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CSBG Archive

You Decide ’11 – Best Marvel Comics Decade?

Each day this month, I’ll be posting a different poll question – each poll will last five days, and I’ll reveal the results of the finished polls every Tuesday.

This way, for this month, we can see what our readers feel about various comic book questions. For a month, you folks will decide! Click here to see the other questions that you can answer as well as checking out the latest poll results!

Read on for the latest poll question!

91 Comments

1980s and then 2000s. Could not stand much of the 1990s.

And just by co-incident I started with Marvel as a kid in the 80s, left in the 90s and got back in the early 2000s.

Ditto.

i have to go with the 2000′s, though since thats when i really seriously started reading comics its not a surprise

oddly enough 90′s is my second choice. it was very full of highs and lows

1960s, of course

1960s (KIRBY!) than 1980s closely by 1970s (Byrne! Claremont!) than 1990s (if u dont focus on the negative) finally 2000s

I think this would be a good gauge to see how old the average comics reader is nowadays. More often than not, people will vote for the decade they grew up in.

That is a very , very difficult question.

I’d say 1980s. But that is only because that is more or less when I started reading. I’m sure I’d have a different oppinion, had I been born a different time.

In my defense, the 1980s had Miller’s Daredevil, Byrne’s FF and Alpha Flight, a good portion of Claremont’s X-Men, Stern’s Avengers and Spider-Man, Simonson’s Thor, Mantlo’s Hulk, deMatteis’s Captain America, Michelinie’s Iron Man, Baron’s Punisher, plus assorted goodies like Moon Knight, Power Pack, Micronauts, and Rom.

My next favorite decade would be the 1960s. When it all began, and it’s hard to beat Lee/Kirby’s FF and Thor, and Lee/Ditko’s Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.

It becomes harder to choose now. I’d say the 1970s were a very mixed bag. It was the best decade for the Avengers with Thomas, Englehart, and Shooter. Claremont and Byrne started their magic with the X-Men and Iron Fist. You had with genius of Gerber with Defenders and Howard the Duck. Not to mention Master of Kung Fu, Tomb of Dracula, McGregor on Black Panther and Killhaven. But the 1970s had a very lackluster side too, many of the greatest comics in Marveldom, including the FF, Spidey, and Thor, were very mediocre in the 1970s, IMO. Most everything touched by Wolfman, Wein, Conway, was not really to my tastes and seemed only to regurgitate what came before.

The 1990s had unbelieavable crap almost across the line, sorry. And when it was bad, it was really, really bad. In fact, the 1990s were so bad that stuff that was only moderately bad started to appear pretty damn good by comparision (like Harras’s Avengers and Lobdell’s X-Men). There were exceptions, of course. I liked Peter David’s Hulk, Nicieza’s New Warriors, Alan Davis’s Excalibur, Thunderbolts, the Guardians of the Galaxy, etc. And the second half of the decade went from the extremes of Image kwelness to old school, with Busiek in the Avengers and Waid on Cap, for instance. So it’s a hard decade to classify.

The 2000s is another decade that is hard to classify. I hate the mega-event-crossover structure that has dominated it. But I like the works of Fraction, Brubaker, Slott, Hickman, Ennis, van Lente, Vaughn, Ellis, and even supposed bad guys like Bendis and JMS did good work (on Daredevil and Thor, respectivelly).

The 1960s, beause that’s when they established most of the characters and innovations that Marvel is still making money on 50 years later. The work of Lee, Kirby and Ditko in particular is imcomprable. I’d give 2nd place to the 80s, particularly the Shooter era, since that gave us Byrne’s FF, Miller’s Daredevil, Simonson’s Thor, and other treasures.

Marvel seems to follow the “every-other-decade” theory. I predict that the 60s, 80s and 2000s will come out with the most votes. I don’t think the 70s or 90s hold up very well.

Wow. The level of ignorance of most of these replies is mindboggling. While I understand having an affinity for the era in which one started collect, anyone who doesn’t vote fot the 60′s should really just stick to video games and web comics. There’s nothing wrong with that. When I saw the question posed I was intrigued because I thought you’d include the 40′s, which in theory could have given credence to an answer that wasn’t the 60′s. Without that however there is no debate. Now before all you whippersnappers get all riled into a frenzy with your “poppycocks” and “boulderdashes”; shut the fuck up because you obviously don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. MARVEL 101: 60′s= everything, Lee, Kirby, Ditko,Buscemas, Thomas, ALL relevant characters/personalities; 70′s= Claremont/Byrne, Romita/Layton, Miller/Janson, Starlin, Adams, Golden, death Gwen Stacy, Demon in a Bottle; 80′s= solid consistent decade, Dark Phoenix, Secret Wars, Simonson, Elektra, Death of Cap Marvel, God Loves/ Men Kill; 90′s = well they are what they are; 00′s= Quesada/Bendis era and the end of all that is good and pure (but damn do I love the Young Avengers and Millar’s Cap! was Avenger Forever 2000′s because that was the best too). You’ve got alot of homework to catch up on, so put the laptop down and go get Avengers vol.1 #53 to #63, read study,remember, there will be a test later!

it total, i’d have to say 80s. but to me, it’s more like early and late 80s, not so much mind-80s. but that’s just me. and honestly, there’s a lot of great mid-to-late 70s stuff (Cage, Panther, X-Men), early 90s stuff (Iron Man, X-Men), and mid-00s (Civil War era) stuff that i love, too.

Call me ignorant, but I voted for the 70s, on the basis that the question was ‘most good comics’ not important/seminal, which without a doubt would be the 60s. The 70s produced Howard the Duck, Man-thing, Conan, the Defenders, Englehart’s Captain America & Avengers runs, the Tomb of Dracula, the Marvel horror magazines, the new X-men, Starlin’s Captain Marvel, Kirby’s return (particularly Devil Dinosaur & Black Panther). There’s a wider variety of good which is what swung it for me.

But what do I know, I’ve gots to get back to my video games & web comics apparently.

BTW Avengers Forever was published in the nineties.

I voted the 60s. It has the greatest concentration of seminal Marvel work and average quality of books is the highest too (not flooding the market with books helps certainly). The 60s were the decade Marvel was most ahead of the curve in terms of quality with DC catching up in the 70s and of course to the present day.

2nd place is not nearly as clear a judgment though. I think the 90s have to be out based on the preponderance of crap in the 1st half of the decade. Speculators and the developing Image style created alot of stunt books with crappy stories. The second half of the 90s spawned some good books but it was mostly recovery.

The 70′s have the All New, all Different X-men, The Death of Gwen Stacey and the introduction of the Punisher, as well as Marvel moving into new genres, specially Horror. Despite that i’m not sure if the overall quality is really that great. The 70s unfortunately fall into a bit of a limbo where the books can’t be as important as the 60s books that started it all and not as well known as the 80s books where the market began to explode.

