In what seems to have become a yearly tradition, Marvel Comics brings all of its characters together for a major crossover event series. While some people might complain about the over abundance of these “Earth shattering” events that always promise to “change everything forever,” they’re still exciting stories. While the events might not always live up to the hype, they’re still full of epic action and major character developments.
Some crossovers are the result of years of build up, while others are based on recent events. Some of them set up years of stories, while others tie up multiple threads across the company’s various books. Either way, for comic book fans, these stories are always full of “can’t miss” moments. Here are the top 15 most mind blowing scenes from Marvel’s crossover epics.
15. CYCLOPS KILLS PROFESSOR X (AvX)
When it was discovered that the Phoenix Force was returning to Earth, a war broke out between the Avengers, who believed it would be destructive, and the X-Men, who hoped it was coming to save mutantkind. At first, they all believed that the Phoenix was coming for Hope Summers, a young mutant, but instead it ended up possessing Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus and Magik. As time went on, the five turned on each other, until Cyclops and Emma were left sharing the power of the Phoenix.
Things came to a head in “Avengers vs X-Men” #11 (2012) by Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel when Professor X confronts Cyclops, believing that the Phoenix has corrupted him. Unable to withstand attacks from both Xavier and the Avengers, Cyclops steals Emma Frost’s portion of the Phoenix, giving him the full power of the entity. When Professor X attempts to resume his attack, Cyclops uses his new powers to kill his mentor, and then turns into the Dark Phoenix. From this moment forward, Cyclops was considered irredeemable by most of the other X-Men and lived the rest of his life as an outlaw.
14. THANOS KILLS HALF THE UNIVERSE (INFINITY GAUNTLET)
Thanos’ infatuation with Death, an entity that represents the concept of death, has always led to terrifying consequences, but nothing will ever top the opening act of “Infinity Gauntlet” (1991). After gathering the six different Infinity Stones during the events of “Thanos Quest” (1990) by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim, Thanos successfully mounts them onto the Infinity Gauntlet. The combination of powers from each stone made Thanos the most powerful entity in all of existence.
The problem was that not even this was enough to make Death his partner, as the entity now saw herself as beneath Thanos. It was a complicated situation, and the clearly unbalanced Titan decided that the only way to truly impress Death was by wiping out half of all sentient life in the Universe. With a snap of his fingers, Thanos killed half the universe, including many of Earth’s heroes. Fortunately, Thanos’ actions were ultimately undone when he lost the gauntlet, but it still stands as one of the highest body counts in a single comic.
13. SPIDER-WOMAN IS A SKRULL (SECRET INVASION)
During an adventure in Japan in “New Avengers” #31 (2007) by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Yu, the heroes discover that Elektra had been replaced by a Skrull and had successfully fooled even Wolverine. She was only discovered when she was killed in battle and reverted back to her alien form. This was the beginning of the “Secret Invasion,” where it was revealed that the Skrulls had been secretly replacing heroes and villains for years, infiltrating almost every corner of the Marvel Universe, and were ready to take over the Earth.
One of the most shocking reveals was that Spider-Woman had been replaced by the Skrull queen, Veranke, before helping to form the New Avengers and eventually joining the current team of Mighty Avengers. She reveals herself in “Secret Invasion” #3 (2008) by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Yu, and attempts to convince the human Tony Stark that he is also an alien imposter to shake his confidence. While most of the other revealed Skrulls were minor or background characters, the fake Spider-Woman had been a major player in many of Marvel’s recent events (“House of M” and “Civil War”).
12. OLD MAN NICK FURY (ORIGINAL SIN)
When the Watcher is found dead in his home on the moon, one of the Marvel Universe’s biggest murder mysteries unfolds in “Original Sin” (2014) by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato. Even worse, the Watcher’s eyes were stolen, and given the character’s job of watching every event in the Marvel Universe, these eyes revealed many character’s deepest and darkest secrets. While the revealed secrets cause chaos on Earth, the third issue of the miniseries ends with the Winter Soldier seemingly killing Nick Fury.
