At long last, round two! We looked at the top ten stories from the Marvel (Comics) Universe’s first five years a few months ago, so let’s move on to the second five years.
In that previous five-year span, everything was fresh, exciting, and unlike anything previously seen in comic books. The freewheeling creativity resulted in a wide range of quality, but certainly plenty of enduring ideas and memorable stories. In this second increment, the Marvel creators have settled into a more comfortable rhythm, achieving a more consistent level of quality. It won’t be every modern reader’s cup of tea, but the era definitely has its share of classics. Here’s ten of them:
10) The Amazing Spider-Man #65 (by Stan Lee and John Romita)
The police arrest an injured Spider-Man…right before the prisoners revolt. Spidey has to use his wits to navigate the situation—and save the life of his girlfriend’s father, Capt. Stacy. It’s a fun adventure that offers a different type of threat than usual, while ongoing subplots continue to simmer in the background. The issue helps strengthen the growing bond between Spider-Man and Capt. Stacy, giving Peter a much-needed friend and mentor, one who instinctively knows Spider-Man can’t be all that bad. Continue reading →
A recurring theme in the early Hulk comics was home. The Hulk (and Bruce Banner, too, of course) was constantly in search of a place to belong, but he kept finding he didn’t belong wherever he happened to be. He’d almost find happiness on occasion, as either Hulk or Banner, and then it would be snatched away somehow or another. So he kept moving on in a never-ending odyssey—the hero’s journey home, even though he hadn’t exactly figured out what “home” was.
Perhaps the best iteration of this early format was in Incredible Hulk #140, in a story conceived by the great Harlan Ellison and scripted by one of the era’s the prolific Marvel writers, Roy Thomas.
The Hulk is stranded in a subatomic world, where he inadvertently saves a kingdom of green-skinned people, immediately earning their adoration. Bruce Banner’s brain takes over Hulk’s body, and he becomes engaged to the queen of this world. He’s respected and admired, and he has much to offer. He’s not a monster here.
So you know it’s all going to get ripped away from him.
The ending has a perfectly tragic touch. As the Hulk reverts to his usual brainless self, he’s vaguely aware of the happiness he had, and he bounds off in search of that place—unaware that it’s within a mote of dust clinging to his clothes.
Story: Harlan Ellison
Scripter: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Herb Trimpe
Inker: Sam Grainger
Publisher: Marvel Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Hulk: Heart of the Atom (TPB)