The 80s have a number of good books including Claremont X-men, David Hulk, Squadron Supreme, and Stern Avengers but it is hard to not compare the Marvel input and find it lacking in the face of the amount of seminal books coming out of DC during the decade (Watchmen, Animalman, Dark Knight Returns, Alan Moore’s general output, and others).

So my 2nd choice would have to be the 00s. Marvel has thankfully grown out of most of the 90s excesses (albeit with some relapses) and gave a number of creators chances to do something new with existing characters or create new ones. We have had a rash of nice books with new spins even if they haven’t always been sales hits (ex. Runaways, Spider-man Loves Mary Jane, Atlas, Slott She-Hulk, Next Wave, Avengers the Initiative, Irredeemable Ant-man, Young Allies). I don’t like the event-focus the decade ended on, but as whole it was an era of overall decent quality. It does fall behind the 60s however in not being nearly as revolutionary and most of the books that tried didn’t make it for very long. Where that blame lies is up for some debate but certainly new fertile new base of the Marvel Universe or Super hero comics in general has been made.

the 80s. Because spidey, daredevil and x men all peaked and everything else was pretty great too. Even transformers was great, and that didn’t have any real need to be.

I think Marvel’s never been better than it’s been the last three years or so, but I hate so much of the early-mid 00s what with decompressed written-for-the-trade six issue arcs and all the street level stuff and all the Jemas BS, so I’m going to have to go with 80s.

60′s

It’s the foundation. It had Kirby, Ditko, and Steranko. End of Story.

As usual, nostalgia has to play a big role in determining what comics were “good” or not. 60′s were obviously the groundbreaking decade, but probably my least favourite comics to read (except maybe the 90′s).

2000′s had a lot of good ones, but also brought on decompression and filled the market with a lot of paper-thin ones, plot-wise.

The 70′s was the closest contender, with Claremont/Byrne, some classic Avengers, Starlin Warlock, plus a lot of interesting work I’ve discovered since then by Gerber and the like…

But had to go with 80′s in the end. My golden age of collecting, there were just too many series that were enjoyable to pick up, plus classic runs by Miller, Byrne and Simonson…but just about every series (and a lot of miniseries) held my interest at some point.

So hard to be objective with these questions, but for better or worse, 80′s gets my vote!

It’s probably based a little bit on nostalgia, since this is when I started reading comics, but I have to go for the 80s. Objectively there was a lot of good stuff. 60s would be second for me.

If I could separate the last 5 years from the first 5 years of the 2000s, they’d be second. But I find most of the stuff Marvel put out from 2000-2005 to be crap. It seemed like they were embarrassed to still be publishing super hero stories, so most of their titles seemed to be trying to tell other stories with the characters, but gloss over the super hero part. I still remember the 10 cent Hulk comic, which is supposed to be a jumping on point for new readers, not even having the Hulk in it. That plus the extreme over-use of decompression/writing for the trade just really turned me off. The last 5 years have been pretty great, though. Not a fan of all the crossovers, but even a lot of them have been pretty good.

I also don’t think it’s automatically the 60s. I think that’s a very wrong notion that puts aside the idea of progress. Yes the stuff is classic. Yes, some of it has aged pretty well, but a lot hasn’t. It paved the way but that doesn’t make it the best, and in fact, it shouldn’t. The stories that came later built upon what came before and had narrative possibilities that the earlier ones didn’t. For instance, I like the full length Thor/Iron Man/Cap stories that came later in the decade a lot more than the half-issue Tales ones. The half-issue stories (which lasted for years) seem really slight to me. There wasn’t time in there to develop a whole lot due to the page count.

DC’s best decade was the 80′s (Frank Miller Batman, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Watchmen and the Justice League comics, etc). Marvel’s best decade was the 60′s with all of the Stan Lee, Kirby, and Ditko output.

90′s. Clone Saga, Heroes Reborn, whatever was going on with the X-men. It was a good deca… never mind.

Honestly I have fond memories of both The Clone Saga and Age of Apocalypse, and there were some good comics occasionally. It’s when I started reading, and if this was favourite decade, I’d vote 90′s. But it says best and that has to go to the 60′s.

I went with the 2000′s because they are the best scripted comics ever released. When you go back and read comics from the mid 90′s and earlier do you really need to read Ghost Rider thinking about jumping over a fire with his bike as you are looking at a picture of him jumping over a fire. I am currently rereading X-men from when Claremont started up to current stuff and about 50 percent of the words on the page are skippable and you can still know what is happening in each issue. Imagine watching a movie or a tv show that did that, it would tank in record breaking fashion.

The pencils and colors have gotten a thousand times better than in previous decades. Nothing looked worse than reading an issue of hellblazer where the entire page was blue except for whatever characters were colored yellow. It just came off as lazy.

60s or 00s.

60s had the start of the FF, Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Thor, etc.

00s had great runs on books like Bendis’ Daredevil, the Knaufs’ Iron Man, Cable & Deadpool, Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, Alias, etc.

I nearly did the ’60s, because lord knows it’s mammoth for Marvel, but I had to go with the 1970s for exactly the reasons Tim B. expressed.

And of course 1990s wins worst decade in a walk. Almost turned me off comics entirely–and in fact it did for a while.

I fell in love with comics via Marvel in the 1970′s. There is nothing like when you experienced them for the first time. Yeah, that’s not what we should necessarily be judging it on, but it is what I judge it on, so there. :)

I didn’t vote for the 60′s because, in fact, I’m not ignorant of how terrible Stan Lee’s writing actually was. Paper-thin characters, stiff dialogue, every sentence ending in exclamation points, and totally contrived plots. It’s got some incredible art, but if you look at, say, an Essential FF collection from that period, the writing actually gets in the way. And I don’t think that any of the character concepts created by Lee were quite noteworthy enough on their own. I think the majority of credit goes to later writers who developed them into something more.

The ’70s had a lot of great stuff, but also a lot of crap. The ’80s by far had the most consistent quality.

Seriously, voting for the sixties is like voting for the 1890s as the best decade for movies. You need it to get where we are, but it’s output is barely watchable by every reasonable criteria. Apodaca’s complaints are all right on, and Stan Lee was a brilliant promoter and hype man. This does not equal great writer.

I’d have to say that after reading comics for 35 years and reading almost all of the marvel catalog of stories. The 2000′s had the benefit of all that past to bring us the best stories to this point.
Were there great moments in the past? You bet.
The 2000′s really ran with it though. Some of the best writing and characterization ever. Artistic highs that are still pushing the boundaries. Printing techniques that are improving each year. I still get excited over each weeks releases. Comics are amazing and they are only getting better.

@Apodaca

I can’t fathom an argument that Peter Parker of the 60s was paper thin.

