The 1980’s are considered a highwater mark for Marvel Comics by many readers, with a number of all-time classic runs, stories, and new characters. On multiple occasions, when asked where readers should start with Marvel Comics, or when picking the best decade long stretch in Marvel Comics history, I’ve found myself recommending much of the 80’s to Comic Book Herald readers.
As we wrap up our coverage of the decade in the My Marvelous Year podcast/reading club, I’ve put together a list of my picks for the best Marvel Comics in the 1980s. Since the MMY club reads through Marvel year-by-year, I’ve sorted various runs into the selection of comics we read for the club, rather than literally all of Walt Simonson’s Thor as one entry, or even all of the issues of Thor per publication year.
Best Marvel Comics of the 1960s
Best Marvel Comics 1998 to 2015
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Best Marvel Comics of the 2010s
Issues: #178 to #189
Miller’s DD through Bullseye vs. Elektra, Punisher cover. Still in must-read territory for this run.
2) Marvel Fanfare
Prank War! This was my favorite surprise of the 80’s re-read, thanks to the MMY Deane’s List and Barry Windsor-Smith.
3) Uncanny X-Men
Issues: #129 to #137
Dark Phoenix Saga. Read to issue #140 for all the X-Men issues in 1980.
Issues: #168 to #172
Frank Miller takes over DD, with creation of Elektra. This is another recommended, extended run. If you enjoy, keep on reading to #177.
5) Uncanny X-Men
Issues: #141, #142
Days of Future Past, the end of John Byrne’s time on Uncanny w/ issue #143.
6) Kraven’s Last Hunt
Issues: See the reading order:
So great. One of my favorite Spidey stories of all time.
Issues: #227 to #233
“Born Again.” Technically, this may be superior to everything on the list, but that’s the upside of compulsively making your own list – absolute power!
8) New Mutants
Issues: #18 to #21
Demon Bear Saga
9) Secret Wars
Issues: #1 to #12
Marvel Events begin in earnest. Find the mega Secret Wars reading order here!
10) Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment
Roger Stern and Mike Mignola on all-timer for both Strange and Doom.
11) X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
Issues: X-Men: Gold Loves, Man Kills – Special Edition
Graphic novel #5
12) Squadron Supreme
Issues: #1 to #12
Issues: #350 to #353
Ragnarok and Roll!
Issues: #337 to #339
Simonson Thor with Beta Ray Bill
15) Amazing Spider-Man
Issues: #229 to #230
Nothing can stop the Juggernaut
Issues: #190, #191
17) Elektra: Assassin
Issues: #1 to #8
18) New Mutants
Issues: #26 to #28
Issues: #379 to #382
The end of Walt Simonson’s time and the title, and the Thor/Dragon throwdown Simonson splash page special.
20) Moon Knight
Issues: 22 to 25
Moench and Sienkiewicz
Issues: #1 to #4
Frank Miller and Chris Claremont
22) Amazing Spider-Man
23) Captain America
Issues: #332 to #335
Gruenwald Cap, The Choice
Issues: #361 to #362
Like a bat out of hell!
25) X-Men Inferno
Issues: Full event
So hot in here.
26) Emperor Doom
Not in Marvel Unlimited! Booooo!
Issues: #364 to #366
28) Daredevil: Love and War
Miller and Sienkiewicz
29) Captain America
Issues: #296 to #301
The House of Skull, a Captain America horror story.
30) Fantastic Four
Issues: #232 to #236
John Byrne takes over the FF
31) Incredible Hulk
Issues: #340, #343 to 345, 347 to 348
Peter David and Todd McFarlane bring the Leaders schemes to an explosive end, and set the stage for Joe Fixit era Hulk.
Issues: #253 to #254
Issues: #254 to #257, #259 to #260
Ann Nocenti and Jr Jr Daredevil
34) Amazing Spider-Man
Issues: #315 to #317
35) Incredible Hulk
Issues: #331 to #333, #336 to #337
Peter David & Todd McFarlane. Hulk takes on domestic abuse, meets X-Factor.
36) Uncanny X-Men
Issues: #145 to #147, #150
Then, Doctor Doom and Murderworld!
37) Fantastic Four
Issues: #257 to #262
Classics. #257 sets up YEARS of Marvel stories.
38) Iron Man
Issues: #149 to #150
39) Hulk/Thing – The Big Change
Jim Starlin gets to have fun with a Hulk and Big Ben Grimm classic Marvel Team-Up.
40) New Mutants Special Edition / X-Men Annual
Issues: #1 / #9
Chris Claremont and Art Adams – NM’s v. Loki.
