- Today is October 10th, so 10/10. so we look at the most historic #10 issues in comic book history
- We’re mostly looking at notable first appearances or special stories, rather than just saying that, hey, Action Comics is historic, so Action Comics #10 should be historic.
- Some of the most notable characters who made their debuts in the tenth issues of series include Blade, Rogue, Daken and more!
Top Five is a feature where I count down the top five of something comic book-related. This time around, we’re looking at the TEN most historic #10 comic book issues.
Okay, yes, the bit is called “Top Five,” but since this is 10/10, I couldn’t help but think about doing a top TEN this time (and I’m not going to start a separate feature just for the occasional outlier numbers). So here we are at the top ten most historic comic book #10 issues. Note that for historic, we’re really typically thinking first appearances and famous moments, stuff like that.
You could argue that the tenth issue of any major series would be, by default, more “historic” than a more recent comic book series (like, for instance, Action Comics #10 could be argued to just be inherently historic), and I get that, but come on, we all know what we’re talking about here. We’re talking issues that specifically stand out, and not just the tenth issue of every famous series ever. Similarly, there were some #10s that were in the middle of famous stories, so are inherently historic in THAT regard, as well, but while Warlock #10 almost made the list, it’s really just there for being in the middle of a cool story. Similarly, Watchmen #10 was more of a transition issues. I did consider them all, though! As a fun treat, I (insanely) have given you all THIRTY honorable mentions (last comic book cut from even being an honorable mention was Amazing Spider-Man Annual #10, the debut of The Fly. I just couldn’t do it). Also, come on, you can’t expect credits for all the honorable mentions, so just be cool about it.
SPECIAL HONORABLE MENTION
Amazing Spider-Man #10
If you’ve been reading me for any time of length, you’ll know of my love for Fancy Dan of The Enforcers. To be fair, though, I placed this issue sort of outside the realms of historic, and it just gets a special place here, so I don’t have to disgrace the wonderful Fancy Dan with a non-top ten finish.
NOT-AS-SPECIAL, BUT STILL SPECIAL HONORABLE MENTIONS
Suicide Squad #10
I have written about this excellent issue many times, so I had to sneak it on to the list. Batman goes undercover into the prison home of the Suicide Squad to expose the fact that the United States government is using super-criminals for government missions as part of Task Force X. Amanda Waller, though, manages to stalemate Batman with the fact that while he was undercover, she could prove his secret identity given enough time. He vowed to take her down another time.
Batman (1939) #10
These next two are on the “iconic covers” level of historic. This Fred Ray and Jerry Robinson cover is a marvel.
Marvel Fanfare #10
Similarly, this George Perez Black Widow cover was a major deal at the time of its release (especially as Perez wasn’t even really working for Marvel at the time).
Secret Empire #10
Not a lot of major crossovers are ten issues, but this Marvel event was an exception. This was fascinating, as it was based on the idea that the Cosmic Cube had altered Captain America’s past so that Cap was always secretly a Hydra agent throughout his life, and in this crossover, he executes a takeover of the United States. Nick Spencer wrote it, working with a number of artists. Things got really dark, with Las Vegas destroyed, and Rick Jones and Black Widow killed, among others. This issue did a bit of a re-set, with the reveal that the Hydra-Cap was really a whole other entity created by the Cube, and the REAL Cap returned to defeat the villainous version of the hero. It took a while, but eventually most of the carnage of this series was also reversed (luckily for the citizens of Las Vegas).
This was the penultimate issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s epic “Court of Owls” storyline that launched the New 52 version of Batman. This issue revealed that one of the key members of The Court of Owls, Gotham City Mayor candidate, Lincoln Marsh, was actually Batman’s older brother, Thomas Jr.! Or at least he BELEIVES himself to be Thomas Wayne. This was a big deal at the time.
Next, we do some beginnings and endings for a couple of swamp monsters! First, Fear #10 (which began as a horror reprint series, but transitioned into a series with all-new stories) started Man-Thing’s comic book feature. Gerry Conway kicked things off, but Steve Gerber took over with the next issue, Gerber’s first comic book work.
Swamp Thing #10
Meanwhile, the tenth issue of Swamp Thing was the final issue of the series drawn by co-creator Bernie Wrightson. I once remarked that as good as the issues following Wrightson were, many fans really viewed these first ten issues as the highlights of the run, and the late, great Len Wein actually took issue with that, noting that the sales actually improved AFTER Wrightson left. Make of that as you will!
2001: A Space Odyssey #10
This was such a weird series, Jack Kirby doing a comic book series nominally set in the world of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, only, well, not really. In any event, Marvel decided to reboot the series by taking a new creation Kirby had created in the comic, Mister Machine, and give him his own comic book series, re-naming him Machine Man. This was the final issue of the 2001: A Space Odyssey series. Omega the Unknown also ended abruptly with its tenth issue, with the main characters seemingly dying. I didn’t include that on the list, but eh, you can throw it in as a super-secret honorable mention.