The great characterization of Marvel Universe characters that have followed were built on the strong base created by Marvel writers/artists in the 1960s.

Even a group like the X-men, who reached vastly greater heights in the late 70s ands 80s had much of the basic concept (mutants =hated and feared, members of a minority group) developed in the 60s.

I’m also a bit offended by the idea that Marvel 1960′s = Stan Lee only as many of the detractors seem to allege. There were more people creating the Marvel universe than Stan on the writer side and the artist side had a strong input on the characters too.

This 41 year old ranks ‘em

1. 1960s
2. 1970s
3. 2000s
4. 1980s
5. 1990s

Ok. I see a lot of good arguments for the 60′s and few for the other decades. I have to say though “Did you really read the question?”

It was not “which decade produced the best characters?” One would definitely have to say the 60′s or 70′s for that. It didn’t say “what’s your favourite?” ‘Cause 98% , including me would pick where we started collecting. It didn’t say “which produced the greatest epics?” Although that is a good question for another.

The question was “Which decade had the most good Marvel comics?” Good not incredible or great. In my mind that’s the 80′s.

The 60′s had alot of good stories but not as many as we would like to remember. Marvels output was a lot smaller then. And for every “Coming of Galactus” there were a lot of Hulk against the circus or the army to fill another issue. There were to many stories that were just weak excuses for a punch up. Lot’s of great characters in stories that don’t measure up. Exceptions being ASM and FF which were consistently good. So the 60′s, sorry, are out as great a creative time as it was. The seventies had similar issues. Some great stories surrounded by a lot of Luke Cage collecting Doom’s bad debt’s. The nineties I here had 2 or 3 good stories but I haven’t read them as I quit reading then in disgust.

So that leaves the 80′s and the 00′s. The last decade has been a renascence of good storytelling and focus on good writing. And the art is great. But that’s true of the 80′s too. The thing is in the 80′s I could pick up just about (but not quite) any book and it was at least decent. The same can not be said about the 00′s. And the 80′s had a tun of books. As many I’d guess as the 00′s. So even though on a whole I think the writings probably better in the last decade, I think the proliferation of good stuff was better in the 80′s. And that’s what the question is really asking for isn’t it?

Did I convince anyone?

azjohnson5: Please read your response again. Its full of errors, lacks coherent argument, and is a little self deprecating. I hope you were being ironic.

He did’nt say Parker was paper thin. He said Parker’s character came out in spite of Lee not because of him. He said Lee often got in the artist’s way. Lee used the marvel method to make comics. Look it up. Half the time his plotting was 2 sentences to the artist and he’d add the words later. Ditko made Parker the character. Lee fought him the whole way but couldn’t argue with the sales. Lee helped develop some great concepts but look at his work with the less talented artists (do you remember any of it?) and the writings on the wall.

Lee’s greatness was in his ability to recognize greatness in others and help to guide it. He was basicly a very hands on editor who wrote bombastic dialogue. Don’t get me wrong. That’s still great.

Technically there were more good comics in the 2000s than at any previous decade, just by virtue of being so damned many of them. But if we are talking from a consumer perspective, in the sense of entertainment per dollar, there is no beating the 1970s, with the 1980s a close second.

The 1990s were unbelievable in their tolerance of crap, and the 2000s inherited many of its bad traits such as endless decompression. The 1960s were often more noteworthy for concept than execution. The 1970s were a golden age of experimentalism with a fair amount of technical competence, and it helped that Marvel no longer had the strict limitations in number of books that hindered it in the 1960s. The same can be said of the 1980s, but it gradually became plagued by the gimmick mania that made the 1990s so dreadful (and which we did not fully leave behind yet).

I took a somewhat objective approach to this. I have more Marvel issues originally (accounting for reprints) published during the 70s than any other decade, so 70s it is. And I’m under 30 years old and didn’t start reading comics until the 90s, so there is no “nostalgia bias” for me on this one.

OK, so show of hands here. Anyone else NOT voting for “My childhood?”

Or using logic like “Stan Lee was using the language of poetry, (both “High” and “Low”) pulp novels, and Shakespeare, and writing for a younger audience. The comics in my childhood were based on movies, and written for an older audience. Therefore, Stan was a bad writer. And, apparently, this is a reasonable standard somehow.”

– Anyway, gimme a couple weeks and I’ll get to my “Stan was a great writer” post.

And, honestly, I got no idea. I could make a real argument for the ’50s, just based on the incredible buncha artists.

Probably not the ’90s.

I

Like ookerdookers, I too try to be as objective as possible when responding to online polls like this one. In casting my vote, I tried to list all the good stories I could think of (not only the ones I’ve read, but the ones I don’t read yet are critically acclaimed). In spite of the decade where I began reading comics, I’ve read comics from across the decades considered.

I wonder how many of us have good memories of the 1990s? Granted this decade seems to rank last on the list of many (not just for Marvel, but perhaps for the comic book industry in general), that’s not to say it wasn’t without some good stories. Inifinity Gauntlet, X-Men: Mutant Genesis (i.e. Claremont’s last X-Men story in 1990-91), Alan Davis’ 2nd run on Excalibur (esp. Excalibur’s reason for its formation and Phoenix/Rachel Summers vs. Galactus), Operation: Galactic Storm, Age of Apocalypse, New Warriors by Nicieza and Bagley, Defalco and Frenz’s runs on Thor and Thunderstrike, Busiek/Perez Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 1), Quasar, and Earth X among others.

I voted for the 90′s, I really think of them as the 90′s to about 96 or so, but some of my favorite stuff was done in this decade. There were probably more titles produced in that decade than ever before or since. Which means you have 5 bad for every good but the sheer numbers compensate. Some of the art might have been atrocious, but for the most part I have more things I remember from then than other times.

Elementals 2nd and 3rd runs, Worlds Finest Comics from Dark Horse(X was fantastic), Star Wars and other licensed titles from Dark Horse was actually good. Magnus Robot Fighter and rest of the initial run of Valliant comics was good. Crossovers were mostly worth a read, the X-men wasn’t a complete mess yet. Delays weren’t yet accepted as the norm in that time period yet(it started becoming the norm during that time period, but the start of it, you got titles on time from the major publishers on time and even the independents were pretty good about it) If I had to take a ten year stretch it would be 1986-1995.

There were good stories in the 1990s, but I agree with Luis Dantas. There was a bigger tolerance for crap than in any other decade. If you pulled a random Marvel comic from the 1990s to read, chances are it would be abysmal.

What I disagree with Luis is that the 1970s were probably the second in the list of most-crap-published. There were lots of good, even genius stuff. But the lack of strong editorial oversight made sure that a lot of crap got published too.

