Below you’ll find our reading selections for the year of 1981, and once we’re finished reading, I’ll post the winners for hero, villain, issue, artist, and writer.
Feel free to discuss the comics and any related thoughts below in the comments!
1981 Comic Reading List
|1981||Comic Book Title||Issues|
|1||Captain America||#253, #254|
|2||Daredevil||#168 to #172|
|3||Uncanny X-Men||#141, #142, #145 to #147, #150|
|6||Iron Man||#149 to #150|
|7||Fantastic Four||#232 to #236|
|9||Avengers||#212 to #213|
Hero of the Year: Daredevil
Villain of the Year: Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
Issue of the Year: Fantastic Four #236
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Writer of the Year: Chris Claremont
Artist of the Year: John Byrne
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Funny how people see things in such different ways.
I admit Daredevil this year was a hoot. I had forgotten that Miller actually had a sense of fun and adventure in DD. Over the next few years he’s going to hone his ability to show a character in depths of despair and anguish, but this year he still had a sense of humor.
And I really enjoy Iron Man under Michelinie, Layton and Romita. Though I felt the story was a little short. I thought the Camelot story had gone on longer than one issue; and it probably should have.
The other stories, Thor and MTIO were ok; Dazzler was fun. (I always got a kick out of the early attempts at ‘good girl art’ comics Marvel was putting out in the early eighties.)
The FF, however, is the big one for me. Full disclosure: I am a big Byrne fan. I spent years collecting everything he ever drew (yes, even E-Man). The Cap Baron Blood stories, great. Days of Future Past, fantastic. But the FF? Wow.
I had not revisited his FF in about 20 years. So I was looking forward to giving them a re-read, and wow, was I impressed. People here are giving his first issues mediocre reviews, but for me he starts off strong. Great done-in-one adventures that are unlike anything the FF had been through before. “Mission for a Dead Man” and “The Man with the Power” were great. Love the Byrne FF. Stan and Jack created ‘em. Wolfman brought them back from the abyss of the mid-70s, and Byrne perfected them.
I’m pretty much in complete agreement with BrandonH’s thoughts above except for a couple of his votes (I chose Daredevil for hero just to be different even though X-Men could easily be Hero of the Year as well, Yellowjacket as villain for his sheer awfulness, and X-Men #142 as my issue of the year, mainly for the beautiful writing in the panel when adult Kitty Pryde passes out of young Kitty Pryde’s consciousness).
This was really an excellent, excellent year, with a lot of daring and powerful issues and story arcs. Daredevil in 1981 is an amazing accomplishment. It reminds me in a way of the early days of the Fantastic Four, where it just seemed like there was a new and exciting idea every month. The artwork from Miller is also exceptional. X-Men also continues to be tremendous, though I did feel a noticeable difference when Byrne left. Those two runs are definitely my favorites of the year.
Other issues of note:
Fantastic Four with Byrne was pretty rough at first, but like BrandonH says, he really steps it up for the 20th anniversary. We read Doomquest in the Reading Club last year, and it continues to be a shockingly good arc given the zany premise. Also Avengers 212-213 is so painful to read, but in a really important and powerful way. The Wasp comes across as a little too ditzy for my taste, but the point of the story, and Yellowjacket’s awfulness, is conveyed well.
One minor thing to note is that for whatever reason, I found that there were a significantly large number of typos this year compared to others. Normally, those don’t bother me that much, especially since they’re typically few and far between, but this year it seemed like every issue had at least one and in some cases many. I wonder what happened from an editorial perspective.
I love this year of comics, as we get into must read runs across Daredevil, Fantastic Four, and of course, X-Men.
Funny that you mention the typos, i noticed more as well, alongside some grammar mishaps. Not major but caught my eye more than it has in the past.
1981 was an extremely good year for Marvel.
Daredevil with Frank Miller is consistently good. His takes on Kingpin, Bullseye, Elektra, and Matt Murdock are iconic, and rightly so.
The X-Men get two five-star issues with the conclusion of Days of Future Past and “I, Magneto.”
Doomquest is a great story for our hero and villain in armor, Iron Man and Doctor Doom.
Dazzler #1 is a strong debut, and I wish more of it was available right now on Marvel Unlimited. The cover by Bob Larkin is a standout.
Fantastic Four with John Byrne starts out okay, then BAM! “Terror in a Tiny Town” is an amazing 20th anniversary issue that features strong characterization all around and an intriguing mystery.
Avengers Annual #10 is a great issue for Rogue and Mystique’s Brotherhood of Mutants. The clean-up of Avengers #200 felt like it should have been part of something else, as it was not too organic to this issue. However, the points made deserved to be made.
The two Avengers issues were okay. The fallout will be felt much longer, though.
Captain America with Baron Blood was not that great. I will read the Two-in-One and Thor issues later in the week, but going from the summaries, it is not likely that they will be among my top picks for 1981.
My votes went to X-Men, the Brotherhood, Fantastic Four #236, Chris Claremont, and John Byrne. There was a lot of quality work during the year and three (!) five-star issues, so it was a tougher choice than usual.
This is my first ever run through Byrne FF, and Terror in a Tiny Town really sold me on all the hype I’ve heard in the past. Loved that comic, and it makes a run at issue of the year for me among great competition.
I read the Thor and Thing/Ghost Rider issues. They were better than expected but still just three-star quality.
There is still the occasional three-star Fantastic Four issue from John Byrne, but most of 1982-1986 is four-star issues with the occasional absolutely brilliant story. I will be very surprised if the FF are not in medal consideration for 1980s hero of the decade. The competition with the likes of X-Men, Daredevil, and Thor is stiff, but the FF have one of the best runs since the Lee/Kirby insanity of the Galactus/Surfer/Panther/Inhumans era.
No Name says
I really think X-Men #150 is a must not miss issue. I think this is where Claremont really starts fleshing out Magneto as more than a villain.
Good golly, what a miss by me! Added to the list!