Below you’ll find our reading selections for the year of 1982, 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!
1982 Comic Reading List
|1982||Comic Book Title||Issues|
|1||The Contest||#1 to #3|
|2||Daredevil||#178 to #185, #187 to #189|
|3||The Death of Captain Marvel||Graphic Novel #1|
|4||Avengers||#215 to #216, #224|
|5||Wolverine||#1 to #4|
|6||Amazing Spider-Man||#229 to #230|
|7||Uncanny X-Men||#160 to #165|
|8||The New Mutants||New Mutants Graphic Novel|
|9||X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills||X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills – Special Edition|
|10||Fantastic Four||#240, #242 to #247|
Hero of the Year: Daredevil
Villain of the Year: Bullseye
Issue of the Year: X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills (Graphic Novel)
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Writer of the Year: Chris Claremont
Artist of the Year: Frank Miller
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1982, where to start? I dove right in with God Loves, Man Kills. Don’t ask me why, but as soon as I saw that on our reading list I pulled it off the shelf and read it. Hadn’t looked at it since the first X-Men movie came out… and hadn’t read it since the early ‘90s. It still resonates. The plot is just an extension of what had been going on in the monthly for years, but the fleshing out of the idea, along with the biblical references, make the story work and still relevant 30 years later. Gets my vote for issue of the year.
The other graphic novels were almost as impressive. The Death of Captain Marvel is a seminal work. The first Marvel Graphic Novel, and the first I bought (though a few years after publication). Little on action and long on story, it really challenges one’s expectations for a comic book.
The New Mutants is another important book, but I think Chris was a little over worked by the time he got to this one.
The Contest, FF and Spidey were all books I bought off the shelf back in ’82. At the time The Contest just completely blew us away, all of Marvels characters teaming up and fighting? Wow. These days that happens once a year, but back in the day, it was a real event. A fan boys dream. It even included a full listing and blurb about every hero in the Marvel universe in lieu of a letter page (I don’t know if Marvel Unlimited includes that, I could scan it if anyone wants to see). A pre-curser to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, I guess. But I digress…the Contest just does not hold up. But Spidey and the FF sure do.
I always got a kick out the Spidey vs Juggy issues. Great fun and well done. Gets us warmed up for a great run by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. over the next couple of years.
And the FF? What can I say. I’m biased. Four great stories. First the done-in-one Inhumans moving day, with Ben getting to use his brain and pilot, was The Galactus story from 242-245 is almost without peer. The scene where the Avengers get involved then Doc Strange was such a logical thing (where were these guys the last half-dozen times he showed up to destroy the world?) And when Galactus falls? Chills. Childhoods End hits all the right buttons. I love Byrne’s take on Ben Grimm. And the Doom story? Another home run. Byrne for artist.
I think with Daredevil we are at the point where commenting on one set of issues is almost pointless. Miller is approaching the cumulation of this run on DD, and we cannot really see the whole picture. I will note that there is still a sense of fun involved in the story, one I had forgotten about, and I think that adds something to the book. Later runs and stories will completely loose this aspect, and DD will, unfortunately, take on the whole “grim and gritty” thing. Let’s talk next year.
Wolverine was good, but it did not really hold up as well… Millers pencils are lost under Rubenstien’s inks. The repetition within the inner monologue really wore thin. I recall reading it long ago and loving it, but this time around it suffers in comparison to the works around it. Still, all in a l, a good story told pretty well.
And the X-Men issues were a little too close in terms of that inner dialogue by Wolverine. (I think, were I to design the reading list, I would recommend keeping some time between reading Wolverine and the XMen issues.) And Cockrums pencils have really gone downhill. I mentioned a few ‘years’ back that I had to give him an apology for bad mouthing him over the years. Now I remember why. The panel to flow is gone. The faces are cartoonish and square. Perspective is way off. And the Brood, good grief, what an Aliens rip off, yet somehow not so menacing. Dave? What happened? I’m almost tempted to write him in as villain of the year for ruining the X-Men.
Due to his whole body of work this year, on the X-Men, The Graphic Novels and Wolvie, I’ll give Chris writer of the year, but it was close. Both Byrne and Miller could take it on a different day.
The Avengers issues are the weakest link this year. I like the progression of Tigra and the addition of She-Hulk, but Shooter’s writing has definitely suffered now that he is editor-in-chief. Oddly enough, these are the only books I had not read before, and they are the only ones I would skip.
