Top 10 Worst Moments in Marvel Comics


Marvel Comics is responsible for a complete revitalization of the comic book industry in the 60s, some of the greatest and most beloved characters and superhero stories in history, and helping to convince the mainstream that comic books are a legitimate art form. Their power and greatness cannot be denied.

But, it also cannot be denied that every now and then Marvel has dropped the ball and released terrible comics. This is not a condemnation of Marvel comics or their characters. Instead, it is a condemnation of the bad storytellers, the bad artists, and the bad writers who betrayed the public’s trust by abusing the characters and creations that Marvel fans hold so dear.

In chronological order, here are ten of the all time worst moments in the history of Marvel Comics:

10. Rape of Ms. Marvel (October 1980)

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Avengers Vol. 1 #200

By the end of the 70s, Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel, had become one of Marvel’s flagship female characters. And all it took was one issue of The Avengers to ruin both her standing as a strong female character and her reputation. To make a long (and overly complicated) story short, Ms. Marvel became mysteriously pregnant and gave birth to a full term baby three days later. Then, the baby, named Marcus, mysteriously grew up almost instantly, and revealed that he had “seduced” his mother and impregnated her. And by “seduced” I mean “raped.” And what became of Ms. Marvels incestuous rape child? He grew up to be…Marcus! That’s right, he had gone back in time to impregnate his mother with himself. But the worst part of this travesty was that not only was Ms. Marvel, one of Marvel’s leading female characters, raped, she revealed that she enjoyed it and decided to stay with him afterwards. Hooray for feminism!

 9. Clone Saga (October 1994 – December 1996)

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Web of Spider-Man #117–129, Sensational Spider-Man #0–11, Amazing Spider-Man #394–418, Spider-Man #51–75, Spectacular Spider-Man #217–240, Spider-Man Unlimited (Vol. 1) #7–14

If you peruse this list, you may be surprised to find that many of the entries are related to the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The first one to make an appearance is the dreadfully convoluted and stupidly executed Clone Saga, a storyline that ran through all of the Spider-Man titles for two years. It all started with a storyline back in the 70s where the villain named the Jackal cloned Peter Parker and his deceased girlfriend Gwen Stacy. Spidey fought his clone, won, and went off none the wiser. Decades later, this storyline was brought back to life when it was revealed that not only had the clone survived his encounter with Spidey, but that the clone, now known as the Scarlet Spider, was the real Peter Parker and that the Peter Parker that the comics had followed for decades was the clone! Needless to say, this angered most, if not all, of Spider-Man’s fans.

So, what was supposed to be a short arc that only lasted a few issues ran for two long, painful years as Marvel tried to backtrack and restore the status quo. Along the way, it was revealed that, surprise-surprise, the Scarlet Spider WAS the clone and Peter Parker WAS the original. Throw in the clumsy resurrection of Aunt May after she had previously died (THAT Aunt May was ALSO another clone); a couple hundred more Spider-Man clones that Jackal just happened to have in his basement; and the revelation that the entire thing had been orchestrated by Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, who was believed to have died decades ago- and you have one of the most infuriating stories ever told in the entire history of the comic book medium. And the kicker? Afterwards, everybody acted like nothing had happened and the plot line was never mentioned again. Marvel had literally wasted two years of their readers’ lives with nothing to show for it.

 8. Iron Man: The Crossing (September 1995 – February 1996)

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Avengers #390-395; Avengers: The Crossing #1; Force Works #16-20; Iron Man #320-325; War Machine #20-23; Avengers: Timeslide #1; Age of Innocence: The Rebirth of Iron Man #1

Retcon (retroactive continuity) is a literary device used to change previously established facts in fiction and is commonly used in comic book series with long histories because “the plurality of writers who contribute stories can often create situations that demand clarification or revision” (wikipedia). As a general rule of thumb, whenever Marvel retcons bad things happen…as in bad comics are released upon unsuspecting fans. So, in the mid-90s when Marvel decided to reveal that Iron Man was a traitor who had worked as a sleeper agent for Kang The Conqueror for years, you can bet that there would be problems. First, he goes on a killing spree, killing the female Yellowjacket, Amanda Chaney, and Marilla, the nanny of Quicksilver’s daughter. The Avengers decide that the best thing to do is recruit a teen-age Tony Stark from another timeline, have him steal the Iron Man suit, and fight the now evil Tony Stark. In the ensuing fight, the real Tony Stark sacrifices himself to stop Kang. For a while, the teenage Tony Stark was the official Iron Man… and what a fiasco THAT was. The new Tony looked ridiculous with an atrocious new set of armor. But what really alienated fans was the idea that Tony Stark, a character that they had come to know and love for decades, was a traitor. In fact, this was a blatant slap in the face to his fans. Thankfully, the entire debacle was completely retconned, replacing Teen Tony with Good Tony. Unfortunately, in order to do so, they had to rely on the event that takes the next spot on this list.

7. Heroes Reborn (1996 – 1997)

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Fantastic Four Vol. 2 #1-12, Avengers Vol. 2 #1-12, Captain America Vol. 2 #1-12, Iron Man Vol. 2 #1-12 

The 90s were a dark, dark time for comic books. Gone were the days of cheerful heroes helping innocent bystanders and fighting giant monsters. In the 90s, everybody was a dark, brooding anti-hero. Comics became grim, dark, and ultraviolent.

It was in the midst of this creative quagmire that Marvel, in the face of bankruptcy, decided to reboot their entire universe in the Heroes Reborn crossover series that ran from 1996 to 1997. Essentially, Marvel trapped four of their most famous properties, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Captain America, and Iron Man, in a pocket dimension after their apparent deaths at the hands of the psionic entity Onslaught. This allowed their writers to go back and tell brand new stories with these characters that they wouldn’t have been able to within mainstream Marvel continuity.

