Greetings from the Odinson,
The Odinson’s Favorite Stories – Part 2 of 3: Marvel
As hard as it was for me to narrow down my favorite single stories for DC, this week I am presented with the even harder task of picking my favorite Marvel tales.
The easiest thing to do would be to say Fantastic Four #1-100, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby build the Marvel Universe. But that’s too easy. Another way to go would simply be to say ROM. But that is a 75 issue/4 Annual epic masterpiece. I believe in order to play fair, I should scale it down. These are not necessarily the best fan-favorite stories, but stories that resonate with the Odinson personally and have become my favorites.
I am still not including Honorable Mentions because they would just probably sway my decisions.
The Odinson’s Favorite Spider-Man Story:
Road to the Wedding by David Michelinie, James Owsley, and a team of fantastic artists
Why: When Peter Parker travels overseas on assignment he gets caught up in a caper involving Wolverine that not only sees his friend Ned Leeds murdered, but Spider-Man accidently kills somebody in the heat of battle.
Now, with Peter being who he is, killing, even in perceived self-defense, is not something he can process easily. The guilt over the incident and the revelation of Ned Leeds’ apparent connection to the Hobgoblin make Peter feel like his world no longer makes sense and the weight of his guilt is crushing. After a pep talk from, of all people, Wolverine, Peter decides he knows what he wants more than anything in life and proposes to his best friend, Mary Jane Watson.
I chose this particular Spidey story because it is a powerful character arc for Peter Parker and one of the most significant turning points in the history of the Spidey franchise.
The Odinson’s Favorite Captain America Story:
The Captain by Mark Gruenwald, Tom Morgan, and Kieron Dwyer
Why: After being stripped of his title and shield, Steve Rogers gives up his role as the Sentinel of Liberty. The government places John Walker, a younger, stronger, more controllable super soldier, in his place. It isn’t long before the responsibility of walking in an icon’s boots begins to weigh heavily.
As Walker begins to show signs of cracking under the pressure, Steve Rogers embraces a new identity and with a little help from his friends rediscovers his smile. They save the President of the United States and the country from a clandestine coup.
Captain America is one of the most iconic and important super heroes in the history of comics and this story is about why Steve Rogers, the man behind the mask, is so important.
The Odinson’s Favorite Thor Story:
Ragnarok and Roll by Walt Simonson
Why: The tale is epic in scope and execution. A primordial evil rises from the fiery depth of Muspelheim and threatens the entire Marvel Universe. In a time before the yearly crossover event became the norm, this was an epic tale with widespread ramifications and mind-blowing visuals.
Walt Simonson is at the height of his storytelling powers here. His panels are so powerful they leap off the page. When Thor spins his mighty hammer it crackles with energy, and when he hurls it and that hammer makes contact with its target, the impact is so powerful it reverberates from the page up through the reader’s fingers!
The Odinson’s Favorite Hulk Story:
Why: Over 40 years of Hulk Smash led to this moment. The Hulk can’t be contained, imprisoned, or tamed, so with no options left, the Illuminati decides that banishment is the best course of action. Using subterfuge, they trick the Jade Giant onto a rocket ship and send him to the far side of the universe. But something goes wrong, as things tend to do with clandestine schemes, and the Hulk crash lands on a savage planet of monsters where only the strong survive.
It’s, hands down, the most epic Hulk story ever. He goes from enslaved monster to gladiator, fugitive to rebel leader, conqueror to hero! The Hulk obtains something he, and the readers, never thought he’d get, a happy ending. However, that happy ending is shattered, and his sights quickly turn toward those he deems responsible.
The Odinson’s Favorite Iron Man Story:
Armor Wars by David Michelinie, Bob Layton, and Mark Bright
Why: Setting aside the fact that seeing Iron Man, in his super cool red and white Centurion armor by the way, running through a gauntlet of all of the Marvel U’s armored villains and heroes is really awesome, I feel this story arc does a magnificent job of showing who Tony Stark is and the lengths he is willing to go to in order to do what he perceives is right.
Armor Wars could easily be seen as a precursor to the arc Tony takes 20 years later in Civil War. Also, here’s an interesting side note. The events of Armor Wars intersect with Steve Roger’s own character arc going on over in The Captain storyline. This intersection also plants the seeds for the dynamic that unfolds between them in the pages of Civil War.
