The decade of 2010s was marked by countless relaunches and reboots from Marvel. With every year hosting several comic book events there was no Marvel comic book went untouched. Through all these relaunches and reboots there were a lot of great comic books and creative runs from Marvel’s stable of talent. To be fair to all these creative teams we’ve combine ongoing comics together as long as they were part of a greater creative run on a franchise. This goes along with several mini-series that stood out this decade. Now find out what made the best of the decade that was the 2010s from Marvel.
ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN & WOLVERINE
Issues: Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #1 – #6
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Adam Kubert
Inkers: Mark Morales, Dexter Vines, Mark Roslan
Colorists: Justin Ponsor
Sometimes a comic will be remembered for how epic the scale of the story is and how much it impacts the continuity of the publisher’s shared universe. Other times, a comic will be remembered for simply being incredibly entertaining and delivering top notch character work. Jason Aaron’s Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine is the latter.
Aaron’s Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine was an absolute joy to read. The story was incredibly funny and action packed at certain moments and then would suddenly deliver deep and touching moments. Aaron showed off his versatility in this title. This is a title that has something for every type of reader.
To be sure, Aaron’s Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine is a character driven story. The chemistry between Peter Parker and Logan was fantastic. Aaron nailed the personalities for both men. This is a story that easily pulls the reader in and never lets go. This is a small title, but it is an absolute gem. – Rokk
JONATHAN HICKMAN’S AVENGERS & NEW AVENGERS
Issues: Avengers (2012 – 2015) #1 – #44; New Avengers (2013 – 2015) #1 – #33; Infinity #1 – #6; Secret Wars #1 – #9
Writers: Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer
Artists: Steve Epting, Jerome Opena, Adam Kubert, Dustin Weaver, Mike Deodato Jr., Stefano Caselli, Marco Checchetto, Marco Rudy, Leinil Francis Yu, Butch Guice, Salvador Larroca, Esad Ribic, Nick Bradshaw, Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Mike Mayhew, Simone Bianchi, Rags Morales, Valerio Schiti, Kev Walker and Dalibor Talajic
Inkers: Rick Magyar
Colorists: Frank D’Armata
Jonathan Hickman’s run on Avengers was epic. Hickman’s Avengers spanned not one but two big events. Infinity took place during Hickman’s run. Secret Wars then served as the ending to Hickman’s run on Avengers. And these were no small scale big events, either. Hickman made his big event stories as massive in scope as possible. The reader always felt that that they were reading something truly special and important whenever they picked up an issue of Hickman’s Avengers.
Hickman flexed his unparalleled skills as a master architect. Hickman constructed an incredibly detailed world and a complex story that took place on a grand scale. Hickman’s Avengers touched on every corner of the Marvel Universe. Hickman was able to add so much depth and complexity to the Marvel Universe during his run.
Hickman embraced Marvel’s continuity in a manner that is rare for Marvel writers. The result was an incredibly intelligent read that was equally entertaining. Hickman delivered a story that was highly ambitious. Hickman’s Avengers will be remembered as one of the greatest Avengers runs of all time. – Rokk
MARK WAID & CHRIS SAMNEE’S DAREDEVIL
Issues: Daredevil (2011 – 2014) #1 – #36 and; Daredevil (2014 – 2015) #1 – #18
Writers: Mark Waid
Artists: Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin, Kano, Khoi Pham, Marco Checchetto, Chris Samnee, Mike Allred, Javier Rodriguez
Inkers: Joe Rivera, Tom Palmer
Colorists: Javier Rodriguez, Matt Hollingsworth
To say that poor Matt Murdock has been through the ringer is a massive understatement. For decades, under the pens of such great writers as Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker, Daredevil has been beaten, broken, and dragged through the mud. Then Mark Waid and Marcos Martin (amongst other wonderful artists) decided to try something different: what if Daredevil could still be a compelling read, but this time as a fun title? The resulting work, to the surprise of us all, was nothing short of sheer magic.
Purposefully eschewing the noir style, overly serious dialogue and gritty action, this Daredevil instead opens at a colorful wedding, with Martin’s art popping out at you in every panel. This sets up the mission statement of the series, which has Matt Murdock attempting to recover his life, and maintain a healthy upbeat attitude while he’s at it! His partner Foggy and others might not be so sure of his mental state, but Matt’s too busy trying to defend innocent people and fighting some colorful supervillains at night. To see villains like Klaw and Stilt-Man in a Daredevil comic of all things is a fun treat, and with his senses so beautifully rendered it makes every battle a true feast for the eyes. Even the original plotline, a drive containing all the data of five major crime organizations (contained in a piece of old Fantastic Four costuming, no less), has that crime caper fun we didn’t now we wanted from ol’ Hornhead.
