The Marvel Horror of the 1970s Anthology Omnibus is the #47 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus of 2017 on Tigereyes’s Secret Ballot.
What exactly is that? As it turns out, not even voters may entirely agree! Below I’ve examined all of the possible contents, including heroes, monsters, and imaginative anthologies. Visit the Marvel Masterworks Message Board to view the original posting of results by Tigereyes.
What Is It? After Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent partially took aim at the the legitimately ooky horror comics of the early 50s, The Comic Code altogether outlawed scary monsters in floppy books. While you could publish a comic without the Code, it might not be carried by distributors or stores.
In 1971, The Code loosened up a bit, allowing “vampires, ghouls, and werewolves… when handled in the classic tradition such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and other high calibre literary works written by Edgar Allan Poe, Saki, Conan Doyle and other respected authors whose works are read in schools around the world.”
At the time Marvel was experiencing a resurgence of interest in magazines and pulpy black & white comics, and this horror material made the perfect accompaniment to their blossoming line of Conan comics and Kung Fu books.
Past Ranking: Marvel Horror was #42 in 2016, both #29 (heroes) and #42 (monsters) in 2015, and #32 in 2014.
The Details: Heroes, Monsters, & Anthologies
There are three lines of thinking about what this omnibus would contain, and I don’t think voters have been clear enough that even Tigereyes is sure which of the two they’re seeking.
The final option is a broader collection of Marvel’s various horror anthology books, which would be multiple volumes but could probably also encompass the signature monsters.
Brother Voodoo AKA Doctor Voodoo
Brother Voodoo was created by Len Wein and Gene Colan as an alternate spin on Doctor Strange. Doctor Jericho Drumm returns to Haiti to find his twin brother Daniel on his deathbed, the victim of a voodoo curse. When Daniel dies, Jericho takes his place as a priest of good voodoo to avenge his brother.
If you’re having a moment of cringe and thinking, “Oof, white writers doing Hatian voodoo in the 1970s, that’s going to have some problems” … well, you wouldn’t be wrong. Yet, it’s interesting that Drumm is first introduced as “author, scholar, and noted psychologist.” As with Black Panther before him, Marvel’s writers have no trouble making a black man remarkable – but, unlike Panther and the advanced society of Wakanda, Voodoo’s story is mired in a lot of tropes about island culture that didn’t age well.
Brother Voodoo’s material was collected in part in Marvel Horror Essentials Volume 2. That included Strange Tales (1951) #169-173, Zombie (1973) #6 & 10, and Marvel Team-Up (1972) #24. He also appears in Tomb of Dracula (1972) #34-37, Werewolf by Night (1972) #38-41, and Marvel Two-In-One (1974) #41.
Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan
Daimon Hellstrom was one of Marvel’s most controversial characters of this horror group, drawing fan ire for depicting elements of satanism and witchcraft without the supernatural disguise of a character like Mephisto to take the edge off (and a year before the debut of Dungeons and Dragons).
His book was originally intended to star Satan until Stan Lee balked at the idea, and so Hellstrom was watered down to be the son of a devil – several devils, in fact. He’s the collaborative progeny of several of Marvel’s hell lords.
Then as it is today, controversy correlated with sales success… at first. However, once Hellstrom spun off to his own title in 1975 from anthology series Marvel Spotlight he proved to be less of a success. He was relegated to guest star status for four years before joining the regular cast of The Defenders in 1981.
Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan’s material was collected in both Marvel Horror Essentials, Vol. 1 & Son of Satan Classic, and includes Ghost Rider (1973) #1-2 as a prologue to his true debut in Marvel Spotlight (1971) #12-24 & 32, Marvel Two-In-One (1974) #14, Marvel Team-Up (1972) #32, and Son of Satan (1975) #1-8.
(A Horror Anthology omnibus could also include Marvel Spotlight (1971) #10-11 as a prologue to the Ghost Rider prologue, as those stories featured Witch Woman, who continues to the pre-Hellstrom Ghost Rider issues).
Modred the Mystic
Modred is a kind of cross between Captain America and Doctor Strange – a magician born at the beginning of the Middle Ages who attempted to master The Book of the Darkhold but instead wound up frozen in time until the modern day.
Modred the Mystic’s brief run of material was collected in Marvel Horror Essentials Volume 2 – including just Marvel Chillers (1975) #1-2 and Marvel Two-In-One (1974) #33. He then appeared in Avengers (1963) #185-187 and Marvel Two-in-One (1974) #74 before going relatively unused until Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins (1992)
Satana was created by Roy Thomas and John Romita Sr. in the black and white horror magazine Vampire Tales (1973), then headlined by Morbius.
She plays a coquettish damsel in distress for most of her initial four-page story in issue #2, about to become victim of not-even thinly disguised rape – only to turn the violence of her assaulter’s kiss back on him, stealing his soul in the process!
Indeed, Satana is the devil’s daughter and also a succubi, subsisting on the souls of men. Her look and tone are detailed much more in #3 in a longer story by Gerry Conway and Esteban Maroto, and at the same time she was sewn into Daimon Hellstrom’s earliest stories as his sister.
