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Nightmare Fuel / Spider-Man

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  • Carl King was the worst bully Peter ever had (far worse than Flash Thompson), and after seeing Peter be bitten by the radioactive spider, Carl eventually put two and two together, tracked down the now dead spider, and ate it in an attempt to give himself superpowers. He became a colony of arachnids that could invade people's bodies, devour their innards, and wear their flesh like a suit. Most of his victims (which included his own parents) were women, hobos and children. The arc was full of nauseating Body Horror. Yeah, he's the page image here. For good reason!
    • He also possibly killed his dad while disguised as his mom while they were intimate. Did we mention this guy was created by Garth Ennis?
    • On the flip side, the almost casual way he's permanently dispatched at the end of his story was immensely satisfying.
  • Venom himself was often this to Spidey, because of all the information he had about him, not to mention all the creepy commentary he would make and that constant big-toothed grin. Granted, he soon became more of an anti-hero, but he often went overboard when dealing out punishment to wrongdoers, which didn't exactly make him less scary.
    • A sentiment that even criminals Spidey fights against share as well, and for good reason: Venom is a far stronger, deadlier version of Spider-Man who doesn't put crooks in jail, but kills them. Some could even consider it a blessing that Spider-Man appears to stop them more often than Venom - since getting caught by the latter is not just a sign that you're thwarted, but it's also a 100% death sentence!
    • The Venom suit itself. An organism capable of sentient thought that relies on other organisms to live via a symbiotic bond. It affects you not unlike a drug, altering your state of mind and making you crave its power. While it provides benefits to you, it also uses your body against your will as it pleases and takes a toll on you in the long run. Once removed, some fragments of it retain inside the blood, as the rest retains not only the thoughts you shared, but all of your memories, that it will then share with its next host. It holds a grudge, will crave blood when it wants, and has an obsessive personality towards former hosts. Not to mention the powers it grants to its users, ranging from claws to tendrils.
    • Want to know what could make it worse? How about the fact it's not even the most DANGEROUS symbiote. That honor goes to the Carnage suit which has all of the above but with one slight difference... it's bonded with a serial killer who is actually stronger then both Venom and Spidey combined when wearing the suit. On top of that there's another one out in space that's outright stated to move from host to host just eating them as it's wearing them. And remember... Venom's the NICE one.
    • While Venom himself can be scary alone, he gets significantly creepier in the non-canon Dark Origin. As the name suggests it shows Eddie's origin, as his Trauma Conga Line begins and his life starts to go to hell. As Eddie, putting aside his much scummier personality as a pathological liar and social climber, he becomes disturbing as his sanity plummets, but it's when he's Venom does he become terrifying as all hell. He disguises himself as a costume in front of MJ, and then gives her a Jump Scare via reverting to his regular form. Plus, he acts just...creepy towards Peter, watching him from the Bugle's window, and as he fights Spider-Man for the first time he undergoes some Body Horror as the symbiote covers and uncovers his face and body. The artwork is also particularly... disturbing, especially when Eddie first bonds with Venom. Just... wow... Needless to say, while Venom can serve to be a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant in regular stories, it's Venom: Dark Origin that takes his creepiness to levels that were never reached before.
  • Carnage is perhaps one of the scariest villains out of Spidey's whole rogue's gallery - yes, even far more terrifying than Venom! To start, he knows everything about both Spidey and Venom. Now, this wouldn't be much different from Venom...if he weren't an irredeemably Ax-Crazy Serial Killer doing everything For the Evulz, with a symbiote merged into his bloodstream, making him a Nigh-Invulnerable maniac. To make matters even more disturbing, he also has his own sense of humor: Spidey has You Fight Like a Cow, Venom has Black Comedy, and Carnage has the worst of Dead Baby Humor possible. Perhaps the worst bit is this: Carnage is so powerful, in fact, that his mere presence immediately prompts an Enemy Mine between Spider-Man and Venom. Carnage is so deadly that Venom is willing to team up with the one he's endlessly stalked.
    • The Carnage symbiote, like all its other brethren, is able to possess others as well. Firstly, there is the mere existence of Spider-Carnage. Imagine your favorite childhood character, turned into a horrible monstrosity that wants to kill everyone.
    • At one point, Carnage infected the Silver Surfer. The implications for the universe are horrifying.
    • In Spider-Girl, the Carnage symbiote goes as far as to even bind itself to Peter's infant son, proving that it has absolutely no limits in terms of hosts and will freely kill anyone with even an infant host just for the thrills of it.