The true genius of this run, though, is that it never sacrifices the character work, plotting, and depth of the older Daredevil at all. In fact, it is when this series begins to pivot back into darkness that it begins to take off, as Waid puts Matt through a true ringer and introduces a terrifying new foe in the ninja Ikari. Because we’ve seen Daredevil so happy, our hearts break for him as his life begins to spiral out of control, and we’re on the edge of our seats as the true villains begin to close in on him. It’s such spectacular work even beyond this, as Matt heads to the West Coast to start a new life and finds more wild adventures in California. Waid is a truly gifted writer on the right project, and his version of Daredevil is one of Marvel’s crowning achievements in the 2010’s by a country mile. – Steven Glover
MATT FRACTION & DAVID AJA’S HAWKEYE
Issues: Hawkeye (2012 – 2015) #1 – #22
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artists: David Aja, Annie Wu, Javier Pulido, Francesco Francavilla, Jesse Hamm, Steve Lieber, Javier Pulido
Colorists: Matt Hollingsworth
While Hawkeye has been one of the more well known Avengers, especially after being one of the original six for the MCU version of the Avengers, Clint Barton has never been considered on the same level as Captain America, Iron Man, Thor or Captain Marvel. He also hasn’t had a big time creative run like Spider-Man or X-Men. That all changed in 2012 as Matt Fraction and David Aja had a character defining run on Hawkeye.
What made Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye so special is that they embraced the fact that Clint Barton was human. Clint does not have a super powers, God-tier weapons or special armor like so many of his Avengers contemporary. Clint is just a guy that has trained himself to be an expert marksman. Fraction and Aja took that and humanized Clint so that you can relate, laugh and emotionally connect with him.
Adding to that humanization of Clint’s character was the mentor-protege relationship with Kate Bishop that Fraction and Aja explored between the two. Even though we’ve seen a new generation of heroes take up the Spider-Man and Miss Marvel mantles it is still rare to see the iconic Marvel heroes become mentors to the younger generation. That wasn’t the case when it came to the two Hawkeyes. Fraction and Aja took the time to create a special bond between Clint and Kate. That bond lead to a lot of great moments between the two that we continue to see creative teams following this run on Hawkeye tap into whenever they use Clint or Kate as Hawkeye in their stories. – Kevin Lainez
AL EWING & JOE BENNET’S IMMORTAL HULK
Issues: Immortal Hulk #1 – #28
Writer: Al Ewing
Artists: Joe Bennett, Lee Garbett, Martin Simmonds, Kyle Hotz, German Garcia, Matias Bergara and Tom Reilly
I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve just never really thought of the Hulk as a deep character. Yes, I know Lee and Kirby originally created him as their version of a Jekyll and Hyde, but that’s so tropey and been done to death a thousand times already. It doesn’t help that a lot of writers have mainly used him as a wrecking ball for the sake of action, with some notable exceptions (Peter David and Greg Pak being among them). However, when I first picked up Immortal Hulk, I’ve gotta say, I was incredibly impressed, and that feeling hasn’t waned at all.
Picking up with Bruce Banner after the events of No Surrender, our hero now finds himself immortal, and the Hulk as a werewolf like transformation that occurs when the sun goes down. It sounds a bit silly, but Al Ewing has really surprised me with his approach. This is not another run of the mill Marvel action title. This is a horror book, the tale of a man battling his inner demons and the rest of the world trying to either destroy or use him for their own gains. There is action (and it is glorious), there are moments of humor, but this is above all a true character study that dives deeper into the psyche of Banner than ever before. When the Hulk emerges it’s no longer a feeling of adrenaline or fun, it’s one of genuine fear. This Hulk, especially when backed by Joe Bennett’s incredible artwork, is a true monster and is legitimately scary at points. The reasons why are ones I won’t spoil, but they hit me in the gut like no other Hulk story has ever done before.
Whether he’s battling the Avengers, dealing with fellow gamma-powered heroes like Sasquatch or Doc Samson, or literally crawling through Hell, Ewing’s Hulk is a fascinating character to read every month. The little flavor text commentary, whether it discusses something scientific, religious, or philosophical, always adds such powerful insight to the issues, making them ones that demand to be reread to get the full context. Ewing’s output up until now has not impressed me, but this ingenious take on the Hulk has made me a fan of his for life. The Hulk is a fun character, but rarely has he ever been handled with such depth, gravitas, and true emotion. The strongest one there is finally has a story worthy of the moniker “the modern day Jekyll & Hyde,” and it’s this book. – Steven Glover
JASON LATOUR & ROBBI RODRIGUEZ’S SPIDER-GWEN
Issues: Spider-Gwen (2015) #1 – #6; Spider-Gwen (2015 – 2018) #0 – #34; Spider-Gwen (2015 – 2018) Annual #1
Writers: Jason Latour
Artists: Robbi Rodriguez, Chris Visions, Bengal, Chris Brunner, Jason Latour, Veronica Fish, Olivia Margraf
Gwen Stacy has always had her fanbase within the Spider-Man community. Even with how rarely she has been used in storylines in the modern era there has continued support for Gwen’s character. Now that fanbase has exploded thanks to Gwen Stacy’s rise as the Spider-Woman of an alternate Marvel Universe, lovingly dubbed “Spider-Gwen,” during the Spider-Verse event. As Spider-Gwen in the second half of the decade Gwen Stacy has become one of Marvel’s most popular heroes, especially after her appearance in the Into the Spider-Verse movie.
