| The quality continues to improve during Jim Shooter's reign. Daredevil probably overshoots X-Men as the number one book, due as much to the superb writing and art by Frank Miller in Daredevil as the X-Men's loss of John Byrne. Byrne moves on to write and draw the Fantastic Four, and the title becomes one of Marvel's best for the first time in a long time. A hidden gem among Marvel's output this year is Ka-Zar the Savage, which is just an incredibly mature and well written and well drawn book by Bruce Jones and Brent Anderson. Amazing Spider-Man continues to be good under Denny O'Neil, and Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man is at least well written if not always well drawn during Roger Stern's time as a writer.
Shooter's own writing unfortunately isn't that great. His Avengers issues have some momentous events, including a line-up change and the notorious 'Hank Pym beats his wife and gets kicked off the team' story, but they're not well written.
There's a few more books that don't quite live up to their potential. Despite its reputation, Dazzler almost works as a more soap opera oriented title, but it doesn't quite want to let go of the super-hero aspects and actually goes overboard, having her fight everyone from the Hulk to Dr. Doom to Galactus. Under J.M. DeMatteis, the Defenders becomes more consistent, but it loses the wildness that caused it to occasionally be great in the past. Still, the overall quality of the line has vastly improved over the past few years.
The shift to the selling to the specialty shops (aka "the direct market") begins this year, and will have major implications for Marvel and the comic industry more generally. Comic sales have been declining since the 70s. The specialty shops became a way for the comics industry realign itself as a market for fans & collectors. Marvel (Shooter) leads the way by embracing the direct market. Dazzler is the first of many books to be direct market only. There's a flip side to this, of course. By turning the comic industry into a fan & collector industry it was effectively giving up its footprint in the mass market, turning comics into a niche industry. In the early 1980s, the move probably saved the comics industry, but in the long run it may have contributed to the annual decline in comics readership.
The Bullpen Bulletins, which had been discontinued for a few years, return in the July issues, written in a personable style by Shooter.
Marvel begins printing the contestants from last year's essay contest in the October issues of this year.
|Creator notes: Over the past few years we've seen a new wave of inkers, including: P. Craig Russell, Terry Austin, Bob McLeod, and Bob Wiacek. For years, even as artists changed from the original Silver Age crew to the popular 70s artists, it seemed as though Marvel was still using the same group of inkers (the notable 70s exception being Klaus Janson, who continues to be a major artist here).|
|New characters: We continue to meet a lot of significant new characters including: Pyro, Avalanche, Rachel Summers, Maelstorm, Death Urge, Sabra, Arabian Knight, Gargoyle, Siryn, Ursa Major, Caliban, Firebird, Elektra, Rogue, Flying Tiger, Belasco|