Marvel has a long history of creatures, beings, humans, and other species from off-world. From the Skrulls, Kree, Watchers, Celestials, and Eternals, there is no shortage to choose from. Coinciding with their species list is a volume of impressive off-world stories. Some of the most well-known include The Coming of Galactus, Annihilation, and The Magus Saga. Why do I tell you this?
At the conclusion of the Avengers 4 movie, the MCU was set to wrap up its Thanos-led stories. With Kevin Feige stating that the new cinematic universe is set to explore the depths of space, we thought it would be a good time to discuss potential landing spots for it. That is, we thought it would be good to talk about some stories that it may adapt. And here they are, here are the 10 best cosmic Marvel stories ever made.
1. The Coming of Galactus
The coming of Galactus did many things for the Marvel Universe. First and probably most important, it marked the first appearances of both the Silver Surfer and Galactus. These two characters have become Marvel staples since their inception.
Second, it gave way to the weapon capable of stopping Galactus, the Ultimate Nulifier. And third, it introduced the notion that the Silver Surfer was the herald of Galactus. This meant that his only purpose was to find worlds for his master to feed on.
If a story collectively destroys Xandar, annihilates the Nova Corps, kills Thanos, knocks or Quasar, turns Galactus into a giant power source, and kills Air-Walker, then it automatically becomes one of the best cosmic Marvel stories ever created.
Annihilation saw a cosmic takeover by the hand of Annihilus. One by one planet, creatures, and entire races fell before the insect. Eventually, when all seemed lost, Thanos gave aid, freed a captured Galactus, and turned the galactic war in favor of all those who banded together against Annihilus. What makes Annihilation so special is that like so few times before it, it painted Thanos in an anti-hero light and not a villain light. Annihilation is one of the best stories from the last two decades. For that reason, it deserves to be on this list of cosmic Marvel stories.
3. Secret Invasion
Secret Invasion saw the planned and near-successful invasion of Earth by the Skrulls. For decades the Skrulls, under the leadership of Veranke, captured and replaced the heroes of Earth. The Skrulls were able to do so because their power set allows them to shapeshift, thereby replicating any that they choose. Unfortunately, when the Skrull posing as Elektra dies the remaining heroes of Earth become wise to the plan. The rest of the story sees the Avengers band together and rid Earth of the Skrulls.
Secret Invasion did two very important things for Marvel. First, due to Civil War, came at a time when heroes didn’t trust one another. The realization that Skrulls may be in their ranks caused more friction among them. Second, it was a way for Marvel to give a reason for the Civil War event. At its conclusion, many fans wondered why the heroes would even battle each other. Secret Invasion became a reason for it.
4. Dark Phoenix Saga
A masterpiece in the world of the X-Men, the Dark Phoenix Saga cemented Chris Claremont and John Byrne their place in history. The story primarily focuses on Jean Grey and her eventual bond with the Phoenix Force. With it, she becomes capable of destroying planets, committing mass murder, and many other reprehensible acts. At the height of her power, races from around the galaxies call for her to be destroyed.
At the conclusion of the Dark Phoenix Saga, Marvel did the unthinkable and killed off Jean Grey. Like the Death of Gwen Stacy before it, this sent shockwaves through the industry. And why? The main characters don’t die.
But Jean Grey, a founding member of the X-men did. Adding more tragedy to the story was that Jean wasn’t killed but actually committed suicide as a way to prevent more destruction. In a Shakespearean kind of way, the Dark Phoenix Saga is truly one of the best cosmic Marvel stories ever written.
5. Secret Wars
Yes, Secret Wars was created to sell a line of action figures. Don’t put it off however, the story is known for more than that. The premise of Secret Wars sees both heroes and villains transported to a mysterious planet called Battleworld. Once there, they are forced to fight to the death for the appeasement of the Beyonder.
The story was one of the first Marvel crossover events and it introduced the world to the fan-favorite black Spider-Man costume. During the event, the black Symbiote bonds with Spider-Man. Eventually, Spider-Man learns that the Symbiote is a living organism that is changing him and rejects the bond…And the rest is history….More than action figures, Secret Wars laid the groundwork for Venom. That’s reason enough for us to include it in the best cosmic Marvel stories ever made list.
6. Annihilation Conquest
At the end of the Annihilation event, the Kree Empire was left in shambles. Sensing the need to help, Peter Quill gave aid. Unbeknownst to him, his help caused the Kree to become susceptible to an attack by the Phalanx.
The Phalanx made quick work of the defenseless Kree and conquered them. As the Kree lie defeated, we learn that Ultron is actually controlling the Phalanx. Unable to comprehend what has happened, Peter Quill enlists the help of some outer-worldly allies and together the heroes defeat Ultron and the Phalanx.
Annihilation Conquest, aside from being one of the great cosmic Marvel stories, marks the first time that Star-Lord teamed up with Groot and Rocket Raccoon. It very well may have given Marvel the idea for the team that appeared in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
7. Kree/Skrull War
When the Kree and Skrulls, have their war spill over to Earth, the Avengers must intervene and put a quick end to it. The story, which has been referenced many times in comic history, sees the capture of many Avengers. Most notable of the captured are Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. The apprehension of the Scarlet Witch is particularly important as it angers the Vision. This moment becomes the turning point in their relationship.
The introduction of their love is important, however, is it the Kree Supreme Intelligence creating a power within Rick Jones that is most memorable? With Captain Marvel’s Nega Bands under his control, Rick Jones sets out to save the world. Only in this story could Rick Jones become the savior of the planet.
8. Magus Saga
Some say that Jim Starlin’s masterpiece is The Infinity Gauntlet. Make no mistake; the Infinity Gauntlet will forever hold a place in comic book history. However, in the world of Starlin’s Marvel contributions, none may be more important than the Magus Saga. After learning of a religious group causing problems, Warlock teams up with Thanos and Gamora in order to fight its leader. And who is the leader?
It’s his future self, Magus. What makes the Magus Saga so special is the introduction of both Gamora and Pip the Troll. From a pure creativity point of view, The Magus Saga gave Starlin the freedom to talk about whatever he wanted. Through Starlin’s brilliance, the story touches on religion, existentialism, and power in a way that very few comics could.
9. The Korvac Saga
The story sees Michael Korvac, a being from the distant future, travel back through time to conquer Earth. The Guardians of the Galaxy follow him through time and upon their arrival team up with the Avengers.
The story is one of a few that sees the Avengers torn apart and on the brink of defeat. In the end, as is the case in nearly all-good stories, the heroes prevail. This quick synopsis doesn’t do it justice. The Korvac Saga is a Jim Shooter masterpiece and might very well go down as the best Avenger story ever told. For that and many other reasons, the Korvac Saga is a no-brainer for this list of cosmic Marvel stories.
10. The Final Threat
Before there was the Infinity Gauntlet, there was The Final Threat. Spanning two titles of different names, The Final Threat sees Thanos collect the six Soul Gems, now known as Infinity Stones, for the first time.
With his power at its highest, he proceeds to lay waste to Gamora, Warlock, and Pip the Troll. When the Avengers are unable to fare any better, all looks lost for the heroes. Luckily, Spider-Man, of all heroes, saves the day. To do this he swings into battle as only Spider-Man can and knocks over the container holding his teammates.
The story is an important part of the Thanos mythos for two reasons. First, it gives a glimpse into his psyche and his never-ending desire to prove himself worthy of Mistress Death’s affection. Second, as mentioned, this story sees the first time Thanos holds all six Soul Gems at once. Due to this, The Final Threat is often considered a foreshadowing of the Infinity Gauntlet.