Feel that tingling on the back of your neck? That could be a killer parasite sucking on your fear. And that spooky clown at your cousin's birthday party? A creature from another dimension who thinks humans taste better when we're afraid. For some science fiction characters, fear is a five-course meal. From terror-inducing toxins to aliens who get off on dread, our list will tell you who (and what) you have to fear.
Mister Fear (Marvel): We may as well start with the man who's got fear in his name. Mister Fear used a powerful pheromone to terrify and influence people, a tool that came in handy when facing down the Man with No Fear: Daredevil. The Space Creature (Lost in Space): The Space Creature lives on a distant planet, noshing on whatever specks of fear it can find. When the Jupiter 2 appears in the planet's orbit, carrying a young boy, the creature thinks it's hit the terror jackpot. When causing the other crew members to disappear fails to phase the brave young lad, creature drives the sinister Dr. Smith insane, driving him to try and murder young Will Robinson.
The Mara (Doctor Who): If you don't already fear snakes, the Mara is eager to help you cultivate your phobia. An evil force created from the minds of the Manussans, Mara feeds off of fear, sparking paranoid delusions in its victims. Lord Dread (Southern Knights): Lord Dread stared down the Southern Knights, Archie Comics' Atlanta-based super team, with his terror-inducing gaze. Unfortunately, his mutant power failed to work on Mark Dagon, the team's dragon member.
Scarecrow (Batman): Although Dr. Jonathan Crane shares a surname and likeness with Washington Irving's tremulous Ichabod, he was more interested in doling out fear than feeling it. He wasn't the first to employ a fear-causing substance (Hugo Strange and Mister Fear beat him to that punch), but the mask-wearing Scarecrow does manage to spook Batman himself on a few occasions. Scarecrow (Marvel): Marvel's own Scarecrow, Ebenezer Laughton, doesn't need fear toxin to send foes into a panic. His adrenal gland secretes a similar substance, and the fear of those around his fuels his super strength.
The Tingler: In the 1959 horror film, Vincent Price discovers that the tingling feeling you get down your back is, in fact, a parasite that feeds off your fear. And you better scream when you feel it, or else the parasite will kill you. Add the pathologist's tragically mute wife and theater seats rigged with vibrators for when the critter escapes, and you have the ingredients for a very creepifying movie viewing experience. (Thanks to Annalee for suggesting this one.) Fear Lords (Marvel): The demonic Fear Lords sit in the Halls of Fear dimension, where they sit around their Fear Table, scheming on how to use their Fear Powers to bring the world into the Great Fear. They aim to be the scariest bastards in the block, but Daredevil and Dr. Strange keep getting in the way.
Mongor (Thundercats): On the faraway planet of Third Earth the primordial beast Mongor is awakened by the Thunderkittens and prepares to dismantle the planet. Your fear makes him more powerful, but it only works if you're looking right at him. Of course, he's a gant purple goat-thing, so it's kind of hard to look away. Dr. Martin Davis (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea): Davis is an expert in psychological stress who, in one episode, climbs aboard the futuristic nuclear submarine Seaview, ostensibly to observe the crew. But his true motives have something to do with a canister of fear gas he's released inside the sub.
Nekron (JLA): Not to be confused with the similarly-named Lord of the Unliving, this Nekron is a purple-skinned alien who comes to our dimension to indulge in our fear of death, a an emotion that gets this fellow high. So he happily flits through the universe, sowing chaos and snorting terror off our screaming heads. The Fearmonger (Doctor Who): Another resident of the Whoniverse, the Fearmonger also feeds on fear. But rather than frighten humans with a direct attack, the Fearmonger plants the seeds of distrust among them, latching onto a bigoted politician and setting forth an agenda for ethnic cleansing. Phobos (Secret Warriors): One of the few non-villainous types to wield the power of fear, Phobos is one of Nick Fury's Secret Warriors. He's also the son of Ares, and can evoke terror with a single look.
Benjamin “Knox” Washington (Heroes): Knox is another superstrong hero, but only when the folks around him are afraid. And when Elle accidentally frees him from Level Five, he's aching to cause a little fear. The Beast With a Million Eyes: In the midst of the Cold War, an alien who lives on hate and fear arrives on Earth, hungrily eying the ripe human masses. He telepathically takes control of the animals and weaker willed humans of the world, turning them against the rest of mankind and inducing a state of B-movie panic.
Parallax (Green Lantern): The alien Parallax is the living embodiment of fear, and he manages to free himself from his prison inside the Central Power Battery by stroking Hal Jordan's sense of fear and self-doubt. Out and about in the world and bound to Hal Jordan, its fear is powerful enough to bring down Superman. Odd Bob the Clown (The Sarah Jane Adventures): Much like Dateline, Elijah Spellman knows that the best way to exploit parents' fears is to threaten their children. That's why the alien's been snatching children for centuries, first as the Pied Piper and more recently as a circus clown. And the fear eater gets a double dose of sustenance when he encounters the coulrophobic Sarah Jane. Redjac (Star Trek): The non-corporeal parasite Redjac also needs fear and pain to survive, but must possess a non-corporeal host to achieve it. Deciding that being a serial killing provided better nourishment than playing a clown at kids' parties, it inhabited humanoids across the Alpha Quadrant, notably one Jack the Ripper.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown (It): If Redjac had seen Stephen King's It, he might have rethought that whole serial killer angle. It devours humans, but finds them more delicious when they're soaked in their own terror. And It knows that children have the gooeyist, sweetest, most succulent terror, made even more delish by approaching them as a malevolent sharp-toothed clown.