"More Halloweeny Comic Characters!"
Two years ago I wrote an article listing ten comic book characters that I felt truly exemplified the asthetics and ideals of Halloween. Last year I was too busy helping Dr. Strange battle hordes of Dormammu's Mindless Ones in the Astral Plane to find time for writing, but now I'm back, ready to drop ten more spooktastic characters upon you.
Many of these characters were mentioned by you guys on the forums in response to my last article, usually preceeded by the phrase "why the hell didn't you include". Some of these characters are awesome, iconic classics that every self-respecting comic book geek knows and loves. A couple are just plain silly, and if they were gifted with but a moment's sentience they would certainly die of embarrassment and shame, but one thing they all have in common is feeling like they're right at home around Halloween.
Solomon Grundy was born on a Monday, but there's no way to prove it because they didn't keep records of that kind of thing for shit back then. Previously a wealthy merchant named Cyrus Gold (note how he's got a classic Golden Age comic book name there...if he had been a druggie his name may have been Leonard Smack, or a sex addict may have been Cornelius Snatch), he was murdered and his body was dumped in Slaughter Swamp, a popular vacation destination right outside Gotham City (and home to Sgt. Slaughter of G.I.JOE and WWF fame). Years later he arose from the swamp (he was bored, I guess), half-zombie and half-plant elemental to torment Green Lantern Alan Scott, though since then I think he's fought pretty much every hero in the DC Universe. He's dumb as a brick and almost certainly smells like a garbage truck drove by while all the guys on it simultaneously farted, but comic writers love borrowing him to have him pummel the shit out of their hero for a while.
Morbius, the Living Vampire
Dr. Michael Morbius was a biochemist suffering from a rare blood disease. He came up with a wild experimental treatment that involved fastening vampire bats to his nipples and juicing them up with a car battery. His unorthodox experiment failed and turned him into basically a vampire, but he's technically still alive, so every time anyone mentions his name, they are legally obligated to say "the LIVING Vampire!" after it, usually with an excited emphasis on the "living" part. His failed experiment forces him to feast on blood (the only thing he can now digest). Other symptoms of his condition include fangs, a strong aversion to light, flight, superhuman strength, speed, healing abilities, and dressing like a total wanker. For the most part though, that's not a bad deal. Your horrible "disease" just gave you the ability to fly? There would be hundreds of people signing up for his treatment, if they could get these kinds of powers. If Morbius was smart, he'd market that treatment and make millions off it.
Hellboy (so named because when people first see him they always say "Helllllllll boy, look at you!", except for the ones that say "Daaaaaaaaaymn, boy!" but Damnboy would be a fucking stupid name, wouldn't it) was summoned from the depths of Hell by Nazi occultists, who presumably were going after something slightly more powerful and menacing than a demon baby, but hey, when times are tough you take what you can get. Hellboy possesses the impressive powers suite of super strength, a healing factor, immunity to all fire, and being Ron Perlman. Hellboy's giant right hand is known as "the Right Hand of Doom", it's made of stone and impervious to pain. The hand used to belong to an ancient spirit and is said to be the eventual catalyst for Ragnarok. I'll let you guess which hand he jerks off with.
Geneticist Douglas Birely willfully exposed himself to massive amounts of radiation hoping that he would be granted superpowers. What he got instead was a serious dose of skin cancer (who knew?), that he has to keep in check by wearing a ridiculous costume filled with life support equipment. He got his hands on a radioactive meteor (you'd think he might have learned something about messing around with radiation, but apparently his doctorate is just an honorary title) and uses it to mutate animals into horrible monsters that he then pits against Godzilla (seriously, I am not making that shit up). Eventually he was arrested by the West Coast Avengers (though I think the Great Lakes Avengers could have taken him) and escaped through absolutely no skill or competence of his own when Electro busted out all the criminals in the maximum security Raft institution. He's kind of a moronic goofball, but that name! You've got to love the name.