It was a decent idea. However, they decided to outsource these stories to former employees Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld who turned them into over-the-top, shameless parodies of themselves. The series were beset by bad stories and some of the worst art to ever disgrace the medium. It was so bad that Marvel essentially had to reboot their universe AGAIN just so they could restore everything to the status quo that was enjoyed before Heroes Reborn began. The silver lining to this abomination was that it succeeded in restoring Marvel’s sales and saved the company from a financial meltdown. All it took was a year of pure pain and agony on the part of the fans.

6. Chuck Austen’s X-Men (2002-2004)

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Uncanny X-Men #410-441

Yes, ALL of Chuck Austen’s X-Men run. It is literally impossible to pick just one thing that was wrong with it. Where do we begin? How about the horrific characterizations? How about the blatant misogyny? How about the fact that it followed one of the greatest X-Men runs of all time (Grant Morrison) with stories that were designed to retcon it all? How about when Jubilee and a bunch of other X-Men were CRUCIFIED by a group of radicals who wanted to discredit the Catholic church by making Nightcrawler the Pope and killing people with disintegrating communion wafers? Or, sticking with Nightcrawler, how about the time when it was revealed that he was literally the son of a demon named Azazel who gave birth to him so he could teleport him to earth?

No, I’ve got it! It would have to be the revelation concerning Xorn, a supporting cast member from Morrison’s run who had healing powers fueled by literally having a star in his head. For those who haven’t read Morrison’s run (and you all should), it was revealed that Xorn was none other than Magneto who was trying to infiltrate the school! In the end, Magneto kills Phoenix (for the umpteenth time) and gets his head lopped off by Wolverine. Marvel, horrified at the idea of losing one of their central villains, retconned it all. How? They said that Xorn (who remember, wasn’t real but a disguise used by Magneto) had a twin brother who infiltrated the X-Men DISGUISED as Magneto. So, in summation, we have the twin of a person who never existed in the first place infiltrate the X-Men disguised as Magneto disguised as… his real identity… Make sense? No? Don’t worry. Nobody else can figure it out, either. At least Marvel got Magneto back for several more decades of milking.

5. Sins Past (August 2004 – January 2005)

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The Amazing Spider-Man #509-514

Oh, Spider-Man fans… Why must Marvel continue to abuse you? Gwen Stacy, one of Spider-Man’s first girlfriends, was a fan favorite for decades. Her murder at the hands of the Green Goblin is said to have single-handedly ended the Silver Age of Comics. It was a tragic scene that helped define Spider-Man for a new generation. Even after Spidey hooked up with Mary Jane, there was still a massive amount of care and sympathy for Gwen, solidifying her status as one of the most-loved characters in the entire Marvel Universe. So, of course, Marvel decided that the best thing to do was to rewrite her past so that Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, had slept with her. Oh, but he just didn’t sleep with her…he knocked her up with TWINS that she gave birth to in France. After deciding to come clean with Peter and raise the kids with him, Norman killed her. Why? So he could raise them himself! Because of Norman’s bizarre blood, the kids aged faster than normal so that they were full-grown adults before they reached 10 years old! What does Norman do with them? He makes them attack Spider-Man!

Sins Past single-handedly ruined the character of Gwen Stacy for untold numbers of fans. Her tragic and emotional death was cheapened for pure shock value. But this would not be the only time that Marvel would intentionally ruin or disgrace one of Spidey’s relationships with a loved one. We’ll get to THAT horrible story in a bit. Image from

 4. Civil War (June 2006 – January 2007)

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Civil War #1-7

It started as a relatively good idea: a schism occurs in the superhero community when a group of heroes accidentally blow up a large part of Stamford, Connecticut during a fight, killing over 600 civilians, including 60 children. Heroes were faced with a daunting option: register their identities with the government and become federal employees in order to prevent such a calamity from happening again or face prosecution. Half of the community, led by Iron Man, advocated registration, believing it to be the moral and responsible solution. The other half, led by Captain America, believed that forced registration was a violation of their civil liberties and revealing their identities could put their friends and families at risk. It was a difficult and emotional issue for everybody involved.

There was no easy answer or solution to the problem… at least… there wasn’t until Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic created a robotic Thor clone which attacked the anti-registration camp, killing the superhero Goliath in the process. And then, instead of trying to persuade and convince the anti-registration people to register, Iron Man and his followers hunted them down like animals, arrested them, and threw them in an unbreakable prison in another dimension without a fair trial or due process. Not to mention that the pro-registration camp convinced Spider-Man to reveal his identity as Peter Parker publicly, leading to his Aunt May getting shot (which subsequently leads to the next entry on this list). As the icing on the cake, after Captain America heroically surrenders to prevent any more violence or bloodshed, he is shot and killed on the steps of a courthouse.

I can’t emphasize enough how badly Civil War was received and how it almost irrevocably damaged Marvel Comics. To this day, there are people who refuse to forgive Iron Man for his betrayal. What should have been an even-sided, philosophical, and heart-stirring storyline became mean-spirited, dark, and had characters that people had known and loved for decades turn on each other. The Marvel staff completely isolated their fans by taking Iron Man’s pro-registration side during the debate, alienating thousands of readers. For many, Civil War is also considered to be a turning point in Marvel’s history…and not a good one at that.

3. One More Day (November 2007 – January 2008)

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The Amazing Spider-Man #544, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #24, The Sensational Spider-Man (vol. 2) #41, Amazing Spider- Man #545.

If I ranked this list in order of the most hated, most ill conceived, most badly written, and poorly received moment in Marvel history, One More Day would be on the top. There is NO competition. For those of you who don’t read comics, let me try and break this down for you. Anyone who has seen the Spider-Man movies knows that Spider-Man’s true love was Mary Jane Watson. It’s been that way for almost 4 decades. She was among the most beloved members of the Marvel universe for her personality, spunk, and everlasting devotion to her husband Peter Parker. The two had weathered countless storms together, yet had always come out stronger as a result. Their wedding was one of the biggest Marvel events in history. For years, Peter Parker and Mary Jane were THE comic book couple, probably only rivaled in popularity by Superman and Lois Lane in DC Comics.

