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How to Get Into Marvel Comics: A Beginner's Guide

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I am a gamer, an Otaku, a sci-fi and fantasy fanboy, a Planeswalker, and an avid reader of comics, novels, and manga.

Getting Into Marvel comics

Marvel was a bit of a challenge for me, largely because of how vast and deep the universe is and the focus on those events and their impact on the involved characters. My strategy was to focus on large events that helped shape the universe as a whole first, then focus on individual characters or teams that I liked.

This guide will focus on those major events. Separate articles detailing where to start with individual heroes and teams will be linked at the bottom of this page as I publish them.

The Timeline

Each major event, unless otherwise noted, has a core miniseries that can be picked up as a Trade Paperback and a host of other Tie-in trades. All you need to understand the story is the core series, but I wholeheartedly recommend picking up tie-ins to help you discover characters you might not have cared about before and to help you broaden your knowledge of the event as a whole.

Civil War

I chose Civil War as my starting point, because it was an older story that I had heard whispers of around its time of publishing. The Idea of hero vs. hero intrigued me, so I began there. The plot of this series revolves around the proposed government regulation of superhumans. Not everyone agrees, people pick sides, and war ensues.

For the tie-ins, I actually recommend reading as many of them as you can. As our introduction into Marvel comics, Civil War and its tie-ins really give you a good idea of the scope of this universe and its characters.

Secret Invasion

Secret Invasion is a major event involving the shapeshifting aliens known as the Skrulls. In this story, the shapeshifters replace various key figures and heroes in an attempt to invade our planet after the destruction of the Skrull homeworld. I actually skipped this one myself after watching an adaptation in the Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon. There are a few discrepancies, but they seemed to explain themselves as I read on.

getting-into-comics-a-beginners-guide-to-marvel

Dark Reign

Dark Reign isn't so much an event as the state of the Marvel world between the events of Secret Invasion and Siege. This makes it difficult to give a definite reading order. What I did was read the following trade paperbacks:

  1. Dark Reign: Accept Change
  2. Dark Reign: The List
  3. Dark Avengers Vol 1 and Vol 2
  4. New Avengers Vol 10, Vol 11, and Vol 12
  5. Mighty Avengers: Dark Reign

Another good way to clear through here would be to read Accept Change and The List, then tackle the Siege event; and later, after you've decided what characters interest you, come back to this era and check out their trades. The nature of this era doesn't require you to read everything at once. I still come back and read Dark Reign era material from time to time.

Siege

Norman Osborn has declared war on Asgard! His Dark Avengers tangle with the other Avengers teams in the floating city until a victor is declared. There is some gruesome death and destruction in this one.

The best trade reading order for siege is:

  1. Siege Prelude
  2. Thor Vol 3
  3. Thor: Latverian Prometheus
  4. Siege
  5. Thor: Siege
  6. Dark Avengers: Siege
  7. New Avengers: Siege
  8. Thor: Siege Aftermath

Fear Itself

Like Civil War and Secret Invasion, Fear itself is a major event with a Core Miniseries and a number of tie-ins. The plot revolves around the release of the ancient asgardian god of fear whose power rivals even that of Odin. A bunch of characters, including the likes of Hulk, The Thing, Juggernaut, and others, are transformed by this god of fear into his exceedingly powerful minions and wreak all sorts of havoc.

Like Dark Reign and Siege, I recommend coming back to Fear Itself once you have decided what characters and teams you want to follow and pick of the trades here that relate to them. I came back and read the Avengers Academy, Ghost Rider, Herc, Hulk, and Journey into Mystery trades and recommend each of them if they match your tastes.

Avengers vs. X-Men

The Phoenix force is coming. Mutant-kind will either be extinguished or reborn.

Differing opinions on the threat put the X-men and the Avengers at war!

This title is really necessary if you plan on reading avengers or mutant titles, as it set the current status quo.

AVX: Vs is a collection of individual fights from the event and it is worth of a nerdgasm

Age of Ultron (optional)

This super timey-wimey event is about Ultron, the sentient machine of doom, taking over the world.

This one is optional because the events reset themselves at the end (don't you just hate time-travel?)

The only important take-away is that all the time traveling done here caused a rip in space/time, which affected different characters in different ways. This rip introduced the character Angela and started the Ultimate: Cataclysm arc.

Infinity

The armies of Thanos ravage the world while half our heroes are in deep space dealing with the Builders who are rampaging throughout the galaxy on a B-line for Earth.