Maintaining that popularity has been helped a lot by how Spider-Gwen has been one of the more consistently strong ongoing comics in Marvel’s publishing line. That is thanks to the work that Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez did to create a fascinating alternate Marvel Universe with Earth-65. The world that was created with Earth-65 took a lot of fan favorite characters into new and surprising directions that you would never see from the main Marvel Universe versions.
Best of all they all worked to compliment Spider-Gwen’s growth as she was met by constant challenges by the likes of Kingpin Matt Murdock. The direction these challenges took helped separate Spider-Gwen from the adventures that we saw Peter Parker and Miles Morales were on as her main contemporaries. The unique punk rock style of Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork added to how unique the world in the Spider-Gwen series has continued to be. – Kevin Lainez
SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY
Issues: Spider-Man: Life Story #1 – #6
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inker: John Dell
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Spider-Man: Life Story is a special comic that did something we haven’t seen before, it explored what Peter Parker’s life would be if he lived out his natural life from the point he became Spider-Man in 1962. While Marvel has revisited that era in various other comic books none of them actually showed us Peter and the Marvel Universe’s life is like if it aged between 1962 to 2019. Just doing that already gave Spider-Man: Life Story a special quality. But it is what Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley were able to do with all of Spider-Man and the Marvel Universe’s continuity that truly made this series special.
With each issue of Spider-Man: Life Story Zdarsky and Bagley were able to explore the key events that Peter Parker was involved in since becoming Spider-Man in each preceding decade. Everything from the Clone Saga to Secret Wars to Civil War played a role in shaping who Peter became as he went from naive college student to a business leader, husband, dad and iconic superhero. Exploring all these key moments allowed you to feel like you got to actually experience what a complete life Peter would have if he aged naturally.
While Peter was the star of the show the way Zdarsky used key characters like Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy, Reed Richards and Tony Stark helped elevate Spider-Man: Life Story. As fun as Spider-Man’s adventures are the key to the success of the franchise has always been the supporting cast. Zdarsky nailed that by showing how Peter’s relationships with Gwen, MJ, Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man evolved and changed over time. Combining all this together helped place Spider-Man: Life Story into a position of being one of the most memorable Spider-Man stories of all-time. – Kevin Lainez
JASON AARON’S MIGHTY THOR
Issues: Thor: God of Thunder #1 – #25; Thor (2014 – 2015) #1 – #8; The Mighty Thor (2015 – 2018) #1 – #23; The Mighty Thor #700 – #706; The Mighty Thor: At The Gates of Valhalla #1; Thor (2018 – 2019) #1 – #16; War of the Realms #1 – #6; King Thor #1 – #4
Writers: Jason Aaron, CM Punk, Noelle Stevenson
Artists: Esad Ribic, Butch Guice, Nic Klein, Rob Garney, Emanuela Lupacchino, Das Pastoras, Agustin Alessio, Simon Bisley, Russell Dauterman, Rob Guillory, Marguerite Sauvage, Timothy Truman, Jorge Molina, Rafa Garres, Steve Epting, Valerio Schiti, James Harren, Jen Bartel, Ramon Perez, Mike Del Mundo, Christian Ward, Tony Moore, Lee Garbett, Scott Hepburn, Chris Burnham, Olivier Coipel, Aaron Kuder, Nick Pitarra, Andrea Sorrentino and Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Colorists: Dean White, Russell Dauterman
The Mighty Thor is a character as old as myth itself, but most people these days know him as the goofy hunk from the weird space Marvel movie who tells a lot of jokes and has a big hammer and/or axe. In the comics, though, even I have a blind spot with the God of Thunder. I am aware that Lee and Kirby’s stuff is supposed to be great, as is Walt Simonson’s, but I’ve never actually gotten to read it. That changed in the 2000’s, when J. Michael Straczynski brought the character back after a long absence, taking a more mythic approach to Thor. But, in music terms, if JMS’ take on Thor was like Wagner, Jason Aaron came through and turned it into Led Zeppelin. And oh my God, it was so awesome.
