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75 Most Memorable Moments in Marvel Comics History Master List

by  in Comic News Comment
75 Most Memorable Moments in Marvel Comics History Master List

In honor of Marvel’s seventy-fifth anniversary, we did a countdown of the most memorable moments in Marvel Comics history, based on YOUR votes!

Here are the final results of the countdown! Be forewarned, these memorable moments WILL include some spoilers of old famous Marvel stories!


75. “The Death of Guardian” by John Byrne (Alpha Flight #12)

By 1984, death in comics was not exactly a foreign concept, but there still tended to be some familiar rules. For instance, while members of teams might die, there were almost always rogue members – either extraneous characters who could be lost easily or characters who turned bad. John Byrne turned that whole idea on its head with the finale of his first year as the writer/artist on Alpha Flight. James “Mac” Hudson, the heroic leader of Alpha Flight known as the Guardian, had just seemingly won the day by using the power pack on his super suit to overload his enemy (who had taken over the robotic suit of armor known as “Box”). However, by overloading his suit’s power pack, he had only ten seconds to get it off of him before it exploded. He was just about to complete it when his wife (who had been abducted by the bad guys) walks in and distracts him and…

What a shocking ending for the time.

74. “The Death of Captain Stacy” by Stan Lee, Gil Kane and John Romita (Amazing Spider-Man #90)

George Stacy was a retired NYPD Captain whose daughter Gwen was in a sort of “will they or won’t they?” flirtation with Peter Parker. Stacy actually helped to push his daughter to pursue a relationship with Peter. Stacy was a rarity in that he was a big proponent of Spider-Man. He also liked Peter and there were a few hints here and there that he knew that Peter WAS Spider-Man.

His time in the Spider-books was relatively brief, though (less than forty issues), as he ended up sacrificing himself to save a little boy from falling debris courtesy of a battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus. Spider-Man, naturally, freaks out when he sees his girlfriend’s father crushed by a pile of debris and as he heads his way to see if he can save him, he is in for quite a surprise…

73. “Galactus Falls!” by John Byrne (Fantastic Four #243)

The former herald of Galactus, Terrax, has taken the entire island of Manhattan hostage in an attempt to force the Fantastic Four to destroy his former master for him. The FF helps Galactus defeat Terrax, but the effort weakens Galactus and he decides to feed on Earth. The Fantastic Four try to stop him but luckily for them, since the fight is taken place in Manhattan (after Galactus returns the island to Earth) they have the aided help of Manhattan residents the Avengers and Doctor Strange (plus Spider-Man and Daredevil, but they’re not as helpful when you’re taking on Galactus). Thor and Doctor Strange disoriented Galactus, opening up an opportunity for Mr. Fantastic and the Thing to strike (the Thing at the time had devolved to his earlier mutated form as the result of a failed attempt to return Ben Grimm’s humanity)…

72. “Frog of Thunder!” by Walt Simonson (Thor #365)

Thor’s evil brother Loki is always scheming against Thor and in Thor #363, one of Loki’s plots came to fruition as he casts a spell that results in Thor being transformed into a frog. Loki was hoping to keep Thor from being able to take over from their deceased father, Odin, as the head of Asgard, so Loki figured that a good way to do so was to get Thor out of the picture by turning him into a frog. After nearly two issues of adventures as just a frog (while Loki is trying to weasel his way into power in Asgard without Thor there to stop him), Thor manages to find Mjolnir while in his frog body. As it turns out, though, being a frog doesn’t mean that Thor isn’t still worthy…

71. “Bucky!” by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and George Roussos (Avengers #4)

As Captain America is reintroduced to the Marvel Universe in Avengers #4, the good Captain relates to the Avengers exactly how he came to be frozen in icy waters and what exactly happened to his old partner, Bucky. It’s quite a doozy…

70. “Korvac kills and then resurrects the Avengers” by Jim Shooter, Dave Wenzel and Pablo Marcos (Avengers #177)

The former Guardians of the Galaxy villain Korvac traveled to the past where he gained great cosmic power and recreated himself as a man named…Michael. The Guardians travel back through time to capture Korvac. In the meantime, the cosmic being known as the Collector realizes that Korvac is a threat, so the Collector transforms his daughter, Carina, into a being powerful enough to combat Korvac. However, his daughter instead falls in love with Korvac/Michael, and the two go to Earth and begin living a quiet live in Queens, New York. The Collector then tries to capture the Avengers (and the Guardians) in an attempt to protect them from Korvac, but when Korvac finds out about his plot, he kills the Collector.