It’s eventually revealed in the fourth issue that this was just an life-model decoy, and that the real Nick Fury is actually an old man. It’s revealed that he’s been using these lifelike L.M.D.s on Earth for ages, to maintain a presence on the planet while he actually served as “the man on the wall,” protecting Earth from alien dangers. He had killed the Watcher after the being’s armory had been robbed and Uatu (the Watcher) refused to tell who had committed the crime. Fury realized the only way to solve it was to kill the Watcher and take his eyes, revealing the secrets that they held.
11. THE AVENGERS ARE “KILLED” (ONSLAUGHT)
When Magneto ripped out Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton in “X-Men” #25 (1993) by Fabian Nicieza and Adam Kubert, Professor X entered his old friend’s mind and shut it down. When he did this, however, he brought back a piece of Magneto’s psyche with him, which infected Xavier’s brain. This combination created the entity known as Onslaught, who was powerful enough to potentially destroy the entire Marvel Universe. After revealing himself, Onslaught kidnapped Franklin Richards and X-Man, two of the most powerful mutants on the planet.
This caused a giant battle to break out in central park in “Onslaught: Marvel Universe” #1 (1996) by Scott Lobdell, Mark Waid, Andy Kubert and Joe Bennett. After rescuing Xavier from the entity, Onslaught became a being of pure energy. All of the non-mutant characters (mainly the Avengers and Fantastic Four) sacrificed themselves by throwing themselves into Onslaught’s presence, giving him a physical mass for the X-Men to destroy. This seemingly killed the heroes, although they were actually taken to an alternate reality by Franklin Richards. Regardless, as far as the mainstream Marvel comics were concerned, most of Marvel’s most prominent heroes were considered dead until they were eventually rescued in “Heroes Reborn: The Return” (1997).
10. CAPTAIN AMERICA IS MADE YOUNG AGAIN (AVENGERS: STANDOFF)
Being both a man out of time and a genetically modified super human, writers love to take away Steve Rogers’ powers. Most recently, Rogers had his super-soldier serum neutralized in “Captain America” #21 (2014) by Rick Remender and Nic Klein, turning him into the old man he should be. Sam Wilson, the Falcon, replaced Steve as Captain America, with Steve serving as a high-ranking officer of S.H.I.E.L.D., until the events of “Avengers: Standoff” (2016).
In “Captain America: Sam Wilson” #7 (2016) by Nick Spencer, Angel Unzueta and Daniel Acuna, Steve is returned to his youthful and super-powered body by Kobik, a sentient cosmic cube. It would later be revealed, however, that Kobik had also altered Rogers’ past, making him an undercover agent for Hydra. This would have huge ramifications for the Marvel Universe, leading to the “Secret Empire” (2017) crossover. What first started off as an epic return to glory was ultimately revealed to be the corruption of Marvel’s most noble hero.
9. SENTRY DESTROYS ASGARD (SIEGE)
The Sentry was an odd character. Originally introduced in the miniseries “The Sentry” (2000) by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee, he was the world’s most powerful superhero. He was also completely insane and had developed a split personality known as the Void, the world’s most powerful villain. After making the entire world forget the Sentry ever existed, he returned to the Marvel Universe and joined the Avengers, but was then persuaded by Norman Osborn to join the Dark Avengers.
Due to his fragile mental state, the Sentry was easily manipulated by Osborn. So, when Osborn was then manipulated by Loki into attacking Asgard, which was currently floating over Oklahoma, Osborn then convinced the Sentry to attack Thor’s home. This, not surprisingly, leads to a huge fight, which plays out in the pages of “Siege” #3 (2010) by Brian Bendis and Olivier Coipel. During the battle, Sentry levels Asgard, turning the home of the Gods into essentially nothing but rubble. Thor eventually gained the upper hand and killed the Sentry, but not before a tremendous amount of damage had been done.
