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The Top 70 Most Iconic Panels in Marvel History – Day 8

Okay, in case you didn’t see the introduction, the concept is that each day up to and including the 24th of August, I’ll be posting three iconic panels from Marvel Comics’ 70-year history (panels meaning any single enclosed drawing, including single page splashes). On the 24th, you folks will get a chance to pick your Top 10 out of the 70 choices. I’ll tabulate the votes and I’ll debut the Top 70 Most Iconic Panels in Marvel Comics History on August 31st. In the meantime, feel free to e-mail me (cronb01@aol.com) with suggestions for panels for me to use!

Here’s the next three panels! And click here for the master list of all the panels posted so far!

Captain America Comics #1…

X-Men #137…

Incredible Hulk #180…


The second panel has always been just…wow.

Second panel because, AGAIN it is all about dynamics. That panel screams action. Some of the contenders just seem to be lazy suggestions. Just because it is the first appearance of a character doesn’t make it iconic. The firs appearance of many characters in Marvel comics are usually throw-away characters that end up catching on for random reasons. Next you’ll do a Punisher bit from when he initially appeared in the Spidey comics. Don’t keep this trend going…..it is lame.

Several of these contenders make me agree with Gavin; the inaugural Wolverine panel is just a guy in a yellow pervert suit lunging at the foreground from a woody backdrop, without any real seminal element to its composition. I agree with the second panel definitely, possibly even with the first panel of post-Rebirth Cap, but that last panel is unremarkable except for the fact that it got there first.

Just a question, but is it safe to assume that there was no steroid testing in the WW2 U.S. Army?

Also, how does Steve Rogers feel about Barry Bonds?

Didn’t you ever read the story line where Cap realizes that his powers came from drugs? I think Pym ended up removing the Super Soilder Serim and Cap was wearing armor for awhile.

The second panel sums up what this project seems to be about. It is dynamic art that summarizes a story that is a large part of Marvels history.
I think The Cap beheading Baron Blood panel with anguish in his eyes should make this list.

"O" the Humanatee!

August 9, 2009 at 10:32 am

Gavin and others: Where do you get the idea that a picture must be dynamic to be iconic? An iconic panel is presumably one that is burned into our memories, or that stands in for a larger, significant event, or any of various other possibilities. A quiet moment of a character mourning, say, could well be iconic. If you want to argue that dynamic panels are more likely to be ironic, you might be right – but it’s not a necessity.

When I think of iconic panels, they are panels that represent a point it time and have become shorthand for that moment. So far every panel higlighted I have seen dozens of times either as call backs or homage. These are the panels that the Marvel Handbook used to sum up 25 years of story.

What’s so great about these panels? They are the pictures that flash in my mind when a particular moment in Marvel Comic history is mentioned. Bucky? holding on to a plane as Cap falls off. Banner? Getting hurled while a blast happens from behind.

Every panel so far i feel like i have seen a million times. I don’t need to be told what it is in reference to because it has already become shorthand. Great job so far…this is a great round up.

I agree with Gavin… you’re doing a list of the most iconic Marvel panels NOT a list of the most IMPORTANT Marvel panels. Over this whole series, I’ve only agreed with a handful. The rest really do seem to be chosen more for their importance in Marvel history as opposed to images that have been burned into our minds (like the second one).

That belt buckle! That…belt! What the hell, Logan?!

Bernard the Poet

August 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm


Thanks for your imput – I’ve been feeling that “iconic” is a really elastic term and haven’t really been sure what does or does not qualify. Your explanation is about the clearest description I’ve read so far.

@ Brian
Can I nominate Elektra punching a fist through a ninja’s chest in ‘Elektra Lives Again’. It is a bit X-rated to ever appear in a Marvel Handbook, but it perfectly encapsulates Miller’s ability to combine ballet and violence. I know we have already had a Miller/Elektra panel, but you’ve had more than one Kirby/Fantastic Four and Dikto/Spiderman. And anyway, ‘Elektra Lives Again’, was Miller’s last work before he got beamed up by aliens and replaced with a caricature of himself, so it deserves to be commemorated.

I agree Mandeville – something is considered iconic precisely because it is used as an icon, as a visual shorthand for an entire story or era. I think the first appearances are fine for the most part, its certainly not all thats on the list.

the second pannel for it broke the mold and showed that heroes can die something not done in comics not to mention the pannel is still chilling to this day

Re “you’re doing a list of the most iconic Marvel panels NOT a list of the most IMPORTANT Marvel panels”: There’s a huge overlap between the two groups. The origins of Marvel’s key characters are both important and iconic, for instance.

Most of the other choices have indeed been iconic rather than important. Bullseye killing Electra? Spidey lifting the machinery? Peter abandoning his costume? Vision crying? Wolverine in the sewer? Wolverine vaporized by Sentinel? In the grand scheme of things, none of these events changed the course of history. Even the death of Phoenix turned out to be only a minor speed bump in the X-Men’s development. These moments are NOT especially important, but they ARE iconic.

