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Top 10 Marvel Graphic Novels

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Craig Butler Face front, True Believers: these are the best stories Marvel has to offer. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down the Top 10 Marvel Graphic Novels. For this list, we’re looking at Marvel graphic novels that were important, influential or just damn good. Special thanks to our users speechjon or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript


Script written by Craig Butler
 

Top 10 Marvel Graphic Novels

 
Face front, True Believers: these are the best stories Marvel has to offer. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down the Top 10 Marvel Graphic Novels.
 
For this list, we’re looking at Marvel graphic novels that were important, influential or just damn good. We’re not including any old storylines, or collections of various adventures. We’re instead concentrating on those that form a sustained story arc with a beginning, middle and end.
 

#10:  "The Death of Captain Marvel"  (1982)

This work has historical significance as Marvel’s first graphic novel, but the fact is it would be a lively contender for this list even without that distinction. Captain Marvel had been around the Marvel Universe for some time, an alien considered a traitor to his own people yet not totally at home on Earth either. The title had its ups and downs, but when Jim Starlin took it over, it was imbued with tremendous visual flair and imaginative storytelling. Those qualities are evident in this, a touching tale in which the hero battles an unbeatable and very real foe – cancer.
 

#9:  "The Ultimates: Super Human" (2002)

The post 9/11 world prompted a range of reactions from comic book creators. The Ultimates handled the issue by imagining a national threat posed by supervillains. Nick Fury put together a mighty anti-terrorist unit that included most of the original Avengers line-up. The Ultimates is a brilliant reimagining of how this line-up of super-heroes might have come together in a different way. It pays homage to much of Marvel history while giving it a twist that makes it distinctly modern. Sure, there are nostalgic overtones to the affair, but the deft scripting and plotting keeps the whole thing intriguing and involving. And many of its elements found its way into the first Captain America and Avengers films.
 

#8:  "Silver Surfer: Parable"  (1988)

Set on an alternate Earth, “Silver Surfer: Parable” is a fascinating story. Galactus had made a promise that he would not destroy Earth, no matter how hungry he feels. He decides to come up with a loop-hole to work around his promise. Returning to Earth, Galactus ends all war and starts a whole new era that is seemingly perfect.  Yet, ever the villain, he sews seeds of discontent that will result in Earth’s downfall, and the Silver Surfer must rescue humanity from itself. “Parable” features Stan Lee at his prime, and while the dialogue can get a little wordy, the story is enthralling.
 

#7:  "Fantastic Four: 1 2 3 4"  (2004)

There’s no denying that Ben Grimm got the short end of the Fantastic Four stick. Sure, as the Thing he had awesome, incredible power, but he also was physically changed into a monster. In this tale, Grimm regains his human form courtesy of Doctor Doom. But that causes other changes, and soon it seems as if the Fantastic Four is falling apart. Naturally, it’s all part of Doctor Doom’s plan, and it involves a reality-altering machine. The set-up not only allows Grant Morrison and Jae Lee to explore the concept of reality, it gives them a chance to delve deep into the characters and into just what makes this team so special.

#6:  "Civil War"  (2008)

The inspiration for the third Captain America movie, this graphic novel was a huge hit, although it evoked varying reactions from readers. “Civil War” looks at a subject of great relevance to post-9/11 America, namely the proper balance between safety and freedom. In the novel, the government has passed legislation for required regulation of superheroes. One group, led by iron Man, supports this. Another, led by Captain America, opposes it. The arguments – and fists – fly fast and furious from there onwards. In the aftermath, one of Marvel’s iconic characters is killed. “Civil War” captivated audiences, no matter what side of the issue they were on.
 

#5:  "Astonishing X-Men"  (2006)

Josh Whedon’s “Gifted” story arc forms the basis for this first volume of Astonishing X-Men graphic novels, and it was everything X-Men fans could wish for. Whedon re-unites the X-Men in the wake of Jean Grey’s death and the team gets right down to business just as a new “mutant cure” surfaces. Naturally, there’s more to this development than meets the eye. Whedon’s passion for the characters comes through in the way he develops and uses them, and the writer makes excellent use of his uncanny ear for dialogue. Also a huge asset: John Cassaday’s vibrant, commanding artwork didn’t just impress, it astonished.
 

#4:  "Old Man Logan"  (2010)

Another what if scenario, “Old Man Logan” takes place decades in the future in a United States that has been taken over by supervillains. Most superheroes have been exterminated and those that remain are in hiding, including Wolverine. Desperate for money, he agrees to a dangerous journey across the country with Hawkeye, who is now blind, to deliver a package. Dystopian futures are standard in comics, but Mark Millar manages to make the concept feel fresh. His writing produces genuine excitement, and it’s complimented by Steve McNiven’s evocative art. It’s a brutal yet emotional piece that even non-fans can get into.
 

#3: "Born" (2003)

Garth Ennis’ “The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank” rebooted the Punisher franchise and retold the murder of Frank Castle’s family that launched his violent vigilante career. The set up in Ennis’ incredible prequel, “Born,” delves into Castle’s pre-Punisher days – specifically his time in Vietnam.  Detailing the last four days of a camp- that is soon to be shut down, it shows how Castle has been influenced and formed by the intense brutality of the War – and by his own inner demons. Ennis is a master at getting under the skin of a character, and he paints a devastatingly painful picture of Castle and his future.
 

#2: "Marvels" (1994)

“Marvels” is that rare superhero epic that can be enjoyed by both. die-hard fanboys and totally new readers. Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross re-tell some of the most important moments in the history of the Marvel Universe – but it’s done through the eyes of a civilian bystander rather than a participant. Phil Sheldon is a photographer who captures these momentous events, which gives the novel a “you are there” feel. Busiek masterfully paints a picture of how ordinary people feel in a world suddenly bursting with superpowered beings – and captures both the wonder and the terror. He also provides a quick history lesson along the way, in the most entertaining fashion. Ross’ painterly art is, in a word, stunning.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
 
"Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt"  (2008)
 
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier"  (2010)
 
"X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga"  (1984)
 
"Elektra: Assassin"  (1987)
 
"Daredevil: Man Without Fear"  (2003)

#1: "Daredevil: Born Again"  (1987)

Frank Miller has a real affinity for the Daredevil character, and he did his some of his best work on this amazing graphic novel. Miller basically plays God to Daredevil’s Job, putting the poor guy through a series of hellish trials to test his mettle. The Kingpin discovers Daredevil’s secret identity and uses that knowledge to utterly ruin his life. Overflowing with religious allusions, “Born Again” is intensely painful in places – but it’s necessary to scrape the bottom like that in order for the hero to be reborn in an even stronger form. Miller’s connection to the material is keenly personal, and his work redefined Daredevil in a bold new way.
  
Agree with our choices? What other incredible Marvel adventures should be included on our list? For more marvelous top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
 
 
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