Hey there goblins and ghouls! Welcome to the Marvel Horror comics reading guide!
Marvel has a deep history of horror, spanning from the 1950s all the way to present day. From the tombs of Dracula to the crypts of shadows, these tales of terror and haunts of horror could make any Marvel Zombie scream. The guide below is but a few delightful highlights picked out from over 70 years of Marvel horror. If you have a special recommendation that we missed, let us know on X (formerly Twitter) or Discord!
Journey into Mystery and Chamber of Chills (1950s-1970s)
Starting when Marvel was still Atlas Comics, these early Journey Into Mystery comics remain some of the weirdest and scariest stories ever published by the Big Two! The original series was a fabled short story anthology focused on creepy tales with a blend of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. The character Thor actually started as a backup in the later issues, and eventually, the series was retitled The Mighty Thor as the focus shifted away from horror.
Journey Into Mystery was relaunched in 1972, once again focused on horror. The reboot featured new stories and reprints of older classics. Chamber of Chills was a similar (though less popular) horror anthology series that started at Harvey Comics in 1951 and was also rebooted in 1972 at Marvel.
Chamber of Chills (1951) #1-26
Chamber of Chills (1972) #1-25
Journey Into Mystery (1952) #1-82
Journey Into Mystery (1972) #1-19
Classic Marvel Horror (1970s)
It’s impossible to talk about Marvel Horror and not talk about their classic 1970s comics. And wherever you look, one recommendation always rises above the rest: The Tomb of Dracula. Gerry Conway and Archie Goodwin helped write the early issues, but the true popularity of the run is due to the all-star combination of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. I still remember the first time I opened one of these comics and I was instantly transported by Wolfman’s poetic prose and Colan’s graceful-yet-terrifying imagery. Timeless and otherworldly, romantic and horrific, every panel dripping with majestic tragedy… I immediately fell in love.
The next biggest recommendations are also stellar, and some of them even crossed over. Tomb ran parallel to Werewolf by Night (Doug Moench & Don Perlin), quickly followed by The Monster of Frankenstein (Gary Friedrich & Mike Ploog) and Tales of the Zombie (Steve Gerber & Pablo Marcos). While Frankenstein is often overlooked, the series’ finest moments are the first few issues, which directly adapt Mary Shelley’s original novel.
The 2017 Marvel Horror: The Magazine Collection is also a fantastic addition for a wide range of 1970s horror stories. It includes Blade’s original origin story (Chris Claremont), plus the first appearance of Varnae the Vampire Lord, Satana, the Zombie (Simon Garth), and more terrifying tales by Moench, Gerber, Conway, and Tony Isabella. The stories were reprinted in hardcover format in 2020 as the Marvel Horror Lives Again Omnibus. This omnibus version also adds extra stories starring Blade, Dracula, Daimon Hellstrom, Satana, Morbius, Man-Thing, Manphibian, and more!
Tomb of Dracula (1972) #1-67
Werewolf by Night (1972) #1-41
The Monster of Frankenstein (1972) #1-6
Tales of the Zombie (1973) #1-10; Annual #1
Man-Thing Complete Collection (2015) Vol. 1-3
Fear (1970) #10-19; Man-Thing (1974) #1-22; Man-Thing (1979) #1-11; and more!
Marvel Horror Lives Again Omnibus (2020)
Shorter paperback version: Marvel Horror: The Magazine Collection (2017)
Not to be confused with Marvel Horror Omnibus (2019), which has different comics
Marvel Horror in the 1980s
The full New Mutants run by Chris Claremont & Bill Sienkiewicz remains famous for its intense horror vibes, but “The Demon Bear Saga” stands out as one of their most outstanding experimental psychic horror pieces. Towards the end of Claremont’s run, the New Mutants crescendo’d into the epic X-Men: Inferno.
And while we’re on the topic of 1980s Marvel horror, a special mention is due to Kraven’s Last Hunt! Hopefully, the upcoming Kraven film will be able to do the lionized story justice.
New Mutants (1982) #18-31, 71-73
The Amazing Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt (1987)
Web of Spider-Man #31-32
Amazing Spider-Man #293-294
Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132
Ghost Rider and the Midnight Sons (1990s)
Spinning out of the pages of Ghost Rider (1990) #28, the Midnight Sons quickly became Marvel’s most iconic spooky team. Starring two Ghost Riders, Blade, Morbius, and many more supernatural superstars, the Midnight Sons era was a multi-year crossover spanning five titles: Ghost Rider (1990), Spirits of Vengeance (1992), Nightstalkers (1992), Morbius (1992), and Darkhold (1992).
While occasionally over-the-top and filled with angsty in-fighting, the Midnight Sons are still Marvel’s best lineup for a serious, gritty horror comic. Some of my underrated favorite stories from the era are “Siege of Darkness” and 1992’s Morbius series!
Bobbie Chase (group editor behind Midnight Sons) also launched a Hellstorm series, which Warren Ellis and Leonardo Manco took over in issue #12. Their horrific work continued in Druid, about Doctor Druid, a disgraced Avenger, as he remakes himself into an all-new terrifying threat. Loosely inspired by Vertigo Comics and Sandman, Manco’s disturbing artwork makes these two series indisputably some of the best supernatural horror comics at Marvel.