Torn between the ’60s and ’70s. Clearly I’m old.

crap, I missed the “Marvel” part of the equation. If it’s just Marvel only, it’s a lot tougher question. You almost have to go with the ’60s as the answer.

Here is my scorecard:
1. 1960s: You have the debuts of the vast majority of the major characters and premises. You have, like, 10 classic runs. You have a good percentage of the best work by major creators. Tough to top.
2. 1980s: It was the decade of John Byrne, really. The man managed a shocking number of must-read runs when you consider that he left for DC half way through the decade. There is Claremont-Byrne on Uncanny X-Men, Micheline-Byrne on Avengers, Byrne by himself on the FF and the rest. Plus, you have Simonson on Thor, Miller on Daredevil and Baron on The Punisher. It was a great decade, but with very little really new.
3. 2000s: Similar to the ’80s in that there were a ton of classic runs with one creator standing above the rest. I like Byrne better than Bendis. Hence, my ranking.
4. 1970s: This was the second most innovative Marvel decade. There were lots of great concepts and characters that made their debut. I just am not wild about that many of the runs on any the existing titles.
5. 1990s: I stopped reading Marvel all together during the ’90s. Never felt like I was missing anything.

‘Or using logic like “Stan Lee was using the language of poetry, (both “High” and “Low”) pulp novels, and Shakespeare, and writing for a younger audience. The comics in my childhood were based on movies, and written for an older audience. Therefore, Stan was a bad writer.’

There’s literally no one in this entire thread using that logic. This is like asking “is anyone else NOT voting based on the number of green cars to appear in the comics?”

Torn between the 70s and the 80s. Avengers, Spider-Man, and X-Men all had classic runs in the 70s that still hold up. 80s saw both the peak and the beginning of decadence and decay in the X-Men– as well as a few brilliant years worth of New Mutants, that awesome Simonson Thor run, Miller Daredevil, and at least intermittent brilliance on Avengers and Spidey.

As I think about it, of the major books, there’s none but FF for which I actively prefer the 60s. (Maybe Dr Strange and Silver Surfer were at their best then, but… [shrug]. Don’t really care about either.)

Oooh! I figured it out!

Anti-Stan Lee comments come in four types:

1) People who think Stan used to many words. TOTALLY defensible.
2) Stan was a hack, totally coasting on Kirby and Ditko’s genius.
3) Stan Lee’s work was not part of my childhood. Therefore, I must denigrate it at every possible opportunity in order to make the work that WAS part of my childhood seem better.

And then there’s stuff like Apadoca and Dave – There’s lots of snark and implying that everyone who disagrees with them is ignorant, (which kind of makes it sound like you’re masking ignorance with being a shithead, so you should probably knock it off.) but no actual analysis or worthwhile arguments. Does anyone remember that Jordan guy in the Top Runs poll? Same deal.

THESE PEOPLE ALL WENT TO FILM SCHOOL.

There ACTUAL argument, which they never got around to making is this: Stan Lee’s work is completely divorced from the filmic tradition, unlike contempararies John Stanley or Will Eisner, all his influences are literary. Which means that he was ignoring a fairly major body of work that he could draw from to make his writing better.

(Which I don’t disagree with.)

@ Mark Andrew:

There is maybe a fifth type. Stan Lee didn’t draw and was the Editor for every title he wrote. That is a lot of power on the “words” side of the equation. Also, Lee hired and mentored a whole generation of writer-editors that never drew either.

If you think the cartoonist is an intrinsically superior method of creation, then Lee is the enemy.

The pro-Stan Lee crowd contains such insightful points as “shut the fuck up because you obviously don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about” and your own hypothetical position that has no actual supporters.

I’d also posit that it’s pretty hypocritcal to call people our for “snark” and suggest that they’re “shithead”s because you think they support an argument that you made up and then ridiculed.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 21, 2011 at 3:07 am

The question asked for the best decade so it’s the 60′s.

I didn’t vote for the 60?s because, in fact, I’m not ignorant of how terrible Stan Lee’s writing actually was.

Fuck Off.

You nerd.

What a lame answer.
Dikto and Kirby were NEVER as good as when they worked with Lee. He got them to those heights. Did it get corny, and sometimes get in the way – sure.
But Warren Ellis writes Bastard more than anyone not a teen should, Moore tries so hard to be literary that he can forget to entertain, Morrison often get too jarring between scenes – and even panels, and Garth Ennis’ humour will often undercut his stories, not boost them.
All the best writers have faults – Lee was too successful for his own good, and so his faults go spread across more work.
But Dikto’s Spider-Man would have been boringly generic, and Kirby’s FF would have been one emotion characters.
Pretending you can think Kirby would have done great FF without Lee, or Dikto done it Spider-Man without Lee and had it be good – is just such a dishonest thing to say.

Seriously, voting for the sixties is like voting for the 1890s as the best decade for movies.

In what possible way do you think your analogy works?

Comics weren’t invented in the sixties.
So… the analogy doesn’t actually work.

Sixties comics were a lot like sixties cinema – in cinema, the first generation fully raised by the medium came to power in the medium.
In Comics, a bunch guys who spent their lives working in comics came to power.
And in both cases, the mediums were pushed forward at an incredibly high rate – and though some doesn’t stand up – some has yet to be surpassed.

This may just be semantics, but because the poll asks for “Best” decade instead of “Greatest” decade, the answer should be the 80s. Greatest implies importance as a major factor, while best just implies quality. Clearly the 60s were the most important decade, but the 80s had more overall quality. Every major Marvel title had a second golden age in the 80s that was as good as the Lee/Kirby/Ditko/Buscema/Romita stuff, and in a few cases better. Avengers, Spidey, FF, Cap, and Thor all had 80s runs that pretty well equaled what came in the 60s, while X-Men, Hulk, Daredevil, and Iron Man were all significantly better in the 80s. The 60s did have Steranko’s Fury and Ditko’s Dr. Strange, which don’t have 80s equivalents, but then when factoring in Squadron Supreme, Alpha Flight, Wolverine mini-series, Moon Knight, Sienkiewicz New Mutants, and various special projects by Art Adams and Barry Windsor-Smith, the 80s just have to come out on top. There was overall more quality in the 80s than the 60s, and that quality was (while less trailblazing) often better.

The 90s had a few masterpieces like Marvels and Age of Apocalypse, but every major Marvel character also reached his nadir during the 90s. Plus… NFL Superpro.

70s and 2000s both had major pros and major cons.

I know the 60s produced most of the good characters, but I’ve really tried and I can’t bring myself to actually enjoy the stories.

It’s the 2000′s for me. When the Bill and Joe show started, non-Frank Miller Marvel instantly became interesting to me for the first time ever.

I finally sat down and did the math.

Turns out my gut was right: the 80′s did have the most good comics from Marvel!.

Phew! Feels good not to feel biased anymore.

