The 1970s were a big decade for Marvel Comics. Not only did they take risks with various genre titles (especially horror) they also introduced some of their best characters and told some of their greatest stories.
Previously we discussed the 3 best series of the 1960s. But what books took the Gold, Silver, and Bronze during the 1970s?
1. The Avengers
The 1970s were the strongest decade for “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” with a lot of memorable new members including the Beast, Moondragon, Mantis and Ms. Marvel and some of the greatest stories in the history of Marvel Comics.
The Avengers battled the Squadron Supreme, got mixed up in the Kree-Skrull War and searched for the Celestial Madonna that would give birth to the savior of the universe. All of this happened before the decade was even halfway finished.
Other classic tales involved the Serpent Crown, “The Bride of Ultron”, “The Korvac Saga” and the “Count Nefaria” trilogy.
Toward the end of the decade, the series tackled Affirmative Action when the Federal Government mandated that the team be limited to seven members and that the Falcon had to be one of them because he was black. Because of this Hawkeye lost his spot on the roster and Falcon resigned because he didn’t want to be a token black guy.
Take all of this and add great artwork by the likes of Neal Adams, John Buscema, John Byrne, George Perez, and others and it’s hard not to put the Avengers on top.
Spotlight on: Avengers #83
The Enchantress, who is disguised as Valkyrie convinces Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Medusa, and Black Widow to join her new team the Lady Liberators who aim to fight male chauvinism, especially in the ranks of the Avengers.
This story also features the Masters of Evil who the Avengers battle before encountering the Lady Liberators.
2. The Amazing Spider-Man
Spidey had a great decade of stories filled with tragedy and soap opera elements in the 70s. Basically, it was like the 60s on steroids for him.
From the Death of Captain George Stacey at the hands of Doctor Octopus to the death of his daughter Gwen during a battle with the Green Goblin. Peter Parker had more than his fair share of blood on his hands from his adventures as Spider-Man.
This decade also gave us great enemies for Spider-Man to face including the gangster Hammerhead, the Punisher and the Jackal, a college professor of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy that wants revenge on Spider-Man for Gwen’s death, whom he secretly lusted after.
The Jackal was the main adversary for Spidey for a couple of years culminating the original clone storyline where he creates a clone of Gwen Stacy and climaxes with Spidey battling a clone of himself.
Great artwork by John Romita, Gil Kane, and Ross Andru really helped make these stories memorable.
Spotlight on: Amazing Spider-Man #176-179
This story checks off a lot of boxes for great Spidey melodrama.
First, Aunt May has a heart attack. The Green Goblin shows up and causes trouble for Spidey and Flash Thompson who both suspect it is their friend Harry (Green Goblin II) under the mask.
It turns out it is actually a new Green Goblin (III) Barton Hamilton, who is Harry Osbourne’s shrink. The story culminates in a battle between the second and third Green Goblins.
3. The All-New All-Different/Uncanny X-Men
The only reason this isn’t number one was that it didn’t start until 1975 and had been a reprint title for pretty much the first half of the decade. It’s a testament to how great the last 5 years are that it even made the list.
Beginning in Giant-Size X-Men #1, which introduced Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Thunderbird, Wolverine, and Banshee to the roster in a mission to rescue the original X-Men from a gigantic monster it soon took over the old X-Men reprint title on a bi-monthly publishing schedule.
Soon the X-Men are battling Sentinels and robot versions of the original X-Men in a space saga that wraps up with Jean Grey adopting the mantle of Phoenix with a kick-ass costume designed by Dave Cockrum.
The X-Men battle Black Tom and Juggernaut, Magneto (twice), work as brainwashed circus freaks and travel to the Savage Land where they team up with Kazar. The decade ends with the early issues of “The Dark Phoenix Saga” which is completed in 1980.
Spotlight on: The Uncanny #123-124
The X-Men face Arcade, a goofy hitman that uses an Amusement Park call Murderworld to kill his targets. They would face off against him many times over the years, but this was the first and the best.
There are a lot of cool things in this story including Colossus being brainwashed and turned into a loyal Communist named the Proletarian; Wolverine and Banshee taking on robot versions of the Hulk and Magneto and Nightcrawler being hunted by killer cars.