The heroes and villains of modern comics have conquered adversaries as vast as universe-destroying megalomaniacs and as tiny as insidious nanobots–not to mention, most of them have come face-to-face with their alternate-reality doppelgangers. And yet, these superheroes, gods and demons possess even more deep-seated fears that they carry with them through reboots, retcons and crossovers. Sure, everyone knows that Batman wears his cowl because of a scarring childhood experience with bats–but get a load of the phobias belonging to members of the X-Men or the stars of fantastical series such as “Preacher” and “The Unwritten.” We diagnose comic book characters based on the fears that haunt them most.
Rogue: haphephobia (fear of being touched)
When it comes to Rogue, it’s less a fear of being touched, and more a fear of accidentally touching–and then sapping the life from–anyone else.
Incredible Hulk: sesquipedalophobia (fear of long words)
Hulk not like big words. Hulk pithy.
Spider-Man: gephyrophobia (fear of bridges)
When the Green Goblin hurls Gwen Stacy off the Brooklyn Bridge, Spidey flings out some webbing to catch her by the foot–only to discover, to his horror, that by catching her so suddenly, he broke her neck. Who wants to bet that Peter Parker sticks to the subway for his commute?
Cain and Abel: somniphobia (fear of sleep)
If your murderous brother liked to reenact your gory Biblical tale by killing you over and over in the dream world–in increasingly hideous ways–you wouldn’t want to fall asleep, either.
Jesse Custer: uranophobia (fear of heaven)
As a preacher, Jesse’s your typical God-fearing mortal–until he gets possessed by a demon and the Heavenly Father actually tries to smite him. Sure gives new meaning to the phrase “put the fear of God in you.”
Loki: astraphobia (fear of thunder and lightning)
Thunder and lightning are enough to make anyone jump in fear, but when it heralds the presence of your brother Thor–and his mighty hammer Mjolnir–to foil your latest plan, can you blame trickster Loki for sticking to the shadows?
Tom Taylor: bibliophobia (fear of books)
When Tom was a kid, the worst things books represented was his absentee author father. But, when Tom learns that not only was he the inspiration for the boy wizard Tommy Taylor, but that the entire magical world is real and he is the lost wizard, it gives him even more reason to fear the written word.