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The Greatest Tom DeFalco Stories Ever Told!

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Every day in April we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Tom DeFalco Stories Ever Told!


10. “The Challenge of Hobgoblin!” Amazing Spider-Man #259-261

After finishing Roger Stern’s last Hobgoblin arc when he took over Amazing Spider-Man, this three-parter gave DeFalco the chance to first put his own spin on the villain. DeFalco teamed the Hobgoblin with the mysterious Rose and brought Harry Osborn into it, with Harry’s Goblin legacy bringing problems upon his wife and their unborn son. Meanwhile, Peter is still reeling from the revelation that Mary Jane Watson knows that he Spider-Man and has known for quite some time! Ron Frenz drew these issues with a couple of different inkers.

9. “Legacy” Spider-Girl #0-5

This is the introduction to the world of May Parker. It includes the reprinted What If…? #105 now as Spider-Girl #0. DeFalco and artists Pat Olliffe and Al Williamson (as well as the initial artists for the title, Ron Frenz and Bill Sienkiewicz)

8. “The Storm and the Sacrifice!” Thunderstrike #22-24

The story of Eric Masterson comes to a close in this dramatic story arc that answers all the unresolved questions in Thunderstrike’s world (most notably “Who is BlackAxe?”). Eric Masterson always stood out in his ability to be heroic when he was just a mortal in a world of gods and this final story shows him holding his own with the most worthy warriors Thor has ever known. The art is by Ron Frenz and Al Milgrom.

7. “Visiting Hours!” Marvel Two-in-One #96

The Thing has saved the planet but not without being beaten so badly that he cannot leave his hospital bed. The news that the hero is all alone in a hospital without the ability to move brings out all of Thing’s worst enemies. The heroes of the Marvel Universe, though, are determined that the Thing gets his due rest. One villain, though, manages to sneak in. What will he do to the Thing?! Art by Ron Wilson and Mike Esposito.

6. “The Kaine Saga” Spider-Girl #14-17

May Parker’s life as Spider-Girl, while dangerous, always seemed like she was in command of the situation, especially with her father giving her training (a condition of her being allowed to continue to be Spider-Girl). However, when she encounters the man named Kaine, all bets are off. Kaine handles her so easily that it throws her confidence off for the next few issues before Kaine returns, only this time her father must come out of retirement to deal with him. By the end of the issue, though, May essentially silences anyone’s doubts about her capabilities (including her own). Pat Olliffe and Al Williamson provide the art.

The top five is on the next page!

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Travis Pelkie

April 8, 2013 at 1:22 am

While I do like that you included plenty of exclamation points in the descriptions, I don’t think you have quite enough! More exclaiming! This is DeFalco after all!!!

I kid, I kid!

This is a pretty good list! I assume our pal Bill Reed voted for Thunderstrike down the line!

I’m surprised (and if I missed it, oops!) there aren’t any Thor or FF stories on here! That’s what I know him from, mostly!

But I’m surprised at how much on this I have read (Spider-Girl, Thing in the hospital, the Crusher Hogan one in a reprint with a much blander cover) and liked! I guess I am a bit of a DeFalco fan after all!!!

Speaking of Marvel Two-In-One, any chance of a Top X#of Team-Up Stories somewhere down the line? I’d imagine that’d have to be more than a top 10 (maybe 25?).

Surprised that the Champion story wasn’t #1, but I guess the alien costume one is more famous.

I would say that the reason why there is no Thor (well, there is a Thunderstrike story, deservedly) is because deFalco got the book just after Simonson’s defining run – and his work suffered by comparision. He did write some fine stories there, like Alone Against the Celestials.

His FF, though, was just plain bad – and I LIKE deFalco! It did improve a bit by the end, but it was too little, too late.

Well, not too many of the ones I suggested made it onto the list, but that just shows how many great stories of Defalco’s I hadn’t considered. The Crusher Hogan (4) issue and Thing fighting the Champion (2) being the most forehead-slapping ones of all. I also had considered the Spider-Man vs Firelord issues (5), but put my vote behind ANOTHER story of Spidey beating the odds in his fight against the Sinister Syndicate a few issues later. It seems like that is a common Defalco trope, hero winning against all the conflicts before him or her, but I guess that’s what super-heroes comics are often about and Defalco really does it well!

I was upset that I ended up leaving Marvel Two-In-One #86 off my list in lieu of some more personal favorites (Dazzler #2, Thor #427-428), so I am glad to see that it placed so high here.