’60s (by the way, not the decade of my childhood): Kirby. Ditko. That’s all I need to know.

The ’80s, ’00s, & ’70s all have a good case. The ’70s & ’00s had some of the most original, entertaining comics in Marvel’s history, even if the aggregates weren’t as good. The ’80s had unquestionably great comics, but some bland by-the-numbers stuff. In the ’60s, Stan, Jack, & Steve revolutionized super-hero comics. The art of the era is beyond compare (with contributions by Colan, Steranko, Neal Adams, Romita, Everett, Buscema, and Wood), and the stories are still fun.

Fence: “Did I convince anyone?”

Hey Fence: you convinced me! Sadly I’d already voted.

I read comments on this site almost every day, and I’m constantly surprised by how passionate people get about judgement calls. Even the comedy replies are inpsired by this passion.

Gosh I love comics

This one was not easy. I went with the ’70s because that was when some of the richest stories from the Avengers were written, but most of all because that was when Claremont’s X-Men were written and changed what comics were supposed to be overall. In addition, that was when Marvel was experimenting with all kinds of nutty ideas, like Brother Voodoo and the original Guardians of the Galaxy.

The 60′s though were when all of the foundations were laid. You get right to it, Marvel’s been more or less mining the 1960s (with radical departures like Miller’s Daredevil) ever since, much the way DC’s been mining the year 1940 (at least in terms of superheroes) for almost all of it’s history.

Your right you know. Parker would have been different and quite possibly not as good a character if Lee hadn’t tempered Ditko’s work.

That’s what I said. Lee was a great editor that way. Not a great writer. Look at the Ditko book. Arguably the best run on Spidey. Certainly top 3. Then really read them. The story and character development was in the art. When Romita, a more marketable and over the years more popular artist, took over the whole nature of the book changed. Romance became a huge focus. Not surprising considering Romita was a romance artist before Spidey. This was Lee’s new direction without Ditko and it was good, but not as good as what went before. But the book lost some depth and Peter lost a lot of pathos. The morality play was supplanted by the soap opera.

Did Ditko need Lee to create the world he did? Probably. Like I said Lee was a great editor and even creator. But I don’t think he was ever a great writer. There is to much garbage out there from when Lee worked with artists less talented than the Buscemas, Romitas, Ditkos and Kirbys.

The genius of Stan Lee was that he was his ability to constantly improve his creations.

To me, that is the big contrast between Marvel and DC in the Sixties. Silver Age DC Comics arrived fully formed. If you read the first appearance of Barry Allen, or Hal Jordan, or Ray Palmer, or the JLA, then you knew what to expect in the in second (and third … and fourth …). Compare that to just about anything Stan Lee created. FANTASTIC FOUR #12 was a very different proposition than FF #1. The Hulk went through a half dozen tweaks in his his first six issues. Spider-Man was radically re-invented after Ditko left. Lee-Kirby never arrived at a stable story-telling engine for The Avengers.

There was not a huge difference between Stan Lee the writer and Stan Lee the editor. He allowed later creators the same freedom to revise. Roy Thomas and John Buscema do not have their seminal run on The Avengers without Lee’s willingness to let them deviate from his formula.

The Marvel that I grew up with in the ’80s was the polar opposite of that free-wheeling revise-retcon-reboot on the fly style. Jim Shooter was trying to make the thing move like a Swiss Watch. I have a nostalgic fondness for a lot of that material, but I think that its essentially conservative spirit is less enjoyable than the ’60s stuff.

I’m suprised no one has brought it up yet, but Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe run happened in the 80s, and those are awesome comics that still stand up today. That’s a point in favor of the 80s right there.

No kidding.

GI Joe was amazing. Especially when you consider that Hama had to keep the toy company happy, introducing and using new characters that were basicly dumped in his lap. “Larry I need you to ad a fireman and a dog trainer into your next war story.” ….. and he pulled it off astoundingly well and developed some characters for us to truly care about. No easy feat.

I think people tend to overstate the ‘writing is much better today’ thing. It’s just a more cinematic approach across the board, rather than a mix of cinema and literature.

To me, the best comics can do the things a novel or a movie can do and more. A lot of today’s comics seem to have gone so far towards the cinematic extreme that they’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

I mean, you look at Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing (or even Gaiman’s Sandman) and it’s very wordy indeed. As someone said about Lee, you could get rid of 50% of Moore’s words and still tell the story, but you’d be missing a hell of a lot.

I kind of miss flowery omniscient narration…

I went to film school, and I wasn’t born yet in the ’60s, and I think that writer/artists are the ideal practitioners of the medium… …but I still voted for ’60s (and put Stan number one on that other poll). Holding a vote like this is kind of like holding a vote for best British band of all time. Sure, there may be enough snot-nosed youngsters around to put Oasis or Coldplay on the top of the list, but that only makes the voters look bad, not the Beatles. A more interesting poll would have been for second best decade. Then I would have fought hard for the ’80s (which, to be fair, was my childhood, but that’s just a coincidence). A vote for worst would have been interesting, too. I would argue that the ’00s barely beat out the ’90s.


To me, that is the big contrast between Marvel and DC in the Sixties. Silver Age DC Comics arrived fully formed. If you read the first appearance of Barry Allen, or Hal Jordan, or Ray Palmer, or the JLA, then you knew what to expect in the in second (and third … and fourth …). Compare that to just about anything Stan Lee created. FANTASTIC FOUR #12 was a very different proposition than FF #1. The Hulk went through a half dozen tweaks in his his first six issues. Spider-Man was radically re-invented after Ditko left. Lee-Kirby never arrived at a stable story-telling engine for The Avengers.

Yeah, good point.

Although I’d argue that this STARTED because the early Marvel creators were workin’ really fast and on the fly – And felt they had to constantly – like every issue – revamp and retool their characters to make ‘em work. And that led to a more adventurous attitude in general towards character growth.

Which, sadly, kind of drained away as the characters became more “iconic.”

@ MarkAndrew:

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” By that standard, Stan Lee was an utter genius. He managed to be both endlessly enthusiastic about what he was writing and utterly ruthless about reworking it.

No other era, nor really any other creator, has really been able to replicate what Lee did. Most of them get hung upon their pet characters or favorite themes.

Though call. My heart says the 70s, because that’s when I started reading Marvel. But I’d say the company was at its best, most productive period in the 80s. Also, the Bronze Age was the best for superheroes, not too dark but not too light either.

I see a lot of people bash all pre-Alan Moore writers, but particularly Stan Lee and Chris Claremont, for being too wordy and unnecessarily descriptive.

And I want to shout a big NO.