One day, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada decided that he didn’t like the idea of Spider-Man being married. He believed that being single was essential to Spider-Man’s character (never mind the fact that he had been married to Mary Jane for almost TWENTY YEARS). So what did he do? He made Spider-Man make a deal with the Devil to trade his marriage to save the life of Aunt May who had been shot in the aftermath of Civil War. Let me say that again in case you didn’t grasp the infuriating implications of that last sentence. Spider-Man, one of the ultimate paragons of personal responsibility and righteousness in ALL of comics, made a deal… with the DEVIL! The deal was to sacrifice his MARRIAGE all so that he could save the life of his ELDERLY Aunt May. (Side Note: He had previously contacted Aunt May in the spirit world who told him to let her go since she was old, had a good life, and wanted Peter to be happy.)

It was almost universally panned by critics. The fan backlash was the stuff of legends. Joe Quesada became one of the most hated people in the industry, even getting booed off the stage at conventions. But one of the worst things about One More Day was that it was a key example of a disturbing trend among comic book companies: editors using their positions to ghostwrite their favorite comics. In fact, many of the entries on this list were the result of editorial mandates. Among them, One More Day reigns supreme. No comic company is perfect. Even their rival company, DC Comics, has their fair share of terrible moments (but that’s a list for another day…). But no matter what they do, they can take comfort in the fact that they didn’t put out One More Day. One More Day is the ultimate bad comic book moment.

 2. Ultimates 3 (2008)

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The Ultimates 3 #1-5

The Ultimate Marvel imprint, started in 2000, was intended to be a brand new Marvel Universe free from decades of comic continuity. It was designed as a starting point for new comic book readers who didn’t want to be bogged down or confused with story and character histories. Their main series included Ultimate versions of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and Spider-Man (easily the most popular and successful title from the Ultimate line). But the Ultimate Universe also had their own version of the Avengers known as the Ultimates. The Ultimates were the subjects of three short stand-alone series, creatively titled The Ultimates, The Ultimates 2, and The Ultimates 3. The first two were wild, run-away successes, reinventing their characters for a new generation and creating some of the most iconic moments of the new millennium (“Does this “A” look like it stands for France?). And then Ultimates 3 came along.

In an incredibly convoluted and confusing plot, the Scarlet Witch was assassinated, the Ultimates squared off with android duplicates of themselves, and Quicksilver was supposedly killed (more on that in the next entry). Oh… and somehow Doctor Doom was the genius behind it all. Sound cool? It isn’t. The entire series is plagued with horrible art, terrible writing, abysmal dialogue, and grotesque characterizations. Many people think of the Ultimates 3 as being the start of the downfall of the Ultimate Universe. But it would take our number one spot to finish the job.

1. Ultimatum (November 2008 – July 2009)

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Ultimatum #1-5

This is it, folks. This is widely considered to be THE event that killed the Ultimate Universe line. Think about that for a second…these five comics ended a ten year long comic book line. How? Let’s break it down:

Many of the Ultimates most beloved characters are killed off panel.

  • Half of the characters in the Ultimate Universe were killed, including, but not limited to: Daredevil, Cyclops, Doctor Doom, Doctor Strange, Emma Frost, Hank Pym, Juggernaut, Magneto, Professor X, Thor, Wasp, and Wolverine.
  • Over-the-top and offensive violence: the Wasp was cannibalized by the Blob, Magneto snaps Professor X’s neck, Madrox creates clones which he turns into suicide bombers, Wolverine has the adamantium stripped from his bones.
  • Scientific inaccuracies: Magneto reverses the Earth’s magnetic poles… no wait… the planet’s axis… no wait… the magnetic poles…. no wait… who cares? They’re the same thing, right?

Image result for Ultimatum comic Wasp was cannibalized by the Blob

The less you know about this insult of a comic, the better. The only thing you need to know is that Magneto tries to destroy the world in revenge for the deaths of his kids, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. But wait! Quicksilver is revealed to be alive! But the real question is…who cares! Writer Jeph Loeb destroyed almost everything that people loved about the Ultimates Universe. The damage was so massive that they had to RE- LAUNCH the Ultimate Universe. This comic has left fans scratching and banging their heads against the wall, wondering why Marvel would ever print this abominable excuse for a story.

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  1. I was fully with this list, and even enjoying and agreeing with it, until I came to your entry about Civil War. You’ve got to be kidding me. Here’s a couple starting points toward my disagreement.

    1. The Thor clone was out of control, and Tony Stark seriously regretted that Goliath had died. Which is why he bought the entire plot of land so they could bury Goliath’s gigantic body.

    2. Tony Stark DID try to negotiate with the anti-registration forces, and what happened? Captain America shorted out his armor and bashed him with his shield, which lead to a huge fight.

    Aside from that, it was a great storyline exhibiting the personal beliefs of superpowered characters when their freedom itself is threatened. Tony behaved like he normally does in an extreme situation, where the ends justify the means in his mind. It was dark and violent because it was dealing with politics and basic freedoms, and some people will defend that accordingly.

    Aside from that, what is this “irrevocable damage” it did to Marvel?

    Was it because it was the highest selling comic of 2006? That’s gotta be a killer for the entire company.

    Civil War being on this list just makes no sense.

    • Well…I’m sorry that you disagree. But there are multitudes of comic book fans who hated that crossover. And just because something sells well doesn’t mean that it’s good.

      I hope that you enjoyed the rest of the list, though.

    • Man, I have got to disagree with you in regards to Civil War. After Clor killed Giant Man, Stark used him again and he went after Black Panther and Storm in other comics. Guess Clor is a racist android or something.