Glad to see Spidey vs. Firelord and “Visiting Hours” place here, as well… both easily shoe-ins on my list.

I think, when compiling my list, I finally realized that I would have to consider DeFalco one of my all time faves. His body of work includes some of my most favorite comics ever. Plenty of pure fun and batcrap insanity.

ASM #258 is one of my favorite issues ever, and much of that has to do with the awesomeness of Paper-Bag Spider-Man. One of the greatest moments of my comic book reading life.

Thor #427-428 with Kitty Pryde being tricked into believing that Thor is the Juggernaut and then phasing him solid into concrete is another one of the greatest moments in my comic reading life. The final panel alone of #427 is worth the cover price.

joe the poor speller

April 8, 2013 at 7:14 am

solid list. come on, marvel, make a amazing spider-man by defalco and frez omnibus, we’re buying!

Mr. DeFalco is a true gentlemen, damn fun story teller also. That Champion story was amazing–I found a beat-all-to-hell copy and enjoyed the daylights out of it.

Captain Haddock

April 8, 2013 at 8:55 am

I reread that Crusher Hogan story recently, amazed at how well it holds up. I wasn’t even born when that was published, but it still speaks to me, which in turn speaks very highly of that story.
Remember when Dial M for Monkey adapted that Champion story and had Monkey fighting their champion voiced by Randy Savage (Oooooo YEAHHHH!)? Good times.

One thing that might have hurt Thor a bit was to a degree he and Ron Frenz overdid the Lee-Kirby era homage a bit. Obviously there was some new stuff like Thunderstrike but the 1960s Marvel style felt a bit forced.

One thing that probably hurt his FF was the Johnny-Alicia relationship felt pretty natural and not only did he undo it to restore a relationship that felt like it had run its course, but he did so in a storyline that coincidentally or not paralleled a Legion story way too closely (two people who had known each other for a very long time without previously being involved begin a romance that leads to marriage; the wife is revealed to be a shape-shifting imposter while the original is secured away by the imposter’s fellow aliens). I think that put a cloud on how the run as a whole was perceived.

Great list, and glad to see the Alien Costume Saga at #1, where it should be. A little disappointed that none of his Fantastic Four run with Paul Ryan didn’t make this list.

The Firelord cover shown was my first ASM issue, and is tied with the Marvel Tales reprint of the Rhino’s first appearance as my 4th-5th super hero comic (Secret Wars II 1-3 being the first three).

If I had voted in this, I would have included the Black Galaxy Saga from Thor. The DeFalco/Frenze Thor run is one I would like to complete (I do not regularly buy Thor).

I hoped for for a little FF on the list.

The entire Seth/Thor storyline shoulda made it. I cant think of one thing from his FF run though.

The only great DeFalco stories I’ve read are the Thing-Sandman story and various spider-Man issues. Everything else has been lousy to mediocre. Of course, I haven’t read anything on this list aside from the Spider-Man and the Sandman stories, so I assume I’ve just missed all the great stuff he’s written elsewhere.

I’m still amazed by what he was able to accomplish in Amazing Spider-Man– the alien costume, Mary Jane revealing that she’s knows his identity, and the debuts of the Rose, the Black Fox, the Puma, and Silver Sable, all within his first year on the title.

I might be wrong, but I have a vague feeling that I once read that he’d worked at Archie before he moved to Marvel. Does anyone know if he wrote any great stories there?

I really liked DeFalco on FF, including the whole Johnny married the Skrull plot (I thought it was fun, and I don’t know anything about Legion) but I couldn’t think of any storylines from his run that deserved to be on this list ahead of what is here. I think I liked more his handle on the characters and his overall approach more than any particular storyline, he really seemed to get the FF, even when they were acting like idiots.

Only real disappointing thing in this list is that except for the Thunderstrike one, I’ve already read all of the comics. Usually I go through a list like this, I get excited about something I want to read. Ah well, maybe I’ll go reread some Spider-Girl.


April 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I really enjoyed his Celestial Saga (or whatever it’s called) in Thor. I’ve re-read it a couple of times and it’s still a lot of fun. Just last week I pulled a Thor comic out at random – “Return to Wundagore” and I really enjoyed that as well, even if it was basically one long Lee/Kirby Silver- Age swipe. I think I’m going to hunt down the rest of the Thor/Frenz Thor issues. It was like eating candy, not nutritious at all, but quite a lot of fun.

