Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness looks to revive old-school, Bronze Age Horror at the MCU —so why not do it right in the comics, too?

The Times, They Are A-Changing

Bronze Age HorrorThere is no side-stepping the fact that the reception to horror in recent cinematic adaptations of Marvel comics has been mixed. Reviews on Morbius have not been great, and the horror-twinged approach to New Mutants was absolutely lambasted. It's been years since the Wesley Snipes Blade movies went from hits to sh*ts, and if you've even seen the Man-Thing movie you are part of a club more exclusive than the average Oscars afterparty.

With Evil Dead director Sam Raimi helming Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and The Exorcist's Jeremy Slater showrunning Moon Knight on Disney+ there is great expectation for a smoother integration of Horror into the MCU. Couple that with an announced Agatha Harkness series and rumors that the next Hulk movie will feature the jade giant as antagonist rather than hero, and this frees up ALL the anti-heroes of Marvel's Monster comics to get their own revivals.

So why haven't we seen much of that in the comics?

Real Horror Vs. Disney Horror

Bronze Age HorrorAs DC seems to be leaning full-tilt into Vertigo territory as source material for their tentpole projects —launching Neil Gaiman's Sandman on HBO Max after their great success with Garth Ennis' Preacher on AMC and earning critical praise for Jeff Lemire's Black Label rebranding of Vertigo via Swamp Thing: Green Hell— there is a noticeable absence of corresponding horror projects in print at Marvel.

Even as independent Horror comics (some from Marvel's own superstar writers) surpass the monthly circulation on most superhero titles there is little on the newsstand to suggest that Marvel as a company are poised to launch anything more supernatural than Ghost Rider.

Collectors have been heavily spec-ing on Bronze Age keys for Johnny Blaze (Marvel Spotlight #5), Man-Thing (Savage Tales Magazine #1 & Fear #10), Werewolf by Night (Marvel Spotlight #2), and even Frankenstein's Monster (Frankenstein #1) and the Living Mummy (Supernatural Thrillers #5), but the most mystical Marvel comic being published at this particular moment is Strange Academy, which is more Harry Potter than Tomb of Dracula. Is it wise to chase after the Rise of the Midnight Sons Ashcan or Ghost Rider #28 when the first part of that proposed cinematic franchise rests upon a Jared Leto movie opening to a 15% critics and 64% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes?

Nostalgic Value

The truth is that nostalgia is a kind of optimism that assigns higher value to the past than it had originally, so something of higher quality ought to have a higher nostalgic value. If we track the first resurgence of Marvel's 1970s monster comics in the 1990s we would have to compare Morbius The Living Vampire #1 and the glow-in-the-dark Ghost Rider #15 to Neil Gaiman's Death: The High Cost of Living #1 and Sandman Special #1.

That's like comparing Care Bears to Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum in terms of quality, but NOT in terms of nostalgia. While those 90s Marvel comics weren't as literate as their DC counterparts, they absolutely connected with their target demographic, which was a slightly younger and admittedly less sophisticated reader drawn to the star-making artwork on those Midnight Sons crossovers by Mark Texeira and Ron Randall.

Relying on nostalgia won't revive the Bronze Age on its own. The fate of these characters' futures will depend greatly on what Marvel invests in them now. So how can they extract gold from a tin mine? They'll need the modern equivalent of Vertigo-level talent.

Here's the Pitch

Hire Ice Cream Man scribe, W. Maxwell Prince, to revive Tower of Shadows. Lure back James Tynion IV or entice Al Ewing to write Monsters on the Prowl with a Something Is Killing the Children or Immortal Hulk vibe.  And the coup de resistance? Beg Donnie Cates to go completely mental on Crazy Magazine's former mascot, Obnoxio the Clown –with a reboot that uses Spawn's Violator as a template.

Even if the elevator pitch suggests otherwise, this stuff doesn't write itself, so Marvel needs to coax, cajole, or seduce the people who have a proven track record of knowing a thing or two about horror and then give them free rein to go balls-to-the-wall with these underutilized characters.

There is nothing but upside because there is zero expectation connected to any of these characters or concepts. The prospect of connecting this more insular cast into the greater Marvel Universe is a bonus, but even choosing to have them exist independently provides a new world of supernatural potential.

This blog is written by freelance blogger Matt Kennedy: Matt Kennedy is owner of Gallery 30 South and author of Pop Sequentialism: The Art of Comics. The first comic he bought on the newsstand was Werewolf by Night #32 which he somehow managed to keep in good enough condition to get it graded 9.0 forty years later. Please follow him @popsequentialism on Instagram & Twitter and visit his website:

Bronze Age Horror*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not reflect advice on behalf of GoCollect