This question comes courtesy of The Cerebros Podcast, who asked what you’d pick as the best 10 year run in Marvel’s history. I find this appealing because it moves us outside the arbitrary constraints of Marvel’s “Best Decade,” and allows you to spread the wealth!
Here are the contenders, based on my review of the My Marvelous Year reading lists, and obviously my own rarely debated tastes. Take a look, and then let me know what ten years of Marvel you’d pick for your collection!
1963 through 1972
Fantastic Four #1 has a ’61 cover date, meaning the Silver Age of Marvel Comics begins in earnest in 1962. Despite my enjoyment of those early tales, though, I skip my starting line here ahead to ’63 to get us in on the launch of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko on Amazing Spider-Man and Stan and Jack Kirby’s first Fantastic Four Annual.
If you like Marvel Comics, the Silver Age dawn of the universe is virtually unimpeachable, at least in terms of pure importance. As obvious as that is, it’s worth acknowleding that without the preposterous creativity exploding out of the brain of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, and various collaborators, there’s no Marvel decade to pick beyond this.
The biggest downside to this 10 year run is that Jack Kirby leaves Marvel in 1970, and the very early 70’s output is far from my favorite. That said, you do get some major character introductions like Ghost Rider, Luke Cage, The Defenders, Werewolf by Night, and Blue Beast!
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1982 through 1991
For me, there are two approaches to picking the best of Marvel’s 80’s. The first option is to make damn sure we get all of the Chris Claremont and John Byrne “Dark Phoenix Saga
,” which means starting the era from 1979 through 1988. The pros to this approach are that we also get Iron Man in “Demon in a Bottle,” virtually all of Frank Miller’s time as penciler and then writer on Daredevil, and “Days of Future Past.”
The biggest downside to this approach is it cuts us out of Jim Starlin and Ron Lim’s Infinity Gauntlet, meaning these decade picks will be entirely devoid of Jim Starlin’s Thanos, and that’s a reality I find unacceptable (Plus, this way we get Thanos Quest!). By starting in ’82, we’re still able to get the meat of Miller’s Daredevil, and push into Doctor Strange / Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment, Wolverine: Weapon X, and Infinity Gauntlet territory.
This stretch is loaded with historically acclaimed runs. In addition to the aforementioned works, you have:
- Peter David on Incredible Hulk (including a good chunk with up and coming Todd McFarlane)
- Walt Simonson on Thor
- Mark Gruenwald on Captain America
- Bill Sienkiewicz on New Mutants
- Todd McFarlane / David Michilinie on
- John Byrne on Fantastic Four
- Anne Nocenti and John Romita Jr on Daredevil
The list goes on and on and on!
2006 through 2015
While I wanted to start this era with 2005 (when series like the Bendis era of New Avengers and Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting on Captain America launch), that would mean cutting out 2015’s Secret Wars, and we all know I can’t do that. As it stands, we kick off with the year of Annihilation, Civil War, Planet Hulk, and make it through a host of other all time Marvel favorites before and during the Marvel NOW! era.
Crucially, too, this approach gets us the full Marvel Universe of Jonathan Hickman from 2008 to 2015. Even the weaker years in the era are easily offset by incredible ongoings like Immortal Iron Fist or the entire Abnett/Lanning era Marvel Cosmic.
Historically, it’s clear to me that there’s so much excellence in the earlier two tiers, but as a comics fan who got into the Marvel Universe on these works, the Mid 2000’s through Mid 2010’s is without question my personal favorite 10 year stretch in all of Marvel.
So… what are your picks?
Claude Drolet says
I say “1982 through 1991” is probably the best. All the reasons you hit upon attest to that, but I will also submit that “1982 through 1991” includes:
The Death of Captain Marvel
X-Men ‘God Loves, Man Kills’
Wolverine (Claremont and Miller)
Not to mention…
Conan the Barbarian (by Christopher “Jim Owsley” Priest)
Groo the Wanderer
Light and Darkness War
Plus I’d be remiss to exclude Rom and G.I. Joe
I’m approaching the end of reading the 1963 – 1972 stretch of Marvel comics. My reading has gone very very far beyond the My Marvelous Year reading club lists.
Having read over 500 Silver Age Marvel comics at this point, I think the 63 – 72 stretch is a worthy contender on the art side — you get Kirby, you get Ditko, you get Romita, Colan, Buscema, Adams, Kane and a handful of sadly less appreciated Marvel pencilers like Marie Severin, Bill Everett, Joe Orlando, etc. You also get Joe Sinnott who is a true contender for Marvel’s best ever inker.
On the writing side, however, I really hope 63 – 72 *isn’t* Marvel’s best decade. Stan Lee absolutely dominated writing at Marvel through those years. He was first to script and define every major Marvel title unless you count Guardians of the Galaxy, and even when he let Roy Thomas and others write, he kept them on a short leash and expected them to write very much like him. I’m not just trying to bag on Stan, who’s undeniably a crucial piece of Marvel’s foundation — and a writer I genuinely enjoy, especially on Spider-Man. But, after reading over 400 Stan Lee-written comics, I’m tired of the Marvel universe being subject to Stan’s narrative vision and editorial control. He reuses story concepts again and again and his writing is full of tropes that get old. Shouldn’t Marvel’s best decade be one in which a multiplicity of talented writers had the opportunity to put a unique spin on Marvel’s titles?
At least, as I move through Marvel’s catalogue, that’s what I’m hoping for. I’d like the Marvel universe to stop being the Stan Lee universe and am looking forward to the decades to come.