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Nightmare (Marvel Comics)

Nightmare is a fictional supervillain that appeared in the American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He first appeared in Strange Tales #110 and was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The character is depicted most commonly as one of Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider's major enemies. Nightmare is the ruler of a Dream Dimension and he is one of the Fear Lords. He also has the ability to draw power from the psychic energies of the subconscious minds of dreaming beings.

Tih 117.jpg
Textless cover for The Incredible Hercules #118 (August 2008).
Art by John Romita, Jr.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceStrange Tales #110 (July 1963)
Created byStan Lee
Steve Ditko
In-story information
Team affiliationsThe Fear Lords
  • Nigh-omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence
  • Ability to draw power from the psychic energies of the subconscious minds of dreaming beings

Publication historyEdit

Nightmare first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (the first appearance of his enemy, Dr. Strange) and was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Fictional character biographyEdit

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 Doctor 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 one of Nightmare's enemies.[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, the Hulk, and Squirrel Girl 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]

During Osborn's Dark Reign, 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 Terrorism Myth storyline.[volume & issue needed]

Powers and abilitiesEdit

Nightmare is a nigh-omnipotent, nigh-omniscient and nigh-omnipresent entity who rules the Dream Dimension. He also has the ability to draw power from the psychic energies of the subconscious minds of dreaming beings.

Other versionsEdit

Ultimate MarvelEdit

The Ultimate Marvel incarnation of Nightmare can shape shift into different forms based on a victim's memories. He appears in Ultimate Spider-Man. A demon of dreams that plagues Doctor Strange's mind with nightmares. When Spider-Man (Peter Parker) entered the building, a misconnection led to Nightmare moving to Spider-Man's mind, where the young web-slinger gets plagued by Nightmare's torture. To torment Spider-Man, Nightmare takes the forms of Mary Jane Watson, Aunt May, Eddie Brock, Harry Osborn and the Green Goblin. Doctor Strange eventually entered Spider-Man's mind via a spell and vanquished Nightmare, however, the demon takes Doctor Strange's own father's form. After some effort, Nightmare's main appearance (a half-rotted, grey corpse) is revealed as he's defeated.[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 Hulk with nightmares of hundreds of Hulk's own dead victims, and Peter with Spider-Man's various villains from in the past as well as a decayed Uncle Ben. However, upon solidifying into a young looking purple being, Hulk attacked him in response to the nightmares, causing Nightmare to jump into Dr. Strange's Orb of Acmantata. Hulk attacked the orb resulting in a large explosion, presumably destroying Nightmare.[11]

In other mediaEdit


  • Nightmare appears in The Super Hero Squad Show, voiced by Jim Parsons.[12] In the episode "Blind Rage Knows No Color", Iron Man, Thor and Wolverine enter the dream realm to find help to stop Thanos's plot to use the Mind Infinity Gem to control the Hulk while asleep, encountering Nightmare. The heroes end up offering Nightmare membership to the Cheese of the Month Club in exchange for his help. When Thanos fell asleep, Nightmare used his abilities to make Thanos end up on a 'Sugar World' board game (which is a parody of Candy Land), causing Thanos to give up.
  • Nightmare appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, voiced by Mark Hamill.[13][14] In "Strange", he has escaped from the Dream Dimension and puts all of New York into a sleeping spell; Iron Fist's "Dream Walking" skills saves Peter Parker from the sleeping spell. At the Sanctum Sanctorum, Spider-Man and Iron Fist discover from Doctor Strange that Nightmare is responsible after finding a way to Earth, going to the Dream Dimension to combat Nightmare. Nightmare's dream spells causes White Tiger to experience failing a test, Power Man trying to hold up a building which is about to fall on bounded friends, and Nova to be surrounded by rabbits. Nightmare arrives before Spider-Man, Iron Fist and Doctor Strange and unleashes his Dreamons (short for Dream Demons) on the three heroes as Nightmare feeds off the dreams of millions. As Nightmare's dream spell eventually affects Iron Fist's fears of not deserving his powers and grows more stronger over Doctor Strange, Nightmare then uses his powers on Spider-Man, confronting him with an illusion of Uncle Ben. This backfired for Nightmare as Spider-Man claims not to fear his past, but instead learns from it, which weakens Nightmare and enables Doctor Strange's powers to return. Spider-Man then manages to wake everyone from the dream spell, including Iron Fist. Spider-Man, Iron Fist and Doctor Strange then defeat Nightmare, trapping him in a box. When Spider-Man asks if this is the last they've seen of Nightmare, Doctor Strange states that Nightmare will be back as long as there are nightmares. Nightmare also appears in Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors. In "Nightmare on Christmas", Nightmare poses as Spider-Man's bad conscious (voiced by Drake Bell) where he manipulates Peter's dreams in order to help Spider-Man. Nightmare thinks he's doing Spider-Man a favor by showing what life would've been like if Peter wasn't Spider-Man. But after Spider-Man defeats the Goblin King, Nightmare attacks by feeding off of Spider-Man's fears, insecurities and nightmares. Spider-Man turns the tide against Nightmare and defeats him. Before Spider-Man and Nightmare can hit the ground after the bridge collapses, Spider-Man is awakened by Nova.


Video gamesEdit

Print novelsEdit

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 Vol 1
  8. ^ Avengers: The Initiative #29-30
  9. ^ Chaos War #1
  10. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man #70-71
  11. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man #132
  12. ^ Parkin, John (July 14, 2010). "TV stars invade Marvel Super Hero Squad". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on March 7, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c "Voice Of Nightmare - Marvel Universe". Behind The Voice Actors. Archived from the original on July 27, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2019. Check mark indicates role has been confirmed using screenshots of closing credits and other reliable sources
  14. ^ Harvey, James (June 29, 2012). "New "Ultimate Spider-Man," "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" July 2012 Episodes". Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  15. ^ Krupa, Daniel (October 28, 2016). "DOCTOR STRANGE DIRECTOR'S IDEA FOR A SEQUEL". IGN. Archived from the original on July 24, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  16. ^ Arrant, Chris (October 12, 2013). "NYCC 2013: Marvel Adds More Characters To LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES Game". Newsarama. Archived from the original on April 24, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  17. ^ "Lego Marvel Super Heroes - Review". Zidolider (in Dutch). Archived from the original on July 27, 2019. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  18. ^ Staley, Brandon (March 20, 2018). "Cloak & Dagger Join LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on May 28, 2019. Retrieved 21 April 2018.

External linksEdit