It wasn’t realistic and it probably was corny. But goshdarn it, it was a very necessary thing in order to tell complete stories in 22 pages (sometimes less). Just compare it to more modern stories. You used to have thought balloons, descriptive dialogue and captions. You could have a large team of superheroes and supporting characters in a story, and more or less understand what was going on with every single one of them I don’t get this feeling with modern comics. Matt Fraction is forced to deal with one, two, at most three characters in a X-Men story, with the rest being reduced to glorified extras.

And since the new rule is show, not tell, you have to show lots of things that ultimately don’t amount to much to the general story. The dreaded decompression is thus born in American comics. Stan and Chris could tell a complete, satisfying, superhero epic in 3 issues, because they could pack a LOT of action, drama, comedy, breather scenes, transitions in 22 pages, because they weren’t restricted to the art + dialogue having to carry it all. I lost count of Bendis stories where 6 issues weren’t enough barely to begin an epic, much less tell a complete one.

Yes, some of it was unnecessary. Tom deFalco represented the worst of it in the 1990s. “Look out, Reed! A three-legged robot walker is shooting a laser at us, but I managed to dodge it!” (Panel depicted a three-legged robot walker shooting a laser at them) But overall the old style of comics storytelling had it’s upsides too.

The pro-Stan Lee crowd contains such insightful points as “shut the fuck up because you obviously don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about” and your own hypothetical position that has no actual supporters.

What insightful points do you have? None.

As usual, nostalgia has to play a big role in determining what comics were “good” or not. 60?s were obviously the groundbreaking decade, but probably my least favourite comics to read (except maybe the 90?s).

Just make your freaking vote and stop ascribing motives to why other people are voting for what they’re voting for. When people who love new progressive writers sing their praises in comments, you don’t see a bunch of snippy bratty commenters come out of the woodwork top snark “Ohhhh, looks like antinostalgia and loving new stuff for new stuff’s sake is playing a role in the voting process again.” Seriously, STFU with that.

I like Stan Lee because I think he’s a better writer than the modern guys, not because of nostalgia. I assume you like the new guys for the same reason, you think they’re better. Just because someone dares to think differently than you doesn’t mean you have to be a brat and make excuses and rationalizations for it. It comes off like you’re really insecure about what you like if you have to make rationalizations and excuses for why anyone would dare to like something different.

Actually, I think I mistakenly associated dhole’s comments in with Apodaca’s and Dave’s later comments. Rereading dhole’s comments, his stance wasn’t as condescending as the others, so I may have done him a disservice by quoting him specifically. Sorry about that.

But my comment still stands for other people who feel the need put down Stan Lee fans as brainless simpletons voting for nostalgic reasons alone.

I only have a sampling of Marvel’s past titles really. A little bit of every era and a large chunk of this one’s. So yeah, I’m biased. But my preference goes; 00s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 22, 2011 at 1:33 am

I’d also posit that it’s pretty hypocritcal to call people our for “snark” and suggest that they’re “shithead”s because you think they support an argument that you made up and then ridiculed.

It’s kinda more the way Dan phrased it that pissed a lot of people off.
Apparently, we are ignorant for having a different opinion about Stan Lee to his.

‘I think Stan Lee is a terrible writer’ is one thing.
‘I’m not ignorant of how terrible Stan Lee’s writing actually was’ is another.

I went to film school, and I wasn’t born yet in the ’60s, and I think that writer/artists are the ideal practitioners of the medium… …but I still voted for ’60s

I went to film school and voted for 60′s as well, so MarkAndrew’s comment is somewhat off the mark (though I assume he was playing it for laughs).

Why do I like 60′s Marvel?
Because it’s nothing like film.
It’s COMICS!

What kept me from voting for 2000′s Marvel, despite some of my fave series being in there, is that beyond my faves, are a lot of people trying to write the comic like it’s a film, not like it’s a comic.
This is an industry at large thing – not Marvel specifically – but it seems such a waste to me that anyone would sit and make a comic that’s supposed to feel like a film.
Cram those panels in, and blow my mind with something crazy every single page – that’s a comic.

I see a lot of people bash all pre-Alan Moore writers, but particularly Stan Lee and Chris Claremont, for being too wordy and unnecessarily descriptive.

Moore was a bit of a Claremont clone when he started.

(Not in the bad sense – in the ‘he modeled his style on’ sense, like many great comic makers did when they were new to it)

I like Stan Lee because I think he’s a better writer than the modern guys, not because of nostalgia.

I disagree with you there T.

I think he wrote some better comics, but I don’t think he’s a better writer.
He had plenty of misses, it’s just that when he hit… boy was it a great comic.

The ’90′s it was the best and the worst decade for Marvel, there was so many comics I loved and so many that I despise to this day that it’s almost funny to think that one company could put out the same material. I feel the same about DC now, I mean for every story that I enjoy there are others that honestly make me want to stop reading comics Marvel was the same back in the ’90′s.

@T.: no problem.

To be clear, I was ascribing nostalgia to my own motives.

I thought about each decade and looked at which series and limited series I personally thought were good. Much of that was coloured by remembering the excitement and enjoyment I felt, which were at their height in the 80′s for me.

To my own surprise, the 2000′s came in second, edging out the 70′s.

And the 90′s was pretty neck and neck with the 60′s, a notion which probably would make some heads explode.

(my 90′s books were: X-men/Uncanny X-men/X-Force, ’cause I liked that Lee/Liefeld mutant renaissance for the first year, Marvels, Busiek Avengers, Thunderbolts, Black Panther and Inhumans…my 60′s books were X-men, Avengers, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, Strange Tales, Tales of Suspense…)

Rene nailed it, I just don’t get the love for Bendis and other writers that take at best a story which has about 12 pages of actual story and dragging it into 6 issues to make up some trade (the recent Kumbaya death of Brother Voodoo could have been written better by Lee in 20 pages and not have such a crap ending, the fact that current writers don’t even bother creating a sub plot to later mine in a couple of years because the results won’t be seen in the trade that introduced the plot is complete inability to plan long term –of course that might explain why current writers don’t seem to believe in deadlines either)

I like the Lee/Beatle analogy posted above. Liking Lee doesn’t mean you are ignorant, in fact I would actually argue disliking Lee makes you an ignoramus.

I don’t think liking or disliking Stan Lee, Bendis’s Avengers, Hal Jordan or Dark Knight Strikes Again makes anyone any more or less intelligant. I like a couple of those and don’t like the others, but I don’t judge anyone for liking something I think is bollocks. I might judge them for saying I just like what I like because I’m an idiot of blinded by nostalgia or “just don’t get it,” though. I take dickishness to be dickishness no matter what it’s about.

Lee was great for comics. Don’t get me wrong. But I get the feeling that a lot of people that think he is a genius writer are not being honest with themselves. Lee co-created the best characters in comics. No doubt. But he co-created them. I will always maintain that the artists were the driving force behind stories and character development in the 60′s. That was the Marvel method. No one disputes this anymore. It’s how it happened.

