The Marvel villain Nightmare returns from the dead in X-Men #4 preview

X-Men #4 excerpt
X-Men #4 excerpt (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

October 13's X-Men #4 will be a very special Halloween-themed installment of Marvel's mutant flagship title. From the looks of the preview released to us by the publisher, it's a bit of a haunted house tale - with the house being the X-Men's newly-created New York City headquarters, the Treehouse in Seneca Gardens.

It all starts with some bad dreams for Cyclops and Jean Grey, and then a surprise Marvel villain appears - back from the dead and a two-year absence. Check it a preview of X-Men #4 by writer Gerry Duggan, artist Javier Pina, and colorist Erick Arciniega:

That's Nightmare, which some call Marvel's answer to DC's Sandman - but with a villainous edge. 'Lord of Dreams,' just like Sandman/Dream, but he's been more of a night terror than a sage. 

X-Men #4 will be his apparent return from the dead, as he definitively died in 2019's Loki #4 - losing a bet with the god of mischief for his immortality, with the comic even showing Nightmare arriving in Marvel's version of the afterlife and a meeting with their top deity, the One-Above-All.

Nightmare will apparently be one of two villains returning after a long absence - the other being a literary icon - the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving's 1820 short story 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' (as seen on the main cover to X-Men #4). That story has been adapted numerous times in film and television, but even comics - in fact, the Headless Horseman has been a Marvel character for almost 70 years.

The Headless Horseman made his Marvel debut in 1954's Uncanny Tales #22 with the story 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.' That Stan Lee and Dick Ayers story isn't an adaptation of Irving's short story but instead concerns a modern-day man who tries to scare an enemy by impersonating the Headless Horseman and ends up meeting the real Headless Horseman, who comes to punish him for the impersonation.

He popped up again in 2020's Ruins of Ravencroft: Sabretooth #1, revealed to have been an actual Ghost Rider in the early 1800s - still headless, but carrying a flaming skull (as befits a Ghost Rider, of course!).

Now it's possible Marvel could be making the two characters one and the same - after all, NIghtmare likes to impersonate other people and already has a horse, Dreamstalker. That would certainly be something.

Regular X-Men series artist Pepe Larraz has drawn the main X-Men #4 cover, and there will be variant covers from Declan Shalvey, Russell Dauterman, and Joe Jusko. Check out those X-Men #4 variants here:

X-Men #4 goes on sale on October 13. A collection of the first six issues, titled X-Men by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1, is available for pre-order with a planned February 22, 2022 release.

Keep track of this and all the new X-Men comics, graphic novels, and collections in 2021 and beyond. 

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)