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10 Best Marvel Comics That Went Under The Radar In 2021 – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Generally, Marvel fans only follow the characters they’re most interested in, but doing that causes them to skip over some awesome books.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has ensured that Marvel heroes will be a household name for the next decade at least. But the Marvel Comics world is a little different. There, the same heroes who are popular now are the same heroes who have always been popular: Spider-Man and the X-Men, and maybe the Avengers.
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While the X-Men are more interesting than they’ve been in decades, it doesn’t mean Marvel’s Merry Mutants were the only ones with good comics last year. Generally, fans only follow the characters they’re most interested in, but doing that can cause them to skip over some awesome books that deserve their love.
Jed MacKay and C.F. Villa’s Black Cat gave the spotlight to one of Marvel’s most beloved cat burglars. Felicia Hardy spent the majority of the year getting up to her usual of stealing from everyone in the Marvel Universe, but on a much bigger scale than usual.
This time, her goal was to take the Infinity Gems. Though it got her the attention of everyone she wanted to avoid, it made for one of the best reads of the year. It also got fans a team-up between Black Cat and Mary Jane this year that’s a classic.
Kurt Busiek and Yildiray Cinar have a comic that’s an awesome read for everyone, but particularly appealing for Marvel super-nerds. The story is about the Marvel heroes working together to stop a strange new threat that appeared in the land of Siancong. But because it’s by Busiek, it also features plenty of regular people watching the heroes operate.
Their ordinary perspective helps remind readers just how incredible the heroes who are willing to risk their lives against impossible odds really are.
Takeshi Miyazawa and Maurene Goo’s Silk mini-series gives fans a much-needed break from it being all Parker, all the time. They check back in on Cindy Moon, who’s gotten a sweet job working for J. Jonah Jameson while also digging into a case involving dead gang members.
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The book continues to develop Silk as a character who’s still learning to adapt to a more technologically-advanced world than the one she left, even positioning her against a villain who runs a tech company. But ultimately, it’s more of one of the best Spider-Man characters. What’s not to like?
Carlos Magno and Jed MacKay started a mini-series in February for mecha fans everywhere. The Avengers are forced up against a series of never-ending giant monsters with the ability to absorb any energy they’re hit with. Left with no choice but to get bigger to keep up with these monsters, Tony Stark and T’Challa create some giant robots for the Avengers to pilot.
This isn’t a deep story that’s going to change the direction of Marvel Comics, it’s just a fun little one-off featuring a villain that’s going to be very important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the future.
Captain Marvel has been one of the best titles of the last several years. But when a series is great for so long, people can forget, especially when there’s always something else demanding everyone’s attention. Kelly Thompson makes Carol into a likable, relatable character despite her usually being the strongest person in the room.
2021 saw major storylines like Last of the Marvels, where all of Carol and her friends went up against the biggest threat Carol’s ever faced.
So not every comic book is written for the sake of being an important story in a character’s canon. Avengers Tech-On was produced solely to sell some toys that Bandai Namco of Japan is working on… but that doesn’t stop it from being a fun read.
The Red Skull gains the power of infinity dust and makes it so that no one on Earth has any superpowers. Tony Stark is ahead of the game, creating special armors for the heroes to wear and fight back against their enemies. Jim Zub and Jeff “Chamba” Cruz have created an Avengers book for Super Sentai fans everywhere.
Derek Landry and Angel Unzueta’s Captain America/Iron Man comic is for every super-fan of Marvel Comics. It’s filled with shout-outs to older eras of Marvel, from classic Silver and Bronze Age to the Civil War era. But it’s not just about old references—it’s about the relationship between Steve and Tony.
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Rather than being dragged down by the antagonism that’s plagued them for years, it’s about them being best friends with years of history. It confronts some of their worst moments and sees the two of them being there for each other while working to save the planet against a new threat.
Gurihiru and Mariko Tamaki teamed up to create one of the funniest books of the year in Thor & Loki: Double Trouble. It’s a simple enough premise—what if Loki was more focused on mischief than wrong-doing, and what if Thor was enough of a himbo to fall for it?
Loki’s machinations result in them stealing items from their dad’s vault, finding themselves sent to other worlds, and more. This is the kind of side story every Loki fan has thought about at least once, and Gurihiru and Tamaki bring it to hilarious life in a way only they can.
Javier Rodriguez and Al Ewing assemble the Defenders for yet another mission. This time, it’s one to stop the very fabric of time from being permanently altered. A collection of Defenders is sent hurtling through time to past universes, meeting enemies and making allies that are familiar, yet different than anything fans have ever seen before.
Though it’s a mini-series, Defenders is exactly the kind of high-concept comic that superheroes are made for, and no one does it better than Ewing.
Al Ewing and Juan Frigeri’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the best team-based comic book that came out in 2021. No matter what someone might expect from a superhero team book, they managed to do it. Romance? Check. Powerful, universe-shattering villains? Check and check. And making the heroes look cool while they kick butt all over the galaxy? Triple check.
Guardians does all of this without losing its heart—this is a team that’s been together so long they’re a family, and Ewing never forgets that for a moment.
NEXT: Hawkeye: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mockingbird From The Comics
Staff Writer for CBR, Sage Ashford has also written for Comicon as well as other sites such as The Gamer, and has been doing freelance work since 2014, and been working for CBR since 2017. His focus is primarily on spreading the word on obscure anime, comic books, and games whenever possible. Follow him on Twitter @ sageshinigami, or on Twitch @ sageshinigami.


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