Another super strong year. This was really, really tough for me to vote on. Ultimately, I went with the X-Men for Hero of the Year, mainly because I was blown away by how good God Loves, Man Kills was (I wasn’t as big a fan of New Mutants). Daredevil is just spectacular though, and if he’d had a big graphic novel to go with his run, it would have pushed Daredevil over the edge for Hero of the Year. Also, Wolverine was tremendous, with beautiful art and excellent writing and plotting.
The Fantastic Four was also excellent, with Byrne really feeling like he’s come into his own with them after a somewhat rocky start last year. I especially appreciated how varied the stories were in the relatively short run we read; everything from Galactus (and his insane new herald) to the Inhumans to Doctor Doom to Franklin and none of it feels derivative (also, how amazing was the moment when Franklin reads Thing’s mind and turns him back into his original form?).
The Brood are terrifying, but they are a bit one-note, which wouldn’t stand out as much if it wasn’t X-Men, where virtually everyone, including villains, are multi-dimensional. They ultimately fell a little flat for me. Death of Captain Marvel was a bit overlong, but so different than anything else we’ve read and very powerful. Avengers and Molecule Man was pretty good but not particularly memorable for me, though I did enjoy Tigra’s progression.
Spidey was fine, but practically nothing happened in the end! It ended up just being an excuse to show Juggernaut destroying New York; Spidey can do better than that! Contest of Champions wasn’t too impressive, and wow, some of those obscure heroes were so bizarre (I’m blanking on his name, but the one from China who could summon the power of the Chinese people? Come on). Still, Contest of Champions had a good dramatic ending.
Overall, this was a super impressive year. Onto 1983!
After Daredevil #185 I think that Foggy Nelson might have my nod for hero of the year.
My first thought after reading it was that he should get his own spin-off title like Jimmy Olsen.
I’d buy the first issue of “Guts” Nelson in a heartbeat.
No Name says
I should also mention I love the tribute to Elfquest we get in FF#242.
No Name says
The Contest of Silly National Sterotypes ended in a tie, not 3-1 Game Master. For Cosmic Beings, they need to work on their basic math.
I have to recommend Marvel Fanfare 1-4, if just for Michael Golden’s art. He’s getting my nod for artist of the year.
After reading Contest of Champions I have to say it was rather ‘meh’. I liked how Wolverine was old-school Wolverine and was willing to kill another Champion because any contest worth fighting is worth winning. I miss psychopath Wolverine :(. And he hadn’t met the Thing yet. So cool. But the fights were just weird, and had named characters battling goobers so I really didn’t care about them all that much. I did enjoy the ending dilemma faced by the Game Master though. I wasn’t sure if he would make the sacrifice or not… But it was unfortunate how he had managed to shoot himself in the foot with a seemingly off-hand promise. Seemed way too convenient.
After reading Daredevil #181 I’m reminded of how quickly things moved back in the day. That story would have taken at least six issues to tell nowadays. And it wouldn’t have had any more impact than it did, being told in one issue.
Wow, DD Issues 181 – 183 (at least) were heavy with the anti-drug stuff. Such a cut-and-dried issue before we started to really understand the implications of a ‘war on drugs’. Did the comic companies receive money to run anti-drug comics back in the day? I feel like I vaguely remember something like that.
There’s a relatively infamous anti drug Spidey comic that ran in the late 90s, but I’m not sure if that was happening in the early 80s as well. Cerainly a prevailing theme in the culture, and even in Marvel Comics going back to Harry Osborn in 70s AMS
That’s not the free one that’s floating around and also features Storm, is it? I remember receiving something like that in school. I think it featured a villain named Smoke…? About smoking cigarettes? Or wasn’t there a Spidey story that got edited to make it eligible for a grant? IDK, my memory is mush these days.
I found the following story. It looks like Stan Lee, at the request of the US Government, wrote a three-issue Spider-Man story that was anti-drug in ASM #96, #97, & #98 It failed the Comics Code check, so Marvel published it without the seal.
I have similar feelings about Contest of Champions. Not much to it, and rightfully overlooked in the grand scheme of marvel events. Especially given how much i like the rest of Marvel 1982, this event doesnt merit much praise.
That said, it kicks off an era of limited series and MAJOR events, and establishes the formula 1984s Secret Wars will, in my opinion, perfect.
Wow! 1982 had a ton of great Marvel issues!
I rated 28 issues with 4 stars or higher, with 13 of those being 5 stars. I am pretty sure that five-star record will hold through the rest of the year. The only accomplishment that might rival that is the extremely impressive Civil War event in 2006-2007. There were a ton of issues involved in that that I gave 4 stars to, and it tied in pretty much every non-cosmic character in existence at the time.
Contest of Champions: This is the only disappointment of the year. It threw a lot of characters into the mix, but it was not as good as something like Avengers vs. Defenders. Secret Wars (1984) will show how such a crossover can be done better.
