Monday, October 31, 2011

The 10 Creepiest Comic Book Characters Ever

In classic comic blog style, I honor a holiday by making a list. This time, it's Halloween and this year, in real life, people saw me dress up as a British Naval Captain Jack Aubrey (though the amount of "Paul Revere?"s I got nearly made me belligerent) when in truth my real costume is the one I'm wearing right now:

Mild-mannered, 9to5 employee, functioning member of society. You don't know me, daily world. What you see is not what you get. I'm like Batman, with the real mask being Bruce Wayne.

Of course, when I take off my boring, rent-paying mask, I don't so much patrol the streets of the city fighting crime. Mostly I just wear comfier clothes than during work days and read a lot. But hey, let this be a lesson to you: unless you're staring at some gorgeous male model/actor, look closer. True character is not skin-deep. Which brings us to our first entry.

10. Red Skull

Why he's creepy:  He's a Nazi. A Nazi who always finds large masses of people to follow him, who is brilliant at science and not unwilling to use magic to achieve his horrific, genocidal, Nazi goals, and who never seems to die, at least without producing a new direct descendant to continue the crusade of red, skinless Nazis. Nothing's worse than a Nazi, but let's be honest with each other here; racial profiling-wise, I'd much rather face a blond, blue-eyed monster than an actual talking red skull.

Honoroable Mention(s):  Skinless characters always freak me out, so while Red Skull wins this slot (he's a Nazi) I should take this opportunity to mention other epidermis-challenged characters who creep me out, such as Warren in the Buffy comics, and Jane Doe in Paul Dini's Batman run.

9.  Bullseye

Why he's creepy:  He's not a Nazi, but he actually has less purpose than one. He has no conscience, no regret, no code. A complete and total homicidal psychopath. In addition, he is supremely talented. He can kill you with anything. Literally, any household item can be turned into a murder weapon in his hands (Stay Tuned Until the Very Last Few Minutes of the 10 O'clock News If You Want To Find Out WHICH Household Items In Particular He Will Kill You With Horribly!)

Now, I'm a horror movie fan, but pretty much just the slasher, good guy vs. bad guy type. No supernatural, Japanese girl ghost, alternate reality horror-fests for me. And Bullseye? He's the perfect slasher. You can't reason with him, you probably can't outrun him, and unless you have that basic fight training that all superheroes in New York City seem to have, you can't live through a skirmish with him. He can't even focus long enough to pick on a single victim, Daredevil-vendetta aside. No Final Girl scenarios for this guy, who, also creepily, doesn't seem to have a definitive civilian identity. Which is why the only good part of Shadowland was when possessed-Daredevil stabbed him to death. Of course, they resurrected him a few issues later, which is yet another reason Shadowland sucked so hard. Someone kill this guy for good already.

8. Swamp Thing

Why he's creepy: I know Alan Moore's run on this title was legendary, but I never got into anything featuring Swamp Thing/Alec Holland, or whatever human or non-human identity he apparently once possessed. Mostly he's a hideous, giant, powerful creature that lurks in the middle of the wilderness, and most people who come into contact with him don't last long. Also, when he does venture out beyond his swampy-domicile, he basically just performs the actions of an eco-terrorist, which is scary enough on its own without the unbeatable, impenetrable, vegetable-based monster arms that will snap your neck like a fallen branch. (That's just a simile, in case Groot is reading this; branches are totally safe from him.)

7. N'Garai & The Brood

Why they're creepy: I'll admit, when I was young boy reading X-Men, I occasionally confused the two. Understandable I think, consider they're both green/brown leathery monsters who will kill you. (N'Garai are demons who happen to have some small stone towers that tie their dimension to ours, and those just so happen to be often found in Westchester. Not a super comforting thought for a boy from the suburbs. And The Brood are full on extra terrestrials; basically Marvel's Aliens rip-off.) In that direct, horror fiction way, they're some of the X-Men's greatest, and funnest, villains. There's no reasoning with them or legislation you can pass or mutually assured destruction stalemate to reach. You just have to survive, and kill them before they kill you.

