I had a whole intro written about supernatural themes and beings and how they had been woven into the worlds of superheroes in comic books. Then I started making my list and realized that some of the greatest occult-oriented characters had never interacted with a standard capes-and-tights universe. So that whole intro was right out.
Instead, this intro is about how horror and the occult have always accompanied our favorite funnybooks. From the legendary EC horror comics to the X-Men fighting Dracula right up to pretty much everything IDW printed up until a couple of years ago (and that company is now a Diamond Premiere Publisher, alongside DC and Marvel thanks to those titles), the supernatural is a common theme.
That’s because anything having to do with monsters and magic is naturally intriguing and mysterious – a ready-made point of interest and conflict (not to mention a proven money-maker). Humanity’s nature demands that we be drawn in by the unknown and unexplained, and comic creators have always cashed in on this just as much as novelists and Hollywood.
So here is a compilation of some of the most notable of comicdom’s more supernatural personalities. These are the characters that live in the shadows or fight them.
Blade is a living vampire, except we don’t call him that because Morbius would get pissed. He hates all vampires and wants to kill them because they either ate, raped or killed his mom; depending on which book you’re reading or movie or television show you're watching. Yeah - Blade's been around. He used to rock an afro/mustache combo but now he has some sort of ridiculous high-maintenance tribal fade thing due to Wesley Snipes’ love of impractical hairstyles (see also, Demolition Man).
He still whoops the shit out of vampires on a nightly basis, though.
Doctor Nicodemus Horror is the patriarch of Daniel Brereton’s beautiful Nocturnals comic books. He’s a master of science and the supernatural and is surrounded by ghosts and monsters. And gangsters – don’t forget the gangsters. And he has a daughter named Halloween Girl who can make toys come to life. That is without a doubt the coolest power ever.
There have been many Riders throughout history, but they are all guys with flaming skulls for heads that ride things – horses, motorcycles, magical motorcycles, magical elephants made of hellfire – and protect/avenge the innocent from mostly supernatural threats. They’ve all fought Mephisto (who may or may not actually be Satan) and pretty much every other denizen of Hell.
(Yes, I know they're not on motorcycles or anything in that picture, but it's Jae Lee, man!)
Al Simmons was a soldier who did something so bad he was forced to live out all of eternity in a comic book that got shitty after ten issues but is still going on to this day! He is easily the most cursed character in all of comics! Spooooky!
As in Giant-Sized Man-Thing. Huh-huh. I can never pass up an opportunity to drop that line. So Man-Thing really freaks me out. Also, being able to set people on fire if they are afraid is a totally fucked-up ability. I mean, by default aren’t people going to always combust under those conditions? Not fair.
Jason Blood busts a rhyme to turn into the Demon, Etrigan so he can fight all manner of evil fiends alongside Batman, the Justice League, Batman and Robin, Morpheus, John Constantine and Batman. Pretty much anybody who might run into some spooky evil.
Sometimes portrayed as the premiere magic-user of the DCU, and sometimes seeming to be little more than a tart in fishnets and a top hat. That’s just how comics are, folks. She’s apparently had some nookie-time with John Constantine and Batman, so if you can judge someone by the company they keep Zatanna must be plenty powerful and crazy smart. If a little reckless in her choice of bootie-callers.
I’m going to be honest – I’ve probably read five Dr. Strange comics in my life. But he’s the Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe (sometimes) and has done battle with all manner of demons, spirits and devils.
The Goon possesses no real powers or magical skills. He’s just really good at punching the fuck out of zombies. And sometimes, that’s all you need.
Not to be confused with Bob the Goon. And let's hope to God this movie can actually get made:
MacDonald is one of the biggest assholes in comics. He has an ill-defined and shady past that apparently groomed him to deal especially well with evil and the paranormal. Well, with the help of lots of drugs and booze. The knowledge of the world in the shadows and the hell of being one of the few that can deal with it makes Cal a man apart from the rest of the world, doomed to be just outside of normalcy. The only constant companion he can count on is an undead man named Mo’lock. And that just makes him drink more.
While Hellboy is certainly a hero and darkness-fighter of the highest order, his spot on this list comes as much from the perfection of the world he inhabits as it does the skills he utilizes. No other universe in all of comics is as beautifully streamlined as the one Mike Mignola has crafted for Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. Everything is culled from the conflicting mythologies of our world – along with a heaping helping of Lovecraft, yet made to work together in a way that often is interconnected beneath the surface. And Hellboy handles every evil situation that comes along as a result. He has fought all of the standards and many things none of us have ever heard of and certainly don’t want to encounter.
Looks just like Keanu Reeves, doesn't he? Fucking Hollywood. Constantine is probably the number one most recognizable name when you’re talking about modern horror comics. He is the standard to which all other supernatural investigator-types are held. He drinks and swears and smokes and double-crosses Satan and cheats death on a daily basis. John Constantine is a man not without fear, but one who is completely in control of it. He has faced the worst of the supernatural world and survived more times than anybody can count. Underneath his drunken, abrasive exterior is a man who has more practical arcane knowledge than likely any other being on this list.
Also, he totally smoked Swamp-Thing weed at a party that Batman was attending. I lost the issue and can't find the page online, but it's from Hellblazer #40 at Constantine's 40th birthday party.
Until next time, stay creepy