Ghost Rider (1990) #1-94
Spirits of Vengeance: Rise of the Midnight Sons (1992)
Midnight Sons: Midnight Massacre (1993)
Midnight Sons: Siege of Darkness (1993)
Midnight Sons Unlimited (1993) #1-9
Hellstorm: Prince of Lies (1993) #12-21
Druid (1995) #1-4
By Warren Ellis & Leonardo Manco!
Other 1990s recommendations:
Marvel Ruins (1995) #1-2
Marvel Zombies (2000s)
From the creator of The Walking Dead, Marvel Zombies is a brilliant black comedy series by Robert Kirkman. Just imagine the horror of seeing your favorite characters turn into mindless flesh-eaters!
The series evolved beyond the original issues to span over a decade of crossovers and spinoff stories. As a result, there is an extensive catalog of Marvel Zombies comics you can check out. Below are just the essentials, but stay tuned to the Cosmic Circus for our complete Marvel Zombies reading guide in the future as the zombie infestation spreads across the MCU!
Marvel Zombies: Dead Days (2007) #1
Marvel Zombies (2005) #1-5
Marvel Zombies 2 (2007) #1-5
Marvel Zombies Return (2009) #1-5
Other Marvel Zombies recommendations:
Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness (2007) #1-5
Night of the Living Deadpool (2014) #1-4; Return of the Living Deadpool (2015) #1-4
Marvel Horror in the 2000s
The 2000s saw an all-new revival of Marvel horror, even outside of Marvel Zombies. From Ghost Rider to Namor to even Blade and Hellstrom, these new supernatural stories were darker, grittier, and more openly violent than Marvel had ever been. Marvel MAX also released two gorgeous and unsettling miniseries by Richard Corben, adapting the works of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.
Meanwhile, Blade had a small moment to himself, starring in a short and sweet Marvel MAX series (one of his best runs to this day), and also a revamped Tomb of Dracula.
Blade (2002) #1-6
Hellstorm: Son of Satan (2006) #1-5
Haunt of Horror (2006) Edgar Allen Poe #1-3; Lovecraft #1-3
Ghost Rider: Trail of Tears (2007) #1-6
Ghost Rider: The Road to Damnation (2005) #1-6
By Garth Ennis & Clayton Crain!
Ghost Rider (2006) #20-35; Annual #2
Ghost Riders: Heaven’s on Fire (2009) #1-6
By Jason Aaron!
Sub-Mariner: The Depths (2008) #1-5
By Peter Milligan!
Other 2000s recommendations:
Tomb of Dracula (2004) #1-4
X-Men: Curse of The Mutants (2010)
Franken-Castle & the Legion of Monsters (2010s)
The darkness of the 2000s was quickly followed up with one of my very favorite eras of Marvel, the wonderful horror comedy of the Legion of Monsters! Starting with Marvel Zombies 4, these horror heroes assemble themselves as the new Midnight Sons (and sometimes the Howling Commandos), before settling on the more appropriate name “Legion of Monsters.”
Featuring the Werewolf, Morbius, Man-Thing, the Living Mummy, Manphibian, Frankenstein Punisher, and a silly spat with Deadpool, these goofy ghouls are perfect for an animated adaptation. C’mon Kevin, what are you waiting for?
Marvel Zombies 4 (2009) #1-4
Punisher: Franken-Castle (2009) #11-17, 21
Legion of Monsters (2011) #1-4
Deadpool: The Gauntlet Infinite Comic (2014) #1-13
Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos (2015) #1-4
Deadpool: Til Death Do Us… (2016)
Other Legion of Monsters recommendations:
Marvel Premiere (1972) #28
Legion of Monsters (1975) #1
Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos (2005) #1-6
Deadpool Team-Up (2010) #894
Hulk (2008) #52
Daredevil (2011) #32-33
Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2015) #1-6
Modern Marvel Horror (2020s)
In the 2020s, Al Ewing’s legendary Immortal Hulk revitalized the character as a horror myth and ran for a whopping 50 issues. The series is being spiritually continued in the current Incredible Hulk (2023) comic by Philip Kennedy Johnson.
Meanwhile, Johnny Blaze and the Midnight Sons regrouped in 2018’s Doctor Strange: Damnation. And over the past year, Ben Percy has been bringing intense shades of body horror to Johnny’s solo in Ghost Rider (2022), aided by freakish art from Cory Smith.
Finally, Carnage has been going through a number of horrific transformations of his own, thanks to the creative teams of Gerry Conway & Mike Perkins (Carnage (2015)) and Donny Cates & Ryan Stegman (Absolute Carnage).
Carnage (2015) #1-16
Absolute Carnage (2019)
The Immortal Hulk (2018) #1-50
The Incredible Hulk (2023) #1-10 (ongoing)
Ghost Rider (2022) #1-18 (ongoing)
Other 2020s recommendations:
Doctor Strange: Damnation (2018)
The Darkhold (2021) Alpha #1, Blade #1, Wasp #1, Iron Man #1, Black Bolt #1, Spider-Man #1, Omega #1
Crypt of Shadows (2022) #1; (2023) #1
Spine-Tingling Spider-Man (2023) #0-4
And that’s our quick guide to Marvel Horror comics! Which stories are you hoping to see adapted in the MCU? Which runs are your favorite? Let me know on X/Twitter @vinwriteswords and remember to follow the site on social media @MyCosmicCircus for more tantalizing tales coming soon!
All images courtesy of Marvel.
Creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky: Vin presents the Marvel Horror Comics Reading Guide, covering 70 years of terrifying tales! Read More