9. UNDER SIEGE (AVENGERS #270-277, 1986-1987)

Under Siege has a simple premise: Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil storm the Avengers mansion in order to surprise and systematically take out the super team. The sheer brutality that Zemo employed was so jarring, though, that it sticks with us. Roger Stern has always had the ability to take a simple plot and fill it with enough emotion to turn any story into a classic, and Under Siege is no different.

Throughout the story, members of the Avengers are beaten within an inch of their life and their home is virtually destroyed, but what really makes the story work is when Zemo ruins Cap’s personal collection of mementos from his pre-WWII life. With everyone from his early years long dead, all Steve Rogers has left are photos and keepsakes from his friends and family.

The lone panel of Cap cradling the demolished mementos from his past life is still one of the most heartbreaking moments in Marvel’s history. It recalls the isolation that Captain America is built around and reminds the audience of all that he has lost over the years. Simple, yet effective; this is comic writing 101.