If Stan is as great a writer as his boosters like to say where are his great stories with mediocre artists. Other writers have done them. Read Stan’s work from the last thirty years and defend it as great writing. Where are his great stories now? Did he blow his load in the 60′s?

Don’t get me wrong. I still don’t think Stan’s a bad writer. His work turned me on to comics in the first place. But lets be real.

Also, I like decompression. Read Walking Dead and tell me Stan would have done it better and in less pages.

But I get the feeling that a lot of people that think he is a genius writer are not being honest with themselves.

Why can’t you just disagree without ascribing motives to the people you disagree with? Why is it so important to your peace of mind to convince yourselves that the people who disagree with you can’t possibly be doing so intelligently or honestly?

Perhaps you feel that if perfectly rational, intelligent people find such genius in something that does absolutely nothing for you, then maybe that means that the problem may be you, and you are not as smart as you want to believe you are? Since that is a possibility you don’t want to contemplate, it’s easier on your ego to believe instead that anyone who finds genius in Stan Lee’s work must be dishonest?

Do you realize how arrogant one must be to believe that anyone who disagrees with them about what is good quality must secretly be dishonest? That there’s no way an intelligent, intellectually honest person could possibly disagree with you? This is the same elitist mindset commenters here complain about when a non-Morrison fan tells them they couldn’t possibly really understand and like Final Crisis and are just pretending to because its Morrison.

I wrote those paragraphs to show you how annoying and insulting it can seem when someone chooses to psychoanalyze you or evaluate your motives for your answer rather than simply stick to arguing the merits of the work. I believe someone could be perfectly intelligent and honest and dislike Stan Lee’s work. I also believe someone can be perfectly intelligent and honest and find Stan’s work genius.

If you disagree about the merits of Stan Lee, fine, but I wish people in these comments would stop making negative implicates about the thought processes or motives of those of us who think he’s great.

If Stan is as great a writer as his boosters like to say where are his great stories with mediocre artists. Other writers have done them. Read Stan’s work from the last thirty years and defend it as great writing. Where are his great stories now? Did he blow his load in the 60?s?

To me Stan’s greatness was his dialogue and the cheeky, irreverent voice he lent to the books. The greatness of Stan Lee wasn’t the plots. And that unique voice was there whether he was paired with a great artist or with a mediocre one. Similarly, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko without Stan’s voice over their pencils also suffered. Does that mean they weren’t genius either?

Also, if the caliber of someone’s work declining after middle age and never matching their peak is a sign they were never a genius, that would invalidate the contributions at least half of the historical figures commonly acknowledged as geniuses.

Read Stan’s work from the last thirty years and defend it as great writing. Where are his great stories now?

Personally, I’d say the same about Chris Claremont, Frank Miller, Howard Chaykin and Jim Starlin, among others. I can’t stand the stuff they’ve done in recent decades, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t great at some point. (Some would say they’re still great, and that’s fine too. I’m glad they’re getting something out of it.)

funkygreenjerusalem

February 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm

But I get the feeling that a lot of people that think he is a genius writer are not being honest with themselves.

You don’t know me – how could you possibly know if I’m lying to myself?
Such a stupid argument.

Lee co-created the best characters in comics. No doubt. But he co-created them. I will always maintain that the artists were the driving force behind stories and character development in the 60?s. That was the Marvel method. No one disputes this anymore. It’s how it happened.

Stan Lee would dispute this in at least one case – he believe he created Spider-Man.
He considers Dikto the co-creator, but truly believes he created it.

Read Stan’s work from the last thirty years and defend it as great writing. Where are his great stories now? Did he blow his load in the 60?s?

Why would we?
He’s passed his peak – like damn near every creator does at some point.

Let me ask though, where are these great creations, dominating popular culture, from the people you consider great writers?

Also, I like decompression. Read Walking Dead and tell me Stan would have done it better and in less pages.

WTF???

What does that even mean?

Read Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four and tell me Kirkman would have done it better in more pages.

I like Kirkman. In fact, I like a lot of series that are “decompressed.” Still, we’re talking about the best decades of Marvel comics. And I don’t think decompression has really suited the mainstream Marvel heroes. The biggest successes of the technique in Marvel comics have been with Bendis’s Daredevil and Alias. And they’re both noir, mystery titles surrounding a single character.

I haven’t read all the posts here, but the gist is “people who voted for the 60s don’t realize that Stan Lee isn’t that good a writer”, right?

On the point of “Lee couldn’t have done story X better in less pages”, read the first SpiderMan story. 11 PAGES! And it’s got all the high points of the origin. NO ONE has improved on the telling of that origin, because it’s perfect in 11 pages. 11 PAGES!!!

And so you know, I wasn’t alive during the 60s (or most of the 70s), but I voted 60s. The early Essentials books are such a great resource.

This came down to two decades for me: the 60s and the 80s. The 70s had some fun, out there stuff, but it was a very uneven decade. The 00s have some really amazing stuff, but also some pretty ridiculous decompression. And I’m not a fan of Bendis. Marvel’s 90s output actually hurts to think about. So we have the 60s and the 80s.

I respect the 60s a lot. This is where the marvel Universe began and the imagination on display is pretty cool. Everything that has come since has been a reaction to the 60s. it’s an important decade.

But I don’t love the 60s. I don’t love the stories. I respect them and enjoy them, but it’s an intellectual respect and enjoyment. I can appreciate what was accomplished and the overwhelming creative urge is laudable, but I don’t lose myself in the stories.

I’m an 80s guy. Claremont’s X-Men, Byrne’s FF, Nocenti’s Darevdevil, Squadron Supreme, Stern’s Avengers, the first Secret Wars…these are comics I still love to think about and re-read. The 80s in general was the decade where the whole comics industry really took a large step forward in terms of storytelling. The comics of the 80s are the comics that made me LOVE comics.

The 1980s were the best decade for comics, period.

P.S. My childhood was in the ’60s. But I’d rank the decades like this: ’80s, ’70s, ’60s, ’90s, ’00s. So no nostalgia bias here.

My ranking would be: 80s, 60s, 70s, 00s, 90s.

And I’d like to thank Capt USA for the kind words.

It seems I’ve angered some people. I guess people are a little more passionate about this then I anticipated. For those of you I offended with a few poorly chosen words I apologize.

Except for ‘T.’ Your to funny man.

You said, “Why can’t you just disagree without ascribing motives to the people you disagree with?”

You immediately followed that accusation by ascribing motives to the people you disagree with.

“Why is it so important to your peace of mind to convince yourselves that the people who disagree with you can’t possibly be doing so intelligently or honestly?”

I’m sorry but there is nothing rational or intelligent about that. You accuse me of an elitist mindset like you know my mind when all I was trying to do was elaborate on my previous arguments.

