Why "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"?

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse by Viktor Vasnetsov. 1887.

Athough The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse characters represented here are in no way intended to suggest outright a Biblical allegory—any more so than The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, or even perhaps some might suggest Star Wars—they nevertheless do in their own way embrace as best they can the eternal struggle of good versus evil in whatever form it may take. Here is briefest of "histories" of the original Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, taken from wisegeek.com:

“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are figures mentioned in the Biblical New Testament Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation, written by John of Patmos, is the most difficult book of the Bible, and there is much controversy over what exactly it is—literal or allegorical, a prophecy of the future or a commentary on current events. In any case, the Book of Revelation is full of rich and mysterious imagery, including the Four Horsemen, which have inspired the imagination and speculation of Christians and others into the modern day.

“The Book of Revelation describes the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as part of the mysterious events revealed to the author in a lengthy vision that makes up the bulk of the text. Each of the Four Horsemen has a different colored horse and an attribute which suggests his character. The last of the Four Horsemen is named in the Bible as Death, but the identities of the others are less clear. Popularly, the four are often called Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death, though this interpretation is not universally accepted. The Four Horsemen are often interpreted as an allegory of the harbingers of the end of the world.

“The first Horseman is the rider of a white horse, carries a bow, and wears a crown. He is described as a conqueror. For this reason, he is sometimes interpreted as the Antichrist or as a false world leader. This Horseman is also sometimes called Pestilence.

“The second Horseman is astride a red horse and carries a sword. He is associated with war and slaughter, and the Bible attributes to him the power to take away peace and to make men kill each other.

“The third Horseman rides a black horse and carries scales. This Horseman, popularly called Famine, is thought to represent not only scarcity of food, but also the strict rationing or unfair allocation of goods and the exploitation of the poor. The last of the Four Horsemen, Death, rides a "pale horse" of a sickly hue and is followed by Hades, or Hell.

“The nature of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is hotly debated by theologians and Christians, but they are almost universally fascinating, regardless or perhaps because of their mystery. They were popular subjects for art during the medieval period and the Renaissance, and references to them continue to crop up in popular culture in our own day and age. Whether or not Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death are the correct interpretations of the Biblical Four Horsemen—which will likely remain in debate for the foreseeable future—it is safe to assume that that is what they represent in a cultural or literary context.”

Popular culture is rife with references to "the four horsemen of the apocalypse" of one manner or another. Here are a few culled from everything2.com, Amazon.com, and The Internet Movie Database:

  • An early '90s heavy metal group (actually containing five people).
  • A name given by famed sportswriter Grantland Rice to four players on the 1924 national champion Notre Dame college football team.
  • A shot containing equal parts Tequila (traditionally Cuervo Gold), Bacardi 151, Rumple Minze, and Jaegermeister. It is so named because it will bring the apocalypse upon you, and it contains four alcohols.
  • One of the most impressive aerial demonstration teams of all time. Formed in early 1957 with four aircrews from the 774th Troop Carrier Squadron, The Four Horsemen intended to show the maneuverability of the U.S. Air Force's new C-130A cargo plane.
  • DC Comics' influential series 52 introduced the Horsemen, incarnations of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or, rather of Apokolips, since their essence came from that dark, alien world.
  • A novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez published WWI-era about an Argentian cattle baron whose two daughters, one married to a German and the other to a Frenchman, return to their respective husbands' homelands after their father's death just prior to the outbreak of World War I and the tragedies that ensue.
  • A 1921 movie starring Rudolph Valentino based on the Ibáñez novel.
  • A 1962 remake of the Valentino film, updated to the World War II era.
  • A 1975 Italian film I Quattro dell'apocalisse which is actually an honest-to-gosh Western that follows the adventures and travels of four petty criminals in 1873 Utah.

But The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse gang here is their own breed. They're all good guys at heart despite character flaws as we all have, and their aim is to mete out justice on behalf of those for whom the traditional law enforcement and legal systems have failed, even if by means of pestilence, warfare, starvation, or death. And hopefully have some fun doing it.


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