My Top 5 Issues Printed by Marvel

Posted by X35 (5974 posts) - - Show Bio

5. AVENGERS WEST COAST #69, "Grudge Match" by Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas & Paul Ryan, 1991

An issue that's entirely a long fight between two characters is a pretty daunting task for any writer to get right. An issue that's entirely a fight between two characters with entire subplots and character arcs fleshed out is a whole other thing. But that's where Avengers West Coast #69 just takes the cake for elegant story-telling. Centered around Hawkeye and US Agent having a violent fight regarding the new line-up of their Avengers team, Roy and Dann Thomas manage to characterise the two Avengers perfectly. Hawkeye may be getting his ass well and truly kicked but he still displays everything that makes Hawkeye Hawkeye and US Agent is his typical loudmouth jerk self but is shown as being not entirely reprehensible throughout. The whole issue is just a fantastic read. The fact Roy and Dann manage to interject subplots with Scarlet Witch, Hank Pym and Wasp, and the entire restructuring of the team underneath a 22 page blow-out between two characters is something that modern writers should aspire to be able to do. Paul Ryan pencils one of the best drawn-out and simple fights without it ever seeming overlong and he even manages to make Hawkeye's god-ugly 90s armor look half-decent. The issue is just a fantastic display of how decompression should be done.

4. DAREDEVIL #181, "Last Hand" by Frank Miller, 1982

This is pretty much everyone's favorite Daredevil issue and there's a reason: it is genuinely fantastic. It does something very few comics can do successful: it reads as the fantastic apex of several month's of storytelling and it also reads perfectly as a stand-alone story. It's a story entirely told from the perspective of Bullseye that feels both monumentally epic and puzzlingly sympathetic. It's not until you've finished reading it that you think back and realise these things. Daredevil hardly features until the final few pages, Miller cleverly chose to make this issue is all about Bullseye. And of course, we have the beautifully understated death of Elektra mid-way into the story. It's just a truly great issue that manages to feel like an issue that features a complete epic story arc in it's 30-something pages. If you only ever read one issue of Daredevil, I think anyone who recommends any other issue is just mentally damaged. This is perfect, flawless comics.

3. CAPTAIN AMERICA #345, "Surrender", by Mark Gruenwald & Kieron Dwyer, 1988

This is another example of a talented writer being able to fit about 20 sub-plots into one issue and having it come out majestically. This issue features almost every member of Captain America's then-cast reaching some sort of significant turning point in their own stories as well as subsequently furthering the overall story too. As the cover makes no effort to hide the fact, the issue juxtaposes the struggles of Steve Rogers with that of John Walker as the two face plights that are pretty different but due to fantastic writing seem as perfect mirrors. The thing is, it's tough to really nail down what makes this issue great, and the thing is it's got everything. Plot advancement, fantastic art, superb action, meaningful character deaths, relationship progression and a clearly defined purpose. In an issue that is a pivotal point in the direction of John Walker's life, it also proves to be just as pivotal in the direction of the lives of Nomad, D-Man, Diamondback and Falcon. It feels more like a neatly woven tapestry than a comic book, I could really babble on about how the scene between Captain America and Nomad or the scene with D-Man are just great examples of character work, but the thing is these are barely pages of the story. What's even more staggering is the following 3 issues manage to consistently uphold this standard of quality.

2. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #400, "A Death in the Family", by J.M. DeMatteis & Mark Bagley, 1995

The Clone Saga is easily regarded as an overly long nonsensical low-point in Spider-Man's history that most people would sooner forget than seriously dig for highlights within. The real tragedy is crowbarred in the middle of it all is possibly one of the finest issues of Spider-Man ever written. Aunt May returns from the hospital after a stroke and the issue documents the following week as Peter, Mary Jane and, yes, Ben Reilly respond to Aunt May's sudden improvement as they also face the constant threat of May's mortality. Among countless lovely moments, the highlight is a scene between Peter and May where May reveals she's always known Peter is Spider-Man and she passes away shortly afterwards. Yes, Aunt May died in the 90s. It was the most beautiful moment of a cesspool of bad Spider-Man stories and of them all it was the only one that they decided needed retconning. The thing is, I'm sure many Spider-Man fans want Aunt May to just die already and the thing this issue does is it manages to make the welcome and very expected death pretty gut-wrenching. Whether it's the scene between Peter and May regarding Spider-Man, Ben Reilly having being unable to see Aunt May one last time and having no one to comfort him or May dying in Peter's arms... it's an emotional and brilliant issue with some fantastic Spider-Man art from Mark Bagley which puts his lauded Ultimate Spider-Man work to shame.