Captain America Comics #10
This was the final issue of Captain America Comics by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, who left to National Comics after things fell apart with Martin Goodman over a failure of Goodman to pay the creators the royalties he promised (at the same time, Kirby and Simon were also doing freelance work with Fawcett, which irked Goodman). You could argue that this was the last Marvel Comic before Stan Lee became Editor-in-Chief.
Marvel Mystery Comics #10
The fight between Namor and Human Torch was one of the most significant events of the Golden Age, and it ended in this issue. Is that all that historic? I dunno, I think so, obviously. Maybe Omega the Unknown #10 should have made it over this one?
G.I. Joe:A Real American Hero #10
Larry Hama famously used this blockbuster toy tie-in comic book to do some nice social commentary, and this issue introduced Springfield, a suburb essentially owned by Cobra, that Hama would use extensively throughout the series (he still uses it to this day) as a commentary on modern suburban life. Interestingly, Hama and Matt Groening both came to the same joke about the name Springfield just symbolizing “Everytown, U.S.A.”
Batman Family #10
This issue saw the return of Batwoman, after she had entered comic book limbo following Julius Schwartz taking over the editing of the Batman titles circa 1964. Denny O’Neil would soon kill off Kathy Kane, and it wasn’t until Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc that Kathy Kane made her triumphant return (in the interim, Kate Kane was introduced as a new Batwoman in 52….just one issue after #10, 52 #11).
Superman Annual #10
Listen, can I explain why people are so obsessed with The Superman Sword? Maybe, maybe not. I guess I should write something on it. In any event, people are OBSESSED with The Superman Sword.
Somehow, Alan Moore has two different really amazing issues devoted entirely to characters having essentially magical sex. That’s interesting. J.H. Williams III, Mick Gray, Jeromy Cox and Todd Klein do such an amazing job on the art of this comic book.
All Star Superman #10
I wasn’t sure how to rank an issue that is only here because of one scene, but boy, what a scene, right? This is the issue where Superman takes a break in the middle of an intense moment to go save a young woman from taking her own life. I’ll definitely feature it this month in To Quote a Phrase (along with another All Star Superman quote).
What If…? #10
This is one of those rare retroactively historic issues, sort of like the first appearance of Groot. At the time, this was just an interesting issue of What If…?, but since Jane Foster later DID become Thor, well, then the issue became a bigger deal in retrospect.
Archie Comics #10
This is the first issue drawn by Bill Vigoda, who would go on to become one of the two most notable Archie artists of the 1940s, so I think it’s worth featuring here (and yes, Bill’s brother was Abe Vigoda).
This was the first part of one of the most acclaimed storylines of the 1990s, Grant Morrison, Howard Porter and John Dell’s “Rock of Ages.”
Solar: Man of the Atom #10
Behind that striking cover (which Jim Shooter famusly told Barry WIndsor-Smith to submit the black cover so that he could still get paid for the issue), this issue resolved the introductory story arc by Shooter of Solar, while also setting up the Valiant Universe for years to come.
X-Men Annual #10
The introduction of the X-Babies! This issue, drawn by Arthur Adams, also saw Longshot join the X-Men. But, well, X-Babies, people!!
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #10
You could probably lump this one in with the “famous because of their covers,” but I think that this issue was also notable for Doctor Doom taking on The Beyonder and somehow WINNING, turning the entire Secret Wars crossover on its head.
Crisis on Infinite Earths #10
Ah, the famous “Kill off a lot of characters” issue. Lots of comic book characters saw their demise in this crossover event, including Mirror Master and Aquagirl.
Todd McFarlane famously had this bit where he hired some of the most famous writers in the comic book industry to each do an issue of Spawn. In this one, Dave Sim told a sharp satire of the comic book industry as a whole (this is famous for the page where McFarlane drew all the corporate-owned superheroes “caged,” while Spawn, owned by his creator, is free.
Fantastic Four #10
This one is just a memorable Doctor Doom/Mister Fantastic fight where Doom swaps bodies with Reed. There is a memorable sequence where Doom meets Jack Kirby and Stan Lee (we also establish that Doom’s face is gross-looking under his mask).
Justice League of America #10
This was the first appearance of Felix Faust, which SOUNDS like a big deal, but, like, what has Felix Faust ever really done, right?
This issue was the penultimate issue of the Avengers/Defenders War, and featured Hulk and Thor fighting to an awesome stalemate, with some amazing Sal Buscema artwork.
