Marvel: 10 Arcs That Were Purely Fanservice | CBR – CBR

Arcs serve the fans and the story by including more of what they love and why they read comics.
The term “fanservice” is often associated with something negative, but when fanservice is used to heighten a story, it’s not always a bad thing. Marvel comics feature many story arcs and mini-series that purposely include heroes from other books or bombastic stories to draw in readers. It’s a business after all, and there’s no shame in throwing in a few alluring pieces here and there.
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Notable story arcs and series often feature fun cameos, alternate versions of fan-favorite characters, or answer pressing questions like “who would win in a fight?” Whether Spider-Men of different universes meet, X-Men travel through time or heroes battle each other for dominance, these arcs serve the fans and the story by including more of what fans love and why they read comics.
Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run featured many interconnected story arcs that could be read through secondary books such as “Hunted” and “Last Remains,” but the one that pretty much capped off his run was “Sinister War.”
By far the largest scale arc of Spencer’s run, “Sinister War” featured the return of not just the Sinister Six, led by Dr. Octopus, but five other “Six” teams made up of villains spanning Spidey’s entire comic book history. While the story of “Sinister War” itself was fairly shallow, artist Mark Bagley’s many full-page spreads of villains battling villains were stunning.
Marvel’s soft relaunch “All-New Marvel NOW!” saw new status quos for many titles. X-Men kicked off this new era with a bang. In a very ambitious story, written by Brian Michael Bendis with beautiful art by Stuart Immonen, the original team of X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel, and Iceman) are brought to the present in an effort to reform present-day Cyclops.
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The X-Men stayed for much longer than just one arc, and their very presence in present-day comics brought many side effects and consequences to the timeline. However, seeing the past and future X-Men interact was pure joy.
As of 1984, Secret Wars was by far the largest comic book crossover Marvel had ever published. This limited series featured just about every major hero and villain and would set a precedent for subsequent large crossovers.
The Beyonder – a powerful cosmic being from another universe – gathers the heroes and villains of the main Marvel universe and pits them against each other. The series was pure epicness in every sense of the word and famously granted Spider-Man the iconic black suit. Large-scale crossovers may seem commonplace today, but in 1984, this was something special.
The first Civil War comic event was monumental, bleeding into just about every character’s solo book. The story created huge ramifications for the Marvel comic universe going forward, the most famous of which was Spider-Man’s identity being revealed to the world. Civil War II – a sequel in name only – was not quite as influential or well-received, but was monumental nonetheless.
When a new Inhuman develops the ability to see possible futures, heroes from the Inhumans, X-Men, Avengers, and more are divided on how best to handle or not handle the situation. The limited series features, like its predecessor, features heroes vs heroes and showcases beautiful and sometimes haunting full-page artwork from David Marquez.
Miles Morales had only existed in comics for about a year when writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli released Spider-Men. Battling Mysterio, Peter Parker of the main 616 Marvel comic universe is thrust through a portal into the Ultimate universe.
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There, he meets Miles Morales – this universe’s new Spider-Man – as well as younger versions of Aunt May and Gwen Stacy who are mourning the loss of their Peter Parker. It’s a fun limited series that sees Peter giving his blessing and encouraging Miles as Spider-Man. This series really solidified Miles as the real deal in the pantheon of Web-heads.
The X-Men comics are no strangers to tales of time travel and alternate realities. In fact, their most notable stories often involve these topics. Alternate reality stories are fun, explorative, and unexpected. Age of Apocalypse, which ran for over a year across multiple titles, saw Legion traveling to the past to kill Magento. However, he kills Charles Xavier instead, and the arc follows the present fallout of his mistake.
Xavier is crucial when it comes to the development of the X-Men (and mutant-kind in general), and a huge storyline like this proves the impact his removal from the timeline would have. The entire arc acts like one extended What If? storyline that’s worth a revisit.
Seeing Superman and Spider-Man on a single comic cover – DC and Marvel’s logos bannered at the top – was an unexpected joy for fans of the comic book giants. It’s also something that hasn’t been replicated or repeated since. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Marvel and DC teamed up to publish several crossover comic stories.
The most notable arcs were Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man and The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans, which both featured two superhero teams joining forces to battle both the Dark Phoenix and Darkseid. These are the ultimate sandbox stories, placing heroes from different companies together in one book.
Avengers vs. X-Men was a twelve-issue limited series that eponymously pitted the Avengers against the X-men. As the Phoenix Force returns, the two teams of heroes are divided on how to handle its arrival. The X-Men see the Phoenix as their best hope at reviving the mutant race, while the Avengers fear its destructive power.
Avengers vs. X-Men is exciting, visually striking, and surprisingly heartbreaking. While there’s fanservice on every page as heroes battle heroes, the characters are deep and make decisions rooted in who they are and what they’ve experienced leading up to that moment.
Dan Slott enjoyed a long and memorable run on Amazing Spider-Man. Many of his arcs stand out for their uniqueness including “Spider-Island,” “Dying Wish,” and of course, “Spider-Verse.” The “Spider-Verse” arc spawned its own limited series as well as a dozen off-shoots featuring Kaine, Ben Reilly, Miles, Spider-Man ’67 and pretty much any other version of the Web-head.
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A group of seemingly immortal Inheritors are hunting “Spiders” across the multiverse, forcing Spider-Men, Women, and even Hams to team up. It’s a tremendously satisfying story to read, pausing on every page to pick out rare and obscure Spider-People from past media.
Published in 1991 and written by Jim Starlin with artwork by George Peréz and Ron Lim, The Infinity Gauntlet was Marvel’s biggest and boldest comic event, surpassing Secret Wars in its scale and vision. Thanos manages to get hold of the Infinity Gems – cosmic elements of the universe such as time, space, and reality. With these gems, he tries to wipe out all life in the universe to win the heart of Death.
This limited series is fanservice in the best way, featuring almost every main character in Marvel comics at the time, from Earthbound heroes like Captain America to cosmic entities like Galactus. Every page is explosive and exciting with visuals that hold up to today’s standards.
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Cole spends most of his free time reading comics and fantasy novels, or watching TV and movies. If there’s capes and superpowers involved, he’s interested. He will forever debate which fictional characters would win in hypothetical fights, no matter how detrimental to his social life.


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