      And let’s not forget that Tony augmented his side by using super villains enslaved with nanites that would produce tremendous pain or nerve damage if they got out of line. Used them against other heroes.

      The writing was sloppy, which is typical of Millar. Why, exactly, did Maria Hill attack Captain America again? The Act hadn’t even gone into effect yet. Oh yeah, because Millar needed some reason for Cap to join the other side.

      And you skipped over the whole imprisoning super heroes without due process part.

      The icing on the cake was when Captain America gets tackled by the World Trade Center heroes. That was just so over the top. Millar is the antithesis of subtle.

      And just because something sells well does not mean it is good. Look at the Transformers movies.

      Finally, I think Mighty God King summed up how most people felt about Civil War with his parodies:

    • Ah, come on, Civil War was terrible, it’s just that Millar put enough of his “kewl sh*t ™” to make you think it isn’t; but analyse it for a bit and you’ll see. Almost everyone’s out of character, they just behave that way to take the story from A to B to C, Spider-Man acts like an idiot (“Tony is right, I have to expose my identity! Oh wait, they shot Aunt May! I didn’t see that one coming! Tony is wrong!”), even when the story tries to be clever it does it in the stupidest and most obvious way possible (Daredevil handing the coin to Tony when he’s captured. “Cause he’s like Judas, eh? Get it? Eh?”), the very notion of a Thor cyborg murderclone being a major plot point is stupid, and sort of pulled out of thin air. The “political alegory” that a lot of fans of the series defend (because that’s what makes Marvel comics good: Political allegory) is ham-fisted at best, and even then, any allegory goes to hell the moment that the story goes “then they resolved it by punching”. Also, am I to understand that the series ends because Captain effin’ America just gives up? That’s terrible beyond words.

      Yes, it sold lots, so what? That doesn’t make it good. By that logic, everything popular is automatically the best and something less so is by definition the worst. By that logic, Michael Bay is better than, say, David Lynch. That’s shorthand thinking. No, I’d rather be critical.

      • Don’t forget they had to explain how Sue left Reed at least twice, and there was also a scene where Peter and Tony have a “discussion” about how Peter’s broken arm mysteriously healed in about two hours’ comic time, and then they turn and look directly at the reader for a panel, which even Wizard pointed out as a “You satisfied with that, fans??” moment.

        It started out good and was an interesting twist to the Marvel Universe that hadn’t been explored since the 80s X-Men run: Are Superhumans/Mutants living weapons and should they be registered? Too bad it got mired in that British wrieter Millar’s personal anti-American views.

    • I also deeply resented Stark for his actions in the Civil War. Hunting down his old buddies because what they were doing was “illegal”. Jaywalking is illegal, you shouldn’t be killed or thrown in a max jail in another dimension for it. And of course, this embracing of totalitarian gov’t allowed Osborne to take over Shield.

      I can’t believe you can forgive the death of Goliath because Stark “bought the entire parcel of land” to bury his body. Well I guess That makes it all better. Firstly you know that he’s a billionaire for whom buying a 60′ x 20′ patch of dirt would not be a problem. Secondly, I remember that scene, and I really don’t remember them saying anything like “hey don’t worry, Tony bought the site”. Are you sure that actually happened?

      • That bit about Stark buying an oversize plot for Goliath just registered on my logic circuits. Why in Hell would he do that? Because he died as a giant? Both Pym and Richards have the means to return his body to normal size. Another example of the writer not thinking things through, and Millar did enough of this throughout the entire series to lead one the conclusion that yes, he does think that superhero fans are idiots.

        • As a Spider-Man reader, it became apparent to me that the ONLY reason for Civil War was to unmask Spidey as part of their multi-part plan to get rid of the marriage. They knew they were doing a reboot on the marriage but they needed something big enough to justify it. Peter unmasking and getting Aunt May shot was the answer. Otherwise there is no logical explanation for Peter’s actions in that story based on 50 years of character development.

        • It wasn’t the only reason for Civil War, but it clearly was the reason for Peter’s actions during it. He never would have been on Stark’s side.

    • I just want to clear that the irreparable damage caused by Civil War was very real and Marvel is surely still having to deal with the fallout.

      It soured things so badly that even now, with stellar artwork all around (unheard of, and for years I raged about the mismanagement of art assignments) I refuse to get more than a trickle of titles from them. In fact, last year I very nearly quit comic collecting altogether, that’s how discouraged I was. And that’s something I’d never even considered before, not in 40 years of collecting.

      And some of this stuff I refuse to get is drawn by artists- John Cassaday, for instance- whose work I have always made a point of buying regardless of writer or title.