Marvel Premiere #10
This Steve Englehart/Frank Brunner epic saw the death of The Ancient One in a battle with Shuma-Gorath.
This one-off issue by Chris Claremont and John Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz introduced the idea that Sabretooth would torment Wolverine every year on his birthday. This issue also introduced Silver Fox, who was killed by Sabretooth here, but was later brought back (and even played a major role in one of Wolverine’s movies).
This issue introduced The Darkness. Well, at least it introduced the mob enforcer, Jackie Estacado, who would later BECOME The Darkness, but The Darkness is featured on the cover and in a pin-up at the back, so come on, it’s pretty much the introduction of The Darkness, and he was a notable enough character that I think it is fair to have him featured this high.
10. The Sandman #10
This issue kicked off the popular Sandman storyline, “The Doll’s House,” by Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones IIIt. This was the first Sandman story arc to be collected into a trade paperback. It was featured on The Sandman TV series, as well. It is about a young woman named Rose Walker who finds herself at the center of a sort of dream vortex. Dream of the Endless (Morpheus) might be forced to destroy her to save reality. What he doesn’t realize, though, is that Rose’s current circumstances might very well be part of a sinister plot against Morpheus, in the sense that Morpheus’ devotion to his duty is SO strong that anyone who knows him would know he’d feel obligated to destroy Rose. Thus, that knowledge could be turned against him. But who knows Morpheus that well? That’s a mystery that you’ll have to read the book to discover.
9. Dark Horse Presents #10
This one is weird, as this would normally be ranked higher, but I dunno, it’s a bit interesting. You see, this issue introduces The Masque, a character by Mark Badger based on an issue by Dark Horse founder, Mike Richardson. The Masque, of course, is better known now as The Mask, star of the blockbuster 1994 film starring Jim Carrey. However, while this is technically the beginning of The Mask, it really was sort of its own thing. Richardson later had Chris Warner revamp the character, and John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke then introduced the character we really think of as “The Mask” (known as Big Head at the time). So this is definitely still historic enough to get to the top ten, but not higher, even though The Mask is more significant than some of these other characters.
8. Avengers #10
Man, Immortus is rough. On the one hand, he is such a throwaway character by Stan Lee, Don Heck and Dick Ayers, basically a riff on time travel that was just done an ISSUE EARLIER with the introduction of Kang in Avengers #9, but at the same time, I can’t deny that Immortus has been part of some major Marvel storylines, so I had to include his comic book debut as pretty historic. I hated doing it, though.
7. Superman #10
This is the issue where Leo Nowak, following him taking over art duties on the Superman comic strip, accidentally drew Lex Luthor as bald, and then carried it over to Superman #10, as well, which he drew, as well (the Superman comics and the comic strip were basically treated as one thing back then), Lex Luthor becoming bald was historic because it solidified him as essentially taking over from another bald Superman villain, The Ultra-Humaniite, as Superman’s main villain. If Luthor hadn’t been made bald, that would have been less likely, I believe, so hence its historic ranking.
6. Wolverine Origins #6
This issue, by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon, introduced Daken, Wolverine’s son that he never knew he had, who has become a pretty notable member of Wolverine’s supporting cast over the years.
5. X-Men #10
This issue by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Chic Stone introduced Ka-Zar, a riff on an old Marvel Golden Age character by the same name, into the Silver Age Marvel Universe. Ka-Zar is a riff on Tarzan who has become a major Marvel character ever since. If it weren’t for the earlier Ka-Zar, I’d probably bump this one up another spot on the list.
4. Green Lantern #10
Science fiction icon, Alfred Bester, working with Green Lantern co-creator Matin Nodell, introduced the brilliant new villain, Vandal Savage, who would become a major DC villain for decades to come. Savage was an immortal, and that’s all sorts of interesting (as there are obviously so many stories you can do with a guy who has been alive since the days of cavemen).
3. Superboy #10
Bill Finger and John Sikela introduced Lana Lang in this issue, giving Superboy his own version of Lois Lane in his younger years. Lana Lang, obviously, has become a major character over the years.
2. Avengers Annual #10
This issue was famous already for being Chris Claremont’s negative response to what he found to be the poor treatment of Ms. Marvel in Avengers #200 (Claremont had been the writer on Ms. Marvel’s series before that point), so in this issue (with art by Michael Golden and Pablo Marcos) he has her tear into the Avengers in this issue as a major Meta-Message. Oh, and it also introduced this new member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants called Rogue. I don’t know if she ever did anything of note after this issue.
1. Tomb of Dracula #10
I mean, come on, it’s the introduction of Blade by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer. You don’t need me to explain why that’s historic, right?
Okay folks, if you have ideas for other top fives (not top tens!), drop me a line at email@example.com!
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