The 1980’s gave us darker versions of some of our favorite heroes. It changed the style of the stories to paint a bigger, sometimes darker picture as well as change everything we knew about the timelines of some of our favorite superheroes. It gave birth to some great talent during this period as well, for several creators that still rank among our favorites. We chose our favorite ten things from the 80’s which you can check out below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Frank Miller took our comic book heroes back to the street with his version of Daredevil. It was gritty and hard core. Daredevil was changed forever with this run and is quite possibly the golden era for this hero. He fought ninjas and met the woman of his destiny: Electra. The love affair between Daredevil and her was tragic and powerful. Frank made us feel how sharp her sia was when Bullseye gutted her. As Matt felt her heartbeat fade, we witnessed comic history and the beginning of Frank’s genius.
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
While some of the major comic companies were about to make some huge changes in their book, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird made their own history. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were born in 1984 and nothing has ever been the same. It helped tons of independent publishers get their own visions to print showing how it could successfully get done. The Turtles were a media giant that never stopped since ’84.
Since the 1960’s Thor had been a bit of a joke. Even with Kirby’s magic touch, he never really saw greatness. Walt Simonson gave Thor true godhood. He gave the Mighty One a much needed change by simply giving an alien by the name of Beta Ray Bill the power of Thor. Creating a new character is always a challenge and Beta Ray Bill has lasted the test of time. His strongest story of the run was when Thor, Odin, and Loki join together to fight Surtur. One of Simonson’s story lines was even prefaced in Thor Dark World. Walt dug deep into mythology of what made Thor awesome by also removing the Donald Blake persona and giving Thor a secret identity of Sidgurd. This was a huge change not easily made to any character.
7. John Byrne
I admit it, John Byrne is my favorite comic writer, artist, and creator. In the 80’s John was god. He penciled and plotted the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the Avengers; at one point all at the same time. First off his run on the Fantastic Four is one of the best in comic’s history. It had the best Doctor Doom story, it had the best Galactus story, and it had one of the greatest tragedies of the series when he didn’t allow Reed to save his unborn child. Trust me it’s still one of the hardest stories to read today as it is so emotionally taxing. As a result of another Marvel event, She-Hulk became a member of the team. Byrne was excellent at writing strong female characters and She-Hulk was a perfect example. He even proved that the Invisible Girl/Woman after Byrne’s run was the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four.
Sometime after his time at Marvel, Byrne re-vamped Superman. This run did not last as long comparatively, but it was a change that Superman had needed for a long time. Byrne’s last story with Superman had him execute Zod for destroying an alternate earth. It’s said Superman never kills, well JB found an out on that one.
6. Marvel Comics Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths
The 80’s saw a huge jump in both Marvel and DC producing limited series. We saw Iceman to Cosmic Boy have their own short stories. No series had the effect on the respective universes then Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars was a simple plot; let’s take a bunch of heroes and a bunch of villains and let them duke it out on a remote planet. We got Spider-Man’s black suit out of the story. The Thing stayed behind on the planet and She-Hulk took his place on the FF. Secret Wars was a great concept but never really had the lasting effect to make it stand like Crisis, beyond the symbiote suit that would become Venom.
Crisis on Infinite Earths was not as simple of a story. The DC creator’s decided that the universe was a little to confusing. Marv Wolfman and George Perez created a 12 part masterpiece. They killed such heroes like the Flash, Wonder Woman, and Supergirl. The point of the series was to start much of the DC universe off at scratch including Superman and Wonder Woman, while of course selling more books.
5. Batman The Dark Knight Returns
Frank is back on our list for a second time. Frank Miller struck gold again with Batman The Dark Knight Returns. He basically aged Batman and put the Dark Knight back into the Bat. It was a dark change for a character that had been around forever. Batman has a special place in all our hearts. Frank ripped out our hearts and made Batman more hardcore then we thought we wanted, but the problem was we liked it actually liked what he did, just as with Daredevil.
Todd McFarland started penciling Amazing Spider-Man as on issue #298. His style was kinetic and fun. Spider-Man seemed to fly around in the pages unlike anything we had seen before in the series. The black costume ended up being a living suit symbote that clung to Peter Parker’s soul. Peter got the thing off and it of course bonded with Eddie Brock. Eddie was a rival of Peter’s at the Daily Bugle. Eddie’s persona became the villain Venom. Venom was a much needed baddie for Spidey that everyone still loves today, even if he has a different man underneath. The symbiote knew Peter and shared that with Eddie. Venom became Spider-man’s worst foil for years and years to come.
No 80’s comic list can exist without the Watchmen. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created a 12 part comic bible. It had good superheroes doing bad things. It brought a darker sense of realism to these heroes that not too many people cared to tackle. It was a story we loved to hate cause it took away some of our comic innocence. That being said, if you somehow live under a rock, get the book and read it immediately.
2. The Uncanny X-Men
The X-Men needed to be on the list. The first cover above is one of the most iconic covers in comic history. You went and saw the movie didn’t you? Chris Claremont and John Byrne started the 80’s off with a bang. The X-Men was a great read and better collectible if you didn’t read. From Days of Future Past to the Mutant Massacre, Claremont wrote some great stories. They helped develop the characters more and more as the comic progressed. You wanted to be a mutant and hang with Colossus or Nightcrawler down at the pub as they frequently do with Wolverine.
1. Teen Titans
The 80’s was kicked off with a bang by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. The Titans brought the kids to the adult table. Robin wasn’t just the boy wonder any more. This Titan book showed why; Perez’s detailed art was gorgeous and Marv’s plots were brilliant. The Titans had introduced new characters to the table with Raven, Cyborg, and Starfire. Why is this book better then the X-Men you ask? It has the combination of aliens, mutants, cyborgs, speedsters, and the boy wonder all playing nice together. The growth of the characters moved along sooner then later and developed these characters like never before.