    • If you look at this list, which I pretty much agree with (and believe that there are more that could be added to the list) the majority of the entries on this list are from the late 90’s and beyond. Marvel Comics DIED in the early 90’s. Their comics have sucked since the late 80’s / early 90’s and the hacks that have been at Marvel since then have destroyed the great comic characters and plot lines created by the real talent that came before them. Terrible stories, terrible art, – the comics of today are not imaginative, not intelligent, not dramatic, and worst of all – not fun – which is what they are supposed to be all about. – THAT IS WHY NO ONE READS THEM ANYMORE. There are not talented writers that know how to write a dramatic story. THAT IS WHY EVERYTHING HAS TO BE DRASTIC – KILL OFF THIS ONE, RESURRECT THAT ONE, SECRET WAR THIS, THEN TIME TRAVEL, FLIP FLOP GOOD GUYS AND BAD GUYS, DESTROY THE UNIVERSE, MORE TIME TRAVEL, ADD IN STUPID POLITICS WHICH DON’T BELONG – MAKE EVERYTHING TOTALLY UNREALISTIC THEN — THE ULTIMATE MOVE FOR TALENTLESS HACKS —REBOOT—REBOOT—AND REBOOT AGAIN—- ALL THAT IS LEFT AT MARVEL IS SCAVENGERS CREATING TERRIBLE STORIES FROM ONCE CLASSIC HEROES OR COPIES OF HEROES FROM THE CARCASSES OF ONCE GREAT CHARACTERS BECAUSE NONE OF THEM HAVE THE TALENT TO COME UP WITH AN ORIGINAL IDEA THAT ANYONE WOULD BE INTERESTED IN READING. Every month when I went to the drugstore I was able to buy one comic book that contained a logical, dramatic, entertaining, COMPLETE (FUN) story. There were continuing stories, but there were an equal amount of single issue stories – no 5 part stories, no stories that were continued in 6 different titles over 6 months. Apparently, there is no one intelligent enough to write a story that can be contained in a single book. I WOULD PAY TODAY’S OUTRAGEOUS PRICES FOR THE COMICS I BOUGHT FOR 25, 30 , AND 35 CENTS. I WOULDN’T PAY 35 CENTS FOR THE GARBAGE THEY PUT OUT TODAY. – p.s. CIVIL WAR SUCKED. The whole concept was an example of how bad MARVEL has become. Heroes willingly give up their secret identities? For what, to be stooges of the government? Heroes fighting each other instead of being heroes? There are basic rules of what comics should be, and this story (and MARVEL, for years) has sh*t on those rules. I can write volumes about the unintelligent flaws. Basically, comics are escapist fantasy and the overabundance of statistically defying coincidences / over activity – more accurately defined as chaos & anarchy slopped on a page in a terrible story.

  2. This was confusing but good! Where I’m from (australia) comics aren’t big. Infact I’ve never even seen a comic aside from in newspapers on Sunday’s =p
    Thank you!!

    • Oh darling you are so wrong. Im Australian too and I can mention about .. four comic book stores in Melbourne alone. Also there is oz Comic con starting this year and Armageddon and supanova are also comic book related cons. Comics are just as big here as anywhere, your just not into them enough to find them is all.

  3. I could easily go on about several of these fiascos, and likely have. We could dither and dicker about what goes where, but that’s just playing with pennies.

    There’s one event that isn’t on this list that I think sorely deserves to be – The Bitchslap Heard Round the World.

    While in the middle of a psychotic episode, Hank (Ant Man et al) Pym backhands his wife Janet (The Wasp), and she goes down like a sack of batteries. By accident. Jim Shooter, who wrote the story, has stated that clearly. It was never supposed to be more than that, something he would regret when he came out of it, and not anything indicative of an abusive personality.

    But from then on it has been the central characteristic of the guy. No matter how many times they try to make him into a major player, some writer’s gotta do a story where someone throws it in his face, and we’re down the road to penitence and hand-wringing again.

    Dan Slott’s done a great job of rehabilitating him, while still leaving the part where he’s a broken guy with episodes of psychosis. But I read the books with hunched shoulders, just waiting for someone to call him a wife-beater.

    • True…but that HAS led to some decent stories and character development…the other entries on this list…not so much…

      Thanks for checking in, Vinnie!

      • “True…but that HAS led to some decent stories and character development…the other entries on this list…not so much…”

        One More Day led to Brand New Day and, in turn, Big Time, both of which have been received exceptionally well by critics.

        Civil War brought us Avengers: The initiative and in due course Avengers Academy, both phenomenally well reviewed series.

        Ultimatum, awful as it was, did revolutionize the Ultimate line by letting it finally seperate itself from 616 standards by basically upending the entire concept. Now the Ultimate line is getting some of the best writing and reviews it’s had since the days it all started out.

        • How are you defining interesting? Pym hasn’t actually gone in any direction he wasn’t already headed in. He just does it without Jan now. And I don’t believe for a second that Shooter didn’t have this in mind from the beginning. It has his fingerprints all over it.

          As for the Avengers Initiative, I just want to point out that nearly every superhero is now an Avenger, including a number of villains. Okay. How is that interesting? Do we really need X-Men on the team? I guess we’ll see soon enough.

          Yeah, they shook up the Ultimate universe, but what good did it do? They could have explored new directions without trashing everything they’d built up to that point. What good are reviews if the fans they betrayed to get them are no longer reading?

    • Dan LaLande on

      And yet, no one brings up the time Spiderman hit his wife. You know, before he sold his marriage to the devil.

      Just finished reading the Age of Ultron AI book, and I am really encouraged by how it treats Pym. For too long, people have been treating Pym as a science superhero who has mental breakdowns. However, when you really look at his career, Pym has ALWAYS been crazy, doing experiments and actions with next to no thought or testing. He’s a mad scientist working on the side of the angels.

  4. The Thor clone was out of control, and Tony Stark seriously regretted that Goliath had died. Which is why he bought the entire plot of land so they could bury Goliathâ??s gigantic body.

    • And then Tony went and used Clor again, who tried to kill Storm and Black Panther.

      Think about this; Tony took the DNA of what was supposed to be one of his best friends and created a cyborg killing machine…and after it already killed someone, he decided to use it again, because this time he was sure all the bugs had been worked out. Sure, Skrull Pym helped, but I reiterate: he used Clor again after he had already killed someone!

      There is a reason Marvel had to wipe out five years of Tony’s memory to make him likeable again. They essentially had to do a Heroes Reborn on him all over again because fans had grown to dislike him so much, and had to find some way to get guys like Thor to work with him again.

