Marvel’s Horror Magazine Opens a Gateway Beyond Superheroes


Marvel Comics has long been known for superheroes, but the adventures of these colorful costumed characters aren’t the only types of stories the company has published. Once known for monsters and science fiction, Marvel would later turn to more supernatural forces in the 1970s to bolster their books. This gave rise to several outstanding properties that are still very well known.

Today, some of these horror characters have been swept under the rug, but others have found fame outside of comics. Once published under its own book and “group,” doing so in the modern age would be a great way for Marvel to expand beyond the capes and the middles while continuing to thrill readers with stories of action and suspense. This is how reviving the “Marvel Monster Group” would be a boon for Marvel Comics.

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Marvel Comics Had a Horror Revival in the 1970s

In the early 1970s, the Comics Code Authority was relaxed, allowing comics publishers to once again use more supernatural and paranormal themes in their books. These hadn’t completely disappeared, but it did mean that the most horrific shots of vampires, werewolves, demons, and ghosts were effectively banned. Following the Comics Code which withdrew its strict rules, Marvel followed suit by introducing several new characters that were more horrific than heroic.

These new horror properties include the hellish Ghost Rider, a vampire-hunting Blade, the howling Werewolf by Night, and the mystical Man-Thing. These characters were very much in line with the exploitation and horror craze of the time, which was much darker than the classic monster movies. Along with books like Dracula’s tomb (published by Marvel Comics proper), there were also the titles vampire tales, Dracula lives!, zombie tales Y monsters unleashed. However, these books were not comics, they were magazines run by Magazine Management with this distinction, meaning they could go further even than the now relaxed Comics Code would allow. Violence, language, and nudity were prevalent in these books, making it clear that the titles were more like horror novels than comics.

Speaking of comics, the popular Spider-Man is very much a traditional superhero title that would feature two horror villains: the Man-Wolf and Morbius, the Living Vampire. Though its origins were born out of science and not the occult, they still fit in with the growing horror vibe at Marvel. This saw Morbius turn on his own stories in adventures in fear and the magazine vampire tales. However, once the horror craze for movies died down, the popularity of these magazines would too. This made Marvel firmly a publisher of superhero comics and not much else. Although that may be ingrained in today’s culture, the legacy of these classic magazines and their characters could change that for the publisher.

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Classic Marvel Horror Magazines May Change Your Current Landscape

Horror comics and horror stories in general are making a resurgence in popularity, with titles like The Department of Truth and those released under Joe Hill and DC Comics’ Hill House imprint were a huge success. While they may not be written by horror icons, they remain popular on their own merits and are successful without the emergence of major superhero properties. The same could easily be done with a relaunched Marvel Monster Group of magazines and anthologies, with the difference being that these stories would feature Marvel properties. Many of his characters, namely Blade the Vampire Hunter, haven’t gotten their due for years. Giving them an exclusive space to shine would do wonders for them.

Even if these were theoretically magazines rather than comics, having Marvel characters in books outside of the superhero genre would only expand their reach. As popular as Marvel and DC are, there are some readers who just wouldn’t touch a superhero comic. However, they might be more tempted by horror and the occult, which makes the potential of these magazines much greater than that of traditional comics. The diversity of genres can only help the medium, and just like the movies, it would guarantee a huge monetary win every Halloween. All it takes is for Marvel to put out at least one or two titles that trade wall-crawling for bloodsuckers and stockings for jump scares.

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