5BC: Five Best Comics of 1979

This issue of MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE featured John Byrne’s first outing with the team as both writer and artist, a time travel adventure that had Ben Grimm coming face-to-face with the earliest version of himself as seen and characterized in FANTASTIC FOUR #1 and #2. Byrne does a great job of capturing the period of the early FF and the personality of that early version of Ben. As always, Joe Sinnott inks the hell out of it.

Originally conceived for a cancelled treasury edition, this oversized anniversary issue featured “The Life Story of Superman” by Marty Pasko and Curt Swan, and expansive and sensitive examination of everything that makes the Man of Steel a unique character, and a perfect entry for a significant issue like this one. The Dollar Comic format helped it to seem really special.

A bit of a classic, and the issue that really put the David Michelinie/John Romita Jr/Bob Layton run on IRON MAN on the map, this issue culminates the running subplot where Tony Stark is turning more and more often to alcohol, and must admit to himself that he has a genuine problem. While the wrap-up is a little bit too pat here in the manner of the GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW drug issues, this was nonetheless a groundbreaking story and pushed the envelope in terms of the kinds of subject matter that super hero comics could and would tackle in the future.

Another anniversary issue, another finale to a long-running subplot, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #200 featured the web-slinger’s return confrontation with the unnamed burglar who killed his Uncle Ben. And even though writer Marv Wolfman had to cheat a little bit by removing Spidey’s powers so the showdown wasn’t over in two seconds, it’s a satisfying wrap-up. The revelation that Aunt May was still alive and not deceased as she’d been presented over the past few issues was welcome as well.

In its way a reprise of the early issue in which Daredevil was completely outclassed by the Sub-Mariner, here writer Roger McKenzie and illustrator Frank Miller put the Man Without Fear up against the Hulk and showcase just how fearless and dedicated to protecting people he truly is. Miller’s graphic approach to Daredevil and his world is continuing to evolve here as well.

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