      • Frankly, everyone was stupid during civil war, Tony was stupid, Steve was stupid, you keep harping on the fact that Tony used clone Thor again yet nobody seems to ever question that when Tony actually asked for Steve to listen and try to convince him to get a compromise and Steve agreed to a truce, he betrayed Tony by shorting out his armor and starting another fight – Steve was no better than Tony, he only came out of this better because Captain America is an image of perfect virtue and paragon of goodness and american freedom so he’s always gonna be the good guy and people are always gonna side with him without ever questioning how he was just as selfish and was about his own hurt and agenda —- and anyways, whatever happened after, Tony paid for his mistakes more than enough with what the skrulls did to him and him essentially killing himself to save everyone else from Osborne — the others call themselves heroes, they pride themselves on being the good guys and not like the evil bad Tony Stark, yet they seem just as well forgotten that Tony saved their lives more than a few times and when he was in trouble, when he was hunted by Osborne of all people, none of the supposed good guys did anything – you can’t run around calling yourself a hero when a bad guy is hunting down someone you know is innocent and you let him get beaten down just because you’re holding a grudge – then you’re no better than the bad guys, you’re even worse, you’re a hypocrite — Tony Stark has never said he was perfect and he more than owned up to the shit he did during civil war, but nobody else has

        • Sorry, but Tony’s actions in Civil War put him on the list of Spider-Man’s greatest villains, the villains that have done the most damage to him and betrayed him the most.

  5. You’re VERY wrong about the art in Ultimates 3, but you’re VERY right about the writing. What did Jeph Loeb do in the 80’s that made him so beloved that he is still gets work while being the worst writer in comic books…?

    • Agree 100%. …Loeb’s stories always fall flat with unimaginative and uninspiring “twists” to wrap up the wonky plotlines everyone was trusting would make sense eventually. Every comic he’s written in the past 10 years makes me feel I’ve wasted my time by the end. I just keep hoping!

      And Yes, Joe Maduira is an incredible artist. He’s widely known as one of the industry’s best for his understanding of anatomy, appeal and distinct style, light, perspective, composition, and acting. …and yep, illustrators are in fact actors at the end of the day… Nathanael you dropped the ball on that point.

      • At least Loeb can’t be blamed for the failure of Heroes, even if he did do the last minute s2 finale rewrite on the eve of the writer’s strike that copied “Who Shot JR?” Jeph was already out of the loop by the time s3 started going every which way but loose and the actors refusal to shoot scenes, demanding the writers come down and pay attention to continuity like they had.

    • I will disagree. I found the art in Ultimate 3 to be unforgivable. The art overall was very muddle. It looked like digital art and that wasn’t working. The main problem was really that so far the entire Ultimate universe had a certain type of art style. Then Ultimates 3 comes in with characters with overdeveloped physiques. This did not work. You can’t just up and change art styles like that.

      My main beef was the ignorance of established costumes. Everyone just looked like their 616 counterparts. It took all the originality established and in combo with the writing, just ignored it.

      The Ultimate line has spent all this time reversing the damage.

      But the art was trash for the series.

      • I’m with you here, Storyteller. Ultimates 3 had art which might have been alright, but for the fact that it followed Ultimates 1 and 2. You can’t follow up Bryan Hitch with the likes of Joe Mad and expect approval from readers who know they’ve been screwed. But it happens all the time.

  6. Thanks for a GREAT list.

    How do I know it’s great? Because you took a subject that I have no interest in and made it interesting and engaging. Well-written and sourced, you obviously know your stuff, and your passion for the subject comes through. Very nicely done.

  7. Okay, I am going to take a moment out from my Civil War rants to state that this was a great list. Part of what I liked about it was how you also added an item from the 1980 as well. It shows that bad comics were not invented in the nineties. 😀

    I would love to see you do a worst of DC list, but you might have to wait a year to see how bad their September reboot really is to see just how high or low it belongs on such a list.

    • I’ve literally been checking the comments every day to see if people wanted me to do a DC list.

      I’ve seriously considered it.

      However…it’s up to the fine folks at Top Tenz to give me the go-ahead.

      I’d be willing to write it, of course.

  8. I want to add in, DO THE DC TOP 10 WORST MOMENTS :D! I hope my comment can spur the heads of toptenz

  9. Great article. I agree 100% — everyone of the storylines you mentioned was both a creative and logical abomination.

    Regrettably, since the creative titans who were responsible for establishing the Marvel Universe in the first place (primarily, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Bill Everett, Roy Thomas, and Steve Ditko) have retired or otherwise diminished their input, there has been precious little creative talent to replace them. Some exceptions include Len Wein, Jim Starlin, Walt Simonson, Frank Miller, Chris Claremont, and John Byrne, and probably a handful of others who don’t immediately spring to mind.

    Consequently, nearly every change of course that has occurred since the late 1970s has been a bad idea. Again, I think you did an excellent job identifying the most egregious examples. A couple more general ones to consider:

    1. The frighteningly sexist notion that woman who gain great power are wholly incapable of weilding it without cracking up or melting down; for example, Jean Grey and the Scarlet Witch.

    2. The deification of the Hulk. For the 1st 25 years or so of the Hulk’s existence, he was a little bigger than the Thing, and, at the top of his rage, appeared to be somewhat, but not hugely, stronger than Thor and Hercules (who were clearly equals). The results of fights among the Hulk, a hammerless Thor, and Hercules were always inconclusive. Since then, lesser creative talendts have decided to increase the Hulk’s strength so much that now he is virtually unbeatable and thus totally tedious and uninteresting. He has also lost all the charm that resulted from his earlier fundamental kindness and desire to be left alone.

    3. The imasculation of the Fantastic Four: Once upon a time, the FF was Marvel’s #2 title. Mr. Fantastic was not only a brilliant scientist but also a highly capable leader, strategist, and field general. The Thing was almost as strong as the Hulk, Thor, and Hercules (and about even with the Sub-Mariner); thus, he was generally portrayed as being among Marvel’s most powerful heroes, which combined with his spirit and determination, made him a highly-compelling character. For some reason, Marvel made the decision to reduce Mr. Fantastic to a scientist only, introducing numerous storylines questioning not only his leadership skills but his mental toughness as well. Even as a scientist, he had to take a back-seat to Victor Von Doom and Tony Stark. It also introduced numerous, frequently un-intersting, characters who were stronger than the Thing. Thus, in contrast to the 60s and 70, the FF now has a 2nd-rate, weak leader and a 3rd-rate strongman, along with a couple hangers on who rarely do much of anything. So, why are they relevant?

