10 Best Toy Based Comics

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She-Hulk: Lawyer sees the supervillain Titania steal the hero’s name and license it. She didn’t make She-Hulk toys, though that’s not unusual given the comics’ relationship to toy lines. Many great comics from Marvel, DC, and other publishers have drawn inspiration from iconic toylines like Transformers and GI Joe.


Marvel Comics enjoyed huge success in the 1980s with its licensed comics, integrating them fully into the main Marvel Universe. This made revisionist history clunky later on once the rights expired, but comics continue to influence toys today, which in turn influence modern toy-based comics from publishers like IDW.

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10/10 Shogun Warriors

Licensed comics date back to the golden age of comics, but Marvel really pitched the idea of ​​basing them on toys with Shogun Warriors. Marvel introduced the series in 1979, based on the Mattel line with giant robots. With a fun story and great action, this comic set the stage in many ways for the big hits to come.

These toys are all from Japan and Mattel imported them, mixing characters from various sources in live action and anime. The characters crossed paths with many Marvel superheroes at the time, including the Fantastic Four, who were on hand to witness the destruction of the Shogun Warriors in their final issue.

9/10 Micronauts

Marvel continued its connection to imported Japanese toys with Micronauts in 1979. Mego brought these toys from Takara, the same maker of many original Transformers toys. Microman became Micronauts in the United States, creating a compelling new story in the Microverse that showed just how powerful a comic book tool could be for creating toys.

The comic had a long run in the 1980s, and the characters crossed over with many Marvel characters. While 1983 The X-Men and the Micronauts The miniseries probably isn’t among the best X-Men comic book storylines of all time, which clearly shows just how successful the toy line is.

8/10 Rom: space knight

For a toyline consisting of a single toy, Rom The Spaceknight proved to be very successful in the comics. The Rom comic spanned several years at Marvel and built an elaborate mythology around the character who is still a part of the larger Marvel Universe to this day. Concepts like the Dire Wraiths, his villains, continue to appear in modern comics.

Rom himself is proving complicated thanks to rights issues. Parker Bros. and later Hasbro owned the character, only licensing him to Marvel, but Marvel created virtually all of the mythology around him. Much of this material comes from Bill Mantlo, who comic book fans know created Rocket Raccoon.

7/10 Super powers

In the mid-1980s, toy-based comics were hugely successful. This led to DC Comics partnering directly with Kenner to produce a toy line and corresponding comic called Super powers. Legendary comic book creator Jack Kirby worked on the initial miniseries, creating art that puts this comic a cut above the rest.

Kirby returned to the iconic characters he created for New Gods like Darkseid, giving relatively obscure characters a new spotlight. The comic was set outside of regular DC Comics continuity at the time and focused primarily on toys invented by Mattel for the line.

6/10 Captain Action

GI Joe produced a highly successful comic book for Marvel in the 1980s, but the toy line actually started in the 1960s. Its main rival, Mattel’s Captain Action, spawned a DC comic in 1968. The comic only lasted five issues but featured works by legendary creators. Among the best Batman artists of all time, Wally Wood and Gil Kane contributed to the comic and its memorable art.

DC Comics completely changed the central conceit of the toy, transforming into other people, since some of the characters the hero transformed into were Marvel icons like Spider-Man.

5/10 masters of the universe

DC introduced Mattel’s He-Man franchise to comics in 1982, but toys got arguably their best showcase from Star Comics. masters of the universe debuted from Marvel’s child-focused Star imprint in 1986, and despite its tone, the series had some serious consequences, including the death of main villain Skeletor.

The comic also exploited many characters and concepts created by Mattel at that time, including new enemies like Hordak, some of the smartest Masters of the Universe villains.

4/10 Gargoyles

The line between toys, comics, and animation blurred in the 1980s, with all three media focusing on mutual selling. That means Gargoyles relies as much on the toys as it does on the Disney cartoon. The original 1995 Marvel Comics series departed from series continuity and also featured incredible art by Joe Madureira, some of the best X-Men artists of all time.

The comic also featured a darker tone than the show and toys typically featured, which Slave Labor Graphics’ 2006 comic book series built over its gripping run.

3/10 Transformers

Many fans know the Transformers from their 1980s animated series and their 1986 feature film, but Marvel Comics has had years of success with its series. Set in its own continuity, the comic explored supporting characters like Skids and built up the mythology in ways the cartoon didn’t have time for.

Bob Budiansky largely wrote the entire original series and also contributed to the Transformers mythology by naming several key characters, including Optimus Prime.

2/10 GI Joe: A True American Hero

GI Joe: A True American Hero ranks as perhaps the most successful toy-based comic. The series ran from 1982 to 1994 and at one point, according to former Marvel editor Jim Shooter, the comic topped all other titles in subscription sales. The comic stood out then as it does now thanks to Larry Hama.

Hama, the writer of the entire series, also contributed heavily to the characters, personalities, and dynamics of the line’s mythology. He also brought personal experience as a veteran to the book, giving it a real-world feel that elevated it beyond just being tied to merchandise.

1/10 Secret Wars

Secret Wars is expected to become one of the most successful films of all time when it arrives in 2025 and its potential success has its roots in a 1985 toyline. Jim Shooter has worked with Mattel to capitalize on the synergy Marvel has experienced with d other toy properties and created one for Marvel. The corresponding comic proved influential in many ways.

The original miniseries, written by Shooter, proved to be the first major superhero crossover for Marvel, establishing a pattern it continues to this day. It also defined core concepts like Battleworld and The Beyonders that proved key in the 2015 reimagining and will likely play a key role in the next MCU movie.

NEXT: Transformers: 10 Memes That Sum Up The Movies Perfectly

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