Memorably scary X-Men comics include when Storm stumbles upon and has to fend off the N'Garai on her own, and the completely classic Claremont Christmas issue Uncanny #143, when Kitty Pryde is alone in the mansion with Lockheed being hunted by one of the demons. The most memorable Brood storyline is the X-Men's first encounter with them, when everyone gets impregnated by Brood spawn (except for Carol Danvers who they experiment on and Wolverine whose healing factor purges him clean.) Storm breaks off on her own for awhile to submit in solitude to her hideous, inevitable demise, Kitty shows strength yet again, and things get real bleak before they get better. It's your classic alien abduction nightmare, and it'll make you wish you had an X-gene.

6. Sugar Man

Why he's creepy: Dear God, just look at the freak. He basically soured my entire experience with both Age of Apocalypse and the 90's Generation X. Even with his recent stint in New Mutants by some of my favorite writers, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, I couldn't stand it. I seriously can not look at him on a page of a comic book for more than a second, and mostly read his issues with a heavy reliance on peripheral vision. (Whatever Dani Moonstar did recently to kick his ass, I hope it was super painful.)

In addition to being just fundamentally gross and skeevy, he's a super freak who likes doing experiments on mutants, supports genetic culling and mass murder, and basically has zero compunction regarding committing any atrocity you can think of. Though really, the experimentation part is plenty horrifying on its own. Oh, did I mention he has razor claws and teeth, can shrink down really small and hide in your clothes, and his tongue can electrocute you after it grows to an "indeterminate" length? ::Shudder::

5. Thanos & Magus

Why they're creepy:  These guys go together because they're cosmic baddies and while it's hard to wrap one's head around sometimes, in their moments of near-victory, they are basically powerful beyond limits. On some gigantic, universal, infinite scale.

Magus, the bad side of general mensch and hero Adam Warlock, is like the cosmic Joker, doing the crazy diabolical grin and laugh while slaughtering 50% of your galaxy-defending superhero team. He's telepathic, super strong, super fast, can fly, and whatever cosmic energy is, he can control and project it. He also has a freakin' humongous space church devoted to him and willing to commit any despicable terrorist act in his name.

Thanos, on the other hand, is super serious, considering he's the Avatar of Death. I've never been entirely clear on what that means exactly, but the point is he's tried to kill the whole universe several times, and even succeeded for once, if only for a few seconds. He likes to collect weapons of ultimate power that help him in his whole destroy-everything life goal, and can't seem to die himself, which strangely just makes him angrier. Oh, and he's been in love with Lady Death for, like, ever now, even though she doesn't talk or even throw him a little smile. Seriously, Death personified. The embodiment of death. The cosmic entity Death. Who is a rather pretty chick in a cloak. He wants to take her to the malt shoppe, or, y'know, give her the gift of killing absolutely everything that has ever existed. Love is scary.

4. Anarchy

Why he's creepy:  I know, I know, he's just some B-list Robin villain, and despite a couple incarnations, he's generally always a kid. But hear me out. First of all, teenagers are scary, especially the moderately intelligent ones who believe they know the way society should be and have become completely obsessed with changing the system and saving everyone. Ignorant of actual real world matters, they reject the lessons of history and believe the only reason such wonderful things like socialism and communism and a complete lack of any kind of authority or laws has never worked is cause we haven't tried hard enough.

So they put on a long vaguely-religious cloak, a disturbing golden mask, and an electrified sceptre, and try to scare us into abandoning the basic rules of civilization, as well as stealing money from big corporations. This is, again, a bit of a rip-off, and eerily similar to V from Vendetta. And while V is perhaps an even freakier mask, and that includes the guy I saw at that costume party on Saturday who went all out, it's also become one of the symbols of Occupy Wall Street, and thus rather more comedic than scary. The main reaction I feel upon seeing the V/Guy Fawkes mask these days is a desire to punch it. Besides, even the name Anarchy bothers me. Few things are more dangerous than a mob.

