Membership: A trio of unidentified individuals

Purpose: Possibly some type of supernatural law-enforcers for a higher power, the true motivations of the enigmatic Nightmare Men remain unrevealed.

The red-skinned Nightmare Men had humanoid bodies. They were clad in militaristic uniforms with circular emblems on their chests (perhaps a global map?); additionally, they wore armbands on their left arms marked with the word "JUSTICE".

Aliases: None

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Unidentified tyrant

Base of Operations: Unrevealed

First Appearance: Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6 (June, 1957)

History: (Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6 (fb) - BTS) - The past of the Nightmare Men is unrevealed, but at some point they began to torment a tyrant in his sleep for an unspecified period of time. Manifesting in the tyrant's dreams, the silent Nightmare Men would always attempt to seize and drag him away to some undisclosed destination, but the tyrant always managed to awaken before the Nightmare Men could do so.

(Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6) - During yet another night of restless sleep, just as he could feel the cold hands of the Nightmare Men upon his dream-self, the tyrant awoke before he could be dragged away. With his nerves frayed and his health failing because he couldn't get a decent night's sleep, the tyrant went to eminent insomnia specialist Dr. Peter Rostov for treatment.

(Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6 - BTS) - After a single treatment session, the tyrant returned to his secured bed-chamber, confident he would at last get a sound sleep. But apparently later that night, the tyrant would receive one more final visitation from the Nightmare Men...

(Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6) - The next morning, when the tyrant did not emerge from his bed-chamber at his usual time, his guards figured he was only enjoying an extended restful sleep. But twelve hours later, when the tyrant had still not come out, his men became concerned about his welfare. The soldiers used explosives on the door to enter the bed-chamber, but when they got inside, they found the room empty, with no trace of their leader; one of the soldiers grimly speculated that this time the tyrant had slept so soundly that he did not awaken when the Nightmare Men began to drag him away...

Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and Mac Pakula (artist).

The single panel seen above is the only appearance of the Nightmare Men in this story.

The tyrant and his country were never identified, but considering Peter Rostov's name, I'm guessing this story took place somewhere in eastern Europe--maybe it was set in one of the smaller countries unique to Marvel's Earth, such as Carnelia (@ Iron Man I#117) or Lichtenbad (@ Daredevil I#9).

This 4-page story would be reprinted in Uncanny Tales #9 (April, 1975).

As I was doing this profile, the old song Dream Police by Cheap Trick kept going through my mind.

The death of the dictator in Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6 may have been based upon the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. Stalin had been ill with dizzy spells and high blood pressure weeks before his death, suffering blackouts and memory loss. He had also taken to going to bed during the early hours of the morning and rising about noon. On March 1, 1953, he did not emerge from his bedchamber at noon, and still did not as the day wore on. No one was authorized to enter his chambers unless summoned, and neither his guards nor personal staff dared enter for fear of arrest or death. Finally at 11:00 pm, it was sheer panic that forced them to enter, only to find Stalin lying on the floor soaked in his own urine, having suffered from a severe stroke and a burst blood vessel in his brain. They contacted Lavrentii Beria, Stalins Chief of Police, who reprimanded the staff for interrupting Stalin's deep sleep and ordered them out. But by morning, Stalin had been left unattended for twelve hours since the stroke. He died a painful and lingering death on March 5. Also because of his declining health, Stalin was advised by his personal physician Professor V.N. Vinogradov to step down as the head of the government. For this Stalin had Vinogradov arrested and tortured on charges of being involved in "The Doctors' Plot," an alleged conspiracy of prominent Russian doctors accused of attempting to assassinate Soviet leaders in 1952-1953.
--Wolfram Bane

Profile by Ron Fredricks

The Nightmare Men have no known connections to:

The unidentified tyrant has no known connections to:

Dr. Peter Rostov has no known connections to:

Unidentified tyrant

The all-powerful dictator of an unidentified country (see comments). At some point earlier he had personally ordered the brother of Peter Rostov confined in a concentration camp. Because of his countless acts of oppression, the tyrant had earned his countrymen's hatred, although he maintained a loyal military.

Fearing assassins, the tyrant lived in a fortress. He slept within a concrete-walled, windowless bed-chamber with a single massive door--the door could only be opened from inside by the tyrant pressing a button located by his bed; additionally, he had armed guards stationed outside the door while he slept.

At some point in time, the tyrant began to be continuously tormented in his sleep by the Nightmare Men. Night after night, the unearthly trio invaded the tyrant's dreams and attempted to drag him away, but the tyrant had always managed to awaken before the Nightmare Men could do so.  Nonetheless, the tyrant was prevented from getting a restful night's sleep; he confided to his guards about his dreams of the Nightmare Men, and told them that his health was beginning to suffer.

In desperation, the tyrant went to the home of Dr. Peter Rostov for treatment of his insomnia--the tyrant's armed guards "persuaded" Rostov to cooperate with the very man who had condemned the doctor's brother to imprisonment.

Following the treatment, the tyrant returned to his bed-chamber, confident he would at last get a sound night's sleep.

But the next day, when he didn't come out of his bed-chamber, the tyrant's soldiers became concerned and blasted the door open. The soldiers found the room empty, with no trace of their leader--one of the men speculated that the tyrant had slept so soundly that he didn't awaken in time when the Nightmare Men came to drag him away...

--Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6

Dr. Peter Rostov

He was his country's leading insomnia specialist. At some point earlier, Rostov's brother had been imprisoned in a concentration camp by the tyrant who ruled the country.

Late one night in his home, Rostov received a visit from the tyrant, who was being plagued by nightmares and couldn't get a decent night's sleep; the tyrant ordered Rostov to treat his ailment, and his armed guards "persuaded" Rostov to cooperate.

Later, Rostov wept and considered himself a coward because he had helped the very man who had condemned his brother--Rostov did not know that the tyrant would later receive justice at the cold hands of the Nightmare Men.

--Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6

images: (without ads)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6, p1, pan1 (Nightmare Men stalking tyrant in his dream)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6, p1, pan1 (tyrant (in night-clothes) in his dream, being stalked by Nightmare Men)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6, p2, pan1 (tyrant (in night-clothes) awakens in his bed after nightmare)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6, p3, pan6 (tyrant (in military uniform) threatening Dr. Peter Rostov inside Rostov's house, tyrant's guards in background)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6, p4, pan1 (Dr. Peter Rostov agrees to help tyrant)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6, p4, pan7 ((presumably) Rostov's wife (left), Rostov tearfully regrets treating tyrant)

Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/6 (June, 1957) - unidentified writer, Mac Pakula (pencils & inks), Stan Lee (editor)

Last updated: 10/27/17.

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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