1. CAPTAIN AMERICA #401, "After the Storm", by Mark Gruenwald & Rik Levins, 1992

Steve Rogers has a problem. That problem is he's a pretty dull character. He's too goody-goody. It's really hard to feel for a character who's already perfect. This issue, however, does a superb job at finally making Steve Rogers "problems" sympathetic and saddening. On one hand I was going to say "This is more of an Avengers issue, really" but then I am forced to take into account that for an Avengers issue this would've been the Steve Rogers show. Premise is Steve is depressed. Another tough thing to get across well in an issue without it seeming annoying. Gruenwald manages to, once again, prove that he really is the master of Captain America when he makes Steve's constant disappointment and disillusionment with the Avengers and his own leadership skills so incredibly touching. Simple things like saying goodbye to Quasar or calling US Agent his "pal" feel incredibly emotional. And that's because all these moments have a lot of emotional-baggage and character development to them. For a 22-page issue, we really get Cap's relationship with his fellow Avengers handled so perfectly. It's not just the best issue of Captain America, it's also the best issue of the Avengers.

#1 Posted by ReVamp (22859 posts) - - Show Bio

Respectful list.

#2 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio

Awesome list, I've read 2 of these issues (#5 and #4) and they were both excellent.  
 
A very well written piece (as always), and you can certainly feel the love you have for these issues. Great stuff.

#3 Posted by Deranged Midget (17599 posts) - - Show Bio

Very nice list! I couldn't agree more with Death in the Family. It was one of the saddest and most touching moments I've ever read in comics.

Moderator
#4 Edited by Fuchsia_Nightingale (10180 posts) - - Show Bio

Spiderman !

#5 Posted by X35 (5974 posts) - - Show Bio

@Fuchsia_Nightingale: What about him, dear?

#6 Posted by Fuchsia_Nightingale (10180 posts) - - Show Bio

@X35: Its the only thing I read here lol

But another rocking blog honey <3 Mark Bagley is one of my favorites

#7 Posted by cattlebattle (12284 posts) - - Show Bio

Great list!! I am deducting cool points for no X-Men though, they weren't one of the top selling comics for a decade or so for no reason.
 
That Daredevil issue s amazing, the artwork even evokes a lot of emotion and thats something you don't see in comics anymore
 
I have said it before but you should be skipped up to a staff member being you write way more interesting articles than they ever could.....

#8 Posted by X35 (5974 posts) - - Show Bio

@cattlebattle: Nah, i'd never make a staff member because i wasn't paid to pretend these issues are the greatest things ever, i genuinely think they are

Also the thing is, there's actually not many great single issues of X-Men. like the early claremont stuff is all pretty consistent in terms of quality and the latter claremont stuff is all pretty horrible and was never too crazy about morrison or even whedon's run to preach them as being the best comics have to offer. carey's run on x-men (before it became the xavier's flashbacks book) was excellent but still, consistently so, not single issue bursts.

#9 Posted by cattlebattle (12284 posts) - - Show Bio
@X35 said:

@cattlebattle: Nah, i'd never make a staff member because i wasn't paid to pretend these issues are the greatest things ever, i genuinely think they are

Also the thing is, there's actually not many great single issues of X-Men. like the early claremont stuff is all pretty consistent in terms of quality and the latter claremont stuff is all pretty horrible and was never too crazy about morrison or even whedon's run to preach them as being the best comics have to offer. carey's run on x-men (before it became the xavier's flashbacks book) was excellent but still, consistently so, not single issue bursts.

LOL at that first part.......unfortunately...so true
 
I completely agree with your opinion of the writing and pretty much everything you said, I guess Claremont is known to have more ongoing, convoluted stories as opposed to one offs, though some issues that delved into Wolverines backstory before Wolverine was bumped up to Marvels Superman were very engaging. There was an issue of New X-Men with no dialogue whatsoever that was pretty unique, it wasn't as good as some of the books you mentioned, but it was decent.
#10 Posted by X35 (5974 posts) - - Show Bio

@cattlebattle said:

There was an issue of New X-Men with no dialogue whatsoever that was pretty unique, it wasn't as good as some of the books you mentioned, but it was decent.

Pretty unique...yes...except...I believe that was during that month where most Marvel titles actually did he whole "no speech" thing as a gimmick called 'Nuff Said: http://www.comicvine.com/nuff-said-tpb/37-132453/ xP

#11 Posted by cattlebattle (12284 posts) - - Show Bio
@X35 said:

@cattlebattle said:

There was an issue of New X-Men with no dialogue whatsoever that was pretty unique, it wasn't as good as some of the books you mentioned, but it was decent.

Pretty unique...yes...except...I believe that was during that month where most Marvel titles actually did he whole "no speech" thing as a gimmick called 'Nuff Said: http://www.comicvine.com/nuff-said-tpb/37-132453/ xP

Huh.....I did not know that, now, I have learned something today. Yes!!!
 
So I guess Morrison wasn't that innovative after all
#12 Posted by X35 (5974 posts) - - Show Bio
#13 Posted by cattlebattle (12284 posts) - - Show Bio
@X35 said:

@cattlebattle: lol. far from it.

I am curious and motivated to read the other issues from that month now..
#14 Posted by Strafe Prower (11573 posts) - - Show Bio

Nice list! West Coast Avengers is some of my favorite series.

Online
#15 Posted by feebadger (1337 posts) - - Show Bio

I remember that particular portion of Mark Gruenwalds' run on Captain America nad i just remember it being so OPERATIC. There was an almost unbearable sense of rising drama to it where you really didn't know what was going to happen, especially after the fate that befalls poor John Walker in issue 345. Great choices.

This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.