    4. The diminshment of Daredevil. What a great idea to have a superhero who brought criminals to justice and then, in his civilian identity, work to ensure those same criminals received due process of law! That was a totally unique concept that made Daredevil something special. Once he lost the Matt Murdock, criminal defense attorney, aspect of his character, he became just another Batman knock-off.

    I could go on, but I’m sure you could have too. Keep up the good work.

    • “The frighteningly sexist notion that woman who gain great power are wholly incapable of weilding it without cracking up or melting down; for example, Jean Grey and the Scarlet Witch. ”

      Storm has always had incredibly high power levels. Likewise Rachel Grey has managed for quite a while without going insane.

      It’s more an idea of the concept of power corrupting in general. Have you forgotten Professor X going off the deep end and creating Onslaught? Or the insanity of Korvac?

      • First, neither Storm nor Rachel Grey ever possessed anything close to the power that Phoenix and the Scarlet Witch came to possess. Second, I didn’t propose that no male Marvel character was ever overwhelmed by power. I’m sure there are many relevant examples of that were it relevant, which it is not, though I question the 2 you came up with: If I recall rightly, Korvac was already insane by the time he acquired all that power, and the Professor X/Onslaught storyline was just a single arc, after which the Professor went about his business without suffering any lingering effect.

    • TheSpacePope on

      You obviously haven’t been reading Waid’s Daredevil. It did away with all the dark stuff, making way for a fun and entertaining DD once again.

    • Most of the points you made are valid. I do think that the idea that most of the changes of in marvel since the late 70s are bad ones and there were no decent creators after that era ( the exception you noted were all from that time) is flawed. I do think that comics just as any ongoing creative form does evolve. In the eighties and nineties as well as in the 21st century, we have seen writers and artists take comics to new audiences with solid storytelling. Peter Davids Hulk of the 80’s and early 1990s spring to mind as well as Louise Simonsons work on teenage superheroes in the 80s, something that even the great Chris Claremont couldnt pull off.
      I started reading comics as a child in the 70s and though I dont read as much as before I still appreciate the work I see from a younger generation of creative talent. Good work is still being done.

      That being said, Jeph Loebs work on the Ultimate universe was terrible.

  10. Thank you for writing this article. I’ve never agreed so strongly with a article about comics. I agree with every one of your choices but I would put the Spider-Clone Saga as number 1. Please do a DC list. I’ve given a lot of thought and can recommend The Death of Superman, Knightfall, Emerald Twilight, Millenium, The Trial of Barry Allen, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P. Dishonorable mention to the long haired Superman and the Blue Energy Superman. I recently posted a list of the worst Batman stories of all time on if you want to consult that.

  11. Hey .. I actually liked sins past.. It was kind of shocking.. liked gwen a lot myself.. but yeah it was ok.. does not deserve to be ranked here..

  12. I agree with 8 out of 10.

    Sins Past wasn’t a terrible story. It wasn’t amazing, but it did hold my interest, and reminded me that nobody is a saint. And it explained a big leftover hole in the story.

    And Civil War was really enjoyable. It single-handedly brought me and a few friends back into Marvel comics. Was it perfect? Nah, but it was pretty darn exciting, and had a lot of solid philosophical debate.

    For me, the worst is Xorn. C’mon people, at least have stuff vaguely make sense.

  13. Marvel Secret Wars from the 80’s is not here? Should have at least been top five. That was the biggest pile of garbage ever conceived and delivered by Marvel. I don’t think I ever bought another Marvel book after that, or very few.

    • Secret Wars I was okay, throwaway entertainment with fantastic art.
      Secret Wars II was a publisher in melt down mode, with Al Milgrom (!?!?) art.

      • To elaborate, in Secret Wars I, Doom SLAYS Kang, the Lizard slashes Enchantress, Molecule Man drops a mountain range on nearly every Marvel hero like it’s nothing, almost killing them all. Doom becomes omnipotent, the alien costume (1/2 of Venom) is introduced, the Beyonder is introduced, Magneto gets it on with the Wasp, Spider-Man fights and defeats ALL the X-Men solo (he gets mind-smacked by Professor X, but not before humiliating both Nightcrawler and Wolverine like they aren’t even on his level), and Galactus actually deigns to commuinicate with Mr. Fantastic and explains their roles in the universe (this is like you having a conversation with a mosquito). This is all from memory BTW. Totally awesome series even if it was originally designed to sell toys. It was far the biggest crossover event of its time.

        Secret Wars II was also great, but for very different reasons. It tackled the very meaning of life, the universe and everything, and what it would really mean to be omnipotent (inhuman). Several major Marvel heroes (and some villians) weigh in about what life means to them and why they do what they do. It really makes you think. Even the near-omnipotent Molecule Man just wanted to be left along with Volcana – they were so happy together. What a cool take on a villian/villainess relationship. The Beyonder’s haircut really was hideous though.

        I really cannot say enough good things about pre-1992 Marvel. After that though, you are on your own.

        • The last film I can remember seeing by the Asylum had everything a zombie flick out to have, but that didn’t make it a good movie. Acting was great, special effects too. But none of that matters if you refuse to hire a decent writer, so it was a waste of celluloid.

          Point is, it doesn’t matter what happened in Secret Wars because the writing was terrible. That’s why the artist, having fulfilled his commitment on the first series, didn’t stick around for the second, and why Shooter had to resort to the worst, but most reliable, artist in the bullpen. No one else would touch it. Even Al Milgrom had cause to regret it before the fiasco that was Secret Wars II was over.

