It’s event season in the comic book industry. Marvel’s Age of Ultron features robots, time hopping, and alternate versions of the beloved Avengers. Meanwhile, DC is about to kick off their Trinity War series which promises to pit the Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark against each other in a superpowered battle royal.
In honor of the season, we present this run down of the ten top comic book events ever.
10. Zero Hour: DC is well known for using events to rewrite and simplify continuity. The mega event Zero Hour: Crisis in Time was made purposefully to streamline the universe. The story isn’t even as important as the intended effects. Zero Hour set the precedent that, as you’ll see throughout this list, any amount of time travel during a crisis means continuity is amount to be rewritten.
9. Earth X/Kingdom Come: Alex Ross joined with the industry’s lead talents to portray the future of the pantheon of heroes. The world was overrun with superpowers, with the new normal being a state of genetic superbeing. The moral code of our greatest hero battles find a way to shine through the new generation of morally ambiguous punks. This is the synopsis for both Marvel’s Earth X and DC’s Kingdom Come events. There have been other predictive events (DC One Million and everything 2099 at Marvel), but none held such sway over the present. Even today, hints fall that each of these futures are the final destiny for each of the houses.
8. Flashpoint: The highly anticipated DC super event was pure mechanics. The story was a series of pointless what ifs. And the villain of the series was an affront to fans. But it makes the list purely for its impact. Flashpoint completely reset the DC universe into the New 52.
7. Age of Apocalypse: This may be one of the most long running crises ever. Age of Apocalypse completely usurped the X-Men universe for some time. And the characters from the beloved series are still finding ways into the primary Marvel universe. Seeing Magneto as leader of the X-Men in a dystopian world made for piles of interesting comics. And the alternate versions of beloved heroes was pure fun. The current Marvel event, Age of Ultron, seems to be paying homage to the classic in at least name. Though, the connections may prove deeper.
6. Avengers Versus X-Men: This was the most highly hyped event ever. Coinciding with last year’s The Avengers movie, Avengers Versus X-Men played their huge casts of heroes against each other in what was to be pure awesome. But after a half-dozen amazing issues, Marvel copped out by painting one side of the heroes as villains. From there on out, it was a simple heroes versus villains battle. However, the ramifications are still felt throughout the more unified Marvel Universe with mutants playing prominent roles in many Avengers titles and Cyclops still an outcast. And the initial fights between actual Avengers and actual X-Men are no doubt iconic.
5. Infinite Crisis: Superboy Prime punched the walls of reality and thereby shook continuity changes into the universe as desired by DC’s writers. Infinity Crisis was the true follow up to DC’s 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths. This series makes the list not only for the solid storytelling of Geoff Johns, but because of its near perfect impact on the DC Universe. No other crisis has so banded heroes and streamlined its target, even if its means were unconventional.
4. House of M: Just as Infinite Crisis is DC’s event with best results, House of M is Marvel’s. The story itself was interesting in that it explored the wishes of many of the heroes, but it was all irrelevant as it occurred in an alternate reality created by the Scarlet Witch. But a few words carried over, “No more mutants.” The impact of House of M was so simple and yet so poignant: the number of mutants on the planet dropped from thousands to just under 200. House of M guides the mutant race even to today.
3. Identity Crisis: DC’s Identity Crisis was the company’s greatest character crisis. The story was personal and heart wrenching. Not to mention the battle between Deathstroke and the Justice League, which is the greatest comic book fight ever. Brad Meltzer’s greatest foray into comics up to that point showed that character-driven stories could make for compelling events. Meltzer is currently coordinating Astonishing X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, which both feature his signature strong character arcs.
2. Civil War: This makes the second spot for doing it right. Marvel’s strength is its heroes, and Civil War was their complete acceptance and profiteering of that fact. The plot was fast and smart and featured all the characters everyone wanted to see. And, as is a modern requirement of mega-events, someone important died at the end. Civil War is pure comic book fun.
1. Crisis on Infinity Earths: The one that started it all and set the standard for event happenings. DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths created the modern sense of continuity and death in comics. Supergirl and Flash both met their demise in the series. The multiverse was widdled down to one congealed Earth. And countless heroes from across titles and time joined with and against countless villains. Ever since this series, comics has been guided by homages and references to the original event.