The Avengers travel to Queens where they discover Michael and Carina living quietly. After they confirm that he is, in fact, Korvac, the Avengers wage a tremendous battle that ends with the death of nearly all of the Avengers and the Guardians. But when he sees that his actions have caused Carina to doubt him, he allows himself to be killed by the remaining Avengers and uses his powers to restore the Avengers to life. Upon his death, Carina also pulls a Juliet and forces Thor to kill her, as well, and she dies hand in hand with Michael, as Moondragon lays some dumb guilt trip on Thor (seriously, Moondragon, this is why no one wants to hang out with you) as we see the iconic full page spread of the wake of an epic battle…

69. “There is no corpse” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (Daredevil #228)

This is the end of the second part of Miller and Mazzucchelli’s masterpiece, Born Again. The Kingpin has discovered Matt Murdock’s secret identity and has systematically destroyed his life. In this issue, Murdock is in a state of near insanity along with not being in the best physical condition exactly (he hasn’t been sleeping, etc.) and he foolishly decides to confront the Kingpin directly. He’s been dreaming of beating the Kingpin nearly to death all issue long, figuring that he will FORCE the Kingpin to give him his life back. It does not work as the Kingpin beats him senseless and then works out plans to murder him in such a way that it looks like MURDOCK murdered a cabbie. The Kingpin then just sits back and waits for the news of Murdock’s body being discovered. There’s just one hitch in his plan…

Miller was brilliant the way that each issue would be dark and yet at the end, there’d be some awesome moment to give you reason to come back next month.

68. “The Silver Surfer is Born!” by Stan Lee, John Buscema and Joe Sinnott (Silver Surfer #1)

In this issue, Lee, Buscema and Sinnott deliver the origin of the Silver Surfer. He was a young man named Norrin Radd on a seeming utopian world that had lost its sense of adventure. When they are about to be devoured by Galactus, Radd volunteers to find some way of stopping Galactus. He succeeds by offering himself up as Galactus’ herald in exchange for Galactus leaving his world alone. Galactus then transforms him into the Silver Surfer in a stunning two pages…

67. “Steve Rogers Takes the Super Soldier Serum” by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (Captain America Comics #1)

One of the most striking Golden Age origins took place in Captain America Comics #1, courtesy of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, as we learn how Captain America came to be…

Sadly, a German spy kills the Dr. Reinstein in the next moment. Cap kills the German, but the end result is the same – there will be no more super soldiers after Steve Rogers.

66. “Spider-Man Frees Himself From the Grave” by J.M. DeMatteis, Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod (Web of Spider-Man #32)

“Kraven’s Last Hunt” begins with Kraven the Hunter incapacitating Spider-Man and burying him alive. Kraven then takes over as Spider-Man to show how he is a superior being to Spidey. Spidey, meanwhile, is hallucinating while buried alive. Ultimately, his love for Mary Jane allows him to anchor himself to his humanity and allow himself to make a move to be free…

65. “Doctor Strange Meets Eternity” by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee (Strange Tales #138)

While long form storytelling was not completely foreign to comics by the mid-1960s, it was still more than a bit unusual, and yet Steve Ditko devoted SEVENTEEN issues to an epic story arc involving the cosmic being known as Eternity. Halfway through the story (which involved the villainy of Baron Mordo AND the Dread Dormammu!), Strange comes across Eternity, whose design by Ditko is amazing today but I can only imagine how striking it must have been at the time…

64. “The Human Torch Fights the Sub-Mariner!” by Bill Everett and Carl Burgos (Marvel Mystery Comics #8)

A whole new world of possibilities became open to Marvel readers (well, Timely Comics at the time) when Marvel’s superheroes FIRST crossed over with each other in Marvel Mystery Comics #8. Like any good meeting of Marvel heroes, their initial interactions were as adversaries, as Namor was being a jerk (as was his wont) and the Torch showed up to stop him. In a unique twist, The Sub-Mariner’s creation, Bill Everett, drew the fight from Namor’s perspective while Human Torch’s creator, Carl Burgos, drew the fight from the Torch’s perspective. I’ll include both…

63. “The Avengers Visit Hell’s Kitchen” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (Daredevil #233)

Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben had already done a similar approach in the pages of Saga of the Swamp Thing, but it still was a memorable sight when Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli saw the Avengers get drawn into Daredevil’s battle in Hell’s Kitchen in the finale of Born Again. Miller and Mazzucchelli beautifully captured what it would feel like to walk among superheroes like the Avengers, while also making sure that the Avengers seem as out of place as possible in Daredevil’s gritty world (although something about Daredevil’s foe, Nuke, draws Cap into that world)…

62. If He Be Worthy…” by Larry Lieber, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott (Journey Into Mystery #83)

We see the origin of the second of the Avengers “Big Three” show up here, but just as an aside, Iron Man’s origin missed the list.

