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 released. Once known for monsters and sci-fi, Marvel would later turn to more supernatural forces in the 1970s to bolster its books. This gave rise to several important properties that are still widely known.
Nowadays, some of these horror characters have been swept under the rug, but others have found fame outside of the comics. Once released under their own book and “group”, doing so in the modern age would be a great way for Marvel to expand beyond capes and tights while enthralling readers with stories of action and suspense. Here’s how reviving the “Marvel Monster Group” would be a boon for Marvel Comics.
Marvel Comics had a horror renaissance in the 1970s
The early 1970s saw the Comics Code Authority loosening up, allowing comic book publishers to once again use more supernatural and paranormal themes in their books. These hadn’t completely disappeared, but that meant more gruesome shots of vampires, werewolves, ghouls, and ghosts were indeed verboten. After the Comics Code removed its strict rules, Marvel followed suit, introducing several new characters that were more gruesome than heroic.
These new horror properties include the infernal Ghost Rider, a Vampire Hunting Bladethe werewolf howling at night and the mystical man-thing. These characters were very much in the vein of the exploitation horror craze of the time, which was far darker than classic monster movies. With books like Tomb of Dracula (published by Marvel Comics proper), there were also the titles vampire tales, Dracula lives!, Zombie Tales and Raging Monsters. However, those books weren’t comics, they were magazines run by Magazine Management with that distinction meaning they could go further than the now relaxed Comic Book Code would allow. Violence, language, and nudity were common in these books, making it clear that the titles sounded more like horror novels than comics.
Speaking of comic books, the popular Spider-Man is very much a traditional superhero title that would feature two horror villains – the Wolf Man and Morbius, the Living Vampire. Although their origins were born out of science and not the occult, they still fit into Marvel’s growing horror vibe. It saw Morbius embark on his own stories in Adventures in Fear and the review vampire tales. Once the horror movie craze died down, so would the popularity of these magazines. This saw Marvel become firmly a publisher of superhero comics and not much else. While this may be ingrained in today’s culture, the legacy of these classic magazines and their characters could change that for the publisher.
Marvel’s Classic Horror Magazines May Change Its Current Landscape
Horror comics and horror stories, in general, are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, with titles such as The Department of Truth and those published under DC Comics’ Joe Hill and Hill House imprint are massive hits. While they may not be written by horror icons, they’re still popular on their own merits, enjoying success without major superhero properties showing up. The same could easily be done with a bunch of revived Marvel Monster magazines and anthologies, and the difference would be that those stories would feature Marvel properties. Many of his characters, viz. Blade the vampire hunter, have not received their due for years. Giving them an exclusive space to shine would do wonders for them.
Even if these were theoretically magazines instead of comics, having Marvel characters in books outside of the superhero genre would only expand its reach. As popular as Marvel and DC are, some readers just wouldn’t touch a superhero comic. They might, however, be more tempted by horror and the occult, which makes the potential of these magazines far greater than that of traditional comic books. Genre diversity can only help the medium, and just like movies, it would guarantee a big monetary payout every Halloween. All it takes is for Marvel to release at least one or two titles that swap wall crawling for bloodsucking and replace pantyhose with scares.