Marvel in the 2010s cemented their grasp on the top spot of the American comic industry, but things weren’t exactly perfect. The first five years of the decade were defined by a new crop of superstar writers coming up, but by 2015, they’d all be gone. The Spider-Man and X-Men books fell even further from grace, and the Avengers books dropped like stones after Jonathan Hickman left the publisher.
The event cycle had almost entirely petered out from a creative standpoint, and fans began to rebel against the publisher in a number of ways. However, that doesn’t mean that it was all bad. The 2010s contained some great comics that every fan should check out.
10 Uncanny Avengers (Vol. 1) Was Brilliant Until The Last Story Arc
Many great Marvel books end badly, something that afflicted Uncanny Avengers. Spinning out of Avengers vs. X-Men, it introduced the Avengers Unity Squad, a unique pairing of Avengers and X-Men. Written by Rick Remender with art by John Cassaday, Adam Kubert, Daniel Acuña, and Steve McNiven, it’s hard to pick one story arc as the best because the first four are all stellar.
The Red Shadow, The Apocalypse Twins, Ragnarök Now, and Avenge the Earth are all amazing. Pitting the team against Red Skull and the S-Men, the Apocalypse Twins, and Kang, they are action packed romps that also play into the fractured relationship between mutants and the Avengers. The last volume, which builds in the disappointing AXIS event, isn’t as good as the rest of the book, but before that, it’s one of the best ever.
9 The Immortal Hulk: Or Is He Both? Set Out A Bold New Status Quo For The Jade Giant
The Immortal Hulk was a surprise hit. The Hulk’s death in Civil War II was pretty much the only good thing to come from that series and Hulk’s return in Avengers: No Surrender got fans buzzing. The Immortal Hulk: Or is He Both?, by writer Al Ewing and artist Joe Bennet, set the tone for the greatest Hulk story since Peter David stopped writing the Green Goliath.
What really set this book apart is how Ewing and Bennet used horror to create something special. Horror had always been baked into Hulk’s DNA, so this book going all in on it was perfect. The first volume grabs readers from the beginning and never lets go.
8 Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 1 Introduced Marvel’s Next Big Star
While the 616 Spider-Man comics in the 2010s suffered the continued consequences of One More Day, the Ultimate Universe’s Spider-Man got a new lease on life after Peter Parker’s death with the introduction of Miles Morales. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 1, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli, collected Miles’s inaugural series.
Miles Morales had a lot of eyes on him from the beginning and huge shoes to fill. Bendis and Pichelli did an amazing job of setting him apart from Peter while also still capturing the core of what made Spider-Man stories work. Morales is a modern legend, and this story shows why.
7 Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye Is Brilliant
Hawkeye is a Marvel icon, and the 2010s saw him get his best solo stories ever. Hawkeye, by writer Matt Fraction and artists David Aja, Javier Pulido, Steve Lieber, Jesse Alan Hamm, Annie Wu, and Francesco Francavilla, was twenty-two issues of pure Marvel excitement. It’s the kind of book where it’s impossible to pick just one story or one issue as the best, because it’s all brilliant.
Starring Clint Barton and Kate Bishop, the book revolves around the two of them defending Clint’s new apartment building from mobsters. On top of that, readers get to go on a road trip with Kate and learn even more about her. Hawkeye is a near perfect book and shows off why the Hawkeyes are both amazing characters.
6 Old Man Logan: Berserker Brought The Fan Favorite Back
The Wastelands quickly grabbed a spot among Marvel’s best alternate universes, all on the back of Old Man Logan. This version of Wolverine became a fan favorite and post-Secret Wars, Marvel brought him back in a new ongoing series. Old Man Logan: Berserker, by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino, kicked off the new series with a bang.
Bringing Old Man Logan into the present, it saw the mutant go after all the people who made the Wastelands a terrible place. However, not everything is as he remembers it, and he’s forced to come to terms with the reality of his new situation. Lemire and Sorrentino are a brilliant team and this book is a masterpiece from start to finish.
5 Infinity Doesn’t Get The Credit It Deserves
Marvel has created some brilliant sci-fi epics and one that doesn’t really get its due is Infinity. Written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Jim Cheung, Jerome Opeña, and Dustin Weaver, the story outlined the Avengers fighting a war in space as Thanos attacked the Earth, with only the Illuminati in his way. The six issue series is pretty good, but to really make it sing, readers need to get the Avengers and New Avengers tie-ins.
Taken all together, Infinity is Hickman doing what he does best. He balances the sci-fi with the superhero in perfect proportions. Infinity shows off just why when they’re done right, the Avengers are the best of the best.
4 Hickman’s Fantastic Four Run Was The Best The Team Had Been In Decades
The Fantastic Four are Marvel’s most unique team, but they haven’t been Marvel’s best team in a long time. Writer Jonathan Hickman wanted to change that. Working with artists Dale Eaglesham, Steve Epting, and more, Hickman’s time writing Fantastic Four, FF, and Future Foundation gave readers Fantastic Four stories better than anything in years.
Hickman is a writer who works the best when he can work on a book for a long time, and his Fantastic Four saga showed that to readers like never before. His time writing the team made him a superstar. It’s a treasure house of story.
3 Ms. Marvel: No Normal Created A New Star
Ms. Marvel: No Normal, by writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona, was a smash-hit. The great thing about the book is that no one expected it to be as massive as it was. Marvel has just begun their big Inhuman push, and the introduction of Kamala Khan remains the best thing to come out of it.
What makes No Normal such a great story is how well it balanced the superhero and the mundane. It did a brilliant job of presenting both of Kamala’s lives, introducing a stellar supporting cast. Kamala struck a chord with audiences and became Marvel’s biggest success of the 2010s.
2 House Of X/Powers Of X Did Right By X-Men Fans
The 2010s turned into a terrible time to be an X-Men fan, all because Marvel didn’t own the film rights to them. However, when Disney bought 20th Century Fox, things changed and Marvel fixed years of wrongdoing. They did this by putting out House of X/Powers of X, by writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva.
The two books that are one kicked off the Krakoa Era. This bold new status quo excited readers about the X-Men for the first time in almost two decades. X-Men status quo changes can be good, but rarely are they this brilliant and revolutionary.
1 Secret Wars (2015) Mixed The Epic With The Intimate
Marvel has some amazing events, although the 2010s weren’t the best time for the event cycle. However, there is one that stands tall with the best event books the publisher ever put out. 2015’s Secret Wars, by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Esad Ribic, took place after the destructive Incursions, in a multiverse ruled by Doctor Doom.
Secret Wars is so great because it’s definitely epic, but in the end, it’s more of a character piece on Doctor Doom’s relationship with power and Reed Richards. It still gives readers the big moments, but it’s so much smarter than that. It is truly a treat to read.