In March, an acclaimed era of Marvel Comics will apparently come to the end when the last issues of the Marvel Adventures line are published (Newsarama Note: In the March 2010 Solicitations, the Marvel Adventures titles are listed as “final issue.” When reached for comment, Marvel would neither confirm nor deny the cancellation of the line as a whole). Specializing in stand-alone, out-of-continuity stories, the MA line of books were designed to appeal to all ages…which meant that kids and older fans alike enjoyed their offbeat looks at life in the Marvel Universe.
Many of Marvel’s best creators worked on these books, which gave the Marvel Adventures line a unique flavor. At their best, they combined the crazy high concepts of a 1960s-era book with the vivid characters and imagination from all eras of the Marvel Universe. As a special tribute, we’ve decided to pick 10 of our favorite issues of the Marvel Adventures books. If you missed them the first time, don’t worry – we’ll let you know which digest volumes reprint these stories. Set back, and prepare to have some fun.1) Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #9, “A Not-So-Beautiful Mind” by Jeff Parker and Juan Santacruz: Jeff Parker (Agents of Atlas) has used the Marvel Adventures format to tell some truly insane stories, from Arnim Zola swapping around the Avengers’ brains to a softball game against Galactus. But perhaps the peak of his run was this tale where the large-headed villain MODOK…er, MODOC (can’t have a “Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing” in an all-ages book, so it’s “Conquest” instead), tries to turn the Avengers into his allies. The result features a gaggle of big-domed Avengers, including “Capdoc” and “Wolverdoc,” whose claws don’t extend past his face. Add a gorgeously hideous Cameron Stewart cover and the first appearance of one of Marvel Adventures’ few recurring characters (Karl, the friendly henchman), and you have a book that showed what the MA line was all about. (Reprinted in Marvel Adventures: The Avengers Vol.3: Bizarre Adventures) 2) Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #34, "The Unnatural" by Fred Van Lente and Cory Hanscher. Think Norman Osborn in charge of the Dark Reign is scary? Try Norman Osborn: Softball Dad! When Peter Parker uses his super-powers to become an MVP, Harry Osborn finds his overbearing dad reverting to his Green Goblin persona to make sure his kid stays ahead. All this, and Flash Thompson learns a lesson about steroids. (Reprinted in Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man Vol.9: Fiercest Foes) 3) Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #35, “The Side-Kick” by Fred Van Lente and Cory Hanscher. Venom deciding to be Spider-Man’s sidekick is already a recipe for comedy, but what makes this issue a classic isn’t just its parody of the idea of “Venom: Lethal Protector.” No, it’s how Venom blackmails Spider-Man into letting him hang around: After Spidey successfully bluffs against the idea of Venom exposing his secret identity of Peter Parker, Venom goes for the big guns – he’ll tell everyone where Spidey keeps his secret stash of sugar! “NOT MY PIXIE STIX!” exclaims the horrified web-head. Forget eating brains – MA Venom is EVIL. (Reprinted in Fiercest Foes) 4) Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four #18, “Sue Storm, Secret Agent” by Zeb Wells and Jose Angel Cano Lopez: Zeb Wells has played in the MA field a few times with such stories as Doctor Octopus’s arms following Spider-Man home and the Chameleon impersonating Aunt May. Perhaps his most fun tale is this one of an underappreciated Sue Storm deciding to secretly moonlight as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., in a story that reminds readers she might be the FF’s most powerful member. (Reprinted in Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four Vol. 5: All 4 One, 4 for All) 5) Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #12, “Ego the Loving Planet” by Jeff Parker and Juan Santacruz. Jeff Parker strikes again in this story where Ego, the Living Planet threatens the Earth by trying to…um…date it. Yes, Ego has a crush on the Earth, and might crush all of us in the process. Ego on the moon: “I see you’ve got a shorty. I’m cool with that.” Eventually, the Avengers are able to save the world by showing Ego that the Earth is crawling with…humans. “I’ll be back around,” Ego tells Earth. “You clean that act up and we can discuss.” Like all good love affairs, it’s so wrong it has to be right. (Reprinted in Bizarre Adventures) 6) Marvel Adventures: SuperHeroes #4, “Klaw’s Good Ol’ Fashioned Country Revival,” by Paul Tobin and Alvin Lee: Klaw, the Master of Sound, threatens the Marvel Adventures Universe as…a Country-Western star? Yes, Klaw claims to have reformed, complete with cowboy hat and playing the guitar with his sound-blaster hand. Spider-Man, Iron Man and the Hulk aren’t convinced, but unlike most stories, this one ends with the heroes realizing they were wrong, and helping the innocent Klaw out. It’s good-natured and features the Hulk gathering up a bunch of stray dogs. (Reprinted in Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man, Hulk & Iron Man Triple Threat Digest Vol.1) 7) Marvel Adventures: Iron Man #6 by Fred Van Lente and James Cordeiro. Fans looking forward to Fred Van Lente’s upcoming series Iron Man: Legacy might want to check out the 12 issues of Marvel Adventures: Iron Man, where he got his start on Shellhead. And this issue gives a taste of the insanity that might await fans in the new series… So it’s Iron Man vs. the Living Laser on a space station. Then, the story reintroduces the idea of bee-themed villain Swarm as a swarm of nano-bots. Then the nano-bots infect the space station and turn it into a giant Transformer shaped like the Living Laser. And there’s even a poignant ending. Bring on Legacy, Van Lente! (Reprinted in Marvel Adventures: Iron Man Vol.2: Iron Amory) 8) Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four #12: “Doom, Where’s My Car?” by Jeff Parker and Juan Santacruz. The Human Torch buys a classic car at an auction. It turns out to be one Victor Von Doom worked on in college. Doom wants his car back. Chaos ensues. ‘nuff said. 9) Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man#57 by Paul Tobin and Chris Samnee. The last issues of Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man were a great throwback to classic soap opera Spider-Man, with the usual stand-alone Marvel Adventures fun. This one managed to combine Spider-Man, a great new slight-of-hand villain called the Silencer, Emma Frost, a new mutant girlfriend for Peter Parker named Chat, AND the Werewolf by Night. And it’s all drawn by Chris Samnee! 10) Marvel Adventures, The Avengers#28: “Power, Man!” by Jeff Parker and Rodney Buchemi. In the Marvel Universe, Luke Cage is the baddest dude on the street. In the Marvel Adventures Universe, there’s only one person he fears…his Momma. Yes, Momma Cage is there to make sure her Lucas listens to those nice Avengers, behaves himself, and doesn’t use any naughty words. And if he doesn’t listen, well… You don’t mess with Momma Cage. Period. Just imagine what she could do in the regular Marvel Universe! The Dark Reign would have lasted a week. This story also features Ant-Man feebly protesting, “I’m street!” (Reprinted in Marvel Adventures: The Avengers Vol.8: The New Recruits) And those are our favorite Marvel Adventures moments. We’d like to thank all the creators and editors Mark Paniccia and Nate Cosby for all the great comics! We’re sure we left some stories out, so feel free to discuss your favorite Marvel Adventures in the comments below! Zack Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a regular contributor to Newsarama.