Two of the most powerful teams in the Marvel Universe went to war this past year—and managed to save the world and their species in the process.
Alliances across the breadth of Marvel proved their wholes to be greater than the sum of their parts with their recent triumphs, whether it came to rescuing a nation, a plane of reality, or simply their own souls.
To celebrate the start of a new year, Marvel.com looks back at our favorites from 2012, beginning with the teams of the Marvel Universe.
This list reflects a vote conducted by members of the Marvel.com editorial staff and should by no means be considered official ranking or representative of anything but their specific tastes
Roster: Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Rogue, the Human Torch, Jimmy Hudson
2012 in Review: Following a mutant massacre in New York City, Kitty Pryde led her teenage friends across the country to fight a war for the liberation of their race. Though not without cost, these would-be X-Men triumphed and won freedom for their people; now the real challenge begins.
Why They Make the List: A group of kids looked around and saw no adults taking responsibility for overcoming the atrocities surrounding them, so they decided to do it themselves—and they won.
Digital Highlight: ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #18.1—Get up to speed on Kitty Pryde’s crusade for the mutant race!
Roster: Doctor Strange, Namor, the Silver Surfer, Iron Fist, Red She-Hulk, Black Cat
2012 in Review: Marvel’s mightiest “non-heroes” spent a year tussling with the Prince of Orphans and other exotic threats, attempting to safeguard the Creation Engines from the likes of the Death Celestials and plunging various alternate realities out of the abyss of destruction.
Why They Make the List: They may have been somewhat off the grid—and in alternate dimensions—but the Defenders grappled with tricky conundrums and did preserve the entire multiverse in the end, even if nobody knows.
Digital Highlight: DEFENDERS (2011) #4—Spotlight on Doctor Strange!
Roster: Luke Cage, Captain Marvel, Mockingbird, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, the Thing, Daredevil, Jessica Jones
2012 in Review: Luke Cage’s team of streetwise Avengers wrapped up their conflict against Norman Osborn, then assisted in various facets of the AvX conflict, from Iron Fist training Hope Summers to be the next Phoenix host to Daredevil keeping up patrols in New York City. The crew wrapped the year taking down the deceased Brother Voodoo’s vengeful brother, leading to Cage’s exit from the Avengers.
Why They Make the List: The super-powered punch-ups on the moon may be important, but somebody needs to be watching out for the little guy as well, and that’s the New Avengers’ specialty. This motley gathering made sure the streets stayed safe while Captain America and Iron Man took the spotlight-stealing gigs.
Digital Highlight: NEW AVENGERS (2010) #23—In final battle with Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers!
Roster: Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Invisible Woman, the Thing, Spider-Man
2012 in Review: Their full roster restored and a Kree invasion foiled, the reunited Fantastic Four traveled from the kingdom of Wakanda to an island owned by A.I.M. to take on foes ranging from the future’s heroes gone mad to the wingless Wizard—and managed to lend their mailman a helping hand along the way.
Why They Make the List: The First Family of the Marvel Universe doesn’t limit their sphere of influence to a specific cause or base of operations; they’re explorers who go where they’re needed and can do the most good, continuing to be the leading example to their peers.
Digital Highlight: FANTASTIC FOUR #606—The FF embark on perhaps their most important journey to date!
Roster: Wolverine, Beast, Iceman, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Rachel Grey, Husk, Warbird
2012 in Review: Embroiled in AvX, the faculty of the Jean Grey School did their best to balance their responsibilities to their students and the war for the future. The kids managed to do alright on their own, standing up to Cyclops and the Hellfire Club, then leaping to their teachers’ rescue when Frankenstein’s carnival rolled into town.
Why They Make the List: While every battle fought across the Marvel Universe matters, perhaps none will count as much as raising the heroes of tomorrow, an unlikely task for Wolverine, but one he has taken to admirably and recruited a top notch crew to assist in. The staff at the JGS didn’t just punch out bad guys, they shaped young minds and kept their campus—barely—up to code.
Digital Highlight: WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #19—In the wake of AvX, the Jean Grey School picks up the pieces!
Roster: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Spider-Woman
2012 in Review: On the heels of overthrowing a mad Reed Richards, the Ultimates faced an America torn apart by terrorist attacks and mass loss of life across the nation. Captain America seized control of not only his team, but his nation, becoming President of the United States and leading his allies to topple Thor’s malevolent offspring and the army of pawns he raised.
Why They Make the List: The Ultimates put up rather than shut up, bringing their country back together by force and example, defeating America’s foes and refusing to bow to bureaucracy. In the worst case scenario, these larger than life heroes proved able to stand up to any challenge.
Digital Highlight: ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #13—Captain America returns to the lead the Ultimates into battle!
Roster: Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow
2012 in Review: The Avengers’ most elite configuration faced down a juiced up version of their old foes, the Zodiac, then stood faces-to-face with the demigod Thanos when he revealed himself as puppet master. Teaming with the Guardians of the Galaxy, our typically earthbound group journeyed to the stars, battling the Badoon and helping to put the Mad Titan in his place—for now.
Why They Make the List: While Thor may be a god and the Hulk’s the strongest there is, even the less powerful members of this team didn’t flinch standing by their comrades in cosmic combat to preserve their planet. A bit out of their weight class, the Avengers utilized their full array of skills and knowledge to impress even the likes of weathered warriors like Star-Lord, Gamora and Drax.