8. MILES MORALES JOINS THE 616 UNIVERSE (SECRET WARS, 2015)
After the death of Peter Parker in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Miles Morales took up the mantle of Spider-Man. Another teenager who had been bitten by a genetically altered spider, Miles had similar powers to Peter, although he could also camouflage himself and was armed with a “venom sting.” When it was announced that the Ultimate Marvel Universe would be coming to an end in 2015, Miles’ fate hung in the balance.
After his universe (and every other one) was destroyed, Miles found himself on Doom’s Battleworld. Teaming up with the other surviving heroes, Miles encountered the Molecule Man, who Doom was using to keep Battleworld together in “Secret Wars” #6 (2015) by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic. In a bizarre twist of fate, Miles had a hamburger in his pocket, which he gave to the starving Molecule Man. When Battleworld fell apart and the multiverse was mostly remade, Molecule Man repaid Miles by bringing him and his family to the 616 Marvel Universe. He also resurrected Miles’ dead mother, all because of a hamburger.
7. HAWKEYE DIES (AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED)
The “Avengers Disassembled” storyline kicked off with a shocking turn of events when the mansion was attacked by a seemingly resurrected Jack of Hearts, who acted as a suicide bomb, killing Scott Lang. Then the mansion was attacked by the Vision, who seemed to have been taken control of by Ultron, and then She-Hulk lost control and hulked out. Also, Iron Man went on a drunken rant at the U.N. against the ambassador from Latveria.
It was eventually revealed that the Scarlet Witch was altering reality to cause these events, and she followed up by creating a fake Kree invasion in “Avengers” #502 (2004) by Brian Bendis and David Finch. During the battle, Hawkeye’s quiver is shot, igniting some of the explosive arrows he carried. Realizing he was about to die, Hawkeye grabbed a jetpack and flew himself into one of the Kree ships, destroying it. Even though the invasion turned out to be fake, Hawkeye’s death was real. In a storyline where multiple heroes died and the Avengers were broken up, the death of Clint Barton was the most impactful moment.
6. CLONE THOR (CIVIL WAR)
After disappearing during the events of “Avengers Disassembled” due to Asgard experiencing Ragnarok, Thor’s absence was most notably felt during the lead up to “Civil War.” As one of the most powerful heroes on the planet, his opinion on the superhuman registration act could have swayed victory to one side or the other. “Civil War” #3 (2006) by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven ended with a shocking cliffhanger when Thor seemingly reappeared as a member of Tony Stark’s forces.
It was eventually revealed that Stark had cloned Thor, although it was an imperfect clone. Much more violent and sadistic than the real Thor, the clone murdered the hero Bill Foster, a.k.a. Giant Man, during his battle. This action would not only alienate Tony from many of the other heroes, it would also cause a rift between Stark and the real Thor when the latter actually returned. It would be years before the Stark fully regained the trust of the other heroes (during the “Heroic Age” event in 2010).
5. THE NOVA CORPS IS DESTROYED (ANNIHILATION)
When Marvel launched the first “Annihilation” crossover, the goal was to revamp their cosmic titles. While titles like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Nova” have become staples of Marvel’s publishing schedule, things were very different in 2006. The crossover transformed Nova from a relatively minor character into a true powerhouse, and it reintroduced characters like Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and Groot into the modern Marvel Universe. It all began with Annihilus and his Annihilation Wave (a gigantic swarm of warships) crossing over from the negative zone into the universe in “Annihilation Prologue” (2006) by Keith Giffen and Scott Kolins.
This causes the Nova Corps, an intergalactic peacekeeping force to call all high-ranking members in, including Rich Rider, the Nova from Earth. During this meeting, the wave attacks Xandar and successfully overwhelms the entirety of the Corps. Shockingly, Rider is the only Nova to survive, forcing him to download the Xandar Worldmind into his body, giving him complete control over the entire power of the Nova force. The loss of one of the universe’s most powerful police forces had cosmic ramifications that are still being felt in the Marvel Universe to this day.