Daredevil: This story deserves every bit of praise it gets. It is amazing. It sucks the reader in and does not let go. Art and writing are at the highest levels throughout. One particular highlight is how funny Foggy Nelson is. #186, “Stilts,” is also recommended if you are liking this run.
Death of Captain Marvel: On the art front, there are some amazing group shots of the characters who have come to visit Captain Marvel before the end. I like that this story focuses not so much on the actual death but on the impact the character had on the others while he was alive.
Avengers: These are solid issues, and I do not have much to say about them. #221 is also recommended if you are just looking for a fun story; it also has a roster change in it.
Wolverine: It’s not quite Daredevil or “I, Magneto,” but this Claremont/Miller story is very much worth the time to read. It suffers a bit from “Seinfeld is Unfunny” syndrome because it launched so many bits that Wolverine writers and artists would return to over the years, but it was quite innovative when it came out, and it holds up as a good story decades later.
Amazing Spider-Man: This is another solid story. A couple of years before The Terminator came out, Juggernaut played a similar role to Spider-Man. No matter what he threw at him, Juggernaut would keep coming back, implacable and unstoppable. I am skeptical that the cement, when dry, would hold Juggernaut in place.
Uncanny X-Men: I like the flashback to Xavier and Magneto’s first meeting. The Brood Saga is very important for the characters and universe-building, but the Brood do not do very much for me as antagonists. They have no real personality or charm, and in terms of scary monsters, they do not measure up to the xenomorphs from Alien that they are homaging/ripping off.
New Mutants: The structure is a straight-up mirror of Giant-Size X-Men #1. However, as written here, Pierce and the New Mutants do not hold a candle to Krakoa and the All-New, All-Different X-Men from that 1975 classic.
God Loves, Man Kills: This is one of the few Marvel hardcovers I own, as I feel the story is among the very best. The messages contained within justify the sometimes preachy style (and not just from the actual reverend in the story). These X-Men are most of my favorites, and I love seeing them all together. I like that Madison Square Garden is used instead of a fictional sports arena. It helps add to the feeling of realism that Marvel often goes for.
Fantastic Four: You know it’s a good year when a very solidly told Doctor Doom story that shows him as multifaceted but still obviously villainous (and also follows up on the landmark 20th anniversary issue) is only the third best FF story of the year. #240 has some momentous events with the Inhumans. I have a soft spot for issues with important births, and Luna’s definitely counts. #238, 239, and 241 are also very good, so be sure to read those if you are liking what Byrne is doing in his run. The high point for me is the Terrax/Galactus story. I am impressed with how Terrax is demonstrated to be a true threat in a very low amount of pages. Byrne’s space art is more appealing to me than Starlin’s, and we get some very good examples in this storyline. #243 is practically everything that I want in a Fantastic Four issue. There is a team-up with the Avengers and great action in the battle scenes, but it is balanced out with characters having honest differences of opinion and the use of solutions that are more innovative than just using powers or weapons against Galactus. Finally, I love what #245 has Sue Storm saying about women’s liberation and feminism. These movements are for women to have the freedom and power to choose how they want to live their lives. Those choices do not have to be anti-men or in opposition to playing an important role in the raising of children.
I finally read Wolverine 1-4 relatively recently — within the last six months or so. I enjoyed it so much I named my Kawasaki Ninja ‘Yukio’ in honor of the character by the same name.
Oh, and just an aside, another milestone issue that may have been off the radar:
The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans crossover came out in 1982.
Wow, great add! I wasnt aware such a thing even existed.
I had kind of forgotten it. Or rather, I thought it came out later in the ’80s, as it has Simonson on pencils, and the style is like he was doing with Thor. But I guess it was just prior to Thor. One of the benefits of reading the original comics is the house ads. I noticed in a few letters pages an ad for it. But the ad was not clear, black and white, no picture. Then I pulled out my copy and noted the cover date.
Sometimes those house ads are interesting. There was one for a Roger Stern/Frank MIller Doctor Strange last year.
Fantastic Four 240 holds a special place in my heart: For some reason in mid 1980 I decided that I had outgrown comics. I stopped buying with FF 221. Then a couple of years later my mother (perhaps sensing something missing in my life) bought me a couple of comics. FF 240 was one of them. I’ll never forget it. It brought me right back into my monthly habit. I eventually filled in all the missing issues from the FF, and didn’t stop buying the FF until issue 400 13 odd years later. That was the second time I stopped buying. But for different reasons (that’s right, Clone Saga, I’m looking at you…).
The Clone Saga comes for us all 🙂