Horror movies have given us our fair share of heroines, from Ripley to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But let's face it -- fright flicks aren't always an equal opportunity employer, and plenty of female protagonists in our favorite films are little more than victims, depending on fate or a hero's chainsaw to dispatch the demons that terrorize them. Fortunately, comic books have helped pick up the slack, often offering men and women alike the chance to be a champion. Of course because comics are a purely visual medium, their protagonists are, more often than not, rather easy on the eyes. After the jump, check out my picks for the top 5 sexiest horror comic book heroines of all time.
Perhaps the quintessential horror comics heroine, Vampirella was co-created in 1969 by Warren magazines publisher James Warren, artists Frank Frazetta and Tom Sutton, and superfan Forrest J. Ackerman. A refugee from the planet Draculon turned superheroine, Vampi was probably best depicted by artist Jose Gonzalez. But I've always been partial to the few illustrations of her done by the late creator of the Rocketeer, Dave Stevens (whose work can be seen above). It's the touch of class offered by her crisp white collar that serves to balance the rest of her costume; what little there is of it.
Abby made her first appearance in Swamp Thing #3 back in 1973. Created by writer Len Wein and legendary horror artist Bernie Wrightson, she began as Abigail Arcane, the daughter of Swampie's arch-nemesis Anton Arcane. After sharing years of nightmarish adventures, she and her "muck-encrusted mockery of a man" wed and begat a daughter, Tefe. For my money, artist John Totleben and Steve Bissette gave us the definitive Abby when they revamped the character with Alan Moore in the '80s, and introduced, for the first time in its pages, kinky interspecies sex.
Like Vampirella, Madame Xanadu started out as a horror comics hostess in an anthology book (Doorway to Nightmare #1 in 1978) before becoming a heroine in its pages. Eventually revealed to be Nimue, the supernatural temptress who imprisoned the fabled sorcerer Merlin for an enternity, she was created by writer David Michelinie and artist Val Mayerik, and designed by artist Michael William Kaluta, whose cover illustrations of the character depict her at her best.
Neil Gaiman's bestselling Sandman tackles many genres besides horror, but it began its life as a horror comic back in 1989, and as such introduced (in issue 8) what is unquestionably the loveliest version of the Grim Reaper ever conceived, Death -- sister to the book's title character, Dream. Artist Mike Dringenberg is responsible for her look, but Chris Bachalo, who illustrated her spin-off miniseries The High Cost of Living, also gave us a young woman worth dying for.
Tim Seeley and Emily Stone's horror-victim-turned-slasher-slayer-with-a-penchant-for-plaid Cassie Hack is the newest iconic horror heroine, having first appeared in the original Hack/Slash one-shot in 2004 with her hulking, gas-mask-wearing partner Vlad. Soon you'll be able to hear Cassie as well as see her, when she appears in the Hack/Slash animated movie. For more on the film, be sure to read my exclusive interview with Cassie Hack, actress Brea Grant.