Digital Highlight: AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #1—A new Zodiac attracts the attention of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!
Roster: Cyclops, Storm, Magneto, Emma Frost, Namor, Magik, Hope Summers, Danger
2012 in Review: Cyclops’ controversial group of powerful mutants went directly up against the Avengers and gained the Phoenix Force for their efforts. While fending off their rivals and escaping the machinations of old foe Mister Sinister, the Phoenix Five managed to temporarily extend Utopia beyond their own shores; while Cyclops and the other ultimately lost control, their accomplishments should not be forgotten.
Why They Make the List: With the world against them, Scott Summers and his allies stuck to their guns not only on restoring their lost race, but sharing their power with the world to solve global problems other teams could not. Whether or not the ends justified the means, they tried their best and came close to creating paradise—had other parties and factors not intervened, who’s to say they couldn’t have sustained it?
Digital Highlight: UNCANNY X-MEN (2011) #9—The X-Men team with the Avengers one last time!
Roster: Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, the Vision, Spider-Woman, the Protector, Red Hulk, Quake, Storm
2012 in Review: After sending Norman Osborn and his H.A.M.M.E.R. forces back to incarceration, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes leapt headlong into all-out conflict with the X-Men over possession of the Phoenix Force. The prime Avengers team stood on the frontlines against the cosmically-powered Children of the Atom, steadfast in their belief that might would corrupt, and ultimately won the war, even finding a way to help restore powers to countless mutants along the way.
Why They Make the List: The A-list team of the Marvel Universe, they face down the threats no single hero can withstand, even when that means taking on friends and allies who might have lost their way. Whether you agree or not with the Avengers’ actions during AvX, you can’t question they did have the greater good in mind, and ultimately managed to help their opponents achieve at least some of their more noble goals.
Digital Highlight: AVENGERS (2010) #26—To stop the Phoenix Force, the Avengers travel beyond the stars!
Roster: Wolverine, Deadpool, Fantomex, Psylocke, Nightcrawler
2012 in Review: After Nightcrawler concluded his business with the evil Iceman from his reality, X-Force became entangled in a byzantine plot by the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Battling their way through a nightmarish future and facing down threats like the Omega Clan and the Shadow King, the team endured the seeming death of one of their own and a gut-wrenching familial sacrifice by another to pay for their past sins and ensure Genesis would not take up the mantel of Apocalypse.
Why They Make the List: While the Fantastic Four gets public celebrations and even the X-Men resurrect their race from the ashes, X-Force received as a reward for their dark, haunting work only tragedy and anonymity despite sparing the Marvel Universe the rebirth of one of its most malevolent figures. But the mutants unfortunate and noble enough to serve on this squad accepted their work might not always be clean and they will often make the wrong choices—moreover, they took the consequences that come with those missteps and forged ahead to do the jobs other heroes could not.
Digital Highlight: UNCANNY X-FORCE #25—X-Force faces their Final Execution!
Acceptance Speech: “Thanks so much, everyone! It is an honor to accept this on behalf of X-Force, who, I can only assume, would be flattered with the honor…if a bit confused. As I’m sure you’re aware, X-Force itself could not be here to take the award because the team has disbanded, and indeed, most of them were pretty uncomfortable with the concept of the team for most of the year. When 2012 began, the team had just killed one of their own, the Apocalypse-tainted Warren Worthington III, Archangel. Since then, the team has spent a lot of time wrestling with the very thing they came together for in the first place: killing. Whether it be Psylocke having to kill her brother, Wolverine killing his son, Nightcrawler killing the men who killed his wife, being confronted with a future where the team murders criminals before they commit crimes, or the quandary which started it all, what to do about a young child cloned from Apocalypse himself, X-Force spent the entire year with the specter of killing haunting their every moment. Is it any wonder the team finally had to call it quits?
"Morals aside, it is an honor. I know everyone involved in UNCANNY X-FORCE busted their humps to make sure the stories about the team were up to the high standard set by the first couple years of the book’s life. Rick Remender brought an amount of passion to the book that was visible on every single page of every issue—yes, even the ads, it would spill off adjacent pages and soak into them. Phil Noto, Greg Tocchini, Mike McKone, Julian Totino-Tedesco, and Dave Williams all drew the hell out of the stories, and Dean White and Frank Martin Jr. both took that line art to the next level with their amazing color work. The issues we put out in 2012 brought the UNCANNY X-FORCE series to an epic ending…but one that also satisfied all the intricate character plots the series had been nurturing along the way. It was a great book to be a part of.
"Of course, every ending is just another beginning, and in 2013, X-Force is looking to double its chances of winning. Not only is there an all-new UNCANNY X-FORCE growing from the ashes of the old—Storm? A female Fantomex?? Spiral??? Puck????—but we’ve also got a return of the original recipe with CABLE AND X-FORCE. While UNCANNY follows Psylocke’s journey back across the line the previous series found her crossing, CABLE pushes a whole new team to lengths they never thought they’d reach. So…enough of this looking back! There’s a whole lot of NOW! for us to be Marveling at!” – UNCANNY X-FORCE Editor Jordan White
Got thoughts on the list? Head to Twitter and share them with the hash tag #TWiMBestOf12 to be discussed on an upcoming This Week in Marvel podcast!