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Comic Book / Scare Tactics

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Clockwise from top: Fang, Screamqueen, Slither and Gross-Out

Scare Tactics is a comic book series published by DC Comics. A total of twelve issues appeared, dated from December 1996 to March 1998. The series, written by Len Kaminski, was a part of DC's Weirdoverse group of titles.

The series focused on the band Scare Tactics, which was a group of monstrous rock and roll musicians that encountered supernatural adventures while on the road.

The band/team consisted of:

  • Arnold Burnsteel (manager/bus driver)
  • Fang (Jake Ketchum - werewolf, lead guitarist)
  • Gross-Out (Philbert Hoskins - mutated human, drummer)
  • Scream Queen (Nina Skorzeny - vampire, lead singer)
  • Slither (James Tilton - reptilian human, bass guitarist)


The series contains examples of:

  • Accidental Kidnapping: When Van Zandt steals the Scaremobile, he unwittingly also kidnaps Scream Queen who was asleep in her coffin.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: One of R-Complex's jobs is to clean up alien cattle mutilations.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: The group's drummer is Gross-Out: a grey sludge monster who communicates in Hulk Speak and is the team's Big Guy. He plays the drums with enthusiastic abandon. However, it is later revealed that beneath the monstrous exterior, Gross-Out is actually intelligent, goodhearted and shy.
  • Automatic Crossbow: Graveyard Shift carry multi-shot, stake firing crossbows.
  • Back for the Dead: Scream Queen reappears as a member of a hastily assembled backup Task Force X in the 2018 Suicide Squad Annual. The mission goes horribly wrong, so Waller activates her Explosive Leash.
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  • Bat Family Crossover: "Convergence"
  • Big Eater: Grossout.
  • Deep South / Lovecraft Country: Fang comes from a werewolf clan somewhere in the Appalachians. The region is also home to a clan of very Lovecraftian ghouls.
  • The Clan: The Skorzenys (vampires), the Ketchums (werewolves) and the Knightbridges (ghouls).
  • Cool Car: The Scaremobile.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Arnie Burnsteel.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: The Graveyard Shift is a group of religious fanatics whose mission is to eradicate vampires. They killed most of the Skorzeny vampires in Markovia but Nina Skorzeny was able to escape. They tracked Nina to America but many of their number were killed when they ran afoul of an ancient vampire while tracking her.
  • Creepy Gas Station Attendant: After escaping the town of Beaumont, where they had been trapped in waking nightmares, the band stops at rural gas station. They ask about the town, only for the creepy attendant to tell them there is no town called Beaumont in the area. In fact, there is no town at all in the direction they came from.
  • Dumb and Drummer: This is what the rest of the band initially assume about Gross-Out, because he is a hulking beast who only communicates in Hulk Speak. Subverted when Gross-Out gets hold of Arnie's computer and types out his story. He is actually intelligent and articulate, but cannot communicate verbally because of his transformation.
  • Escaped from the Lab: Scare Tactics'' were a group of monsters being held in an R-Complex lab till they broke out with the help of Arnie Burnsteel. Occasionally they would encounter one of the other test subjects who got left behind when they escaped.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Slither was experimented on by his biologist father with the result that he transformed into a Lizard Folk.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Grossout.
  • Feuding Families: The Ketchums (werewolves) and the Knightbridges (ghouls).
  • Goth: Scream Queen.
  • Guinea Pig Family: Slither's own father experimented on him to make him what he is today.
  • Hidden Depths: Grossout. And how!
  • Hulk Speak: Grossout.
  • I Am Big Boned: Grossout's mother kept insisting he was just "big for his age."
  • Kiss of the Vampire: Screamqueen.
  • Lesbian Vampire: Screamqueen is only ever seen feeding on female victims.
  • Magic Meteor: Grossout gained his powers (and became a giant walking tumor) from exposure to an exploding meteor.
  • The Men in Black: R-Complex.
  • Mercy Kill: James starts losing control of his bestial side and pleads for Gross-Out to help him. Gross-Out...does.
  • Metallicar Syndrome: The Scaremobile is scarcely an inconspicuous ride for a group of monsters on the run from a secret government project. As a rock band's tour bus, on the other hand...
  • Monster Mash: The band consists of a vampire, a werewolf, a Blob Monster and a Lizard Man.
  • My Beloved Smother: Grossout's mother, as revealed in flashback.
  • Never Learned to Read: Fang, coming from an isolated clan of werewolves in Appalachia, is semi-literate at best. Slither offers to help him improve his reading.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Scream Queen.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: the Kinightsbridges are a clan of ghouls dwelling in Lovecraft Country and locked in a centuries long feud with Hank's clan of werewolves. Their exact nature is never established, but they appear to be living dead people: extremely place skin, clad in funereal dress, and with a general air of decay hovering around them.
  • Runaway Bride: Fang was a runaway groom.
  • Secret Project Refugee Family
  • Shotgun Wedding: Fang was on the run from one.
  • Silver Bullet: When Fang is captured by his clan, they are toting shotguns loaded with silver buckshot.
  • Southern Gothic: A clan of ghouls dwell in the Appalachians, living in a decaying antebellum mansion, and have been involved in a decades-long feud with a clan of hillbilly werewolves.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Over time, James/Slither begins developing a bestial side to his personality which becomes focused around sex and violence. He struggles to maintain control, but it becomes a losing battle. When he briefly manages to resurface, he begs Gross-Out to help him. Gross-Out snaps his neck in a Mercy Kill.
  • Super Strength: Grossout has this.
  • Tears of Blood: Screamqueen cries these on learning Grossout's origin.
  • Vanishing Village: The band finds itself stranded in a remote town named Beaumont, where they all experience their worst nightmares brought to life. After they escape, they stop at a gas station to ask about Beaumont, only for the Creepy Gas Station Attendant to tell them there is no town in the direction they came from.
  • Wolverine Claws: As a Lizard Folk, James/Slither has these, as does Fang in werewolf form.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Slither is refused admittance to a nightclub because of his "green body paint."
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The waking nightmares engendered by the "town" of Beaumont.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Scream Queen is mightily pissed when the band's manager/minder Arnie Burnsteel lines her coffin with grave dirt. She rails at the stupidity of a man who believes that the movie JFK was part of a massive disinformation campaign, but accepts everything he sees in a Universal horror film as gospel.
  • Your Worst Nightmare: In #2, band find themselves in the Vanishing Village of Beaumont, which brings their worst nightmares to life. Screamqueen sees her family being executed for her crimes; Fang finds himself face-to-face with the bride he jilted at the altar, who killed herself and is now a zombie; and Slither relives being tortured by his father in the name of science.