Kree-Skrull War, Dark Phoenix Saga, The Night Gwen Stacy Died
is the best-selling comic company and the inspiration for the entertainment juggernaut known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since its Silver Age heyday, Marvel has created some of the greatest comic characters of all time, memorable heroes and villains who helped build the company into what it is today.
Marvel has been putting out comics for decades and in all that time, it's put out some amazing stories, ones that have redefined the comic industry and the company's own characters. There's a reason Marvel has had the success it did- some of the greatest creators in the medium have made some truly wonderful stories for the publisher.
10 Wolverine #1-4 Was The Mutant's First Solo Starring Book And One Of His Best Stories
Wolverine was the breakout star of Uncanny X-Men and the character would go on to become one of the most popular Marvel heroes of all time. Eventually, he was given a chance to star in his own titular mini-series by writer Chris Claremont and artist Frank Miller. Taking Wolverine to Japan, it featured him battling the Yakuza for the hand of his beloved, Mariko Yashida.
This issue cemented Wolverine's place in the Marvel Universe as a solo star, showing him battling against all the odds to get the win. It would be a herald of great things to come and one of Wolverine's best stories.
9 Secret Wars Was Marvel's Second Event Book And Where They Perfected The Formula
Secret Wars Has Plenty Of Battles In It
Marvel was the first of the Big Two to publish an event book, the three-issue Contest Of Champions.
Their next foray into the event arena would be Secret Wars,
by writer Jim Shooter and artist Mike Zeck, a groundbreaking twelve-issue mini-series that would be a harbinger of things to come
. The heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe were pitted against each other by the mysterious One From Beyond and the winning side gets the ultimate prize but the real winner was the readers.
This book would set the formula for every event book published after it, featuring the biggest heroes and villains and crossing into books throughout Marvel's line. The modern comic industry would be very different without its example.
8 Civil War Subverted Expectations Expertly
Civil War, by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, is one of the best Marvel stories of the last twenty years
. After a disaster caused by a battle between the New Warriors and a group of villains, the government cracks down on superheroes, with the heroes taking sides for and against the government's regulations.
Pitting Captain America against Iron Man in a battle of ideologies, it used superheroes to talk about Bush-era topics, like freedom versus security, and was a different kind of Marvel event book. It would be adapted into an inferior movie that completely missed the point of the story but that doesn't take away from how great the comic is.
7 The Infinity Gauntlet Is The Pinnacle Of Marvel Event Books
Most fans know of The Infinity Gauntlet, by writer Jim Starlin and artists George Perez and Ron Lim, because of its place as the inspiration for the first three Phases of the MCU. However, it's also the best event book Marvel ever put out, pitting the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe against Thanos, armed with the godlike power of the Infinity Gauntlet.
It has just about everything- great action, wonderful characterization, and one of the Marvel Universe's greatest all-time villains. Each issue raises the stakes from the one before it, as the greatest heroes face down the most dangerous threat ever.
6 "Ultron Unlimited" Is The Greatest Ultron Story Of Them All
Starfire Thor Captain America Iron Man Ultron Unlimited
The Avengers is Marvel's biggest team and one of their greatest villains is Ultron. Created by Avenger Hank Pym, the genocidal android has clashed with the team many times and the best story starring the villain is writer Kurt Busiek and artist George Perez's "Ultron Unlimited".
Featuring Ultron committing his most heinous act, destroying the country of Slorenia in minutes, it was one of the Avenger's most desperate hours and was full of amazing art and characterization. While it's unfortunately out of print, it's great enough to hunt down and is one of the quintessential Avengers stories.
5 New X-Men: E Is For Extinction Brought The X-Men Into The New Millennium
The X-Men had been Marvel's biggest sellers for years but the twenty-first century was a different time and called for a different approach. Marvel brought in superstar writer Grant Morrison and their frequent collaborator Frank Quitely and rechristened X-Men into New X-Men. Their first story arc, E Is For Extinction, was a revolution and changed things for the team.
Pitting the mutants against new villain Cassandra Nova, it changed the status quo of the team and was a revolution. The team needed a shot in the arm and E Is For Extinction
gave it one. Even twenty years later, it still stands up as one of the best X-Men stories of modern times
4 Squadron Supreme Is An Unsung Masterpiece
gets all the credit for using superheroes in new and mature ways but Squadron Supreme,
by writer Mark Gruenwald and artists Paul Ryan and John Buscema, did it first. The Squadron Supreme was Marvel's Justice League pastiche and existed on their own Earth, with this story seeing them take control of the world to save it from itself. It used superheroes to ask a lot of interesting questions about the natures of power and control.
Squadron Supreme hit a few months before Watchmen and was one of the first mainstream books to use superheroes in a mature, nuanced way. On top of that, it's just a great superhero story. More people need to pick this one up.
3 "The Kree-Skrull War" Brought The Avengers To The Next Level
"The Kree-Skrull War", by writer Roy Thomas and artists Neal Adams, Sal Buscema, and John Buscema, took place in Avengers #89-97 and saw the Avengers get embroiled in the war between the Kree and Skrull races. It was one of the first times the Avengers went to space and showed just what the team could do.
One of the team's must-read stories
, "The Kree-Skrull War" is a monumental moment in Avengers history. It was the first time that the Avengers really cemented their place as the most important team in the Marvel Universe and is a bonafide classic.
2 "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" Is One Of The Most Heartbreaking Spider-Man Tales Of Them All
Amazing Spider-Man 121 header
Amazing Spider-Man #121- 122,
by writer Stan Lee and artist John Romita, is one of the most important Spider-Man stories
. Featuring the deaths of both Gwen Stacy and Green Goblin, it was one of the impactful Spider-Man stories of all time and beyond that, just a big deal in general. At the time, it was rare for a character's love interest and greatest villain to die and these two issues delivered that.
Full of action and pathos, this story marked a turning point in Spider-Man's life. It's one of the highlights of Lee and Romita's time on Spider-Man and would have repercussions that would echo through the years.
1 "The Dark Phoenix Saga" Was One Of The X-Men's Most Desperate Hours
Cyclops and Jean Grey The Dark Phoenix Saga X-Men Marvel
"The Dark Phoenix Saga", by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne, took place in Uncanny X-Men #129-138
and is still considered one of the greatest X-Men stories of all time
. By now everyone knows the story- Jean Grey, possessing the power of the Phoenix Force, goes crazy and becomes a danger to the entire universe and it's up to the X-Men to stop their beloved friend before it's too late.
Claremont and Byrne's run on Uncanny X-Men is the one that put the team on the map and "The Dark Phoenix Saga" is considered its pinnacle. Claremont's poetic style, expertly combining drama, sci-fi, and superhero action, combined with Byrne's detailed and kinetic pencils make this one a story for the ages, one that every Marvel fan should read.