10 Comic Storylines That Redefined Marvel (& How)

Marvel is the sales leader of the comics industry and one of the biggest names in pop culture. Since its humble origins in the Golden Age of comics, Marvel has become a juggernaut, barreling past its Distinguished Competition and growing its brand into something special. Even though it’s spread into a multimedia phenomenon, Marvel’s heart has always been the comics.

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Over the years, Marvel has created some amazing superhero comics, ones that have had a huge effect on the company and the comic industry. The best of these redefined Marvel, making the company better than it was before and changing the way readers looked at it.

10 The Incredible Hulk #181 Introduced Wolverine To The World


Wolverine is one of Marvel’s most popular characters. His very existence of him changed Marvel and the way it produced superheroes forever, and all of that started with The Incredible Hulk #181, by writer Len Wein and artist Herb Trimpe. Wolverine’s debut was a sea change for the Marvel Universe, as it heralded the rise of a new crop of stars.

The Marvel Universe, as fans currently know it, would be very different without Wolverine. While he’s changed a lot since his debut, a lot of the building blocks were there, ones that would build into one of Marvel’s greatest stars.

9 Ultimate Spider-Man #1 Began The Ultimate Universe And Was Brian Michael Bendis’s First Big Marvel Book


Ultimate Spider-Man #1, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley, was one of the year 2000’s biggest comics. Its influence over Marvel is manifold. It began the successful Ultimate Universe imprint, which would lead the sales charts and form the building blocks of the MCU. It became one of the most influential Spider-Man books ever and would lead to the debut of Miles Morales.

Beyond that, it was writer Brian Michael Bendis’s first big Marvel work. Bendis would become Marvel’s main architect throughout the 2000s, helping the publisher to greater and greater success and redefining the line.

8 Infinity Gauntlet Brought The Summer Blockbuster Back To Marvel


infinity gauntlet

It’s hard to think of a time when Marvel didn’t publish multiple event books per year, but there was a period when there wasn’t even a yearly Marvel event book. The failure of Secret Wars II killed the nascent event book movement at Marvel and it wouldn’t be until 1991’s infinity gauntlet, by writer Jim Starlin and artists George Perez and Ron Lim, that things would change.

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infinity gauntlet took the event book formula that Marvel had abandoned for years and used it to great effect. It brought Thanos and cosmic Marvel back to the forefront of the Marvel Universe and would inspire the MCU decades later.

7 Avengers Disassembled Set The Marvel Universe’s Course For Years To Come


Avengers Disassembled David Finch

Avengers Disassembled is one of Marvel’s most important stories of the 2000s. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by David Finch, the story ended the Avengers as fans knew them. It led to avengers, a book that would set the tone for the Marvel Universe for years to come, setting up the publisher’s major events.

It’s one of the most iconic Scarlet Witch stories as well, leading to nearly every other Wanda-focused story that came later. Bendis truly became Marvel’s biggest writer because of this story and it changed the face of the Marvel Universe.

6 Civil War Changed The Dynamics Of The Marvel Universe


Civil War #2

Civil War was one of the biggest Marvel stories of the 2000s. Written by Mark Millar with art by Steve McNiven, its ideological battle between Captain America and Iron Man changed the face of the Marvel Universe for the rest of the 2000s. The Marvel Universe became a very different place after Civil War.

From the sundering of the Avengers to the Superhero Initiative to One More Day to Norman Osborn’s eventual takeover of the whole thing, Civil War recast the Marvel Universe in a new way. Fans were treated to new stories, characters put into different situations, and it led to a period of dynamic growth for Marvel.

5 House Of X/Powers Of X Made The X-Men Into Marvel’s Biggest Comics Again


House of X teaser feature

Marvel tried its best to kill the X-Men before regaining their film rights. Eleven parent company Disney did so, Marvel released House Of X/Powers Of X, by writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Pepe Larraz and RB Silva. These two books that were one changed the X-Men forever and launched the Krakoa era. The X-Men comics became the biggest books in the land once again.

Marvel may have been the sales leader before HoX/PoX but it was almost out of rotation. The books gave the massive publisher buzz like they hadn’t had in years and the sales to match. The X-Men are again Marvel’s biggest selling comics.

4 Amazing Fantasy #15 Was The Debut Of Marvel’s Biggest Hero


Spider-Man has changed a lot since his debut but there’s no denying it’s one of the most important Marvel comics of all time. Amazing Fantasy #15, by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, introduced the Wall-Crawler and created the legendary hero that would truly set Marvel apart from its distinguished competition.

Marvel was just publishing regular old superhero/sci-fi comics before Amazing Fantasy #15. Spider-Man was different from every Marvel character that came before him and codified the publisher’s approach of creating more realistic heroes with feet of clay, ones that readers could understand and see themselves in.

3 Avengers (1963) #16 Debuted Cap’s Kooky Quartet And Changed Marvel’s Teams Forever


Captain America, Quicksilver, Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch in Avengers #16.

The Avengers are Marvel’s biggest team, and their stories have served a big role in making the Marvel Universe special. One Avengers comic that changed Marvel in the years to come was Avengers (1963) #16, by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. This issue was the team’s first big roster shake-up and introduced Cap’s Kooky Quartet, bringing reformed villains onto the group.

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This was the first time villains reformed and joined a big-name superteam. It made stars of Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch and opened the floodgates for reformed villains to join Marvel’s biggest teams.

two Giant-Size X-Men #1 Saved The X-Men And Led To Marvel’s Domination Of The ’80s And ’90s


Giant-Size X-Men Cover Leap.

It’s hard to believe it now but there was a time when the X-Men weren’t even close to being popular. Then 1974’s Giant-Size X-Men #1, by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum, dropped and the X-Men suddenly became a hot ticket. Introducing the All-New, All-Different team led to the revitalization of the X-Men.

This in turn led to writer Chris Claremont taking over X Men. The book would soon be rechristened Uncanny X-Men and become a sales juggernaut, one that would allow Marvel to become the dominant comic company and make the X-Men’s comics’ most popular team.

1 Avengers (1963) #4 Brought Captain America Back To The Marvel Universe


Avengers #4

Captain America was Marvel’s biggest Golden Age character but was nowhere to be found in the publisher’s Silver Age reboot. Avengers (1963) #4, by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, changed all of that, bringing Cap back to prominence and putting him on the Avengers. This led to him becoming one of the team’s greatest leaders and Marvel’s lead hero.

Cap’s presence in the Marvel Universe changed it in the years to come. He was different from the other heroes and his role as leader brought things to the next level. Cap’s adventures of him in the modern was overshadowed his earlier ones of him. Many fan-favorite characters and storylines came from Cap’s return from him.

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