Below you’ll find our reading selections for the year of 1983, 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!
1983 Comic Reading List (Check out Patreon for Full List With Notes!)
|1983||Comic Book Title||Issues|
|2||New Mutants||#1 to #2|
|3||Uncanny X-Men||#165 to #167, #172 to #173, #175|
|4||Amazing Spider-Man Annual / Avengers||#16 / #227|
|5||Doctor Strange||#58 to #62|
|6||Amazing Spider-Man||#239, #244 to #245|
|7||Avengers||#228 to #230|
|8||Avengers / Fantastic Four||#233 / #256|
|9||Iron Man / Thor||#169 to #170 / #337 to #340|
|10||Fantastic Four||#257 to #260|
1983 Voting Results
Hero of the Year: Fantastic Four
Villain of the Year: Doctor Doom
Issue of the Year: Daredevil #190
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Writer of the Year: John Byrne
Artist of the Year: John Byrne
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This year was all over the place quality-wise for me, and in unexpected ways. I’ll go over each title in order:
– Daredevil was spectacular but also felt like Miller trying to finish up his run with a lot of flair (not that that’s a bad thing at all). Both issues are classics and are really unusual.
– This was the first year that I felt Claremont’s run on X-Men start to falter a bit. Things felt much more rushed and less finished than usual, and I found the whole Return of the Phoenix thing a strange retread of an event that had happened not long ago (and having Mastermind recover pretty quickly from something that supposedly destroyed his brain made very little sense). I was also not a fan of New Mutants at all, and stopped after the third issue. I did enjoy most of The X-Men for 1983, but I think Claremont got stretched thin by writing two monthly comics at once.
– I feel pretty much indifferent about new Captain Marvel, though her power is cool and ever-evolving, which is always fun. The Spidey issue where she was introduced was fine, as was Avengers Annual. I can see how she’s someone who at the time would have been a huge deal as a black woman representing Marvel’s namesake hero, but she doesn’t make that huge of an impression in her origin story.
– Doctor Strange was my shock of the year. I’m not saying I loved it or anything, but I found it readable and even engaging, which I was not expecting at all given how little I’ve liked most of the Dracula comics we’ve read. This took me so by surprise that I was actually inclined to go out of left field and nominate Roger Stern for Writer of the Year. But Stern didn’t just get it for Doctor Strange, but also for…
– The Hobgoblin! I thought these were great, with an excellent pace and a truly scary villain who is almost an upgrade from the Green Goblin. I vaguely know about all of the behind-the-scenes issues with the Hobgoblin reveal in later years, but that doesn’t impact these origin comics at all. Again, highly readable from Stern. And in case that wasn’t enough, Stern also wrote…
– The Trial of Hank Pym! Yet again, a very readable and interesting set of comics, and one that takes some pretty huge risks (killing off a villain and having an Avenger feel remorse about it, sending Hank Pym packing seemingly for good). I also FINALLY got the Hank Pym summary story I’ve been waiting for in order to keep all of his different personas clear in my mind, since I think we missed the issue where he turned into Yellowjacket for the first time.
– Really, although Stern wrote three different titles this year and all were solid, Byrne certainly gets the award for highest quality run of the year. The Negative Zone stories were all terrific (and made me want a Negative Zone spin-off), and then the post Annihilus Fantastic Four stories were awesome, especially #257 with the Skrull homeworld getting destroyed! I thought the crossover part was actually the weakest part of the whole run, with a ton of build-up that more or less led to nothing much happening other than a wardrobe change and Annihilus getting defeated yet again, though the Negative Zone side of the crossover was fun.
I do want to comment on Byrne’s artwork here. In general, I loved it, especially any time he did crazy aliens or Doctor Doom. But man do I dislike how he draws faces in general unless they’re in extreme closeup, or even figures from a distance. I feel like he’s incredible with detail, but gets sloppy when he needs to draw scenes from a medium distance, and I can’t tell you how disconcerting the shape of The Thing’s head was for me this year. I’ve loved Byrne’s artwork in the past, especially on X-Men, so not sure why it was so noticeable for me this particular year, but there you go.
– Iron Man and Thor were both good in different ways, though Iron Man was more notable for Rhodey’s debut as Iron Man than as an actual good story. Simonson though is just awesome, and Beta Ray Bill is such a great and noble character that the whole arc was just a pleasure to read. Looking forward to more next year.
– I’ll lump the bonus round comics together here. Vision and the Scarlet Witch was solid but not particularly notable other than the Magneto reveal and Vision’s dream. Alpha Flight was my other surprise of the year; I found myself really enjoying it and getting intrigued by the different characters, and that evil alien ship was terrifying. I legitimately wanted to keep reading the series past #5. Finally, Cloak and Dagger was just odd, with much more explicit and dark content than pretty much anything else we’ve read, and a strange kind of non-ending for a limited series. I guess I want to read more Cloak and Dagger, but I’m not exactly enthusiastic about it.
Overall, a pretty solid year, though not as good as some recent years that we’ve covered. Onto 1984!
I’ve been trying to log my votes, but when I click the link I get an error:
“You’ve already responded”
I tried to edit my response, and note that the link is to My Marvelous Year: 1982
Gah, and I made it so many weeks without a screwed up link!
Updated above, also here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1NFhLHOM4DVfUJVtm6Vnuc_eWpc5rfaoVMwltvTbhyTI/viewform?usp=send_form
1983 is a good workmanlike year for Marvel. We have moved past the initial flash and splash of Daredevil, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four and settled into a period of strong writing and drawing for most of the Marvel mainstays.