Anyhow, Doctor Donald Blake is on vacation in Europe when some alien stone men show up ready to conquer the Earth (don’t you just hate it when Stone Men interrupt your vacation?). Blake finds a cave to hide and in it he discovers something quite peculiar…

61. “Spider-Man lets a robber get by him” by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Amazing Fantasy #15)

Peter Parker has gained superpowers from a radioactive spider bite and is now using his powers to become a celebrity. Peter is so wrapped up in looking out for himself that he figures out that he isn’t responsible for helping others. After all, it’s not like having powers mean he has to help people, right? So when a robber runs past him, what’s it to him?

It’s not like that will come back to haunt him, right? What are the odds? This is Manhattan and he lives in Forest Hills! So long as there isn’t any gangster loot hidden at his house he’s golden!

60. “Spider-Man Gets a New Costume” by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck and John Beatty (Marvel Super-Hheroes Secret Wars #8)

This is an odd one. Spider-Man getting a brand new costume was obviously a huge deal and it is a big moment in Marvel history. However, the costume debuted MONTHS before we actually see how he got it in the pages of Secret Wars (the entirety of Secret Wars took place between issues of most of Marvel’s titles – only a couple of books actually devoted a full issue to events that took place while the heroes were away during Secret Wars). So it is interesting how the moment he got it in the pages of Secret Wars is still the most memorable moment involving Spider-Man getting the new black costume. Anyhow, here it is…

Isn’t it kind of funny that they find a device that can fix clothes and Hulk’s like, “Nah, I’m good with torn purple pants”?

59. “Daredevil stands up to Namor” by Wally Wood and Stan Lee (Daredevil #7)

One of the all-time classic examples of a Marvel hero standing up to seemingly overwhelming odds (another famous one involving Spider-Man and the Juggernaut failed to make the list, probably because it was hard for people to pin down a single moment of what was basically a two-issue long fight), Namor comes to the surface world to try to pursue a legal claim for the surface world. When the lawyer he hires, Matt Murdock, explains that he doesn’t have a case, Namor causes havoc in the city until he is arrested. His plan is to use his time in court to make a counter-claim against the government. However, while in prison awaiting trial he discovers that his jerk Warlord Krang has started a revolt against Namor in Atlantis. He must go back to his world, but the U.S. Army tries to stop him. He tears through them. Daredevil decides that he must try to keep Namor from injuring innocents so he takes Namor on and it’s a wonderfully illustrated battle by a comic book legend, Wally Wood, that ends with Namor being so impressed by Daredevil’s bravery that he decides to avoid fighting and return to his world surreptitiously…

58. “Spider-Man Reveals His Identity to the World” by Mark Millar, Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines (Civil War #2)

Marvel’s Civil War storyline involved the concept of a Superhuman Registration Act, where superheros would have to register with the government to be active superheroes (the whole thing started when the New Warriors were battling with the villain Nitro and he exploded, killing over 300 people in Stamford, including a school filled with children). Captain America and a bunch of superheroes felt that it was too much of an invasion of their privacy so they went on the run. Spider-Man, who had been working with Tony Stark for awhile at the time, stuck with his boss and friend, Iron Man, who decided to be the spokesperson for the Act. Iron Man convinces Spider-Man to make a bold statement by revealing his identity to the world, which he did in Civil War #2…

Like a few other moments on this list (including the very first moment we revealed, the death of Guardian), this story was later overturned and the genie was put back in the bottle, as it were, but the original moment still stood out.

57. “Dark Phoenix Destroys a Planet” by John Byrne, Chris Claremont and Terry Austin (X-Men #135)

The Phoenix, Jean Grey (later revealed to be a cosmic being who BELIEVED that she was Jean Grey), had snapped and become the evil Dark Phoenix. However, her corrupted being took a turn for the REALLY bad when she ended up destroying a star, leading to the destruction of a nearby planet of asparagus people…

This moment of genocide is what ultimately led to Jim Shooter believing that Jean Grey had to die before the Dark Phoenix Saga was over.

56. “The Introduction of Venom” by David Michelinie, Todd McFarlane and Bob McLeod (Amazing Spider-Man #299)

Spider-Man’s aforementioned black costume turned out to be an alien symbiote. Spidey ended up getting rid of it but it escaped and eventually bonded with another person, some jerk named Eddie Brock. At the end of Amazing Spider-Man #299, we finally see Brock and the alien together (calling themselves Venom) in a chilling scene where Spider-Man’s wife, Mary Jane, comes home and sees quite a frightening sight…

That’s one hell of an introduction.

Go to the next page for #55-36!

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