Vorthos Is Magic: Top 10 Most Gruesome Art

After poking fun at some of Magic’s oddest art last time, Jesse takes a look at the flipside of the coin this time and examines Magic’s dark underbelly.

Hello and welcome back to Vorthos is Magic! I want to start out by saying thank you so much to everyone who read and commented on my first article. I was overwhelmed by your support and truly appreciate the feedback. With that said, let’s dive right into what we have in store for this week.

Last time we looked at the lighter side of Magic. I don’t need to tell anyone who’s played this game longer than a day that Magic isn’t all sunshine and funny looking Golems. While I love poking fun at some of Magic’s more goofy moments, I don’t want to misrepresent Magic’s scope in terms of emotional response. Magic can be funny, thoughtful, inspiring, sarcastic, and even down right chilling depending on where you look. As a B-horror movie buff myself, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the flipside of the coin this time and examine Magic’s dark underbelly with my Top 10 Most Gruesome Art.

Honorable Mention: Carrion Beetles (Urza’s Saga)

I’ve seen The Mummy movie franchise, and being devoured alive by insects has never seemed like a preferred means of death. Maybe going peacefully in my sleep or going out in a blaze of glory at the hands of the Bolivian Army, but not being eaten slowly by a thousand simultaneous mandibles. I feel this even more so now after seeing this graphic little number by artist Ron Spencer. The only thing keeping this little bugger off the list proper is that the flavor text stole the joke I was going to make even before I made this list. I have nothing more to say about that. Seriously. I am mad at a playing card for stealing a bad pun from me. Screw you, Carrion Beetles. Jerk.

10. Plagiarize (Ninth Edition)

Okay, now we have stepped into no man’s land. This…this is a weird one. I really have no explanation for this. So we’ve got a guy who has a giant eyeball for a mouth and two little mouths for his eyeballs. I don’t know, I am really at a loss for words here. At first I thought maybe the eyeball was another creature wearing the human like a puppet, like an Edgar suit if you follow, but that doesn’t provide an explanation for the little mouths.

Speaking of, do you think his voice would sound really high-pitched and in stereo? Could they have an argument with each other? Does he have to eat through them? If this art starts to get to you, just imagine this guy trying to delicately raise a pair of infant spoons to each of his eye-mouths, desperate not to drop their portions of mashed pear onto his nose and cheeks. After all, I doubt his bulbous mouth-eye could look up and behind itself to provide any kind of aid. If that doesn’t work, just think of him as throwing up the white boy’s gang sign.

9. Greater Werewolf (Homelands)

Ouch, and you thought having your wisdom teeth removed was bad. You ever have a full-grown timber wolf extracted from your head? Well, not “extracted” so much as violently expelled. I feel bad for the guy; this looks like the most painful lycanthropy transformation ever witnessed, and I’ve seen Skinwalkers.

I know! This guy isn’t having a wolf spring forth from his body fully formed like Athena; he has a Siamese twin that was bitten by a werewolf! He’s just along for the ride! That has to be rough, dragged along against your will to nightly sheep slaughters and chasing crimson-clad girls around the woods. That’s no life for a guy whose only bad luck was having a rotten brother.

8. Ad Nauseam (Shards of Alara)

“I am very surprised to see you! Can’t you tell?”

I do like to think that this is what happened to Bart Simpson after Miss Krabappel had enough with his troublemaking and got a hold of a book of Necromancy, perhaps in Springfield Elementary’s “Occult” section of the library.

Everyone has their breaking point.

7. Sensory Deprivation (Innistrad)

I know this trope in horror films has been done to death. When the lead singer of Twisted Sister uses this shock imagery as a crutch in his stinker of a psychological thriller, you know it’s been played out. Even so, something about this art is still unnerving, tired as it may be. I honestly can’t look at it for any appreciable amount of time. Perhaps it’s because after a while you get past all the stitches and thread, and only then you realize the man’s left eye socket is empty. Carrion Beetles must have got him.

6. Abomination (Legends)

No. I am not going to make the obvious joke here. I am not going to take the low road and talk about this guy menacing Raccoon City. I will not say he combos with Rocket Launcher. I won’t take the easy path. I refuse. I have a reputation to think of. I will only say that he should have been reprinted in Nemesis…


I apologize. My shame knows no bounds…

5. Macabre Waltz (Dissension)

Have you ever danced with a pair of blood soaked zombies in the pale moonlight? Seriously though, this is a great piece of morbid art. Jim Murray did an excellent job with this one. It seems to have been plucked directly from a nightmare or from Poe himself. The only nit-pick I have is that if you look closely, you can see that the female partner has her index finger jammed directly into the eye of the other zombie. Maybe it was intentional, but with the look on his face, it seems more like a tragic accident on this week’s episode of Dancing with the Dead Stars. Keep practicing offal-covered, zombie lovers. You’ll master the Lambada eventually.

4. Living Wall (Alpha)

Delightful. An animated wall made of guts. How enchanting. Well, to be honest, this is not the first instance of a barricade of intestines I have seen in a fantasy game. This darling creature was a staple of second edition D&D. Real nasty stuff too. You see, its strength came from the fact that it was composed of high level NPCs (non-player characters for the uninitiated) that retained all of their spells and abilities, meaning that one Living Wall could actually be full of 20th level Wizards and nuke you outright in the first round. Once you were dead, it would suck you up and make you part of the wall itself. Then came the bigger problem: you didn’t get to decide whom you spent your unlife merged next to.

The Odd Couple has nothing on these two.

In either game, I think my old DM description of fighting one of these things remains apt: “It’s like chopping your way through a Hefty bag full of meat.”

“It sounds like goulash” also applies.

3. Feast of the Unicorn (Homelands – Head)

Of all the cards on this list, this art comes the closest to actually offending me. The defiling of that which is pure and good always strikes a nerve with me. Unicorns, being the personification of natural beauty and defenders of nature, deserve to have a better end than winding up as the main course of the goblin version of Mongolian barbeque. The only thing worse would be if some twisted alterist made a playset of these with the cast of My Little Pony. No, that is not a challenge.

2. Pestilence (Alpha)

I only have three words for this one: premium nightmare fuel. I know this card has been haunting the dreams of young Magic players for years. I’ve actually heard stories from players that their younger siblings would refuse to play with them anymore because they were scared of this card. I can’t blame them! This sore-riddled corpse is a bit much for young minds to handle. Even now, it still is a disturbing sight to behold. Especially if you look into its eyes and see how sad it seems to be. What a tragic piece of art just dripping with flavor and other less desirable things to be sure.

1. Mutilate (Torment)

Okay gang, joke time is over. It has just gotten real. This is hands-down the most disturbing card art in all of Magic. The very thought of your flesh melting into itself is almost too grisly for words. Worse perhaps is the thought if you survived the initial trauma of the spell’s effect and had to live on in your new twisted form. The flavor just compounds the horror at play here. Not only is the act itself bad enough, but the fact that someone would not only willingly do this to other living beings but then derives pleasure from the victims’ tortured scream is utterly morbid.

I love it. I absolutely love it. We watch horror movies to be scared, and this art does that in spades. I am sad though that this art was never used again in any of Mutilate’s reprintings. I suppose I can understand. I don’t like it, but I can understand.

There you have it, the blood and guts side of Magic. I hope you enjoyed our little journey to the dark side. Thanks again to Ray Dill for supplying the blown up images. If I missed any gory little delights, be sure to let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @Fru17Spr34d. Until next time, remember to have fun!