Nightmare (Marvel Comics)

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Cover art for Incredible Hercules #118.
Art by John Romita, Jr.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Strange Tales #110 (July, 1963)
Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
In-story information
Species Demon
Team affiliations The Fear Lords
Abilities Draws power from the psychic energies of the subconscious minds of dreaming beings

Nightmare is a fictional character, a supervillain who appears in Marvel Comics, most commonly as one of Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider's major enemies.

Publication history[edit]

Fictional character biography[edit]

He is the evil ruler of a 'dream dimension', where tormented humans are brought during their sleep. He roams this realm on his demonic black horned horse named Dreamstalker. He appears as a chalk-white man with wild green hair, a green bodysuit, and a ragged cape. He was the first foe met by Strange, when a man who was having troubled dreams went to Strange for help, though it is revealed this is due to him committing a murder. Later Nightmare imprisons several humans in his dimension, but Strange frees them. When Doctor Strange forgot to recite a spell before he slept, Nightmare started tormenting him, before Strange was freed after tricking Nightmare by casting an illusion of an enemy of his.[volume & issue needed]

Nightmare is a demon from the dimension Everinnye, like his "cousin", the Dweller-in-Darkness. Nightmare is dependent on the human race's need to dream. Without this ability, Nightmare would cease to exist, but humanity would go insane. At one point Strange and Nightmare had to join forces to prevent that from happening.[1] Nightmare has run afoul of Spider-Man, Captain America, Ghost Rider, Dazzler, Wolverine, and the Hulk on different occasions. Nightmare also served under Shuma-Gorath and warned Strange that the demon would be a force that even the Sorcerer Supreme would have trouble defeating, and he once joined the Fear Lords, a group of supernatural creatures who fed on fear, to attack Dr. Strange together. Their plans were undone when D'spayre tricks him into competing with the Dweller-in-Darkness over who could frighten humanity more.[2]

Nightmare is the father of the Dreamqueen, a similar being who rules her own "dream dimension". She was conceived when Nightmare raped a succubus named Zhilla Char.[3]

Nightmare's realm is not part of The Mindscape, but the Sleepwalkers are aware of him and consider him an enemy. Because Sleepwalkers do not have to sleep, Nightmare has never been able to affect or dominate them. He sought to do this through the hero Sleepwalker, who had been connected into the brain of the human Rick Sheridan. Nightmare sent Sleepwalker back to his own realm, with a monitor to assure the hero Rick was not being tormented. Rick was being tormented, with the intent of driving Sleepwalker mad and thus giving Nightmare access to the minds of Sleepwalker's people. The hero was not fooled and sacrificed his return home in order to stop Nightmare.[volume & issue needed]

Later, Nightmare was able to access human minds through the concept of the 'American dream'. Many people who were deeply patriotic or had achieved a degree of success through hard work were going on violent rampages. Nightmare was soon stopped by the combined forces of Captain America, Sharon Carter, and S.H.I.E.L.D.[volume & issue needed]

In the Tempest Fugit storyline of The Incredible Hulk it is revealed that Nightmare has been plaguing the Hulk for years with hallucinations, misdirections, and manipulations of reality, by empowering himself from the effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.[4] His second, more benevolent, daughter Daydream is also introduced in this storyarc. Nightmare here claimed that this daughter was conceived by forcibly entering the mind of the Hulk's late wife, Betty Ross Banner, raping her in her sleep, and is temporarily killed by the Hulk in retaliation.[volume & issue needed]

When Hercules and the God Squad needs to make their way to the Skrull gods' realm during the Secret Invasion storyline, they require a map of the Dreamtime, and barter with Nightmare for it. Nightmare agrees, in exchange for access to the fears of the five gods; however, he actually intends to use these divine fears to conquer the world. Hercules and the others escape his realm, having stolen the map via trickery as Mikaboshi had created a shadow duplicate of himself to fool Nightmare. Nightmare summons up an army of monsters to attack them, but they escape.[volume & issue needed]

