Design School: 10 Iconic MARVEL COMICS Logos1 of 12by Graeme McMillan, Newsarama Contributor
This week's reveals of the covers from certain Marvel NOW! relaunches has brought not only cover art from the likes of Greg Land, Geof Darrow and John Romita Jr., but also a whole host of new logos for some familiar titles.
The latter got us thinking about Marvel's best logos to date, and what made for a good one, a train of thought that reached the terminus of this list of ten of the best Marvel Comics logos so far.
THE MIGHTY THOR2 of 12Original Usage: #338-432 (First series)
When Walt Simonson took over The Mighty Thor in the mid-80s, his first cover had a new character destroying the book's original logo, with this redesigned version replacing it on the cover of his second issue. It's a wonderful design that hints at the character's historical origins (Not just the rune-esque qualities of the "Thor"; look at the celtic-scroll-influence of the "The Mighty" on the original version) while being strong enough in a visual sense to match the visual punch we were getting from the Simonson covers it accompanied. Another logo that has made periodic returns throughout the years after being replaced - A version of it is making an appearance on the new Thor: God of Thunder title, even if the "God of Thunder" type is far less interesting than the "The Mighty" of the original - this is one of those rare logos that tells you everything you need to know about the series in one fell swoop.
POWER MAN AND IRON FIST3 of 12Original Usage: #50-125 (First series)
Another logo that gives everything you need immediately, Power Man and Iron Fist's logo is so good that it succeeds despite that really lazy "and" in the center; Not only do you get the visual punch of the logo (Pun intended; the shape of this logo always reminded me of a fist headed at the reader, playing off both the "Power" and the "Fist" in the title), but there's also the hilarious iron rivets on the "Iron Fist," as if he was some kind of Iron Man rip-off. Considering the number of words and essential emptiness of "Power Man" when it comes to visual meaning, this is pretty much as close to a home run as you can get, as far as I'm concerned.
X-FACTOR4 of 12Original Usage: #10-111 (First Series)
Another great 1980s logo that arrived on a series at the same time as artist Walt Simonson, the second X-Factor logo took the bold step of separating the title into visual components instead of keeping it as one, hyphenated, word (Note the lack of hypen in the logo). But it works: The "X" pops off the page, and gives the logo an amazing weight that anchors it at the top of the page no matter what else is happening beneath it (and, considering some of the things that came beneath it thanks to artists including Simonson, Whilce Portacio and Larry Stroman, that's saying something). Eventually dumped for something more traditional (The word is complete on one line!) and more compact, this remains a high-point for X-book logos that, maybe one day, we'll see return.
THE PUNISHER5 of 12Original Usage: #1 (First Series) - #104 (Second Series)
Speaking of visual puns, look at the strength of this logo; it towers above the reader, looking down at them and likely sneering as it does so. Okay, maybe logos can't sneer, but there's an overpowering quality in the original Punisher logo that seems entirely fitting for the character, as much as well as a theatrical sense that also feels right for a man who chooses to wear a giant skull on his chest and call himself "the Punisher." As unsubtle, grandiose and distant as the character himself, the logo for The Punisher is exactly right... especially when someone decided to add a skull to it later for extra emphasis.
HULK6 of 12Original Usage: #129-#313 (First series)
It's all about the context, sometimes. Outside of its original placement, this logo looks fairly bland; just some regular type telescoped towards the reader. But for the first hundred issues or so of its usage, it was constantly cropped by the edges of the page (and, for a large part of that time, partially obscured by the "Marvel Comics Group" banner across the top of the cover), and became transformed into something else: A logo that, like its title character, couldn't be contained or kept in one place, and was charging straight at you.
(UNCANNY) X-MEN7 of 12Original Usage: #50-#383 (First series)
Never mind just choosing from Marvel Comics' logos; let's just save time by agreeing that this is one of the most iconic comic book logos of all time, shall we? Jim Steranko's reportedly last-minute redesign of the X-Men logo remains almost effortlessly contemporary almost five decades - and countless uses, on comic covers, animated TV show credits, toys, video games and all manner of other outlets - after its creation, in large part because it feels so removed from any particular era. Eye-catching (The off-kilter, particular perspective echoes things like the Superman logo, but seems "off," somehow, less friendly and more distant) and basic enough to avoid being tied down to one particular era, it's no surprise that this one continually keeps coming back; I'm hoping that it makes a re-appearance at some Marvel NOW! point.
FANTASTIC FOUR8 of 12Original Usage: #1-119 (First Series)
The original FF logo is a classic of 1960s design, something that feels so closely aligned with the team (It's quirky but not off-putting, just like the characters!) and the time that it can, at times, seem problematic. No wonder that it's not exactly a logo that's stuck around, being replaced a couple of times through the 1970s, and then again three times in the last decade; it's a reminder of the era when the characters were in their prime and made the most sense, but in this day and age firmly makes the book look "retro," something that seems at odds with a comic that should always be looking towards undiscovered goals and destinations. At its heart, the FF is a book about the future as much as it's about family; it's a shame that their finest logo is something that is so stuck in the past.
WOLVERINE9 of 12Original Usage: #1 (First Series)
Take a bow, Tom Orzchowski, for this beautiful logo. It's everything the character is - Sharp, strong, surprisingly graceful - and something that Logan isn't, as well: Kind of beautiful. Likely the best logo from Marvel in the last thirty years, proof of its brilliance comes in the fact that it's never been replaced for any length of time outside of crossover-related cover treatments that replaced all logos with a line-wide type treatment.
THE AVENGERS10 of 12Original Usage: #96-#235 (First series)
The logo that has now come to define Marvel's Mightiest Heroes - It even made it to the movies, unlike every other Marvel movie to date - has a lot going for it, now least of which the subconscious shout-out to DC Comics' classic Action Comics logo (It's the oversized "A", at that angle). But the greatest part of the design is the arrow on the bridge of the "A". Why is it there? A Hawkeye reference? An implication that the characters are constantly moving forward? A hint to everyone to read the rest of the word? Who knows - but it works, and it's what makes this logo so distinctive.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN11 of 12Original Usage: #1-#394 (First series)
One of the longest-surviving logos in Marvel history, if not the longest-surviving one, the Amazing Spider-Man logo is a design classic because of its simplicity. Sure, there's nothing specifically "spider-ish" about the look - unless you count the webs that were part of the look originally - but there's a playfulness and agility in the text that brings to mind everyone's favorite friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, and a straight-forwardness and approachability that Peter Parker would approve of, as well (When the typeface was changed in the '90s to be more angular, it changed the look of the logo spectacularly - no pun intended - and made it far less attractive; no surprise that it reverted back to the original after a few years).
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