Also: I probably need to make up for the fact that I once tore up a DeFalco/Frenz Thor comic in front of my Mom, declaring it to be 100% pure crap – a “total Kirby Rip-Off”. Well it was, but I’ve mellowed considerably and can just enjoy them now for what they are.

I still can’t bring myself to read most of his FF work. The Paul Ryan/Bulanadi artwork just hurts my eyes. Plus coming right after Simonson’s run, it was just dispiriting as all hell to me.

Dang, man, dang ol’ best punch in my crotch, y’know, dang, goddang ol’ trick question.

Not a big fan of DeFalco in general, but the list got it right that his 1980s stories were better.

And I suppose this is not an original comment, but man, the Spider-Man costume really doesn’t work on a woman.

I think what might have hurt his FF run (this coming from someone who only has about 10 issues of it) is that it is so very ’90s’. You have die cut covers, chromium covers, ‘everything you know is wrong’, heroes that are grim or have ‘attitude’, female hero in a (trashy) bathing-suit, and a hero getting killed.

I am sure there were people who read that run and did not like the 90s excess, and those who stayed away because of it. Both result in it not getting votes.

DeFalco was a great Spider-man writer, and I’ve been meaning to go back and grab his Spider-girl work which I’ve heard is quite good. Liked his early Thor work a lot (especially the Set story), but I feel like it went downhill badly shortly after issue 400 (I never cared for Thunderstrike in any form).

Have to say I was getting interested in DeFalco’s Legion Lost work, but that series collapsed rather badly. (I really don’t blame Tom on that one, it was a mess at the end that has a heavy-handed editorial fiat written all over it)

The only good thing about DeFalco’s FF run was Paul Ryanon pencils… really clean yet dynamic, especially for the 90s

BTW, it’s ‘Bloodaxe’ not ‘Blackaxe’ for Thunderstrike. I liked Eric Masterson’s series, and still remember Thunderstrike fondly. (I’ve a Thunderstrike Heroclix on my desk at work)

“And They Shall Call Him…Champion!” Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7 is so awesome. It was even homaged/parodied on Dexter’s Laboratory.

figured toms spider girl run would make the list plus what he did to at least before marvel totaly messed up the hobogoblin with the parlor game of who he is . he made him a worthy spider foe. not to mention hoping the issue where the sandman and thing have a drink and learn from each other made the list

DeFalco’s “Champion” story was remade as the “Dial ‘M’ for Monkey” episode “Wrasslor” which featured the voice of “Macho Man” Randy Savage as Wrasslor.

I’m disappointed that none of the early appearances of Silver Sable in Spiderman (After the fox, the sinister syndicate and the solo vs Jack O’Lantern) made it. – I voted for all 3
I also voted for the Machine Man miniseries and the first 2 issues of Dazzler

What Byrne said about the Alicia retcon: “DeFalco. Undoing the Johnny/Alicia relationship was, of course, the prerogative of any writer(s) who followed me on FF. My only complaint: I wish DeFalco had not chosen such a clumsy and “comic-booky” (in the worst sense of the term) way of doing it. (8/12/2005) DeFalco wrote some of the best Spider-Man of the post-Stern years, but he seemed totally out of his depth on the FF.” (1/25/2006)

I´d put No. 4 in number 1. “Whatever happened to Crusher Hogan” is one of my all-time favorites Spidey stories.

I’d probably include the Spider-Girl where she faces down a resurrected Norman. The acid test of worth for any spider-person and a heck of a 100th issue.

@Rene It’s funny that you say that the Spider-man costume doesn’t work on a woman (and I’m not necessarily disagreeing) in the same column where the top story is about the Black Costume, which Spider-Man got the “idea*” for from Spider-Woman…which seems to work pretty well.



There are a lot of similarities to the problems with the Cassandra Cain version of Batgirl (Beyond other costume choice problems). Do we have a problem with female heroes who don’t show face, or at least hair?

(*Knowing fully well that they probably came up with the Spider-man costume first then put the new Spider-woman in it in Secret Wars after they developed it for Spider-man)

Jonathon Riddle

May 21, 2013 at 2:27 am

A great list, all-in-all. It’s funny, because I never thought of DeFalco as a favorite writer, yet I have read and enjoyed almost all of these (the lone exception being the Thunderstrike story). I’d also like to add that his Machine man mini-series with Barry Windsor Smith was also excellent and worth the attention of anyone who enjoyed the items on this list.

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