I’ll be honest, there is nothing new for me here. I was buying all the biggies right off the shelf by this point. X-Men 169 was my first X-Men monthly purchase, as was Thor 338. Well, except for Doc Strange, and due to time constraints (and higher interest in filling in gaps in other runs) I gave it a miss.
I just had to read through X-Men 165-175 to refresh my memories of the Morlocks, etc. And ASM 239-245, just because John Romita and Roger Stern work so well together, and really, it is a seminal run. And FF 250-260. I don’t know how anyone could skip FF 250 with Byrne going back to his X-Men roots AND previewing his Ubermensch work. Then the whole Negative Zone saga is a must (MUST) read. And, of course, if you read these FF, you have to crossover into both Alpha Flight and the Thing.
There were a few things I had forgotten that stood out:
Lockheed. I remembered of Kitty’s dragon, somewhere in the back of my mind, but I had forgotten where and when he came from.
Rogue. I also forgot how she entered the team. Such a mainstay now, but at the time she really came from left field.
Paul Smith. Such a breath of fresh air on pencils, especially after the let-down of Cockrum’s second run.
Peter Parkers love life. Good grief was it complicated in 1983.
Interlude. I don’t recall ever seeing a whole comic dedicated to the main villain this way.
I have to go Byrne all the way this year. Writer, Artist, Villain (Doom) and Hero (FF). Issue is a harder one, and have to go outside the box with FF 250.
On a side note, I wonder if I shouldn’t be looking at the Captain America from this time period…I note that it is written by J.M DeMatteis and drawn by Mike Zeck. I never read much of them at the time, but with names like that on the bill…
Just some foreshadowing, We’re going to get a sizable heaping of Cap in 84, and this arc really stood out to me in some surprising ways. I want to loop back and catch more of the DeMatteis and Zeck period now myself.
Daredevil: #190 is a true classic issue. What happened with Elektra leaves me feeling great. The “Roulette” issue is competently done, but it does begin the descent of Bullseye into a true nutcase instead of a scary, hypercompetent villain.
Net Mutants: Okay
Uncanny X-Men: #167 was the high point here with the culmination of the Brood on Earth arc.
Spider-Man/Avengers: It is not easy to tell the story of Hank Pym after a certain point, but Avengers #227 does a great job of introducing him to newcomers (and Monica Rambeau).
Doctor Strange: #59 was not that good, and unless I hear compelling comments about #61-62, I will be leaving those on the skipped issues list, as vampires in comics have rarely been done to my liking. One thing I do like in #60 is placing the title somewhere other than page 1. This gives the feeling of a prologue or teaser sequence, and these can be quite effective.
Amazing Spider-Man: I am a big fan of the Hobgoblin character. The civilian identity of Hobgoblin was not handled as elegantly or gracefully as the Green Goblin, and there are plenty of interesting behind-the-scenes tales about why things fell out as they did. That does not diminish the effectiveness of these early Hobgoblin stories by Roger Stern. #239 is an excellent issue, and I would also recommend #238 and #243 for people who are digging this part of 1983’s picks. Also, in #239, check out the artwork from the Hobgoblin battle and how the fence is drawn with the white space on the first page. John Romita Jr. is doing great work here.
Avengers #228-230: decent issues with a big impact
Avengers/Fantastic Four: Yes! This team-up was awesome! I thought the exact re-use of the final pages of Avengers #233 in FF #256 was a bit lazy, but otherwise, the two issues were spectacular. In particular, I like that cosmic and personal issues are getting worked out simultaneously.
Iron Man/Thor: I am not sure why these are paired up, other than that 10 stories per year has ceased to be enough for those looking for all the big moments in Marvel history by this point. Iron Man’s stuff is fine, but Walt Simonson’s Thor run is where it is at! I love Beta Ray Bill from both a design and character standpoint. In #340, even Volstagg is written well instead of being just a joke character. Check out the corner box changes during these Thor issues. It is attention to detail like that that makes the run extra special. Another positive that holds true throughout the run is that there are plenty of interesting subplots and side stories going on. Even if something does not appeal to you, just wait a couple pages, and there’s been a shift to another subplot.
Fantastic Four: The cliffhangers in this run are wonderfully maddening. #257 is an absolute classic Galactus story. We get a great Doom solo issue as well, and I want to compliment Byrne on having Sue Storm make great use of her power in #259. Also recommended are Fantastic Four #250-255.
Vision and Scarlet Witch is a decent miniseries. I have a soft spot for both characters and think that their relationship in this era is really cool.
Alpha Flight has potential, but the core characters are just not that interesting to me. Northstar is better to me in Austen’s Uncanny X-Men than he is in anything I have read by Byrne.
Cloak and Dagger are a bit one-note for me. I like the message the creators are trying to get across, but I seldom want to read about this duo.
I will add one more bonus pick of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #85.
My voting this time went to the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, and John Byrne for both artist and writer. Issue of the year was a toss-up between FF #257 and Daredevil #190. I ended up picking Daredevil because it is double-sized and a conclusion to a big arc.
Clearly Iron Man and Thor pair up because… because… they’re founding Avengers?
Yeah, I’m having some too many good comics problems 🙂
No Name says
I’m really surprised how good Dan Green and Terry Austin’s work on Doc Strange is. Maybe a dark horse for artist of the year
I’ll post comments and picks a little later. First, a question: Is Fantastic Four #261 being rolled to 1984 so it can be paired with #262? Those two issues are absolutely essential reads in my view. Even if they do not end up on Dave’s list, I strongly recommend those two issues to anybody who is enjoying Byrne’s Fantastic Four writing or likes cosmic Marvel.
My first two picks for 1984 🙂
I think you forgot to put Thor 337 and 338 on the list…
Was initially rolling the start of Simonson’s run in to 1984, but we have some breathing room, let’s add Beta Ray Bill!