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The Scariest Comic Books of All-Time! – Brought to Light: Shadowplay

A reader named Chris S. suggested that I devote October to the scariest comic books of all-time, as suggested by you readers out there! Sounds like a plan to me! So all October-long, I’ll be featuring 31 comic book tales of terror, based on YOUR suggestions! So e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com your scary suggestions! Here is an archive of all the comics featured so far!

Reader Michael Kyle e-mailed me to suggest Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz’s half of Brought to Light, Shadowplay: The Secret Team (discussing the history of the CIA), under the theory that the truth is often the scariest thing going.


While it is not surprising to people who have read Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell, Shadowplay was a stunning piece of narrative work at the time of its release, because of the fact that Moore and Sienkiewicz were able to distill decades of CIA history into a compelling narrative while much of it was “talking heads.” As was later the case with Moore and Campbell, when you have an amazing writer and an amazing artist, well, amazing things can happen.

This tale is told to us by a CIA agent, who is an anthropomorphic American eagle. A recurring bit in the narrative is the discussion of deaths in terms of how many swimming pools their blood would fill…

It is a bone-chillingly clinical way of describing the deaths of thousands of people, and it recurs throughout the comic…

Here’s one of the most disturbing pages in the comics, as Sienkiewicz just goes all out….

Again, here’s the pool measurement used…

Pretty messed up stuff.

And then we get to the end of the tale…

Wow, that is really a scary work. And a fascinating look into the history of the CIA, as well.


So…is this book still available??
Anything Alan Moore associated is pretty cool by me.

It is not in print, no. You can get a copy on Amazon, though.

I bought this book for $5 (because the guy at the shop couldn’t find the price, and it had been sitting unbought for the previous 6 years) as a teenager. Holy crap, did it floor me. I’ve flipped through it in the years since, but only read it all the way through a couple times. It’s a shocking piece of work.

Thanks for picking my suggestion!
@ray- You’re embarrassing yourself.

Scariest comic book I ever read? The comic adaptation of “Left Behind”. Armed cells of religious fanatics forming in America intending to fight a government they believe is controlled by Satan? And people in real life belive it? Now THAT’S scary!

Tom Fitzpatrick

October 8, 2011 at 9:17 pm

These two worked so well together on Brought to Light, it’s hard to believe that they couldn’t finiish BIG NUMBERS. :-(

The scariest thing about BROUGHT TO LIGHT is that it took a British writer to do it. Where are all the American movies and comics and books about the crap the CIA did in the Cold War?

Mtdeeley –

LEFT BEHIND scares me most for clearly showing what we always suspected: the sadistic glee many Conservative Christians feel for the supposed horrible fates of “unbelievers.”

I remember when this book was advertised in Miracleman #15, and I wanted it so much.

And I never found it until about a year ago, just on a comic book shelf, at a discount, and I couldn’t believe I could read it at last.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed. Maybe it was two decades of anticipation, but I was hoping for something more subtle than a book-length editorial cartoon. Which is not to say Sienkiewicz isn’t fantastic, I guess I was just hoping Moore would be a little more subtle…

I’m a conservative Christian who likes the Left Behind books and neither I nor anyone else that I know takes any kind of “glee” from the “fates” of “unbelievers.” So please, don’t be an asshole.

You really do like the books? What do you think of the protagonists’ cavalier attitudes to all the death and destruction surrounding them, when the victims are not believers in Christ? Is that how a Christian hero is supposed to act?

I was watching the TEN COMMANDMENTS the other day, and while I was impressed with the sadistic brutality of certain Acts of God (the creeping deaths of the first born in Egypt, the idol-worshippers being sent to their fiery doom), at least there were various redeeming qualities to the movie: 1) The Christian heroes were awed and scared themselves, not indifferent as God slaughthered the heathen. 2) The Egyptians were slave-holding assholes who persecuted the Christians- even though you have to wonder if the Egyptian children deserved death. 3) The movie was made in the 1950s and reflect its time.

What is the excuse for LEFT BEHIND?

There is a very troubling element to these books that I find in a lot of Christians: a lack of care and compassion for “unbelievers”. The heroes of the story don’t give a damn when God causes mass carnage and accidents when the “Rapture” happens.

you know i have never seen one bigoted comment on this website against non-christians. but time and again comic book websites TOLERATE BIGOTRY AGAINST CHRISTIANS, especially the false comments posted against christians in this thread.

…and yet folks wonder why comic books dont sell when comments like this are a big turn off. yeah I know freedom of the press and all that. but you know i believe Gen Washington allowed religious celebrations for Christmas and St. Pats in his continental army. he allowed public celebration of christianity. but hell what have christians had to do with freedom of speech anyway???

pathetic bigots can rot in hell. bigots are always the first to run from those who promote religious persecution.

oh and the Egytpian slave-owners caused their own demise. they were persecuting the Jews and deserved every painful death they received. in each case they were warned to release the Jews or face the consequences of divine retribution. How come it is OK for humans to have rules against slavery with related punishments and yet its not OK for God to have the same?