  14. Ultimatum definitely needed to be on this list. It would be in my top ten to. But…your reasoning is somewhat Bizzare…you do know that the series was created to end the ultimate line since the titles were already in a sales slump. It didnt some how magically come along and ruin the ultimate universe. It was literally put into motion to kill of many of the characters so that it would have a fresh start. Now with Cival War. It cant be among the worst storylines as its been one of the most well received book of the 2000’s. Okay so sales dont really matter however…I lived in America and I now live in the UK. That book is constantly sold out in comic book stores or regular book stores over here. Its very much in Demand as a popular story even in an international country. Not to mention that Marvel Ultimate Alliance was based on the Civil War series. The video game follows the series almost page for page. Marvel Would NEVER make a game based on an unpopular book or a negatively received book. It’s quite the opposite. But asides from Civil War everything else deserves to be on this list.

  15. If you really want to know Tony’s real motivation behind Civil War, you have to read Civil War: Frontline #11. Tony never intended to keep the Superhuman Registration Act alive. It was a ploy to keep the heat off of the superheroes community by giving the public the belief that superheroes would now be policed. What he was really doing was manipulating events so that he could get enough funding from the government to create the Negative Zone prison 42 under the guise of using it to lock up heroes who refused to register which he did for a time to put doubts to rest. He then put his next step into play by creating a fake conflict with Atlantis that he believed would reunite the heroes at which point he would hand out amnesty to all the imprisoned heroes like it was going out of style while keeping his large interdimensional prison in which to permanently house the world’s super villains preventing another Stamford from happening. But since no one bothered to read Front Line, the whole thing was forgotten and Tony ended up looking like a huge jerk.

  16. Phoenixxenergy on

    I think this list needs to be updated and add “Death of Spider-Man” storyline to the top of this list.
    You kill off your top selling character in the ultimate line c’mon marvel what were you thinking.
    Side note I do agree with one more day being here made me stop reading Spider-man in the regular continuity.

    • I think most people would strongly disagree with you. I feel it was one of the strongest stories and also the issues resulting from it were also very well received. Honestly it was how Spider-man should have died.

  17. I have to agree with ultimatum it basically destroyed the Ultimate comics line. Also hated ultimate xmen absolute power. Absolutely.

    • People don’t understand… The whole reason Ultimatum was written was to disband/get-rid-of the ultimate universe that is the sole reason it exists.

      • TheSpacePope on

        Many of us do but still agree that it was handled terribly and Jeph Loeb was definitely the absolute worst choice to handle something of that magnitude. What he did ruined the Ultimate U ( except Ult. Spider-Man, of course) for years with the titles just recovering with Jonathan Hickman’s short run on Ultimates. I think we can all agree that it was an abomination and Ultimate X sucks.

  18. Good list. A little suprised you didn’t have some kind of honorable mention i and how writers involving the Juggernaut and how every writer has belittled the character further and further over the years. Even cyclops beat him singlehandidly in a four part mini series. Just something I’ve noticed.

  19. hardbodyGOD on

    civil war on here? really??
    come on….your really reaching. civil war was a great marvel story.

  20. hardbodyGOD on

    civil war???

    thats more of a personal choice than the actual story being awful.

    i (and a gaggle of other marvel fans) enjoyed the hell out of civil war.

    so….yeah……… take that off and replace it to what led to the godawful “heroes reborn” storyline.

    that deserves to be there.

    def not civil war though. that was a awesome series. stark’s always been a douche. if he ever gets obsessed with a humanoid alien he would be marvels lex luthor.

  21. Pretty interesting list and I can understand these feelings, because nowadays, Marvel is destroying all the characters I love. Hulk killed Bruce Banner (!)(Bravo, huge accomplishment) Cain Marko is just a human at the moment, Nightcrawler is dead, Deadpool is an average, healed human and the list could go on. Hope they will restart the whole thing soon, cause I can’t accept all this anymore. Because years ago, I loved Marvel. Now, I’m like: Oh, please, don’t make anything worse, please, you’ve done enough damage already, please, it’s enough.

  22. Since when Jim Lee makes bad art? You’re crazy! But I agree with the most of this list, specially all about spidey…

  23. Pastor Mike on

    Hmmmm… gotta go with the others who said “Civil War” was too good a story to be included on this list. The guy who sais “Secret Wars” was out to lunch too. It was a classic and responsible for Venom. “Secret Wars II” on the other hand, now that was a real stinker. The other notable omission on the list was the “Cage” many series. It was a racist depiction of a character that had long developed past the caricature stage. I know it was pretty much summarily ignored, but I believe it WAS considered in continuity. It was worse than bad art and horrific writing…the depiction actually made me angry.

  24. I agree about one more day! Worst story ever. Made me stop reading marvel altogether. Ruined spiderman forever. Now reading DC. The new 52 not so bad.

  25. I’m a Spidey Fan first and foremost, but he has had a lot of stinkers. Sins Past was written okay, it was just pointless, and trashed an important character for no reason at all. I can name several stories worse, heck the 90s had all sorts of crap worse ( Rob Liefeld anyone?” but nothing with as much impact as One More Day, and Civil War.

  26. I completely disagree with Civil War. It was actually one of the better summer-crossover stories in recent years, and raised a lot of interesting questions and ideas. I do think that the pacing of the story felt a little rushed. Had they taken a little more time to iron-out some of the kinks in the story it would rank as one of the all time greats in Marvel’s history. Since they didn’t then it obviously fell short of that, but it was still enjoyable and no where near worst of all time.

    In fact, Civil War is the only questionable inclusion on this list. Replace Civil War with Jeph Loebs “Rulk” and it may well be a definitive”worst of” list.

      • TheSpacePope on

        I thought so too, that’s why I stuck with it past World War Hulks and frankly, I’m glad I did. Who knew that a simple writing change from Loeb to Jeff Parker would make such a difference. Thanks to Parker, we got stories like “Hulk of Arabia” and “Circle of Four”. Red Hulk, like any other chatacter, can be great in the right hands.