Simon Dark used to get picked on in school, where all the other kids would call him Simon Dork. By the time high school rolled around, he was pretty much stuck hanging out with the goths with a name like that, which would drive anybody to severe depression. Stitched together by a crazy doctor from the parts of twenty different boys, Simon has decided to become protector to Gotham City, a city in dire need of a hero. It's a damn good thing too, because there's nobody at all already taking care of that job. Simon's personality flips back and forth between scared and childlike to godlike and destructive, he has super strength, can read minds, and make his foes shit their pants in unspeakable terror when they see his freakish patchwork face. He can also raise the dead by sacrificing some of the souls of the twenty boys that compose him, an ability that's not creepy at all. If the common criminals of Gotham are already terrified of a man dressed like a bat, I can only imagine what their reaction to this guy must be.
Hundreds of years ago an Irish woman named Siobhan McDougal was denied leadership of her clan because she was female, so naturally she did what any woman in that situation would do: attempt to summon demonic aid. When this backfired she was sucked into a hellish netherworld and tormented by demons, until she was released and given magical superpowers by a woman known as "the Crone", in exchange for retrieving and bringing her a book (I guess she'd never heard of Amazon.com). The ancient tome just happened to be in Metropolis, where she ended up tangling with Superman. Her banshee wail kills anyone within range as long as she can see them and knows their true name (banshee soundwave rules are complicated). She looks like a Misfits groupie, and her appearance would be more at home in Gotham than Metropolis, but she certainly knows how to accessorize with those giant skull earrings.
Nightmare is the demonic ruler of the Nightmare World within the Dimension of Dreams (it's just down from Spatula City in the Realm of Kitchen Appliances), where humans go when they sleep. While humans are temporarily visiting his realm he can manipulate their dreams, giving them "creepy uncle" dreams as his whim sees fit. When he's not getting bitch slapped by Dr. Strange, he can actually draw enough energy from a sleeping person to leave them in a coma if he likes, so I guess you could say he's sort of like a Sleep Vampire, but that sounds really lame. Though when you look at him I guess that kind of fits. He wants nothing more than to incorporate the waking world into his own realm, because, well, truth be told, the shops and restaurants of the Nightmare World really kind of suck.
Nekra's African American parents were exposed to radiation (always with the radiation!) at the Los Alamos Atomic Proving Grounds, causing their mutant daughter to be born with chalk-white skin. Disowned by her family, she fled home while a teenager and teamed up with Mandrill, another mutant who has the face of a baboon so you know he's a winner. Strictly speaking she doesn't even have superpowers, but apparently her feelings of hatred for the world grant her super strength, agility, and durability. I wish I'd known all this time that being a malcontent could grant you superpowers! Hell, in that case I know some people who could probably take on the Hulk. Her "costume" appears to be random strips of black fabric that she manages to keep on through sheer force of will alone.
Nobody really knows where the Phantom Stranger originally came from, but he just sort of shows up to offer aid and counsel to those who are spiritually troubled. He is said to be immortal, and possesses the power to teleport across time and space in addition to many other magical abilities. He dresses like a 1920s stage magician who raided the jewelry collection of Flavor Flav, he is damn near omniscient about everything and he speaks in annoying riddles that aren't nearly as helpful as he seems to think they are. And when someone asks him for clarification on just what the hell he's talking about, they turn around only to find he's blipped away to go annoy someone else. Definitely not the kind of guy you want showing up to your party.
Not to be confused with Merv Pumpkinhead, Lord Pumpkin is a magical creature created by a wizard to be the playmate of a spoiled prince in some medieval kingdom in the Ultraverse. The prince, being a snotty little shit, often chose to abuse his toy by burning him or chopping him with an axe. Lord Pumpkin, or "Pumpy", as his friends sometimes call him (seriously), decided he was having no more of that and turned on the brat, killing him and leaving the kingdom. Pumpkin has a candle burning inside his head which he can use to breathe a blast of fire from his mouth. Like a fucking dragon. Booyah. And he's nearly immortal--if he is killed one of the seeds from his head can grow into another Lord Pumpkin, and if one of the seeds is ingested by a person, they will turn into a Lord Pumpkin. Presumably this could create an army of Lord Pumpkins, but I guess they wouldn't be Lords anymore if there were a whole bunch of them, because who would they lord over? Maybe they could just take turns.
I know that I've inevitably left off plenty of popular characters still, so if there's someone you didn't see on the list this year, let me know in the comments section below and I'll see what I can do to include them in the next installment!!
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