While Satana didn’t enjoy Hellstrom’s ongoing feature status, as a kinky femme fatale she merited a string of 70s appearances. Unlike Daimon, who grew up in touch with his human side, Satana was raised in Hell until she was banished to Earth by a powerful cabal of demons – thus, her more-wicked bent compared to her anti-hero brother.
Satana’s material was collected in Marvel Horror Essentials Volume 2. She debuts in Vampire Tales (1973) #2, then appears in Marvel Spotlight (1971) #13 (with her brother), Vampire Tales (1973) #3, Haunt of Horror (1974) #2-5, Vampire Tales #9 (not in Essentials), appears alongside her brother Daimon in Marvel Spotlight #22 & 24, Marvel Premiere (1972) #27, Marvel Preview (1975) #7 (not in Essentials), and Marvel Team-Up (1972) #80-81.
After that 1979 appearance, Satana is put aside for over a decade until she appear in Hellstrom’s 1993 series, and then again until appearing in the little-read 2004 limited series Witches. However, she’s likely more-familiar to modern readers than her brother due to a stint in Thunderbolts.
Marvel Horror Essentials Volume 2 also collected a handful of Marvel’s signature 70s monsters.
- Golem: Strange Tales (1951) #174 & 176-177 and Marvel Two-In-One (1974) #11
- The Living Mummy: Supernatural Thrillers (1972) #5 & 7-15 (and, not in Essentials, Dracula Lives (1974) #61 and Marvel Preview (1975) #12)
- Scarecrow AKA Straw Man: Dead of Night (1973) #11, Marvel Spotlight (1971)
#26, and Marvel Two-In-One (1974) #18
- Various other monsters: Monsters Unleashed (1973) #11, Strange Tales (1951) #175, Zombie (1973) #2
Alternately, a Marvel Horror anthology could contain a mix of Marvel’s horror anthology comics without significant starring heroes and monsters alongside horror magazine material – similar to the Vampire Tales magazine that spawned Satana.These magazines contained illustrated stories as well as editorial features. Marvel has shown a willingness to reprint this material before in Tomb of Dracula Vol. 3 and Master of Kung Fu Volumes 1 and 2.
That material could include Haunt of Horror #1-5, Chamber of Chills (1972) #1-25, Chamber of Darkness #1-8 continued to Monsters on the Prowl #9-30, Monsters Unleashed #1-11 (largely reprints), Legion of Monsters (1974) #1, Supernatural Thrillers (1972) #1-4 & 6 (which told the tales of classic literature monsters until landing on The Living Mummy), and Vampire Tales (1973) #1-9 & Annual 1
That’s enough for two omnibuses, unless Marvel did a lot of whittling down to determine what to include – which isn’t something we’ve seen them do in the past.
Will we see this omnibus in 2018? Before I answer that question, let me just say – oh what a difference a year makes!
In 2016 I was squarely in the “maybe next Halloween” camp on this book. How could I know that in the ensuing year of solicits we’d see single-author anthology style books and a pair of 50s monster omnibuses!
At this point, this would hardly be the least-likely release from Marvel – and it would absolve the Masterworks line from toiling through a lot of these brief runs with little sales reward in store.
That said, aside from the occasional Doctor Voodoo resurgence and Marvel’s fizzled Monsters Unleashed this year, none of these characters have any particular amount of traction at the moment. This, this book remains in the “maybe next Halloween” category – it’s just a little more likely to appear now than it was before.
As for the likely contents, I think it’s the heroes that would be least-likely to be covered by this book. Both Doctor Voodoo and Satana could easily merit their own “Classic” collection like Daimon Hellstrom received, but together in an omnibus they wouldn’t have a unifying theme.
By contrast, Marvel’s major monsters and magazines would make an analog to their recent Deadly Hands of Kung Fu and Monsterbus volumes, with the added bonus of selling to general horror memorabilia aficionados as well as comic fans.
Would I recommend reading it? I do think there is strong material here even without making apologies for its 70s vintage.
Marvel’s horror anthologies allowed their wide away of literary-minded comic authors unleash in more adult, prose-based tales. If you’ve got the patience for pulp stories, you’ll be satisfied by a lot of this material – which has more heft and horror to it than the sometimes inane monster comics of the 1950s.
As for the hero material, I think Satana is the best of the trio – hopefully we’ll get a classic volume for her eventually.
The 2017 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus Secret Ballot Results
- #60 – What If? Classic Omnibus, Vol. 1
- #59 – House of M Omnibus
- #58 – Captain Marvel by Peter David, Vol. 1
- #57 – X-Force by Kyle & Yost
- #56 – Namor, The Sub-Mariner, Vol. 1
- #55 – X-Force, Vol. 3 AKA Cable & X-Force, Vol. 1
- #54 – Conan The Barbarian, Vol. 1
- #53 – Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron
- #52 – Incredible Hercules by Pak & Van Lente
- #51 – Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day, Vol. 1
- #50 – Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch, Vol. 1
- #49 – Captain America (Silver Age), Vol. 3
- #48 – Doctor Strange by Roger Stern
- #47 – Marvel Horror of the 1970s
- #46 – Killraven