I never intended to make this personal. I can see now that my opening statement was a little inflammatory and I sincerely apologize for that. But settle down.

I posted my last post because I thought this thread was developing into a good discussion of Lee’s relative merits. I was trying to participate in that discussion.

I’ll state again. While I enjoyed most of Stan’s work from the 60′s and would agree that he is a good writer and an excellent editor I maintain that the genius in his creations was collaborative. As I said before. If Ditko had alone created Spider-Man it probably would not have been as good. The same goes for the FF and all the other great characters. I never said Stan’s work does not have merit. In fact I said quite the opposite. I just disagree with the idea that he was a ‘genius’ writer. To me genius is a big word.

I did imply that the caliber of Stan’s work wasn’t there in later years but that was to illustrate that it was the inadequate collaborators at all stages of his career that produced mediocre or even poor work. If the artist lacked imagination and the story was bad. Who’s fault is that?

Kirby and Ditko never reached level of greatness they did with Marvel. I can agree with that. If either was ever a genius it was as sequential artists. They were fine writers but never reached the story telling heights with out Stan. Once again the genius was in the collaboration. (Some would say Kirbys DC creations were solo genius and they could be right.)

To say that the two paragraphs you wrote criticizing me is is your way “to show (me) how annoying and insulting it can seem when someone chooses to psychoanalyze you or evaluate your motives for your answer rather than simply stick to arguing the merits of the work.” Is unfair. I wrote one statement with admittedly poorly chosen words. It wasn’t analysis. Justifying your 2 paragraphs of very personal attacks by saying I did it first and your just showing me what I did holds no water. It’s akin to saying “No offense but your an asshole.”

Anyway I didn’t mean to offend and I admit it was rude. I like the discussion, I enjoy an arguement but I’m not looking for a fight.

And as to decompression. I like it. Some of it is very good. Walking Dead and Powers are examples of decompressionist style and I think they are quite good. The style has a place. That’s all.

Marvel became so much more literate in the 2000s. They had quite a few stellar long creative team runs, and a number of projects that couldn’t/wouldn’t have been published in any other decade (including this one, with the current climate).

If we had a poll on Marvel’s worst decade, it seems that the 1990s would win that easily (and I quite agree). Beginning with the heavy influence of those who would found Image Comics, then those who imitated their styles, the ever-escalating wilder and crazier stories, the “event” mini-series coming into full bloom, the insane marketing of multiple and “special” covers… anywhere that you could find a good story was frequently overshadowed by horrible art and the marketing stunts that nearly killed Marvel (and the whole industry). Fortunately, there are still some gems to be found.

For me, separating the 70′s from the 80s is hard, because certain things from the 80s started in the 70s, so I tend to picture them there (Claremont/Byrne X-Men, or Miller Daredevil for instance). I was in high school from ’78-82, straddling the decades, so I have similar fogginess in my perceptions of music from the time. (I think of disco as being ’70s, but the torment continued into the ’80s.)

Overall, with a larger proportion of their books being good, I still have to rank the ’60 as top. But that’s not bad, because in the extremes of later decades (and earlier), there’s more variety, so the quality becomes more about individual tastes… something for everyone… and more experimentation, whether well done or not.

I’d place ’80s/’70s fairly neck-and-neck, maybe giving the edge to the ’80s… although the horrible printing process of the ’80s (BURN IN HELL, FLEXOGRAPHIC PRESS!) makes it physically challenging to read most of their books. :)

70s, no contest, followed by the sixties.
I totally agree with Keith’s last sentence above; the printing is probably the single greatest handicap of a lot of 80s books.

For years and years in comic shops we used to discuss how good the comics were in the 80s. You had Claremont on X-Men, Byrne on FF(Hell at his peak Byrne is considered the best super-hero artists there ever was and the 80s was the time where he did everything), Simonson on Thor, X-Factor and FF, Miller on DD. It’s hard to beat the 80s. On the other one you had She-Hulk joining the FF and plenty of ridiculous stuff.

Then some would say it’s the 60s because everything was defined there.

But in retrospect I would say the best years were the 70s. Because of the diversity of genres. And how the template of how people remember the Marvel characters the best was set in the 70s. Super-Heroes get a creative bump by Byrne/CC’S X-MEn and you had stuff like Masters of Kung Fu, Tomb of Dracula and so forth.

1. 1970s
2. 1980s
3. 1960s
4. 2000s
5. 1990s

close, very close one!
The 80`s ande the 2000`s were fantastic eras for Marvel. If I decided whith my heart I would`ve gone whith the 80`s. It was then that I started reading comics, still a very young boy, a good habit I´ve kept to these days.
The biggest problem whith the 2000`s is that we don`t have (yet) the necessary distance to make a fair and balanced analysis. It was a great decade, whith comics becoming a mainstream phenomenon. It was the decade of Marvel`s ressurection, whith many, many great runs (bendis daredevil, morrison`s New x-men, JMS Amazing Spider-man, Bendis Ultimate Spider-man, Millar`s Ultimates, Jones Incredible Hulk, Waid`s Fantastic four, Rucka`s Wolverine, Brubacker`s Captain América, JMS Thor, Bendis New Avengers, Bendis Alias, Ennis Punisher, etc…).
My vote went to the 2000`s, but it was close, very, very, very close!

Just to add to my previous opinion:
-I have a great amount of respect for the 60`s. It was when the Marvel age began, and it is incredible how such a simplistic era (in comics) could produce such beautiful runs like the ones Stan Lee had in Amazing Spider-man, Fantastic Four, Mighty Thor or Incredible Hulk.
-I´m not really fond of the 70`s. Whith the exception of Spider-man, the Avengers or Claremont/Byrne`s X-men, I dont really stop on anything. Too much horror.
-The 80`s were fantastic. Miller`s Daredevil, Claremont`s X-men, Stern and DeFalco`s Spider-man, David´s Hulk, Stern`s Avengers, Byrne`s Alpha flight and Fantastic Four, Gruenwald Captain América and Squadron Supreme, Claremont`s New Mutants and Excalibur, L. Simonson X-factor, W. Simonson`s Thor, Micheline/Layton Iron Man, Etc… Too many good things to enumerate. Go to the 80`s pool and see.
-the 90`s were bad (for Marvel. For Dc they weren´t that bad) except, maybe, for the last 2,5 years. It was then that we had things like Busiek`s Thunderbolts, Kelly`s Deadpool, Waid`s Kazar, the heroes return (Busiek`s Avengers and Iron Man, Waid`s Captain America, Jurgen´s Thor), Marvel Knights (Smith`s Daredevil, Priest`s Black Panther, Jenkin´s Inhumans).
-The 2000`s received my vote, as I explained in the previous post.

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