Nightmare later attempts to revenge himself on Hercules by manipulating the supervillain Arcade into trapping Hercules and Deadpool in a labyrinth they constructed. The ploy fails, and Nightmare withdraws.[5]

He later plots to conquer the entirety of fiction, adding it to his realm of nightmares, but was defeated by the Fantastic Four.[6]

In the Avengers: The Initiative Special, it was revealed that Nightmare is Trauma's father, which explains Trauma's fear powers.[7] He later manifests on Earth and proves to be a problem for the Avengers Resistance and the Initiative.[8]

During the Chaos War storyline, Amatsu-Mikaboshi (now adopting the title of Chaos King) has amassed an army of alien slave gods and is attempting to destroy absolutely everything and become the only being in the Universe once more. He travels to Nightmare's realm while they are trying to torment Hercules with visions of Amatusu-Mikaboshi and quickly defeats the demon. Nightmare attempts to join Amatsu-Mikaboshi's forces but the ancient force of nature doesn't get tricked by his begging and destroys the heart, apparently killing Nightmare. His apparent death is felt by those who have psionic powers and it is later revealed that those who fall asleep enter into a state of berserk rage. Amatsu-Mikaboshi steals Nightmare's powers and minions.[9]

Nightmare was later seen tormenting Loki as part of a plan to garner greater powers in the The Terrorism Myth storyline.[volume & issue needed]

Other versions[edit]

Ultimate Nightmare[edit]

The Ultimate Marvel incarnation of Nightmare appears in Ultimate Spider-Man as a demon who entered Doctor Strange's mind and plagued it with nightmares. When Spider-Man entered the building, Nightmare moved to Spider-Man's mind and plagued him with nightmares. Doctor Strange eventually entered Spider-Man's mind via a spell and vanquished the demon Nightmare. Nightmare can shape shift into different forms based on the victim's memories. His main appearance was as a half-rotted, grey corpse.[10]

During the events of Ultimatum, Nightmare escaped Dr. Strange's Sanctonum after the Ultimatum wave broke the building's seal. Nightmare then possessed Dr. Strange's body before confronting Spider-Man and the Hulk. Nightmare attacked them both, plaguing the Hulk with nightmares of hundreds of dead victims of the Hulk, and Peter with the various villains (mostly the Six, R.H.I.N.O., and Venom) he fought in the past as well as a decayed Uncle Ben. However, upon solidifying into a young looking purple being, the Hulk attacked him in response to the nightmares, causing Nightmare to jump into Dr. Strange's Orb of Acmantata. The Hulk attacked the orb resulting in a large explosion, presumably destroying Nightmare.[11]

In other media[edit]


Video games[edit]

  • Nightmare appears in Lego Marvel Super Heroes, voiced by Greg Cipes.[14] In a bonus mission at the circus in Central Park, Nightmare takes to the center ring to wreak havoc on the circus audience. Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Iceman receive help from Ghost Rider to fight Nightmare and an army of skeletons. The heroes managed to save the circus by defeating Nightmare.

Print Novels[edit]

  • Nightmare is the titular villain in the novel: Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts: Nightmare, by William Rotsler. The lord of dreams is behind a complex plot to bring the citizens of the Earth screaming into his realm. 1979 Pocket Books Edited by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman. Painted cover by Bob Larkin.


  1. ^ Doctor Strange (vol.2) # 53
  2. ^ Dr. Strange vol.3 #40
  3. ^ Alpha Flight vol.1, #67
  4. ^ The Incredible Hulk vol.3, #81
  5. ^ Deadpool Team-Up #899
  6. ^ Fantastic Four: True Story #2-3
  7. ^ Avengers: The Initiative Special
  8. ^ Avengers: The Initiative #29
  9. ^ Chaos War #1
  10. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man #70-71
  11. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man #132
  12. ^ "TV stars invade Marvel Super Hero Squad | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment". Retrieved 2011-04-06. 
  13. ^ New "Ultimate Spider-Man," "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" July 2012 Episodes
  14. ^ Arrant, Chris. "NYCC 2013: Marvel Adds More Characters To LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES Game". Newsarama. 

External links[edit]