4. NO MORE MUTANTS (HOUSE OF M)
“Avengers Disassembled” ended with the shocking reveal that the Scarlet Witch had gone crazy after regaining memories of her lost children. This caused her to begin warping reality in dangerous, and often deadly, ways. While Professor X and Magneto attempted to repair her psyche on Genosha, the X-Men and Avengers decided that she needed to be dealt with before causing more damage. Quicksilver warned his sister, however, and when the two teams approached the island, she altered reality, creating the “House of M” world.
The heroes slowly broke free of her influence, and eventually launched an attack against the House of M (Magneto’s family). During the fight in “House of M” #7 by Brian Bendis and Olivier Coipel, Wanda responds by uttering the words “no more mutants.” This returned reality to normal, with one major difference: the vast majority of the world’s mutants had been de-powered. The X-Men now found themselves to be an endangered species, with only 198 mutants left in the world, completely changing the power dynamic in the Marvel Universe.
3. CAPTAIN AMERICA LIFTS MJOLNIR (FEAR ITSELF)
After the Serpent is freed by Sin, the Red Skull’s daughter, it unleashes seven hammers on the world, that similarly to Mjolnir, can only be lifted by those deemed worthy. Unlike Mjolnir, these hammers transform the wielders into servants of the Serpent, who plans on razing the Earth. These powerful entities cause chaos across the globe and force Odin to pull the forces of Asgard off the Earth, leaving the Avengers to fend for themselves.
Refusing to give up a hopeless fight, Captain America leads a charge against the serpent. Thor eventually returns, and in “Fear Itself” #7 (2011) by Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen, he takes on the Serpent. After losing Mjolnir during the battle, Captain America finds himself near the fallen hammer. Needing a miracle, he attempts to lift it, and for a brief moment is able to wield the hammer. While this isn’t the first time he’s lifted the hammer, it was definitely the most epic, and it helped give the Avengers the boost they needed to win the fight.
2. WOLVERINE’S ADAMANTIUM IS RIPPED OUT (FATAL ATTRACTIONS)
After the fall of Asteroid M, Magneto returned with a new base of operations called Avalon. A gigantic space station built around Cable’s ship Graymalkin, Magneto had decided that it was time to wipe out humanity and for mutants to claim their place as the dominant species. This causes the world’s governments to activate the Magneto Protocols, which use an array of satellites to alter the Earth’s magnetic field to make Magneto’s powers useless. In response, he unleashes an electromagnetic pulse, destroying the satellites and causing widespread chaos across the planet.
The X-Men respond by sending a team to take Magneto down in “X-Men” #25 (1993) by Fabian Nicieza and Andy Kubert. During the fight, Wolverine slashed Magneto, who responded by pulling the adamantium off Wolverine’s skeleton. It was a horrific scene which the X-Man barely survived. That moment changed X-Men comics for years to come, because Xavier’s response of shutting down Magneto’s mind led directly to the creation of Onslaught. Wolverine would eventually recover from the experience, and even regained his adamantium skeleton in “Wolverine” #145 (1999) by Erik Larson and Leinil Yu.
1. DOOM BECOMES OMNIPOTENT (SECRET WARS, 1984)
The original “Secret Wars” (1984) by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck may only have been created to sell an accompanying toy line, but it still had a major impact on the Marvel Universe. When almost all of the major heroes and their respective villains are transported from Earth to a mysterious Battleworld, they are met by a being calling itself the Beyonder. The being forces the heroes and villains to fight, and promises to give the winning side all of their greatest desires.
Doctor Doom, however, doesn’t plan on waiting and devises a way to confront the Beyonder directly in “Secret Wars” #10. At first it seems as if the Beyonder is winning, but Doom refuses to die and somehow gains the upper hand. In a bright flash, he appears before the gathered heroes as a giant. He then shrinks down to regular size and removes his mask, revealing his now healed face. Doctor Doom took on a being more powerful than reality itself and somehow won, proving himself to be the most fearsome villain ever.
Which event had the most epic moment of all time? Tell us in the comments what you think was the best Marvel Comics event!