Also Jews them selves were also punished in the Ten Commandments and no, everyone was not happy to see anyone die.

there are laws even for religion nit just for comic book copyrights.

as far as compassion, it was christians and christian governments who spoke out against slavery and eventually abolished it with associated punishments for those who wish to continue human trafficking. It was christians & christian churches who set up charitable institutions on a global scale.

if you are going to thro stones at churches for their human associates then you should hand out awards to those human church goers who have also done a world of good for the rest of humanity.

i would be sympathetic to your argument but i see it as bigotry because you dont mention the good that christians have also done instead of only the bad.

again I can only image what U believe in. all faiths and philosophies and political systems have their demons & their angels.

The Egyptians were persecuting the Jews, yeah, and I can see how the ADULT Egyptians would deserve punishment, but explain to me what the Egyptian kids did to deserve “every painful death”? Rameses’s young son is killed, and at least the movie presents the scene as having great pathos, and Moses himself seems shaken, and those details keep the movie watchable (unlike LEFT BEHIND, where sinners being “punished” is met with indifference or glee).

Even then you have to wonder: it’s a very abominable God that kills a man’s son for a man’s sins.

Even so, I didn’t say all Christians. My original comment was directed at Conservative Christians that like stuff like LEFT BEHIND and believe in a Rapture where only a handful of people will be saved, while the rest of us will die in earthquakes and stuff. That is pretty twisted.

And as much as I’m scared of said Christians, I don’t want you guys to “rot in hell” like you wish on me and other “pathetic bigots”. I don’t want anyone to rot in hell, actually. I can be a “pathetic bigot”, a sinner, whatever you want to call me, but I am not the kind of person that pictures people I don’t like burning in eternal torture in boiling lava.

And I celebrate Christmas. What has that to do with anything?

well you sure as hell dont practice the spirit of christmas do you? you just come on this thread that had NOTHING to do with christians until you decided to make it an anti-conservative christian thread!!!!

the bad egyptians were warned, you mess with the jews, like kill their children, and the same will happen to you. oh well. so thats God’s fault?

please….why not create your own hateful anti-christian thread on one of the message boards somewhere else? why bring your hate here? “rot in hell”? really? and your screed doesnt wish the same hateful thing, in your own way, to christians…of whatever stripe. why bring up your hate on this thread then? why do you preach your brand of hate?

sure you luv christmas but have conservative christians. nice. and the Holy Family was what? a bunch of liberals practicing contraception &abortion

again I am done making peace with folks like you who dont have good will. you have hate and you can have mine too.

you had NO right to be anti–christian on this thread. thats like me bringing my politics or religion on a thread about sports. wtf????

America is sick.

…actually ramboratrat its not America thats sick. look at the rest of the world…do you really think its better? why not comment on whats going on in Egypt today??? ….or how about the “eurozone”? or Venezuela? how about all of that freedom in China? or Iran? or Russia?

those countries & regions are seriously “sick” as you say….

cheer up. if you dont like it here you can immigrate to any of the above countries. i am sure they will welcome you with open arms.. :)


lui-i & rene: Enough!

Now let’s talk about something that needs our urgent attention:
Why must Rob Liefeld add so many pouches on every character he draws. And shoulder pads?

well you sure as hell dont practice the spirit of christmas do you? you just come on this thread that had NOTHING to do with christians until you decided to make it an anti-conservative Christian thread!!!!

In all fairness, the thread wasn’t about Christians in general. It’s about a particular scary type of ultra-conservative Christian. In a thread about scary comics, bringing up a scary book seems kind of relevant.

Either you’re not one of those Christians who believes the government is controlled by satan and takes pleasure in heathens rotting in hell – in which case he wasn’t talking about you – or you are – in which case I have no sympathy.

the bad egyptians were warned, you mess with the jews, like kill their children, and the same will happen to you. oh well. so thats God’s fault?

Seriously? Because God warned the bad people in advance and they ignored him that makes it okay for him to kill their children?

No way! There is no way that is ever reasonable no matter what the crime is.

Can you make so we can enlarge this one as well?

No can do. Sorry!

The CIA may have filled swimming pools with blood, but the communists made oceans.

Jan Robert Andersen

January 29, 2015 at 1:48 am

I got Brought to Light from a friend, I didn’t know it and was somewhat surprised. It’s one of my absolute favorite reads and favorite Alan Moore stories.

I’m no conspiracy nut but have seen Oliver Stone’s Platoon, JFK and his recent Utold History. I also have the Big Book of Conspiracies without taking all for granted. I vote to the right and middle of the political parties in Denmark (most considered left in USA) but I do see some injustice in the World and some wrongdoing by Western governments.

These are Works of fiction based on some fact about events somehow not always quite understandable as per traditional history. Being European I do feel USA have been involved in some very shady stuff especially through CIA and other agencies.

Sure USSR was the opposing side but there are simply too many events with some very seemingly strange explainations done by USA during the Cold War. I feel it is far to easy to just counter any and all pointing to the actions by CIA, other agencies and in the end the US government by simply stating USSR was worse.

The EU and other Allies to USA have been involved in some attrocities and shadowplays around the World to this day with War on Terror and Guantanamo being looked into now. Some have been brought to light and others/most are still in the dark and open for speculations and conspiracy theories.

Brought to Light is a masterpiece with both Moore and Sienkiewicz at their peak. Moore has showed his criticism of USA in other Works including Watchmen. In Works such as Elektra Assassin with Frank Miller Sienkiewicz has portrayed USA and CIA in similar manners.

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