Partnered with artist extraordinaire Esad Ribic, Aaron kicked off his run with an epic tale spanning three Thors, hitting the ground running and delivering something so insanely badass that I didn’t think he could top himself. Then the title entered the Marvel Now phase, where Marvel’s diversity initiative shuffled the deck on their big three, and Aaron presented a female Thor. While it started out a bit pander-y and over the top, the moment he revealed that it was actually Jane Foster, and that becoming Thor literally endangered her life, things changed. Now partnered with future artist extraordinaire Russell Dauterman, Aaron continued building on the world of Thor, infusing what could have been a cheap publicity stunt with true heart and emotion, along with the high-octane action and adventure we’d come to expect from him. And even though Jane ultimately survived her ordeal, her final outing as Thor is a true tear-jerker that will go down as one of Marvel’s finest issues of the decade.
Aaron then continued his run with the original Odinson reclaiming his mantle as Thor, and then giving us the excellent War of the Realms event alongside Dauterman, easily Marvel’s best event since Secret Wars. So you have a nearly decade long run featuring two different Thors, multiple adventures spanning time and space, one big event and successful sales all throughout. This is all due to the talent of Jason Aaron and his excellent partners in crime (which also included Mike Del Mundo, Olivier Coipel, and more), who have successfully redefined Thor for the modern age, in a way I’d be shocked to see the movies try and follow. It’s a beautiful tale told by master craftsmen at the top of their game, and it is arguably Marvel’s finest achievement this decade. Read this run, or live unfulfilled! – Steven Glover
ED BRUBAKER & BUTCH GUICE’S WINTER SOLDIER
Issues: Winter Soldier (2012 – 2013) #1 – #14
Writers: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Butch Guice and Michael Lark
Inkers: Stefano Gaudiano, Butch Guice and Brian Thies
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser, Jordie Bellaire and Bettie Breitweiser
Though Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice’s series was titled “Winter Soldier” it was really a Winter Soldier and Black Widow series. They took the chemistry between Bucky Barnes and Natasha Romanoff that was firmly established in Captain America and explored it much further during their run on Winter Soldier. Given both characters backgrounds Brubaker and Guice were able to go all in on making this Winter Soldier a spy drama. Sure their were superhero elements but Winter Soldier was first and foremost about the spy world that Bucky and Natasha have been involved in for most of their lives.
Throughout their adventures together Bucky and Natasha showed how they have a chemistry with one another that you can’t duplicate. There is a magic to their relationship together. Which made for a great final story in Brubaker’s run on the character as things took a turn for the worst during “Black Widow Hunt.” The storyline truly tested the strength of Bucky’s character as he, with help from Wolverine and Hawkeye, had to make a great sacrifice. That sacrifice not only impacted Bucky’s character moving forward for the rest of the decade but also Natasha. There are a lot of references made to what happened in “Black Widow Hunt” that defined both characters moving forward. Which speaks to how well executed the sacrifice made by Bucky and Natasha was by Brubaker’s storytelling.
Matching the strength of Brubaker’s writing was Guice and Michael Lark’s incredible artwork. Having worked together on Captain America, there was a familiarity with the way Guice, as the main artist for the series, drew every scene that spoke to the creative chemistry he shares with Brubaker. Guice brought the whole spy world that Winter Soldier and Black Widow lived in to life. He knew exactly how to make both characters look like the ultimate badasses in combat. At the same time, he hit on the emotional weight of the decisions that were made throughout this run. The same goes for the artwork Lark provides during the several issues of Winter Soldier he draws. – Kevin Lainez
JASON AARON’S WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN
Issues: Wolverine & The X-Men (2011-2014) #1 – #42
Writers: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Nick Bradshaw, Chris Bachalo, Jorge Molina, and Ramon Perez
Inkers: Nick Bradshaw, Walden Wong, Normal Lee, Tim Townsend, and Ramon Perez
Jason Aaron strikes again. The X-Men had some rough patches as the 1990s ended and the 2000s began. However, Aaron made the X-Men fun again with Wolverine & The X-Men. This title was funky and offbeat. Aaron shook things up and treated the readers to an X-Men title that broke the traditional mold.
Aaron’s story spun out of Schism and carried through Battle of the Atom. The reader got to see Wolverine in the unusual role of leading a school for young mutants. Aaron made Wolverine & The X-Men a refreshing change of pace with a far more light hearted approach than what readers usually got on an X-Men title.
At the end of the day, what made Aaron’s Wolverine & The X-Men so wonderful was that it was fun. Pure and simple. This title was just a blast to reader each and every month. This run is sure to slap a smile on any reader’s face. – Rokk
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