    • In Go Down Swinging, almost all of this gets greatly overshadowed by Carnage binding to the Green goddamn Goblin. Essentially, take the madness of the Green Goblin and blend it with the psychotic bloodlust of Carnage, and you get something that can and will rain absolute chaos upon the entire world.
    • What happens when you make an Ax-Crazy Misanthrope Supreme into a God of Evil? You get Absolute Carnage, where Carnage gets the Grendel symbiote (you know, the Nigh-Invulnerable dragon of the primordial evil god of symbiotes), and seeks to kill every single person bonded to a symbiote to reawaken Knull, the aforementioned symbiote god, to destroy all of reality. If there were a Moral Singularity beyond the Moral Event Horizon, Carnage blasted through it cackling. Oh, and he has a deluded Carnage-infused Norman Osborn as his Dragon.
  • Spider-Man can be pretty damn scary when he's angry. Take when he caught the Sin-Eater. Stan Carter has been going around killing people, including Spidey's friend in law enforcement Jean DeWolff, so Spidey wants him bad. After saving first girlfriend Betty from being killed, Spidey disarms and smacks Carter around... but he just doesn't stop despite Carter's pleas. Every couple of panels cuts back to Betty witnessing this and looking terrified. Spider-Man nearly beats a man without super-powers to death and probably would've if not for Daredevil stopping him.
    • A later issue revealed that the incident left Carter permanently crippled.
  • The Green Goblin himself, Norman Osborn. Think a Corrupt Corporate Executive, but as Ax-Crazy as humanly possible. Bearing a Split Personality, Norman himself is a subdued but calculating businessman who treats everyone as a means to an end, while the Green Goblin persona is a twisted Mad Bomber who relishes in Break Them by Talking followed by Black Comedy commentary. Both of which are stored inside of one man - one man who will go to any deep, sinister lengths to torture Spider-Man; and everyone else he loves; as cruelly as possible - killing Gwen Stacy, trying to kill his son Harry for sympathy ratings, and upon discovering that Spidey cares about the lives he saves, carpet bombs Times Square to the point where Spidey was able to just save five people at most.
    • By extension, any appearance of Norman Osborn between "The Final Chapter" (where his already notorious insanity was magically enhanced) to his appearances in The Pulse and Marvel Knights Spider-Man (where he was finally outed as the Green Goblin and sent to prison) was full of this. His MO by this point was to straight up torture Spider-Man in any way he could to mold him into being an Osborn worthy of his legacy. This included such lovely acts as brainwashing Peter into being the Green Goblin without even realizing it, using electro shocks to force Peter to choose darkness over light, causing an alcoholic relapse in Flash Thompson before engineering a car accident into a school via tanker truck with Flash, and generally threatening his loved ones through surveillance photos and the like.
  • Carrion, one of the creations of Miles Warren AKA The Jackal, is a ghoulish, gaunt figure with a Touch of Death and a penchant for throwing poison dust at people. But that’s not the truly horrible part, it's the fact that there isn’t just one Carrion, he is a VIRUS and can "infect" anyone with his own DNA and personality, creating a new Carrion and essentially erasing the original person.
    • Carrion's origin is even worse; he was originally a backup clone Miles Warren created of himself, in case his vendetta against Spider-Man failed. It did, but Warren never returned to release the clone since he died in the fight, and the clone was left to grow old and die in the clone tube, but the machinery kept up its support of the corpse, preventing it from completely dying and decomposing, creating a Technically-Living Zombie. Years later, a university professor stumbled upon the machine and released Carrion, who had understandably been driven completely insane by the experience, even if he wasn’t awake in stasis.
  • Despite her limited appearances, The Queen quickly establishes herself to be this whenever she shows up.
    • In her first appearance, despite looking like a normal beautiful woman, she almost immediately gains control of a large portion of New York's population just by humming. When someone not under her control honks at her for not using the sidewalk like everyone else, she uses one of her powers to telekinetically lift his vehicle and throw it at a building, simply saying "she isn't like everyone else." She continues to establish herself as a force to fear throughout her introduction. Before the issue is over she: causes Spider-Man's spider sense to go berserk and make him bleed from the ears and nose, worry Captain America with just her presence, overpower both Spider-Man and Captain America when they arrive to try to stop her, and in the biggest Wham Shot of the issue after she defeats Spider-Man she pulls him into a hug, and kisses him while he is unconscious and bleeding heavily.