3. Black Adam/Plutonian/The Sentry

Why they're creepy:  These guys are all in one group because they're basically variations of the same premise: What if Superman wasn't a good guy? What if he was a violent sociopath with a lust for power and domination? (Black Adam.) What if he was a good guy driven insane by the intensity of his powers, focusing on the bad in humanity until, convinced that people are awful, he decides to save us by eradicating us? (Plutonian.) What if he was just a nice blond guy with superpowers and an unfortunately severe case of both schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, leading him to believe his altar ego is a villain and entirely erasing control of his god-like powers? (The Sentry.)

Seriously, just think about it. Superman is unbeatable. And we're not scared of him because we know he's a boyscout with a heart of gold. But if he went nuts...if some villain gets lucky and murders Lois Lane...if Superman snaps, then his entire tether to humanity, his role trying to be one of us as Clark Kent, that all goes out the window. And no one, and no thing, will be safe from his stupendous, unstoppable wrath.

2. The Joker

Why he's creepy:  Well, for starters, he's a clown. You're probably a bit surprised he's not #1 on this list, which I'll admit feels kind of obligatory, but scary as he is there's another that troubles me more. But we'll get to that.

The worst thing about Joker, aside from the fact that he carries around acid, will never die because Batman will never kill him and writers will never let him go, and he murders babies, is his constant glee. He loves what he does, and what he does is violent, heart-wrenching death and mayhem and torture. He will never go away, he will never stop, he will always be creative and horrific, and he will enjoy. Every. Second. That goddamn laughter, even written down on the page, is so unsettling I can hardly wear a purple tie. He's ruined purple clothes for me.

Memorable stories that scared the bejeezus out of me: Killing Joke, obviously. The one by Paul Dini a couple years back, where he kidnaps Robin (Tim Drake) and ties him in the front seat of the car while he drives around Gotham mowing down innocent pedestrians. No Man's Land, just knowing he's wandering around that lawless urban jungle, inevitably waiting for the right moment to cause the most damage (he did.) God, even Joker in Batman The Animated Series was off-putting. The guy's a gem for writers, and a nightmare for kids. (I bet the Doctor Who writers from the '60s wish they had thought of him first.)

1. Purple Man

Why he's the creepiest of all:    Zebediah Kilgrave is worse than the Joker, because he can't just scare you, or torture you, or kill you...he can entirely control you. As in, Mind Control. As in, entirely possess your personality and character and make it into whatever he wants to be.

The worst part is, he doesn't just take control and tell you to do things, he makes you actually enjoy them. You don't even get to be some helpless voice in your head powerlessly screaming against your futility and swearing vengeance. No, you actually truly believe you enjoy whatever sick, depraved thing he is forcing you into, and even when his influence is gone the memory of you agreeing with him and wanting what he wanted, remains. And as far as sick and depraved goes, this guy is one of the worst.

Professor X, Jean Grey, Emma Frost; these people are legitimately scary because of their immense telepathic powers. But you know that even if they go dark (Jean) or are in a bad mood (Emma) or think they know what's best for you (Xavier), they have basic decent-human limits. (Except for that time Dark Phoenix ate a planet, natch.) Not Kilgrave. Just because he usually uses his ability to affect will power to make people fight each other or jump off a building, he has no problem kidnapping a young female hero who no one will notice is gone (see Alias, about Jessica Jones), keeping her as his slave for months, sexually and psychologically torturing her. This guy is capable of rape, and capable of making his rape victim think they want it. He is more horrifying, more disgusting, and more deserving of gruesome murder than anyone I can think of in either comic universe. Someone call the goddamn Punisher and put a bullet between his purple eyes already.

Honorable Mentions

Scarecrow: Being a fear-based villain, you'd think he'd make the list, but the truth is the guy's kind of become a joke. HE's not actually scary, but the idea that a spurned chemistry major can create a Fear Serum, a gas to make us all descend into insanity while being consumed by our deepest, darkest fears, is unsettling to say the least.

The Hanged Man from Astro City:  He's not on the list because in truth he's a good guy, no matter how off-putting it would be to see him silently floating around your city block. But I'll tell you this for free: don't dress up for him as Halloween. Doesn't matter if he's a good guy, or that your friends saw you actually put on the mask, no one will talk to you all evening. I speak from personal experience:

Happy Halloween Everybody!

1 comment:

  1. Can you post your pic as jack Aubrey?