5BC: Five Best Comics of 1984

A genuine sucker punch of an ending topped off this issue of FANTASTIC FOUR, as we learn the outcome of Sue Richards’ latest pregnancy. Writer/artist John Byrne is in strong form here, at about the middle of his long run on the title. Good use of the rest of the Marvel Universe and a sympathetic and emotionally resonant treatment of villain Doctor Octopus.

The stunning climax of the well-remembered Judas Contract storyline which revealed that cute newcomer Titan Terra was actually a psychotic double-agent planeted within the team by Deathstroke–a shocking revelation at the time. Another perfectly executed super hero comic book by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. This Annual provided the capstone for their first term on the series–while they would still do the first few issues of the Baxter series, Perez would be pulled away to work on CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, separating the Titans’ creative team on this title.

Bar none the greatest single issue of SUPERMAN ever published, with a roster of talent contributing that remains unmatched to this day. Editor Julie Schwartz took advantage of the anniversary issue format to show what he could produce when given free rein–the story by Elliot S! Maggin examines the legacy of the Man of Steel over thousands of future years. Throw in a 10-page original story by Jim Steranko and pin-ups by the best in the industry and this is the oversized anniversary issue against which all others are measured.

It was a bit of a toss-up between this release and the following SWAMP THING #34, but I’m going to give the slot to this book, if for no other reason than that this seemed to be the moment when much of comics fandom caught on to the revolution that Alan Moore and Steve Bissette were imagining in the pages of this series. It’s a tour-de-force Annual as Swamp Thing journeys through the assorted versions of the DC Universe hell in search of the damned Abigail Arcane. As was his wont, Moore combined a facile use of DC continuity with a lyrical scripting style and the ability to twist an idea just a few degrees to make it completely new. A bombshell of a book. (The 1985 cover date is an error, this book was released in October of 1984.)

The climax of writer/artist Walt Simonson’s incredible Surtur Saga, which had been building for over a year, one that functioned both as a compelling climax to that long-brewing conflict and which changed the playing field for stories moving forward. Simonson had turned THOR from one of the most staid titles in the Marvel line into something exciting and amazing.

2 thoughts on “5BC: Five Best Comics of 1984

  1. I’d forgotten that the climax of The Judas Contract took place in the ‘softcover’ book “Tales of the Teen Titans”, like it was the B story or something. Wolfman and Perez were sure fiting on all cylinders at this point.

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  2. Thanks for another great “5 Best” installment! (FYI – I think under the Teen Titan entry, you might have meant “planted”, not “planeted”)

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