Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 24 -- 10 Comic Book Horror Teams

If there's one motto that most comic book writers live by, it's that "More is more." So, what's better than a single horror-themed character?  A team of horror-themed characters, of course.

Night Shift -- The Night Shift was the first group that came to mind when I came up with this topic. They were a group of oddball villains recruited by The Shroud, a hero who pretended to be a villain who prayed on other villains. Eventually the group caught wise to the Shroud's M.O. and struck out on their own. Not all of the team were horror-based, but the majority were: Digger, The Brothers Grimm, Dansen Macabre, The Hangman, and Werewolf by Night. One of the things I've always liked about The Night Shift was that much of their membership was comprised of characters who had appeared in the old Spider-Woman series, during the days when it read more like a horror comic than a super-hero one.

Creature Commandos -- First appearing in DC's Weird War Tales, the Commandos were a group of soldiers recruited into Project M., an army program designed to strike fear into the enemies' hearts by turning the recruits into facsimiles of archetypal horrors. Their ranks included a vampire, werewolf, Frankenstein monster, and gorgon. There have been a couple of  iterations of this concept over the years, but it's the original group I'm most familiar with.

Legion of Monsters --  The first version of the Legion of Monsters -- Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, Morbius the Living Vampire, and Werewolf by Night -- was one of those non-teams that pop up in comics now and then, wherein the characters would get drawn together every once in a while to defeat a foe, but who wouldn't really consider themselves a team, so the name was more of a branding tool than anything else. The more recent version substituted The Living Mummy and Manphibian for Ghost Rider, and were formed with the goal of protecting other "monsters" like themselves.

Creeper and His Spirit Squad -- Another non-team, this one only appeared once, in Blue Devil Summer Fun Special #1 to stop Felix Faust from bringing the demon Nebiros to Earth.  Brought together by professional mystic meddlers Phantom Stranger and Madame Xanadu, the group included Blue Devil, Man-Bat, The Creeper, Black Orchid, and Etrigan the Demon.  At the end of the adventure, Creeper suggested they stay together as a team, and suggested "Creeper and His Spirit Squad" as a name; sadly, nobody jumped at the offer.

Nick Fury's Howling Commandos --With a name that's a play on the original "Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos" war comics, this short lived group was a supernaturally themed espionage squad whose members included a werewolf, vampire, mummy, Frankenstein monster, and a zombie.

Shadowpact -- Shadowpact was a team comprised of various mystically powered DC characters, and while I have tried to avoid putting teams on this list whose characters were merely supernatural, there are enough characters in the Shadowpact who have some sort of demonic or black magic component in their roots (Blue Devil, Enchantress, Nightshade), that I feel there inclusion is warranted here.

Scare Tactics -- The only team on the list containing no pre-existing characters, Scare Tactics was a rock-and-roll band whose members were all supernatural creatures:  a werewolf, a vampire, a lizard man, and a mutant.

Midnight Sons--  Originally, the name Midnight Sons was applied to a group of 90s horror themed comic book characters  from Marvel who were brought together to ride on Ghost Rider's coattails for sales defeat Lillith, Mother of Demons.  The group included Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, The Nightstalkers, Morbius the Living Vampire, and the Darkhold Redeemers. More recently, the name was recycled with a different group of supernatural heroes who were recruited to stop an interdimensional zombie invasion in Marvel Zombies 4. This team included Man-Thing, Daimon Hellstrom, Jennifer Kale, Morbius, and, once again, Werewolf by Night..

The Headmen -- One of the stranger things to come out of Steve Gerber's run on The Defenders -- and trust me, that's saying something -- The Headmen might not seem very horror-oriented at first glance, but 3/4 of the team were actually characters recycled from old Marvel horror anthology stories.

Justice League Dark -- As part of DC's New 52 initiative, many of the supernatural characters who had been plucked from the main DC continuity and placed solely in the Vertigo imprint were brought back into the mainstream fold.  Justice League Dark became a housing place for several of them, such as Black Orchid, Shade the Changing Man, and John Constantine, as well as other,non-Vertigo characters like Deadman and Zatanna. 

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