    • Her interactions with Spider-Man after choosing him as her "mate" are just as disturbing. She tries to control Spider-Man and make him love her by kissing him again while he's conscious, and he nearly falls under her control before regaining control and forcing her off him. She becomes enraged at his disrespect, slapping him across the face and vowing he'll love her. Later, making several of her mind-controlled "drones" jump to their deaths just as a demonstration of her power to try to make Spidey give in and accept her. Despite all her claims to have "love" for Spider-Man she has no problems knocking him around to keep him in place when he refuses her or speaks up against her.
    • It is eventually revealed that her kiss is slowly mutating Spider-Man into a giant spider creature. The transformation lasts over several issues and is clearly very painful for Peter. Queen eventually captures him and takes him back to her new lair where he completes his transformation, now under her complete control. It was only a small miracle that he survived the experience and reclaimed his human form.
    • After being absent for several years she makes her return as the Big Bad of the Spider-Island storyline. Working with The Jackal she created a "Spider Virus", turning everyone in New York into spider creatures just like Spider-Man was, all so she can control them. She slowly gets stronger through the story and eventually gains a new Kaiju form, calling herself The Spider-Queen and having near god-like power. She easily fought off dozens of superheroes in that form and if not for some very quick thinking could have likely killed everyone.
  • Skip Westcott, a one-off character from the ambiguously canon PSA comic Spider-Man and Power Pack #1. One day, Skip just pulls up a chair beside Peter (this is before the radioactive spider), introduces himself, starts a conversation, and walks Peter home. From then on, Skip and Peter strike up a great friendship, Skip helping Peter with homework and the two talking about life. Sounds wholesome, right? Well, one day Skip shows Peter some porn magazines and then tells him that they should "touch each other like the people in that magazine"... Yes, Skip is in fact a sexual predator and molested Peter. While the comic ends on a good note, revealing Peter told Ben and May what happened and encouraging another abuse victim to tell his parents, Skip leaves a frightening impression, especially since it isn't clear if he was arrested or is still out there looking for another victim. While the supervillains and criminals Spidey usually fight operate on a much larger scale and hurt far more people at once than Skip, child sexual abuse is a league of evil all on its own. Plus, while these supervillains have many more resources, like gadgets or money, to do harm, this makes Ship even more frightening as someone like him you very well could pass by on the street, and you wouldn't notice because he seems normal.


  • Hydro-Man was once hired to free a Russian mobster who was being extradited; part of his plan to do so involved sneaking into the airplane that was transporting the man and forcing his way into the pilots' bodies, killing them and allowing him to crudely puppeteer their corpses. It was surprisingly macabre, especially for a villain who is usually depicted as a borderline joke and no more than Dumb Muscle.
    Everett K. Ross: I read somewhere that the human body is 98% water. And, at least in the case of Zurich Flight 1635's pilots—2% Hydro-Man.
  • Speaking of Spider-Man, the Tordenkakerlakk from the graphic novel Hooky is worth mention, due to the myriad of grotesque forms it takes throughout the book, for the sole purpose of stalking a little girl who has been alone for 200 years.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man story arc "Shed" is this. There's no return to Curt Connors for the Lizard. Not now. Not after what he does.
    Lizard: Kahnrrs want kill Cold One. Kahnrrs be rival male. Cold One raids Kahnrrs nest! Cold One eats Kahnrrs young!
    • And the worst thing - Lizard is now gone, probably for good. And Curt is stuck in his hideous form, well aware of what he had done.
    • Later, the Jackal clones his family in exchange for his help, but the clones are unstable and slowly begin to degenerate. So what does Curt do to save their lives? He gives them the same Lizard serum. It saves them, but now they are turned into reptiles like him.