41) Captain America
Cap for Prez
42) Uncanny X-Men
Issues: #160 to #164
The Brood. A must-read run.
43) Marvel Fanfare
Issues: #10 to #13
Black Widow in one of her best stories. Art by George Perez!
44) Damage Control (1989)
Issues: #1 to #4
45) The Punisher
Issues: #1 to #5
Circle of Blood
Issues: #295 to #297
Kross Time Kangs
47) The Death of Captain Marvel
Issues: Graphic Novel #1
Marvel’s first OGN
48) Amazing Spider-Man
The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man
49) Sensational She-Hulk
Issues: #1 to #4
John Byrne on solo Sensational She-Hulk
Issues: #7 to #8
Patch / Mr Fixit
51) Amazing Spider-Man
Issues: #239, #244 to #245
Enter the Hobgoblin
52) Avengers Annual
Claremont to the rescue after avengers 200, and the new brotherhood of evil mutants.
53) Uncanny X-Men
Issues: #235 to #238
Welcome to Genosha
54) Iron Man
Issues: #225 to #231
55) Alpha Flight
“Snowblind.” I respect the gumption of this comic’s style, but it’s also important to me to say Alpha Flight came in last on this, and any list.
It’s been 24 hours and I’m still disturbed by what I experienced yesterday.
I have commented on podcasts here, on the CBH webpages where the podcasts are posted, and it is free (monetarily) to do so, many times. There was significant history for that. Many people including myself had been posting as such for some time, tracing back to the original My Marvelous Year journey, before there even was a podcast or a Slack. A month or so ago, in a podcast, Zack mentioned that he had observed that there had been thoughtful comments on the webpages (I thought probably my comments among them) and he appealed to the authors of those comments to consider joining the Slack (behind a paywall). I actually thought he may have been addressing me specifically.
I really wanted to be a part of the Slack. It took weeks to convince myself that I could justify the hit on my disposable income under the circumstances of the covid economy. But I convinced myself that it would be worth it through what I expected would be a difficult winter.
If you do a google search on the following terms: Creative Cooperative Collaboration meeting guidelines, you will find page after page of articles and web pages, with a consistent message regarding creative productive workspaces fully conducive to the free and open exchange of ideas.
They suggest that meetings and exchanges where idea sharing is valued should exhibit the following characteristics:
– All ideas are welcome and needed (corollary: don’t shoot down ideas right away)
– Listening with an open mind
– Debbie Downer and Mr. No aren’t invited. NO has no place at the table
– Respect everyone’s participation and their thoughts
These are not my principles, they are not even new principles.
The way Zack sold the Slack on podcasts, I think it was reasonable that I should have expected this level of cooperation and respect for my ideas within the Slack community.
So imagine my shock when there I was, finally in the Slack, (figuratively) with a smile on my face, presenting my shiny new first idea for discussion, and within about 90 seconds, Zack popped into the channel and proceeded to (figuratively) puke all over it, before it had even had a chance to take a breath. Zack had displayed none of the principles conducive to valued idea sharing prior to immediately shooting down my idea.
Then, I guess, seeing that the Slack owner and lead influencer signaled that it was OK to puke on someone’s idea publicly like that, a number of other Slack participants proceeded to puke on my idea too. Soon after my idea was a (figurative) bloody and battered puke-covered mess on the floor of the Slack. Like I said above, I even signaled that I was feeling unwelcome with the reception of my idea, and Zack said that was my problem, (figuratively) giving a kick to my idea gasping on the floor. I appealed to Zack multiple times for help, but I guess he thought it was not his problem.
It was pretty humiliating, and I can’t get it off of my mind. It seemed Zack had personally invited me to come to join the friendly confines of the Slack and then violated what I had perhaps incorrectly assumed would be a respectful reception.
So if you’re thinking of joining the Slack, you may not have the same experience as I, but you are forewarned about Zack.
While I regret you had a negative experience with the MMY Slack, you have been reimbursed and I don’t believe much else can be done. I have seen years of evidence that Zack is a skilled, thoughtful, and compassionate moderator, dedicated to fostering a wonderful comics community that would not otherwise exist (in his off hours no less). In two+ years and 100s of members, I can count the number of banned members on a single hand.
I do not wish to argue with you about any of this, and will not be replying again. I sincerely hope you can find what you’re looking for elsewhere.
