A catalyst for new storylines during the next year or so, Fear Itself has all the heroes on high alert as fear spreads to every corner of the MU. Only the most recent in a long line of fear-themed villains, however, Jormungund far from owns the shtick and so I thought it might be fun to count down some of my favorite Marvel characters who have taken on the mantle of fear for themselves.
#5 Psycho Man
First appearance: Fantastic Four Annual #5
Although not specifically motivated by fear, Psycho Man’s powers rely on an emotional manipulating “control box” that targets fear, doubt and hate. The control box itself was invented after Psycho Man unlocked “the secrets of fear itself.” He’s never really been an interesting villain outside of this concept, but he’s stuck it to the Fantastic Four enough times to warrant inclusion here (plus we needed one more character to fill out a #5).
First appearance: Doctor Strange (vol. 2) #30
Demonic overlord and otherworldly conquerer, it’s not hard to guess that Dweller-in-Darkness was inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft (octopus-face and all). He has the ability to cause and feed on the fears of any living being AND he even had a pretty important role in the creation of the current MU. Dweller-in-Darkness also gets some credit for “creating” our next character…
First appearance: Marvel Team-Up (vol. 1) #68
Let’s forget the whole Aarkus origin. Despite being created by Dweller-in-Darkness, D’Spayre is much more than just a clone or lackey– he’s a pretty bad dude in his own right having fought heavy hitters such as Dr. Strange and the Hulk. He has also dealt drugs made from the dark aura of his own soul (let that sink in) and even exploited Captain America/Steve Roger’s death after Civil War to take advantage of the public’s grief.
#2 Mister Fear
First appearance: Daredevil (vol. 1) #6
Though the title of Mister Fear has been held by a variety of villains, most recent of which is Alan Fagan, each share the same basic powers and fashion sense. Much like Batman’s archnemesis, The Scarecrow, Mister Fear relies on manufactured drugs and chemical pheromones to incite fear in his enemies. Subsequent iterations of the character have adapted the costume to include armor plating and a skull-like gas mask.
#1 Straw Man
First appearance: Dead of Night (vol. 1) #11
Most of you may be scratching your heads on this one or chalking him up as nothing more than a Scarecrow knockoff… that would be a mistake. Beyond his uninspired costume, Straw Man is actually an extradimensional “creature” who lives in a painting and fights demon-worshiping cults making him the only hero on the list. Though his powers are never spelled out he’s been known to cause fear in those around him, command an army of crows (sweet!), communicate with plant life, and has one hell of a wicked laugh.