  • Two books published by Marvel about the villain Carnage, Mind Bomb (which is by Warren Ellis by the way) and It's A Wonderful Life. The character of Carnage is already up there to begin with, having been in prison serving eleven consecutive life sentences for murder before obtaining the symbiote, and after obtaining it, his only goal was to kill as many people as possible. The entire plot of Maximum Carnage was that Carnage wanted to kill everyone in Manhattan. He's a killer with no style or gimmick, who only wants to kill, preferably by brutal, gory means. But these books... both involve Carnage using the symbiote to connect to the minds of other people, which allows us to see what's in Carnage's mind. He lives in a world of corpses, willing victims, dark humor, and frightening landscapes all of which house his knowledge, desires and memories of the past. There is even a special area where Carnage spends time hacking up Spider-Man copies for fun. One panel of Mind Bomb shows the "real world" as he calls it, which features a man eating intestines and holding a cup labeled "urine sample" as a drink glass, an elderly woman in bondage gear, and a cop with a KKK hood shooting a man. In Mind Bomb, the man he's connected to, Dr. Matthew Kurtz, goes completely insane from this experience. The second book plays more to Cletus Kasady's history as Dr. Kafka and John Jameson are connected this time, each mutating into a vicious creature (John turned back into the Man-Wolf, a previous villain form, and Dr. Kafka slowly changed into a cockroach) finally ending when a young black kid named Billy shows up deep within the area of repressed memories. Carnage threatens to kill him if they get too close but seems unable to (it's hinted that Billy was a childhood friend, but the details beyond this are never really said) and finally has a breakdown, releasing the two but left in a catatonic state. The artwork is graphic even for a Carnage story and the cover of Mind Bomb has him perched on a pile of human skulls. The oddest part? Both books were approved by the CCA. Even worse, IAWL seems to play with the idea that the people running the mental hospitals that house supervillains may actually be more evil than Carnage. Mind Bomb showed him as oddly intelligent for a supposedly uneducated guy but IAWL opens with Carnage ranting about the change in management. He even seems to be more than aware that many "accidents" that are resulting in patient deaths during their transfers are intentional and even calls out that the car crash that killed Wolverina (not Wolverine) was on purpose. This alone might be the most frightening aspect, Carnage himself calling out someone else for being worse than him and being right.
  • In a story arc titled Venom: Shiver, set in the isolated Alaskan wilderness, an army base loses contact with a nearby military research facility in the midst of a driving snowstorm. One of their officers, a young woman named Pat, takes a long and lonely journey through the storm to find out what's gone wrong. What she finds is a dark, cold, silent facility filled with the mangled corpses of the staff, most covered not only with blood, but also a familiar-looking black sludge. Only a single, nearly catatonic survivor remains. She chooses to take the terrified man back to her base, followed by by a lone figure obscured by the snow. While the overarching plot of the story is, admittedly, pretty weak, and borrows very heavily from The Thing, what follows in the next several pages still manages to be a pretty unsettling look at what the Venom symbiote gets up to when it doesn't have a host like Eddie to moderate its violent impulses . . .
  • The Tarantula transforming into a giant, anatomically accurate tarantula. It drives him to suicide, with a panel even showing the gruesome aftermath of his giant, bloody corpse lying on a public street. Sweet dreams, readers.
  • Similarly, any time Spidey himself mutates into a Giant Spider.
  • A Spectacular Spider-Man (comic book) arc features Spidey and Black Cat stopping Ock from nuking New York. While the bomb is stopped Ock's tentacles bind Black Cat and one shoots her with a machine gun. That's disturbing enough but Spider-Man tears out several of Ock's extra arms and the issue ends with Ock on an operating table, refusing pain killers while his arms are reattached to him, vowing to return the pain to Spider-Man.
  • The fifth Green Goblin (who wasn't human, but a genetic construct) revealing his empty face, and then gruesomely melting into a pile of goo after assuming Harry's appearance.
  • Like the Noir version of the Vulture, the one from Marvel 2099 is also a man-eater, complete with Cannibal Larder.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #373. Venom is held in custody, with a jerkass guard who's favorite pastime is intentionally turning up the sonics in Venom's cell so he can laugh at Brock and the symbiote's agony. Once Venom escapes the cage, he wraps his tendrils around the guard's head and squeezes. And squeezes. And squeezes. His head is completely covered in tendrils but we see it gradually getting smaller and smaller. And then we cut to the other guard's horrified face as Venom cheerfully sings "Pop goes the weasel!"
  • A lot of people think of Mysterio as being a minor Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain at worst. Those people really don't realize how horrifying ol’ Fishbowl can get when he gets serious. Old Man Logan kindly shows this. The Xavier Mansion is being attacked by an army of supervillains. Wolverine can't find any of the other X-Men and the villains are threatening the students, so Logan is forced to pop out his claws and kill them to protect the kids. Finally he gets down to Bullseye and stabs him when suddenly Bullseye says "Why Logan?". The illusion drops revealing that the whole time Wolverine was slaughtering the other X-Men. Bullseye is actually Jubilee, who is basically the closest thing to a daughter Logan has ever had. Mysterio than appears behind Wolverine, casually mocks him for thinking he could take on that many supervillains at once, and then walks away, having totally broken Wolverine in mind, body, and spirit. Really, Spider-Man is incredibly lucky that mainstream Mysterio doesn't have very big ambitions; the Wall-Crawler wouldn't last a week.
