Marvel’s 10 Best Twelve Issue Series


Marvel is currently a company that loves to throw new number one issues at readers so much that the term ongoing series is basically meaningless. However, back in the day, when they had ideas that were too long for a 6-issue series and too short for an ongoing, they’d fall back on the 12-issue miniseries format. These miniseries gave creators time to flesh out characters and concepts while setting up exciting plots.



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Marvel has put out some fantastic 12-issue series over the years, showing the length and breadth of the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, it’s almost a lost art at the publisher, one they should bring back to prominence.

10 The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank Is Still The Best Punisher Story Ever

The Marvel Knights inaugural books were all hits, except for The Punisher, which took a horror-inspired take on the character. Fans rebelled, so in 2000, the imprint went back to basics in the best possible way with The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank. Written and drawn by Preacher creators Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, it was just what everyone wanted.

While the book wasn’t for mature readers, like the duo’s later Punisher book, it did a great job of capturing the humor, violence, and great storytelling they were known for. It’s still a high point for the character, even two decades later.

9 The Twelve Focused On Obscure Golden Age Marvel Heroes

Marvel’s Golden Age heroes aren’t as well known as DC’s, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great modern stories about them. The Twelve, by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Chris Weston, stars some lesser-known heroes of the Golden Age. Captured by the Nazis for study, they’re all suspended in animation before being found in the modern age.

The book explores all that was good about America in the 1940s and everything that was bad, as the heroes are brought into a world they don’t recognize. This is a vastly underrated story that more fans should check out.

8 Eternals Reminded Everyone How Great The Concept Was

Eternals, by writer Kieron Gillen and artists Esad Ribic and Guiu Villanova, was Marvel’s best book of 2021. Featuring the return of the ancient beings, they have to deal with Thanos appearing, a betrayal from one of their own, the revelation of a terrible secret, and the ascendance of the Mad Titan to Prime Eternal. It reminded everyone why the group is such a great concept.

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Gillen, Ribic, and Villanova presented everything great about the Eternals in 12 outstanding issues. It’s the kind of book that shows up everything else on the stands when it’s coming out. It’s a brilliant epic, full of action, adventure, humor, and heart.

7 The Vision Is An Unsettling Masterpiece

The Vision is Tom King’s best work at Marvel, a masterpiece of tone that finds the horror inherent in the concept of a powerful robot trying to be human. With art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, the story focuses on the Vision’s attempt to create a robotic family and have a “normal” life. However, one terrible event changes everything, and things spiral farther and farther out of control.

King is able to give the story a sense of dread with every page, with even the most mundane activities feeling like something from a horror comic. Walta’s artwork does the heavy lifting, bringing the whole thing to macabre life.

6 Secret Wars (1985) Was Marvel’s First Big Event Book

Fan service has taken multiple meanings at Marvel over the years. Secret Wars, by writer Jim Shooter and artist Mike Zeck, is a perfect example of this. It wasn’t the publisher’s first event book, Marvel Super Heroes Contest Of Champions, but it was the first big event book. It put together all the most popular heroes and villains in a contest set up by the Beyonder.

Secret Wars is full of great Marvel moments. It’s nothing groundbreaking; it’s not an industry-changing narrative that changed comics forever. It’s just great superhero/supervillain action in the mighty Marvel manner.

5 House Of X/Powers Of X Are Two Books That Are One

On the one hand, House Of X and Powers Of X are two separate 6-issue series. However, reading one without the other goes against the point of the story they tell. They’re even referred to as the “two books that are one” on the reading order pages at the end of every issue. Written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Pepe Larraz on HoX and R.B. Silva on PoX, the story changed the X-Men forever.

Introducing readers to the Krakoan status quo, and all the things that made it different from what came before, HoX/PoX is a modern masterpiece. It enthralled readers, and even with the X-line moving away from the story it set in up in the wake of Hickman’s departure, it’s still worth a read.

4 Avengers Forever Is A Travelogue Through Avengers History

The Avengers have been in some amazing stories over the years. One that pulled from every era of Avengers’ history is Avengers Forever, by writers Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern, and artist Carlos Pacheco. Starring a team of Avengers plucked from throughout the ages and entangled in the machinations of Kang, Immortus, the Supreme Intelligence, and the Time Keepers, it’s an Avengers tale for the ages.

Avengers Forever is a deep dive into the team’s history, clearing some of the murkier points of Avengers continuity and retconning things to streamline it. It’s also an epic story that draws readers right in and the best Kang/Immortus story of the modern age.

3 The Sentry Is A Psychological Superhero Classic

The Sentry was a critical darling when it came out. Written by Paul Jenkins with art by Jae Lee, the book tells the story of Bob Reynolds, a man with mental wellness issues who starts to have memories of being a superhero. Meanwhile, a deadly presence has returned to the world, one related to Bob and whatever is awakening inside him, something that will draw in the greatest heroes on the planet.

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Introducing the Sentry, his foe the Void, and the terrible secret that united them, this series retconned the history of the Marvel Universe. It’s masterfully written and drawn, a book that will stay with readers long after they put it down.

2 The Inhumans (1998) Showed How An Inhumans Comics Should Be Done

The Inhumans, by writer Paul Jenkins and artist Jae Lee, was the first time the Inhumans had a book in a long time. A huge hit when it was coming out; it’s not as well read as it once was but remains influential. With the world arrayed against Attilan and a threat from within jeopardizing the city and their trust in their leaders, Black Bolt and the Royal Family must do whatever it takes to ensure their people survive.

This book was a lot of ’90s fans’ first impression of who the Inhumans were, and it was brilliant. It combined political intrigue, deft characterization, and killer art into a near-perfect package. Of course, every fan of this book wants to kick Marvel for botching the Inhumans so severely in the 2010s.

1 Squadron Supreme Is An Undisputed Classic

Squadron Supreme is a must-read for every Marvel fan. Written by Mark Gruenwald with art by Paul Ryan, Bob Hall, and John Buscema, it follows the team after returning to their Earth and deciding to take control in order to ensure peace and prosperity. Not every team member agrees and what follows is a look at the pitfall of a benevolent dictatorship that is more thoughtful than readers would expect.

Squadron Supreme predates Watchmen and treads similar ground, bringing maturity and complexity to Marvel that was often missing. It’s a beautiful examination of superheroes and the natural world that deserves to be on comics’ Mount Rushmore with the other greats.

NEXT: 10 Marvel Comics Critics Hated, But Fans Loved

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