With thousands of heroes and villains in total with their title series in Marvel Comics, it can be quite intimidating to dabble into this area of the universe.
As a certified Marvel fan, we’re here to tell you the best Marvel Comics and what makes them stand out from the other titles on the shelf.
Top 30 Marvel Comics of All Time
1. All-New Guardians of the Galaxy (2017) #1
We join the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy on their latest adventures out in space, from pulling off their biggest heists to getting caught in the fight between the Collector and Grandmaster. There are also more hilarious stories within the comic book, such as why Drax has sworn off violence forever and why Groot can’t grow bigger.
These Marvel comics were so popular that they were translated into two Marvel movies on the big screen!
2. Amazing Fantasy (1962) #15
It was in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy comic book when Spider-Man was first introduced in the Marvel Universe. Before all of the ostentatious exposure he got teaming up with the Avengers, Peter was just a regular high schooler who gets bit by a radioactive spider. He stubbornly lets a thief run away, saying “he’s done being pushed around by anyone,” who later on kills his Uncle Ben.
He recognizes the magnitude of his power and continues to learn why “with great power comes great responsibility.”
3. Amazing Spider-Man: The Night Gwen Stacy Died
In the tear-jerking The Night Gwen Stacy Died Marvel comic book, the Green Goblin kidnaps Gwen Stacy and uses her to lure Spidey to the Brooklyn Bridge. When Goblin and Spidey clash, Gwen gets hurled off the side of the bridge. Spidey shoots his web out and catches her but discovers she is dead. He blames himself for her death and seeks revenge on the Green Goblin but finds he cannot kill him.
What happened to Gwen Stacy was revolutionary to Marvel history and other comic books as important characters were rarely killed off, much less the protagonist’s girlfriend. This case gave way to the birth of the Gwen Stacy Syndrome when wives or girlfriends of heroes suffered some grim fate.
Also Read: When Did Disney Purchase Marvel Studios?
Marvel: Annihilation is a crossover miniseries featuring the best stories of the lives of outer-space characters in the Marvel Universe. Thanos, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Annihilus, Galactus, and others are some of the stories this series follows.
5. Astonishing X-Men (2017) #1
The X-Men go head-to-head against the supervillain Shadow King , who can control minds and get under the skin of many of our psychic heroes. He wants to use the X-Men to help him get back to the physical realm. Discontent with only the psychic heroes, he spreads his psychic powers all over London to possess its citizens as well.
6. Avengers (2012) #1
Several Marvel Avengers comic books have been present previously, but a few of them, including Mighty, New, Dark, and the Initiative, has been canceled to make way for the modern Avengers series released in 2010. In the Heroic Age of Marvel Comics, our favorite Avengers team gets into an epic battle of heroes and villains to save Earth from catastrophic threats.
Also Read: Thor vs Captain Marvel
7. Black Panther (2016) #1
The Marvel: Black Panther comics are written by National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates. T’Challa is challenged by The People, a superhuman terrorist group, who aims to spark a revolution among the people in Wakanda and turn them against their king. T’Challa must choose to stand by tradition or do what is right by his people as their ruler.
8. Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #16
Steve Rogers is back in his own Marvel comics with a new shield, new teammates, and a new mission… working as an agent for Hydra. In this alternate timeline, we see how Captain America set up the stage during the Civil War, the nature of his relationship with the Winter Soldier, and how Hydra had taken an interest in him and fostered him ever since he was a child to make him their strongest Secret Soldier.
9. Civil War (2006) #1
In the Marvel: Civil War comic book series, our favorite superheroes are forced to perform missions with the law supervising them after a reality show literally bombs and kills over 600 people, including young students. The public turns against superhumans, calling them villains and freaks of nature. The biggest heroes Captain America and Iron Man take on opposing sides and recruit their team members, including Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, and the rest of the Avengers.
This was adapted into the big screen, starring Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America.
Also Read: Black Widow Comics
10. Daredevil: Born Again
Marvel Comics Daredevil: Born Again uses plenty of Catholic themes throughout the story. Writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli have received praise for their work, and it is considered one of the best, if not the best, Daredevil storylines.
When his ex-girlfriend Karen Page sells his identity out to the Kingpin, Matt Murdock is left homeless after his home gets firebombed and bankrupt after the IRS froze all his accounts. He confronts the Kingpin but gets badly beat up. His unconscious body gets strapped to the back of a taxi that was pushed into the East River, but he wakes up just in time to swim to safety and makes his way to Hell’s Kitchen. There, he is found by his long-lost mother, Maggie, who serves as a nun in a Catholic church.
