Short, but sweet … Marvel Comics has a long history of cranking out limited series, or “mega-events”, and this is our ranking of the ten best.
10. Marvel 1602 (2003)
Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert’s reimagining of the Marvel Universe in a timeline where super heroes existed in the Elizabethan era was Gaiman’s first comic book work in a decade. . This eight-issue series continues to pop-up here and there in the regular Marvel U, most recently in Secret Wars (2015). Technically classified as Earth-311, 1602 was an eight-issue series of great storytelling from two masters of the medium.
9. Old Man Logan (2008)
Technically an eight-issue storyline, not a true limited series, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s post-apocalyptic, alternate universe is too darn good to leave out. Designated as Earth-807128, Old Man Logan follows the story of everyone’s favorite mutant just trying to live in peace with his family on a farm, far away from the rest of what now passes for civilization. Reading like a spaghetti Western full of bizarro super heroes and villains, Old Man Logan is one of the most popular Wolverine stories of all time.
8. Planet Hulk (2006)
Another one storyline that was primarily run as regular issues of The Incredible Hulk (2006), Greg Pak and Carlo Pagulayan gave the Green Giant something to do while the rest of the Marvel Universe was embroiled in Civil War. After being shot into space by Earth’s heroes, Hulk conquers a planet he lands on, returns to Earth, and takes his revenge on those that exiled him.
7. Contest of Champions (1982)
Before they teamed up in Secret Wars, Marvel’s heroes went at it in the Contest of Champions. A game between The Grandmaster and Death, participants were forced to fight in teams while trying to collect four pieces of the “Golden Globe of Life.” The match-ups didn’t always play out as you might imagine …
6. Secret Invasion (2008)
Brian Michael Bendis and Leninil Francis Yu changed everything we thought we knew about the Marvel Universe with Secret Invasion. Who could you trust when members of the alien shape-shifting race known as Skrulls had secretly replaced many of Earth’s heroes with impostors? Over two decades in the making, even The Avengers’ loyal butler Jarvis wasn’t safe.
5. Wolverine (1982)
Frank Miller wrote and illustrated everyone’s favorite X-Man’s first solo outing in this classic four-issue limited series. Miller’s story takes Wolverine to Japan where his engagement to Mariko Yashida, is naturally challenged by a clan of ninjas and evil lords. Logan doing was he does best in his old brown costume.
4. The Sentry (2000)
Created by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee, The Sentry was pitched at the time as a “long, lost character” created by Stan Lee in the 60s. The very memory of the character’s existence had even wiped from citizens of the Marvel U., but Bob Reynolds (The Sentry) fought to remember who he was and where he belonged in the world. It was a fascinating concept well executed by two of comic’s best.
3. Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars (1984)
Conceived primarily as a way to sell action figures for Kenner, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars was a mega, twelve-issue event written by Jim Shooter and drawn by Mike Zeck. It’s probably best remembered as the origin of Spider-Man’s black costume, but it also featured the death of an Avenger, and was the jumping off point for The Thing’s on going solo series. There was a sequel a year later featuring god-like being The Beyonder’s visit to Earth, but that one’s probably best forgotten …
2. Marvels (1994)
Just four issues long, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross told the story of ordinary people living among super heroes from the perspective of news photographer Phil Sheldon. It launched the careers of Busiek and Ross, and changed our perspective of what comic books and the Marvel Universe could be.
1. Civil War (2008)
Mark Millar and Steve McNiven teamed up again in one of the smartest, deepest, most satisfying Marvel stories of all time. In this seven issue limited series, the government passes a “Superhero Registration Act”, forcing lines to be drawn among Earth’s heroes with Iron Man and Captain America on conflicting sides. Some remained neutral in the conflict, but all of Marvel’s characters were effected, with ramifications that are still felt today.