Hi Dave – I had a mentor some years ago who gave me some valuable advice. He said that by all means mistakes with customers should be avoided in all circumstances. However, it is a fact of human nature that mistakes occur. Of course customers know this, they have made mistakes before too, and have had to deal with the consequences. The opportunity presented when there is a mistake that effects a customer is to recover their loyalty. Customers will notice and respond to a sincere and determined effort to recover their trust and loyalty. Oftentimes the relationship may actually become stronger in the wake of a mistake that could have ended the relationship, as long as the response was at least appropriate for the harm done by the error.
In this situation, I agree, there’s not much that could be offered to recover my loyalty. But how difficult would it be for Zack to apologize? We all learn to do it at a young age, and although apologizing is more difficult than just treating all people with respect in the first place, it shouldn’t be a real obstacle, should it? I have noted in your response that “regret” does not carry the same meaning as “sorry.” You have my email address, would it kill Zack to take a few minutes to apologize?
I suppose failing that in a few days I will relocate this review to iTunes where it will be more visible and lasting.
Something for you to consider: if there have been hundreds of Slack members and a handful of them banned, that sounds like a failure rate of approximately 1%, which for a business is quite high. If 1% of luggage were lost, or 1% of passengers didn’t reach their destinations, that would be disastrous for the airline industry. Respect and responsiveness are pretty easy, seems like it’s reasonable to expect better than that.
This site is great. Dave runs the site and he is extremely knowledgeable and has clearly put an extraordinary amount of effort into developing this site and it is a valuable resource for folks interested in comics. Thank you Dave. Dave deserves all levels of patronage so that he can continue to do what he does. If, however, you are thinking of becoming a patron at the “X-Men” level, and anticipate participating in the Slack feature, then consider my experience.
I pledged to My Marvelous Year as an “X-Men” level of patron about a week ago, with the anticipation of participating in the Slack discussions. Zack, who appears with Dave in the My Marvelous Year podcast, and whom I heard is the creator, organizer and “owner” of the Slack, greeted me and granted me access to the Slack discussion channels. I discovered there a diverse and welcoming group of folks and initiated a couple conversations just to get to know folks a little better. In the meanwhile, I was listening to My Marvelous Year, and on two different podcasts I heard parts of the discussions that inspired an idea. I even went to the effort to take that idea, attempt to apply it in a way to demonstrate the idea, and I presented it to the group.
I didn’t know what to expect exactly, but something like: “I’m not sure if I agree with what you’re doing here, can you explain what this is, and what you might propose to do with it?” would have been a fair response. But that’s not what happened. Zack, the creator, organizer, and “owner” of the Slack, wasted no time with a response to the effect of “This looks like x. I already know x doesn’t work.” A half dozen or more of the Slack community also expressed their skepticism, which is fine, they’re paying patrons like me. But that’s not Zack’s status, is it? After I tried to defend my idea from darts coming in from 5 or 6 different directions, I expressed that I was feeling unwelcome with having expressed my idea there. You might think that this new member, expressing that I was uncomfortable with my treatment, that Zack, representing My Marvelous Year, as “owner” of the Slack, comfortable as he was with his relationships with other Slack participants going back weeks, months and perhaps even years and who should be aware of his influence on the group, at that point (having already failed to greet my idea initially with an open mind) would step back, have some empathy for my position, want to support the free flow of ideas, and respond to the situation to try to lend me even just a little support. That’s not what happened. Instead, Zack insisted that I was the problem. Multiple times I appealed for support. “Zack, what would it take for you to consider my idea as a possibility?” I asked. Nothing, was the response from Zack. I have no idea why the intransigence from Zack.
Again, I am not suggesting to visitors to this site to avoid patronizing My Marvelous Year. I am providing feedback to potential patrons reflecting my experience. I unsubscribed as a patron in response to this incident. Full disclosure, My Marvelous Year refunded my $5. But the harm goes beyond that. I wish to express publicly my message to Zack:
1) Zack, I heard you on more than one podcast sell the Slack as a feature that would appeal to folks who want to discuss comics and express their ideas freely and openly. Today you did not live up to that promise. A skilled facilitator knows how to be inclusive with discussion participants. What you did today was the exact opposite of competent facilitation.
2) Zack, occasionally you will encounter folks who are smarter than you. I’m not saying I’m smarter than you, I’m just saying, with certainty, that you will encounter people smarter than you. Those situations are opportunities for you. What you demonstrated today suggests that you will not learn from those opportunities.
I know my idea has value. How can I be certain? I have implemented just such an idea successively in another industry that posed no fewer obstacles to effective operation in a generally “subjective” or “creative” arena than exists in comics. Wouldn’t Dave like to know about that? Who loses out on that?