11. Darth Vader (2017) #1
The Darth Vader comics begin with Anakin Skywalker completely falling to the dark side of the Force and becoming Darth Vader to prevent the death of his wife as promised by Palpatine. Obi-Wan Kenobi kills him, but Palpatine retrieves his body and puts it inside a cybernetic armor to revive it. He eventually wakes up with nothing but pain and rage and wreaks havoc on the entire universe.
12. Deadpool (2015) #1
Wisecracking Deadpool is back in his latest comic book series that old and new fans will come to love equally. This story gives us a fresh look at the character and what exactly makes him well-loved -- even more than Spidey (or so Deadpool thinks).
13. Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again (2017) #1
In the Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again comics, MODOK uses special programming to control Deadpool into thinking that the Avengers Unity are his enemies. The character proceeds to kill all of them without hesitation, which leads a group of heroes, including breakout star Jessica Jones, Hawkeye, and Punisher, to investigate what is happening. We learn that Red Skull, Abomination, Doctor Doom, and Magneto are behind the MODOK programming.
14. Fantastic Four: The Coming of Galactus
Written by Marvel geniuses Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, The Coming of Galactus tells the story of the Silver Surfer as he was working for Galactus, a cosmic entity who fed on planets to sustain his life source. The Fantastic Four notice that the skyline seems to be burning, leaving a trail of debris, which they closely examine.
A powerful being named the Watcher appears and tells them that he has attempted to conceal the Earth’s presence from the Silver Surfer. The herald notices Earth hidden anyway and alerts Galactus. The edition’s cliffhanger ending shows us the cosmic entity declaring his intention to devour Earth, with the Fantastic Four on standby, ready to defend the world.
15. Infinity Gauntlet (1991) #1
Written by major players in the comic book world Jim Starlin, George Perez, and Ron Lim, the Infinity Gauntlet story starts with Mistress Death resurrecting Thanos to correct a perceived imbalance of life forces. Because the Titan wanted to earn her good graces, Thanos collected all six Infinity Stones and attached them to his Gauntlet to do her bidding, but still, Death rejected him. The Mad Titan angrily wiped away half of all living beings.
Doctor Strange summons all of the surviving heroes to defeat Thanos but fails. Because Thanos was under the impression that he’d all but defeated his enemies, he left his body and assumed an astral form, which eventually gave his daughter Nebula a chance to steal the Gauntlet and restore the universe to its previous condition.
Also Read: Best Way To Watch the Marvel Movies
16. Infinity War (1992) #1
Infinity War has a total of six issues and is the sequel to Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin. Adam Warlock takes possession of the Gauntlet and uses it to expel the evil side from his being, creating a completely different persona called Magus. Magus ran amok and created evil doppelgangers of Earth’s mightiest heroes.
17. Old Man Logan (2016) #25
Old Man Logan is set in an alternate universe wherein the villains emerge victorious over superheroes. Superheroes have been all but extinct, with a few in hiding. Logan lives in Hulkland, part of California, with his family, but times are getting tough, and he needs money to pay rent to his landlords. He accepts a job from a blind Clint Barton to assist him in traveling east to deliver a package.
When he gets back home, he discovers the Hulk Gang had killed his family due to their overdue rent payment. Wolverine unleashes his long-dormant claws and kills off every Hulk family member, not noticing that one family member was left. Together with baby Hulk, Wolverine says he plans to defeat all the new world villains to bring peace to the land and starts the modern Marvel superheroes with two new warriors.
18. Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) #1
Peter Parker is back in New York for the Marvel: Spectacular series. This story is a take on the classic 1960s tale, with humorous dialogue and exciting fights with villains. He teams up with classic favorites like Iron Heart and Human Torch to take down Vulture, Kingpin, and other nostalgic villains.
19. Secret Empire (2017) #1
Secret Empire is a ten-issue modern Marvel storyline centering around Hydra’s control over Captain America. They made him believe that he was acting as a sleeper agent and setting the stage for Team Hydra to take over the world.
20. Secret Wars (2015) #1
There are nine issues in the Marvel: Secret Wars series, whose storylines center around the Marvel Universe's destruction and many different alternate universes. Each has its version of Earth, which combines in a planet called the Battleworld. Since there are many different Earths from many different universes, there are multiple versions of our favorite superheroes. It’s interesting to see how vastly different they are -- from their powers, personalities, and histories -- from the ones we are familiar with in the Marvel Universe.
21. Spider-Man (2016) #1
The 2016 modern Marvel edition tells us the story of Miles Morales, a biracial teen of Black American and Puerto Rican descent. He possesses powers similar to Peter's after being bitten by a spider infused with a formula created from Parker’s blood. He is unhappy about having powers; at the same time, his father also mistrusts superheroes, so he does not say anything.