  • The Spider-Woman (Mattie Franklin) villain Flesh had no bones, and possibly no other innards, due to a curse, and was thus a prime source of Body Horror. Mattie (who was once sewn inside Flesh) noted that she and her sister, Bones, likely made their getaways while the witnesses and responders to their crimes were busy throwing up at the sight of them.
  • Like many stories that compose "the Gauntlet", "Power to the People" has a rather unsettling moment in which Electro manages to essentially convince an unknown number (implied to be quite high) to assist him in murder, in such a way they could do it from their own homes and nobody would ever know, just by turning on all their electrical appliances to feed him the power he needs to get the job done.
  • The Grim Hunt storyline. The Kravenoffs manage to murder Peter's clone brother Kaine, leave his body on display in a graveyard with a note "Hunt Me!" Their plan proceeds to go horribly right as Peter, in a fit of pure rage, dons his black (non-Venom) suit, and proceeds to hunt and torture Kraven's family, ripping apart Sasha's face with his wall-crawling power and going at Kraven with one of his spears fully intending to kill him in retaliation. The whole time, echoing menacing threats of his intentions to each of them.
  • The Vermin story arc in Spectacular Spider-Man. Vermin was originally a scientist who had been sexually abused by his father as a child. As an adult, a failed experiment turned him into a hideous rat-like mutant, which also made him psychotic and turned him into a cannibalistic serial killer. The storyline has a ton of creepy scenes, such as showing Vermin’s mental breakdown in the mental hospital while his doctor is trying to reach his original personality, and the crime scene photos of his victims. There's also one disturbing scene where Peter Parker is visiting the cemetary with Mary Jane and Aunt May and has a bizarre vision of Vermin bursting up from Uncle Ben's grave (Vermin is nowhere near the place at the time).
    • By far the creepiest scene is where Vermin returns to his parents’ house, and manages to sneak into his father’s room, and lies down next to him in bed! The look of horror on the man’s face says it all.
    Vermin: I'm home, daddy...
    • On top of that, Peter is in the middle of a breakdown, and is sent right over the edge when Harry exposes him to a hallucinogenic gas, forcing him to deal with his massive death phobia, and showing him visions of his dead parents as rotting corpses.
    Peter: mommy daddy mommy daddy mommy daddy mommy daddy
    • In the middle of all that, Harry Osborn is having one last relapse into mental illness as he begins to see visions of his dead father driving him to resume being the Green Goblin. He even starts to become abusive towards his family just as Norman had been.
  • The infamous "Kraven’s Last Hunt" story arc, where Kraven, driven insane by his repeated losses against Spider-Man, becomes obsessed with defeating his enemy by "becoming him". He does this by putting Spider-Man in a death-like coma and burying him alive, then assuming Spider-Man’s identity and embarking on a vigilante spree and going extra rough on criminals while Peter's friends and family have no idea where he is for days.. Spider-Man is trapped in his grave for TWO WEEKS, during his which he has horrible nightmares and has to undergo a vision quest just to regain enough control of his own body to claw his way out of the grave. The story ends with Kraven declaring victory and shooting himself in the head.
    • "They said my mother was insane..." *BLAM!*
      • The What If? issue was even worse, with Kraven actually killing Peter, and later digging up his festering remains in order to consume them.
    • The sequel The Grim Hunt, which served as the finale to The Gauntlet series of stories (revamps of old Spidey villains into scarier threats), is a mix of Psychological Horror, Body Horror, and good ol' fashioned Gothic Horror as Kraven's family goes about attempting to raise their patriarch from the dead through Blood Magic.
  • Spider-Man: The Sinister Six for PC is an unremarkable adventure game, but there's one incredibly jarring moment around the halfway mark, when Peter Parker is given an ultimatum by the Chameleon: bring Spider-Man to the Sinister Six, or else Mary-Jane dies. To really hammer it in, Chameleon briefly shape-shifts into Mary-Jane—with half her face torn off. (She's unharmed when Spider-Man finds her, thankfully.)
  • In Back in Black, Aunt May had been mortally wounded by an assassin that Kingpin had sent after Peter. Peter replies by donning his black (non-Venom) costume and breaking in the jail, and when he finds that Kingpin had set up a prison fight between them he proceeds to utterly beat him up, making clear that all the times Kingpin had thought they were going toe-to-toe Spidey was holding back to not kill him... And this time he's not. Kingpin is left battered and broken in front of hundreds of criminals who now know to not go after Spider-Man's loved ones, and before leaving Spidey informs Kingpin that if May dies from the wound he'll finish the job.

"Hi, honey... I'm home!"