The Odinson’s Favorite Avengers Story:
Under Siege by Roger Stern and John Buscema
Why: Whenever you hear about a villain’s Master Plan, this is what they are talking about. Baron Zemo assembles the World’s Mightiest Villains, an anti-Avengers team called the Masters of Evil, and proceeds to systematically divide and conquer our heroes. Under Siege is a true hero’s journey as we see the Avengers brought to their knees and watch in astonishment as they rise to the challenge and overcome impossible odds to win the day.
This was not the first incarnation of the Masters of Evil, but it is easily the most notable. The seeds planted in this story paved the way for Assault on Olympus, Acts of Vengeance, the Thunderbolts, and it could also be surmised as the inspiration for the grand super villain coup in the pages of Old Man Logan.
The Odinson’s Favorite X-Men Story:
Mutant Massacre by Chris Claremont, Louis Simonson, Walt Simonson, John Romita, Jr., Alan Davis, and a host of other great talent.
Why: There are certain moments in history that affect a franchise in such profound ways that it becomes a benchmark. The story becomes the yardstick that all others before and after are measured against. With the Dark Phoenix Saga, Age of Apocalypse, and Dawn of X, the X-Men have had a few of these benchmark moments and Mutant Massacre ranks right up there with the most significant ones.
I know I’ve touched briefly many times on this important story. I will talk about this seminal event in great detail, and soon. I promise.
The Odinson’s Favorite Daredevil Story:
Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
Why: This may be low hanging fruit, but, like The Dark Knight Returns for Batman, Born Again is THE defining tale for Daredevil, a story, whether in the comics, the movies, or the TV series, that still influences the Man without Fear mythos to this day.
A betrayal gives away Matt Murdock’s greatest secret to his most dangerous foe and his world is torn asunder. Laid as low as a person can get, the reader cannot help but become inspired as Murdock rises from the ashes and forges himself into a better man, a better hero, than he was before.
Plus, reading Daredevil describe Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as perceived by his super human senses is one of the best passages in the history of comic books and well worth the price of admission alone.
The Odinson’s Favorite Fantastic Four Story:
The Trial of Reed Richards by John Byrne
Why: It all starts when Reed Richards actually saves the life of Galactus. Unintentionally, this act of mercy leads to the destruction of the Skrull Homeworld, an event that led to so many consequences that plagued the Marvel U for decades to come. Galactus is the Devourer of Worlds and responsible for the destruction of an untold number of planets. He has extinguished the lives of countless sentient beings over eons of time.
Charged with the crime of saving this monster, Reed Richards is brought before a tribunal representing the Skrulls, Kree, Shi’ar, Asgardians, and all the myriad peoples of the cosmos, all the civilizations that have suffered and been devastated by the coming of Galactus. Even Odin and Galactus himself speak at the trial.
This is a moment that illustrates how the actions of the Fantastic Four, mere human beings that reside on a backwater planet called Earth, can have an effect on the entire universe.
The Odinson’s Favorite Story You May Never Have Heard Of:
A Fantasy of the Autumn Moon by Doug Moench and Gene Day
Why: In a word – atmosphere. A Fantasy of the Autumn Moon is a haunting fairy tale. It’s romantic. It’s tantalizing. It’s frightening. A glowing full moon illuminates a garden shrouded in mist. From out of the shadows emerges a spectral adversary with the face of a demon and the intentions of murder. And the only thing standing between this death that walks like a man and a blind man and his wife is Shang Chi.
It is an absolutely must read for anyone who is a fan of romanticized fiction from any genre.
NOTE: A follow up for last week’s list. The Odinson’s favorite Justice League story is Rock of Ages. I just gushingly talk about that story so often that I thought I’d give it rest this time.
That was a tough list to narrow down. I cannot lie, if I were to make this list again I could not promise that I wouldn’t change some of them out. The House of Ideas has been churning out fantastic tales of heroism for so long that there is a plethora to choose from.
Tune in next week when the Odinson shares his list of favorite tales from the Independents.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: Be sure to check out my new book – Autumn Dawn: A Glen Haven Tale. Available in Paperback and on Kindle.