Halloween is here and–unless about 85 percent of modern media is somehow wiped out of existence in the near future–so is Marvel. While this particular world of super people has become best known for its screen adaptations, it exists across all media. So I thought I’d give you some Marvel options for Halloween not just from movies and TV, but some other media like comics and even podcasts.
Incredible Hulk #335 (1987)
Right at the beginning of what would prove to be an epic twelve-year run on the comic, Peter David wrote one of the most chilling Hulk stories ever in 1987’s Incredible Hulk #335. “The Evil that Men Do!” is the first of what would become a recurring motif in David’s Hulk: the eponymous man-monster confronted with characters likewise caught in a Jekyll/Hyde duality.
Incredible Hulk #335 is set during a period when the Hulk is gray-skinned rather than green and comes out at night rather than when Bruce Banner is angry. The Hulk faces a blood-lusting villain who emerges every night from the body of an alcoholic stalker obsessed with slasher films. At first, the Hulk saves one of the villain’s would-be victims, but soon, he is intrigued by the bad guy’s promises to teach him how to suppress Banner and become the dominant persona.
Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)
I am not the biggest fan of Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, but it’s difficult to argue with the notion that as far as Marvel fare goes, it’s perfect Halloween viewing. The first MCU project that belonged more in the horror genre than that of superheroes, Doctor Strange 2 is scarier than anything Marvel Studios produced before or since. Even though I don’t love the film, even I have to admit the fact that the titular hero fights the final battle as a zombie variant is particularly, darkly glorious.
Wolverine: The Long Night (2018)
If you’d rather listen to Marvel stories on Halloween than read or watch them, give Wolverine: The Long Night a try. The fiction podcast was written by Benjamin Percy and is told mostly through interviews conducted by government agents investigating serial murders in Alaska. What they find is a complex web involving corrupt businessmen, a terrifying cult, and, of course, reports of a man who can pop steel claws out of his hands.
The way The Long Night is presented makes it feel like more of a horror story than anything else. Marvel adapted the podcast into a comic in 2019, but the experience of reading the comic isn’t nearly as satisfying as listening to the podcast.
Crypt Of Shadows “Endless Slaughter In The Infinite Swamp” (2022)
There have been a number of different incarnations of this comic–including a Marvel one-shot that came out this month–but if you can find a copy of last year’s Crypt of Shadows this Halloween, it includes the short but wonderfully gory “Endless Slaughter in the Infinite Swamp,” written and drawn by Adam Warren. The 7-page story unfolds as a never-ending battle between the mutant X-23 (Wolverine’s clone/daughter) and the swamp monster the Man-Thing. It’s worth digging up for the amazing visuals if nothing else.
There were Marvel movies before Marvel Studios, and the one most fitting for Halloween viewing is 1998’s Blade. The big-screen debut of the eponymous vampire hunter is as packed with blood-soaked horror as it is with techno-flavored action. As I excited as I am for Mahershala Ali’s take on the character, Wesley Snipes set a high bar.
Kraven’s Last Hunt (1987)
Because of the villain’s involvement in the hit game Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, the classic story Kraven’s Last Hunt is deservedly getting more attention and it’s a perfect Halloween tale. The story was originally told through all three of the Spidey comics that were being published at the time–Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, and Web of Spider-Man–but with the same writer and artist team of J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck.
Originally published in 1987, Kraven’s Last Hunt has the titular villain hatching a three-part plan to finally and fully defeat Spider-Man. First, he must incapacitate Spider-Man, then he must replace Spider-Man as a wall-crawling vigilante patrolling the streets, and finally, he must singlehandedly defeat a villain–the half-man, half-rodent Vermin–whom Spidey needed help to beat (he and Captain America fight Vermin in 1983’s Marvel Team-Up #128).
This Marvel classic is fitting for Halloween because it is arguably the darkest and most terrifying Spider-Man story told up to that point. Readers are treated to the disturbing visuals of both Kraven and Peter Parker hallucinating face-offs against monstrous beasts, and always in the background is the wretched Vermin, waiting to make things bloodier.
Immortal Hulk (2018-2021)
Rather than any specific issue of Immortal Hulk, I would suggest the fifty-issue run of the Marvel comic is itself one long Halloween-perfect tale. After being resurrected from his murder by Hawkeye’s hands, Bruce Banner/the Hulk learn they are essentially immortal. They have died countless times, and each time, they have returned.
It is immediately apparent Immortal Hulk is more a horror story than a superhero story. The Hulk’s immortality, we learn, springs from a bottomless well of darkness, and it’s one the hero must contend with until the very end of the series.
Werewolf By Night (2022)
During a time when fans were understandably frustrated with the dipping quality in Marvel’s output, 2022’s Halloween season thankfully brought the gift of the Disney+ TV special Werewolf by Night. Along with being a worthy love letter to the black-and-white horror films of old, the special brings a number of fan-favorite characters into live-action, including Man-Thing and monster hunter Else Bloodstone.