May 2012 16

by Damon Martin

As summer 2012 fast approaches, in the comic book world the hottest title going right now revolves around the major Marvel event pitting the Avengers against the X-Men. The two biggest powerhouse forces in the Marvel universe are currently battling it out in the pages of a 12-issue bi-weekly release that will run through much of this upcoming year.

Major comic book events are nothing new, and almost every year DC and Marvel put out their own storyline that somehow encompasses most or all of their titles, all touching on a central theme.

In the Marvel world they’ve bounced from the Avengers Disassembled to Civil War to Secret Invasion, and on and on, and DC has managed to have more than their fair share of world shattering events as well.

With Avengers vs. X-Men in full swing for the mega-event of 2012, let’s take a look at the five greatest comic book events of all-time:

5. Infinity Gauntlet

Cosmic badass Thanos (pay attention to those of you that saw The Avengers movie) has captured all of the infinity gems, which give him reign over each of their particular parts of the universe, and locked them onto one all powerful glove now called the Infinity Gauntlet.

With the power to control time, space, mind, soul, reality, and power, Thanos is by far the most powerful being in the universe and he also happens to be in love with a fellow sentient entity known as Death. To impress her he didn’t get her flowers or candies.

No, Thanos wipes out half of life throughout the universe to prove his love (take that John Cusack with your boom box over your head!), and in the process pisses off all of the remaining heroes left throughout the cosmos. They make it their personal goal to stop Thanos at any cost.

This major event, that kicked off in 1991, only lasted six issues, but spawned several titles in the Marvel universe and helped to launch the cosmic future of the comic book world. The biggest downside of this series was the golden skinned Adam Warlock, who was resurrected and helped to defeat Thanos in the long run, while his own comic life was something akin to that of Spider-Pig.

4. Secret Wars

Never has a publisher’s desire to sell toys ever turned out to be such a great comic book event, but that’s how 1984’s Secret Wars all came about.

With the growth of the children’s action figure industry, Marvel wanted the chance to launch their own characters into toy form, and Mattel was willing to make a new line on the premise of the comic giant creating a major storyline involving all of the heroes and villains in the universe to hopefully draw more kids into the books.

It worked like a charm.

Secret Wars was essentially the story of an other worldly character called The Beyonder who is interested in the dynamic of the heroes and villains that live on Earth. He decides to bring a group of both to a different dimension called ‘Battleworld’ where the two factions will battle it out once and for all.

Characters ranged from Captain America to Iron Man to the Fantastic Four to Dr. Doom to Dr. Octopus, and maybe most famously Spider-Man. The reason why he was so famous for this particular series is it was Secret Wars that introduced the new all black costume for the usually red and blue suited web-slinger.

Later it was discovered that the costume was actually alive and eventually became the maniacal Venom, but the origin for the all-black Spider-Man started with Secret Wars.

The book was a huge success through 12-issues, and is still one of the most talked about major events in comic book history.

3. House of M

The X-Men have been a major part of the Marvel universe for decades, and they have had more than their fair share of huge story arcs, but nothing served as a game changer more than 2005’s House of M.

The story revolved around the dangerous mutant called Scarlet Witch (daughter of mutant baddie Magneto), who warps reality to make mutants the dominant force in the world, far outnumbering the human population. This alternate reality features many characters in different roles and new situations, while the Scarlet Witch’s father Magneto rules with his ‘House of M’. In the long run, the Scarlet Witch’s madness brings her to the brink of insanity, and with three words she changed the Marvel universe forever:

“No more mutants.”

And like that, the millions of mutants that lived around the world vanished in an instant. Even in this year’s Avengers vs. X-Men series, the ultimate end of House of M continues to play out as the ‘homo-superiors’ still feel the wrath of the Scarlet Witch and her death sentence to the mutant population. Now only a few hundred mutants live on Earth, struggling to survive with numbers much smaller than before the Scarlet Witch ripped them from reality.

The ripple effect of House of M is still felt in the books ongoing today, something that a lot of past major events have failed to do.

2. The Blackest Night

Writer Geoff Johns did more to revive the failing Green Lantern franchise than any writer in the last 30 years, but it was his masterful work leading into Blackest Night that may be his greatest achievement yet.

Woven through a multitude of storylines starting with Johns’ re-telling of how Hal Jordan became a Green Lantern, all the way to the Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night was literally an epic tale years in the making.

When it all came to pass, an evil overlord named Nekron brought all of the long gone heroes and villains back to life to help lead his army of the dead, as they attacked and spread their evil, all in hopes of finding the original source of life in the universe.

Nothing was more chilling than in the first issue as Hawkman and Hawkgirl are slaughtered by their good friends Elongated Man and Sue Dibny. Thus, an 8-issue tour de force kicked off that spanned all of the titles in the DC Universe, and featured numerous off-shoots as well.

The book brought back many good guys and bad guys long since gone, and in a great storytelling effort, Johns along with artist Ivan Reis, managed to tell one of the great tales in the history of comic books. While DC has now rebooted the entire line with their ‘New 52’ contingency, Blackest Night was one of the best major events the company as ever done.

1. Crisis on Infinite Earths

If Blackest Night was one of the greatest stories ever told in the DC Universe, then 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths was definitely the tops.

Throughout the history of the DC Universe, many characters had undergone a shift in back story or even current storylines due to different writers all having a different vision for how characters should be portrayed.

Eventually, it was decided that in reality there were a number of alternate realities where characters could have multiple copies of themselves, all living at once, but all with different back stories and current agendas.

That is until the evil Anti-Monitor decides he wants to destroy the multiverse, and everyone that inhabits the worlds. He’s almost successful too, despite the best efforts of heroes like Superman, Batman and others that try valiantly to stop him. Eventually, the Anti-Monitor is defeated, but not until he converges all of the worlds into one distinct reality.

Crisis on Infinite Earths was a great series because of the magnitude of the overall storyline, where beloved characters like Barry Allen (The Flash) and others died, and it reached every part of the DC Universe.

It’s widely recognized as one of the greatest series of books in comics’ history and was re-visited in the 2005 series Infinite Crisis. Heralded as a landmark series, Crisis on Infinite Earths still holds up today with great writing, fantastic art, and a tale that can be retold for generations to come.

So those are the five series I believe make up the greatest events in comic book history? Did I leave any out? Feel free to comment below!