He gets in touch with Parker’s friends and loved ones, such as Gwen Stacy, Mary-Jane Watson, and even May Parker, who inspires him and tells him why Peter did what he did, and finally assumes the masked superhero role.
22. Thanos (2016) #1
The evilest villain in the Marvel Universe is back in his title series. He seeks vengeance on everyone who opposed him, especially the Avengers. This series is clever and interesting because we see destruction through the eyes of Thanos and learn of his reasoning on why he does what he does, with a great showdown on heroes and villains in its climax.
23. The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #1
The first-ever issue of The Amazing Spider-Man by Steve Ditko, John Romita, and Stan Lee was released over 50 years ago in 1963. It tells the story of how Peter Parker juggles life as a high school student, son, and freelance photographer while saving the people of New York as the web-shooting masked crimefighter.
24. Ultimate Spider-Man (2000) #1
Ultimate Spider-Man is a telling of the original story Marvel fans adore. A young Peter is orphaned at six years old and gets bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him superhuman powers and a “spidey sense,” which warns him of impending danger. He learns the gravity of the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility,” and tries his best to do good.
25. Weapon X (2017) #1
Weapon X is a clandestine program conducted by Department K in Canada that experiments on both mutants and humans. In this story, mutants are turned into weapons by further enhancing their powers, while humans are mutated in order to give them powers. Plenty of funding and research are given to this program to kill none other than their high-stake target, Wolverine.
26. X-Men: Age of Apocalypse
Legion, son of Professor X, decides to travel back in time to kill Magneto before he can start committing heinous crimes. Little did he know, he travels to a time when Magneto and Professor X were still friends, and Professor X died saving his friend.
This sacrifice results in Magneto having a change of heart and following through with Professor X’s vision, which was humans and mutants coexisting peacefully. Apocalypse, a time-traveling immortal mutant, rules over the world and sees that all humans are killed as revenge for the past.
27. X-Men: Blue (2017) #1
X-Men: Blue is a bi-weekly publication with 36 issues from 2017 to 2018. This series follows the aftermath of the Inhumans vs. X-Men war, wherein the five original X-Men, including Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel, are looking to bring mutant criminals down to bring justice to their team.
28. X-Men: Days of Future Past
In the Days of Future Past story, we see a dystopian present-day United States ruled by Sentinels, who hunted and tracked down mutants all over the world to place them in internment camps and kill them via a nuclear holocaust. The few remaining members of the X-men send Kate Pryde back in time to stop a defining event that greatly contributed to the present happenings.
29. X-Men: Gold (2017) #1
Unlike X-Men: Blue, the Gold team features newer heroes spearheaded by Shadowcat, or Kitty Pryde. Along with Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, Prestige, and Old Man Logan, she is on a mission to become Earth’s heroes and defend the same people who hate and fear them because of the traumatic events of the Inhumans vs. X-Men battle.
30. X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
Written by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the Dark Phoenix Saga story revolves around Jean Grey, who gets exposed to the deadly radiation of a solar flare. She attains the highest power of telepathy and telekinesis called the Phoenix Force. She then assumes the identity of Phoenix, a being of pure thought, and makes her a target for Mastermind, who successfully controls and manipulates her and the Phoenix Force to do his bidding.
To this day, the Dark Phoenix saga remains one of the best stories about the X-men.
What is the best Marvel comic to start with?
Our best advice for those planning to get into Marvel Comics is to pick one superhero and story you know and start there. Personally, we loved reading Iron Man comics simply because of the familiarity of the stories. And sure, some things in the Marvel comics have been told differently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and TV series, so you may have to unlearn some stories along the way.
How many Marvel Comics are there in total?
Marvel Comics hasn’t released an official record of all of its comic book titles, so the best we could come up with is an estimate. In 2009 -- about ten years ago -- Marvel reported having 32,000 comics in its arsenal, which is about 450 per year since they released their first issue in 1939. Multiply 450 by ten, and you’ll have about 36,000 comics in total, more or less.
How long would it take to read all Marvel Comics?
Suppose you read all 36,000 issues of Marvel Comics. Each Marvel comic has around 60 to 68 pages, which we presume an average person finishes in about 15 minutes. If readers spent 24 hours everyday reading, it would take them a year (375 days) to finish all the Marvel Comics. Of course, you have to sleep and eat, so consider that, too.
Time to Flip That Page!
Marvel comics is a wide universe filled with rich stories of heroes and villains. There’s a reason why they’ve been around since the 1930s -- their stories are gripping, touching, and heartwarming. With clever dialogue and colorful sketches, it would seem like the Marvel characters are leaping off the pages as you read.
If you’re interested in Marvel Comics merch, check out our listings!