 and 2009’s GHOST RIDER: HEAVEN'S ON FIRE limited series, this story was brought to life by the talent of artists Roland Boschi, Tan Eng Huat, and Tony Moore. This run not only reunited Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch, but also introduced a long lineage of Spirits of Vengeance who came into play with a fiery climactic battle that wrapped the series up. As an added bonus, Aaron continues to play with some of these concepts in his AVENGERS run!

Ghost Rider
From GHOST RIDERS: HEAVEN'S ON FIRE (2009) #6.

9. “FRANKEN-CASTLE” ARC

Frankencastle
“He’s alive!” in PUNISHER (2009) #11.

Over the years, the Punisher has gone down some unusual roads. In addition to working for the mob briefly, he also killed demons for a considerable stint. However, with Rick Remender and Tony Moore's “Frankencastle” arc, the Punisher blazed all-new trails by becoming a patchwork man who hung out with the Legion of Monsters below New York City!

[RELATEDMeet Even More of Marvel's Scariest Characters]

In DARK REIGN - THE LIST: PUNISHER—drawn by John Romita Jr.—then-leader of H.A.M.M.E.R. Norman Osborn deployed Wolverine’s fallen son Daken to kill Punisher. Daken would have succeeded too if Living Vampire Morbius hadn’t patched Castle back together. Initially, Castle wanted nothing to do with his fellow monsters, but then agreed to keep these beings safe while also seeking out a way to return to normal. This whole storyline played out in PUNISHER (2009) #11-16 which transformed into FRANKENCASTLE (2010) #17-21. The “Frankencastle” run on Punisher not only re-examined the character through the lens of the physically monstrous, but also made for a stellar introduction to some classic Marvel monsters!

Punisher (2009) #11

Punisher (2009) #11

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Absolute Carnage
From ABSOLUTE CARNAGE #1.

With ABSOLUTE CARNAGE, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman took the most maniacal and deadly villain in the Marvel Universe and transformed him into a planetary threat! The plot of ABSOLUTE CARNAGE revolved around the symbiote god Knull attempting to regain his strength. To do so, Knull facilitated the rebirth of Carnage who would either personally, or through his minions, collect spinal codices left behind in a symbiote’s host. These codices would eventually give Knull enough energy to free himself… but first had to be extracted from every. Single. Symbiote. Host. Ever.

[RELATED'King in Black' Descends Upon the Marvel Universe This December]

When the story is based around goopy space monsters and eviscerating spine-removals, you just know you're in for a rollicking good time! Though it spawned from the pages of VENOM (2018), this event also featured the likes of Spider-Man, Deadpool, Norman Osborn, Miles Morales, Hulk, and a handful of Avengers all dealing with some of the most bloodthirsty creatures in all of existence. In the end, it was up to Eddie Brock to prove whether he had what it took to shift gears from anti-hero to full-on, world-saving champion of humanity!

Absolute Carnage (2019) #1

Absolute Carnage (2019) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Want to read these ghastly sagas in full? Join Marvel Unlimited today.

 

Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s digital comics subscription service, offers members unlimited access to over 27,000 issues of Marvel's classic and newer titles, delivered digitally through your desktop web browser and the award-winning Marvel Unlimited mobile app.

Follow Marvel Unlimited on Twitter and Facebook to stay tuned in to weekly announcements, articles, and more, all at @MarvelUnlimited. Follow us today to join the conversation with thousands of fellow fans, and let us know what you’re reading!

Related

Culture & Lifestyle

The Most-Read Marvel News Stories of the Week: 10-30-2020

From ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ to ‘X-Men: The Animated Series,' recap what's happening at the humble House of Ideas!

Comics

Marvel Exes Who Are Still Friends

Or "friendly." See who makes it work on Marvel Unlimited.