I think most of us could identify the COVER of the Punisher’s first appearance. But we’re doing iconic PANELS, not iconic covers. Does anybody remember the first panel the Punisher appeared? Probably not.

This little-known panel may be somewhat important, but it’s not iconic. Therefore, it shouldn’t be in this roundup. And I’m betting it won’t be.

In short, I agree with “O” the Humanatee and Mandeville and disagree with Gavin and Kyle. Keep up the good work, Brian. You’re on the right track.

How about the first time the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch fought in mid-air? Of all the iconic battles between two Marvel characters, that’s gotta be near the top.

Black Manta: you’re confusing two stories.

The first was Streets of Poison, which is when Cap began thinking about the SSserum being a drug, then he gets caught in an drug explosion which basicly infuses his blood with crack. Pym filters it and the SS Serum out of his blood and he spends an issue or two working out, wondering if he’s the hero, or the drug…eventually his body produces more SS Serum.

The other was Fighting Chance, Gruenwald’s finale on the book, where the serum begins breaking down, leading him to wearing the Cap armor while searching for someone who can carry on as the patriotic hero.

I don’t remember ever seeing that Steve Rogers one, though it’s clear from context what it is. So, not so iconic for me anyway.

I remember the Jean one, but it’s weird to see it standing on its own. I’d probably choose it over the Wolvie one, but doubt any of ‘em would make my final list.

I agree Brian, you are certainly on the right track. Every panel you have chosen has been entirely evocative and symbolic of a key character or moment in Marvel’s history. Yes, first appearances do not necessarily translate as iconic, but if that character is Wolverine or Captain America then that moment he/she initially burst upon the scene or underwent that transformation that first placed him or her onto the path of current celebrity or hero worship or notoriety then that moment flashes back in ones mind as the image of supreme iconography in that character’s history.

That final (and first) Wolverine panel is in my mind one of the most famous of the entire Marvel Bronze Age. Whether, it was recognized as such precisely as it first hit the stands or only in hindsight is irrelevant. A huge chapter of Marvel history began with that brief moment. The ephemeral becomes famous— completely transformative. Wolverine’s first appearance is thus now indelible in the imagination, and that alone lends it the iconic status it deserves.

Wolverine’s first appearance is important, but the Herb Trimpe panel doesn’t work for me. Wolverine wasn’t fully-developed, and his mask, speech pattern, and claws would be changed into a more recognizable form soon after.

The Captain America picture depicts an important moment, and one that’s been called back to several times. As a panel, though, I wouldn’t vopte for it because I see it as part of a montage. Cap’s origin consists of the above image plus several others (skinny Steve Rogers being rejected, the serum being injected, the above panel, some weights being lifted, and the scientist being assassinated). I don’t think it stands out on its own as well as…

the second panel. All the drama of the Dark Phoenix Saga is encapsulated in that one panel. Jean’s sacrifice, Scott’s anguish, their relationship, the impossibility of omnipotence… Byrne, Austin, & Co. created an image that produces an immediate emotional reaction.


August 9, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Speaking of iconic Captain America panels, can I get me some Millar/Hitch action of Ultimate Cap yelling “SURRENDER?! DO YOU THINK THIS ‘A’ STANDS FOR FRANCE?!” as he slams his shield into the bad guy?

C’mon, we need some representation from the Ultimate Universe… it has been around for over a decade now, right?

Also, I’m still waiting on some Secret Wars moments: Beyonder speaking through the fissure; Galactus snuffing out Ultron; Hulk holding up the mountain; Cap healing his broken shield; Spidey’s first time in the black costume; etc.

I agree with Mike Loughlin too. I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen panels #1 and #3. But I think you can make a case for them.

I don’t recognise any of the panels so I wouldn’t consider any of these iconic – though I can guess what the first and last ones are.

I never realized that Steve Rogers and the man who created the Super Soldier Serum were both albinos! I mean, what are the odds?

For Cap, I’d think the moment a few panels later, when Erskine/Reinstein is killed and Cap stops his first Nazi is more iconic, than him just standing there while a scientist pats himself on the back.

I’d agree that Wolverine’s first appearance isn’t particularly iconic, because there’s no real emotion involve. At this point he’s just another costumed clown thrown in to add a third wheel to a Hulk/Wendingo fight. Heck, if Byrne hadn’t been Canadian, Logan might have been killed battling Nefaria, and there’d be a dozen Thunderbird appearances every month today. To me, Wolverine’s first real iconic moment comes during the Hellfire Club story, when he’s battling the goons in the sewer.

Everytime I see the original appearance Wolverine panel I think “Good Lord, that man took Greer Nelson’s costume.”

Waht a geeky new super-hero. There’s obviously no future for this wimpy little Wolverine fellow.

Panel #2 was one of the first images I thought of when you announced this concept, along with the FF holding hands and Spidey recognizing the burglar, and it defintiely wins out of this bunch.

Ooh – I never knew the Weapon X stuff went right back to Logan’s first appearance.

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