Marvel is of course famous for adapting its incredible roster of comic book characters onto the page, but far fewer fans pick up the novels that they license. There are wonderful stories to be told within prose and Goodreads has actually ranked them based on audience score, reviews, and the impact of the title itself.
These books explore the iconic heroes and villains in ways that have never been achieved before. A novel opens up a number of different storytelling opportunities, allowing the writer to paint a world using completely unique techniques compared to the normal approach for a graphic novel script.
10 Spider-Man: The Darkest Hour – 3.98
Jim Butcher’s Spider-Man tale co-stars Black Cat and creates an interesting romantic dynamic that’s at odds with Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane Watson. With Spidey’s old enemy Rhino on the loose, the two vigilantes team up with one another, reminding the duo of their past spark.
It’s a story packed with action, but it’s the love triangle that truly sells the conflict of this piece. As a villain, Rhino is often underrated and better served within The Darkest Hour, which portrays him as a true threat. However, it’s the arrival of the Ancients, a powerful alien species which provides the most intrigue as antagonists here.
9 Spider-Man: The Lizard Sanction – 3.52
There have been some powerful iterations of the Lizard, but the character’s portrayal in The Lizard Sanction is perhaps even more aggressive than usual. Peter is fighting for the safety of his world after the rampage from the beast leaves his life in complete tatters.
The addition of the alien Symbiote Venom adds further conflict to the piece by Diane Duane, who manages to forge a mystery here as to why the extraterrestrial might but hunting Lizard in the first place. Written with rich detail and focusing on the antagonists more than usual, this is a must-read for web-head fans.
8 Wolverine: Weapon X – 3.94
The comics have already created so many huge stories which really delve into the core of their heroes. Marc Cerasini takes inspiration from one such narrative and has turned it into his much-loved work, Weapon X, a novel that puts Wolverine front and center.
It’s an origin story unlike any other, that sees Logan come to terms with his mutant abilities and track his history through the Weapon X program, which ultimately created the X-Man that saved the universe countless times. This is a very narrow tale; one which has the core mission to showcase the emotional toil of Wolverine.
7 Siege – 3.81
Christopher Golden created the X-Men Mutant Empire series, an ambitious trilogy that tracks the species’ consistent struggle against both homo sapiens and their own kind, the Brotherhood led by Magneto. The first installment to this series does indeed focus on those themes of division in particular.
With the Master of Magnetism taking control of the government-backed Sentinal program, the X-Men not only have to contend with an army of killer robots but also that very same government that holds all mutants responsible. It’s a thrilling read with a number of ideological conflicts pushing its narrative.
6 Sanctuary – 3.93
The sequel to Siege is Sanctuary, also written by Golden. It picks up where the previous installment left off, enhancing Magneto’s position as a world power and forcing the X-Men to pick up their game if they are to have any chance of stopping his plans.
Magneto continues to control the Sentinels and is hellbent on creating a new empire of his own. With New York under his watch, this story becomes almost an espionage piece, with the X-Men ensuring that their infiltration is a success to break up the regime from the inside. It’s tense in every sense and subverts some of the clichés of traditional X-Men comics.
5 Road Of Bones – 3.94
One of the most compelling protagonists in Marvel Comics is that of Logan, so it’s no surprise that David W. Mack was given the job of adapting yet another of Wolverine’s core comic book tales to the page. It’s his trip to Japan that becomes integral to Road Of Bones.
There’s a twist on this familiar tale though, that sees Wolverine’s hunt for an experimental drug actually take him far further afield, almost to every continent. It’s a road trip unlike any other, brimming with the violence expected with Logan but lacking none of the heart of the X-Men.
4 Spider-Man: Carnage In New York – 3.72
There’s something far more dramatic about Spider-Man’s clashes with Carnage compared to his other foes. There are no ulterior motives to Cletus Kassidy’s actions; the man is simply a serial killer longing for his next hunt. He is deeply dark and twisted.
David Michelinie and Dean Wesley Smith have composed a story here that utilizes these violent urges to push Peter Parker’s back up against the wall. Fans may have never seen the hero more desperate than he is here, as he races against the clock to secure the Symbiote’s imprisonment once more.
3 X-Men: Days Of Future Past – 3.90
The X-Men have far more groundbreaking comic book narratives than perhaps any other set of characters. Days Of Future Past is in the upper echelon of the greats, a story that weaves both time travel and the clash of Mutant and mankind with one another.
Alexander C. Irvine was given the almost impossible task of taking this impressive saga and bringing it into a novel. He has done so in an expert manner, losing none of the tension of the piece, while utilizing the format to paint these characters with even more emotional turmoil and detailed features than the comics even managed.
2 The Incredible Hulk: What Savage Beast – 3.85
The greatest Hulk stories manage to cover the life of both the Green Goliath and Bruce Banner. With Peter David’s work on What Savage Beast, both sides of the hero’s personality are given plenty of time to breathe, as Banner becomes an expectant father and Hulk tackles some of his mightiest enemies.
The novel asks the important question, is Banner more man or beast? It’s an existential crisis that has taken Hulk through some of his worst times in comics and reflects the likes of Jekyll and Hyde in classic literature. With a potential cure for his condition on the horizon, the duality of his personality is at stake more than ever. It’s a beautiful novel packed with complex themes.
1 Salvation – 3.94
The great finale of the Mutant Empire saga, capped off once again by Christopher Golden was deemed to be the best Marvel book by Goodreads. It’s the perfect culmination of everything discussed in the previous two entries and brings the adventure to a satisfying resolution.
With Magneto’s forces more powerful than ever and the X-Men having lost some of their own in previous battles, the Mutants must work alongside man and the US Government to bring an end to the Sentinels and the empire. Forgiveness, ideology, corruption, and hope are all brought into this final fight as Magento makes his last stand for his people.
90 Day Fiancé: Anfisa’s 10 Most Iconic Tantrums
About The Author