Marvel Two-in-One continued from the team-up stories starring the Thing in the final two issues of Marvel Feature and lasted for 100 issues from January 1974 through June 1983. Seven annuals were also published. Artist Ron Wilson began his long association with the title with issue #12 (November 1975) and worked on it throughout its run. With issue #17, the series had a crossover with Marvel Team-Up #47, which featured Spider-Man. The second Marvel Two-in-One Annual was a crossover with Avengers Annual #7 both of which were written and drawn by Jim Starlin. The “Project Pegasus” storyline in Marvel Two-in-One #53-58 saw the introduction of the name “Quasar” for the Wendell Vaughn characterand the transformation of Wundarr into the Aquarian.
Green Lantern would know a number of revivals and cancellations. Its title would change to Green Lantern Corps at one point as the popularity rose and waned. During a time there were two regular titles, each with a Green Lantern, and a third member in the Justice League.
The “Dark Phoenix Saga” in 1980 led to a change in the line-up of the team, with the death of Phoenix (Jean Grey), and Cyclops leaving the team to mourn for her. Comics writers and historians Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson observed that “‘The Dark Phoenix Saga’ is to Claremont and Byrne what ‘the Galactus Trilogy‘ is to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It is a landmark in Marvel history, showcasing its creators’ work at the height of their abilities.” The storyline also saw the introduction of recurring antagonists the Hellfire Club, and its Inner Circle consisting of Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Harry Leland, Donald Pierce, along with Mastermind, previously a member of Magneto’s Brotherhood. The new teenage mutant Kitty Pryde was introduced in #129 (Jan. 1980) and joined the X-Men in #139. The Dazzler, a disco-singing, roller-skating mutant, was introduced in #130 (Feb. 1980), but did not join the team, instead headlining her own solo title.
A new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, led by Mystique, was introduced in the “Days of Future Past” storyline (#141-#142, Jan–Feb 1981) in which a time-travelling Kitty Pryde tried to avert a dystopian future caused by the Brotherhood assassinating Presidential candidate Senator Robert Kelly. Byrne plotted the story wanting to depict the Sentinels as a genuine threat to the existence of the mutant race. He then left the series after #143, being replaced by a returning Cockrum, who in turn was succeeded by Paul Smith and John Romita Jr.
The Badger was originally published by the short-lived Capital Comics company and then First Comics. He was created by writer Mike Baron in 1983 and published through the early 1990s in a titular series that ended when First Comics also ceased all publications. Since the ongoing series ended in 1991, new Badger titles have been released through Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics and IDW Publishing.
According to then-DC publisher Jenette Kahn, comics’ price-per-page value had been declining since the “Golden Age.” When superhero comics debuted in the late 1930s, they featured 64 pages of art for 10¢. As the decades passed, comparable publications liked Time and Life raised their prices, while comics stayed at 10 cents and reduced their page-count. Finally in 1962, National Periodical Publications/DC raised its price to 12¢, a 20% increase. (Comparable magazines, in contrast, were by then 3.5-to-5 times their original price.) By 1977, even though the typical price of a comic book was 35¢, it still lagged far behind its magazine competition, thus decreasing its appeal for newsvendors (which at that point — before the generalized 1980s shift to direct market distribution — was still the dominant retailing location for comics). Thus, the idea for Dollar Comics was born.
The Defenders had a rotating line-up from 1972 until 1986, with Dr. Strange and the Hulk being more or less constant members along with a number of other mainstays such as Valkyrie, Nighthawk, Hellcat, the Gargoyle, Beast, the Son of Satan and Luke Cage, and a large number of temporary members. The publication was retitled near the end of the run as The New Defenders but featured none of the original members and only Valkyrie, the Beast and the Gargoyle of the former long-term members. The concept was modified in the 1993–95 series Secret Defenders, in which Dr. Strange assembled different teams for each individual mission. Later, the original team were reunited in a short-lived series by Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen. In the 2000s, Marvel published a new miniseries featuring the classic line-up. Writer Matt Fraction and artist Terry Dodson launched a new Defenders series in December 2011.
The 1980s saw radical revisions of Superman. DC decided to remove the multiverse in a bid to simplify its comics line. This led to the rewriting of the back story of the characters DC published, Superman included. John Byrne rewrote Superman, removing many established conventions and characters from continuity, including Superboy and Supergirl. Byrne also re-established Superman’s adoptive parents, The Kents, as characters. In the previous continuity, the characters had been written as having died early in Superman’s life (about the time of Clark Kent’s graduation from high school).
The series centered on the exploits of Vanth Dreadstar and his crew—powerful mystic Syzygy Darklock, the cybernetic telepath Willow, cat-like humanoid Oedi, and freebooter Skeevo. Vanth, newly arrived in the Empirical Galaxy after the events of Metamorphosis Odyssey, tries to live a pastoral existence on Oedi’s planet of peaceful cat-people, but his peace is disturbed by the arrival of Darklock, who wants him to get involved in the conflict between the two major forces in the galaxy, the Monarchy and the theocratical Instrumentality. Vanth refuses until the war comes to his planet, wiping out most of the population. Oedi survives and joins them; Willow and Skeevo join later, though the team is in place for the first issue.
Dreadstar takes the side of the Monarchy against the evil Lord High Papal of the Instrumentality, but his team end up becoming fugitives when the Monarchy falls, and go to great lengths to try to uncover a traitor in their midst. The transition to First Comics happened just when the traitor was about to be revealed, and the first issue published under First Comics, #27 contained this revelation.
What If, sometimes rendered as What If…?, is published by Marvel Comics whose stories explore how the Marvel Universe might have unfolded if key moments in its history hadn’t occurred as they did in mainstream continuity. What If comics have been published in eleven series (volumes).
The stories of the inaugural series (1977–1984) feature the alien Uatu the Watcher as a narrator. From the moon, Uatu, a member of an immortal race of “Watchers”, observes both the Earth and alternate realities. Most What If stories begin with Uatu describing an event in the mainstream Marvel Universe, then introducing a point of divergence in that event and then describing the consequences of the divergence. Uatu was used similarly in the second series (1989–1998) until a point where, in the Fantastic Four comic book, Uatu was punished for destroying another Watcher. This made the use of Uatu improbable so the character was phased out to its last appearance in issue #76. Without a framing device, the stories themselves became the focus. However, in later series, some writers chose to introduce alternative narrators. For example, in Volume 3, in What If Karen Page Had Lived?, What If Jessica Jones Had Joined the Avengers? and in Daredevil (2005), Brian Michael Bendis, the writer himself, made a cameo as narrator. In the early 2006 series, a hacker, whose online alias is “The Watcher”, opens each of the six issues.
In October 1984 – January 1985, the Machine Man title was resurrected, in a four-issue miniseries written by Tom DeFalco with art by Herb Trimpe (breakdowns only, issues #1-3) and Barry Windsor-Smith (finishes only, issues #1-3 & full art for issue #4), with Windsor-Smith also coloring the entire miniseries & co-plotting issue #4 with DeFalco. This series turned out to be one of the most popular of all the Machine Man titles, tying with previous continuity, but with the action set in the distant cyberpunk future of 2020, starting with Machine Man’s reassembly.
The miniseries was republished again in 1994 as two double-size books, with the name Machine Man 2020. Characters from this alternate future have made appearances in other Marvel books, namely Arno Stark, the mercenary Iron Man 2020.
In 1990, Machine Man guest-starred in Iron Man Annual #11 (part of the “Terminus Factor” storyline). That story created strong hints that the 2020 Machine Man may turn out not to be the true X-51, but instead a duplicate created by Sunset Bain.