The Illuminati are confronted by the Black Order, Thanos' generals. The Mad Titan searches for gems and for a surprise among the Inhumans!

Secrets are revealed and kingdoms fall.

Inhumanity

This event deals with the fall out from infinity, namely the Terrigen Mists being spread all over the Earth.

This collection includes all tie-ins.

Original Sin

Who shot The Watcher?

The Watcher was a cosmic being, one of many, tasked with observing life and events without interfering. Though Earth's Watcher is famously involved, comparatively to his fellow watchers. Now the Watcher has been murdered, his home on the moon has been looted, and worst of all, the secrets he observed have been released.

This event really shakes up what we know about a lot of important characters and events. What was Tony Stark's role in the creation of the Hulk? Is Luke Cage's Mighty Avengers not the first incarnation of the team? What is Thor has a long lost sister? So many questions posed, so many secrets revealed, so many perspectives changed.


You can pick up the Original Sin Companion Trade which includes all Tie-Ins or you can grab the individual trades listed below.

  • Avengers Vol. 6: Infinite Avengers
  • Original Sin: Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm
  • Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man
  • The Amazing Spider-Man: The Parker Luck
  • Daredevil: West-Case Scenario
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Original Sin
  • Mighty Avengers: Original Sin - Not Your Father's Avengers
  • Deadpool Vol. 6: Original Sin
  • All-New Invaders: Original Sin
  • Fantastic Four: Original Sin
  • Uncanny X-Men vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Nova #18-20 are so far only collected in the Companion trade

Avengers & X-Men: Axis

The hate mongering Red Skull has stolen and infused the brain of the late Charles Xavier with his own, granting him the legendary mutants telepathic powers! Using this power he plans to unleash a world war of hate culminating in the Reich Eternal! A last ditch effort between Avengers and X-Men attempt to stop him. Even a haphazard team of villains lead by Magneto take on the Red Onslaught.

The fallout of this epic battle leaves those present at its conclusion changed. Personalities become inverted turning heroes into villains and villains into heroes!

Tie in trades include:

  • Captain America & the Mighty Avengers: Open For Business
  • Superior Iron Man: Infamous
  • Axis: Carnage & Hobgoblin
  • AXIS: Revolutions
  • Magneto: Reversals
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard: I Cannot Tell A Lie
  • Avengers World: Next World
  • Deadpool: AXIS
  • Nova: AXIS
  • All-New X-Factor: AXIS
  • Inhuman: AXIS

Marvel Now! Completed Titles

In October 2012, Marvel began its Marvel Now! Initiative which, similar to DC's New 52, Saw the relaunch of many of Marvel's titles. Unlike DC, however, this relaunch initiative was not a reboot of Marvel's continuity. Instead, it serves as a good jumping on point for those somewhat familiar with the Marvel universe.

Like Dark Reign, this isn't so much an event, but the marking of a comic era.( I.E. Everything between the end of AVX and All-New Marvel Now!)

Superior Foes of Spider-Man

Superior Foes is both hysterical and one of the oldest ongoing titles. It follows a group of c-list villains as the new Sinister 6 (although there's only 5 of them)

Amazing Spider-Man

Peter Parker is back to his old self again.Now Peter just has to deal with the changes Doc Ock made to his life, including a violent run-in with Black Cat.

Introducing a brand new character silk, supposedly given powers by the same spider who bit Parker himself!

Spider-Man 2099

Miguel O'Hara, Spider-Man from the year 2099, finds himself trapped in the modern day. He manages to get a job for Alchemax, the evil mega-corp from his future.

New Warriors (Scarlet Spider)

New Warrior veterans, Speedball and Justice, recruit a new team of Warriors including:

  • Nova
  • Scarlet Spider
  • Hummingbird
  • Sun Girl
  • Water Snake
  • Haechi

The High Evolutionary has declared war on all super humans. Atlanteans, Inhumans, Morlocks, clones, and the all-new New Warriors are locked in his sights!

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Uncanny Avengers

In the Wake of the funeral of Charles Xavier, Captain America decides it's time for a join initiative between the Avengers and the X-men. With Havok as it's face, he leads a mixed roster including:

  • Captain America
  • Havok
  • Wolverine
  • Thor
  • Scarlet Witch
  • Rogue
  • Sunfire
  • Wasp
  • Wonder Man

Uncanny X-Men

In the wake of Avengers vs X-men, Cyclops is on his own with a small group of renegade mutants to start his own school; The Charles Xavier School as opposed to Wolverines Jean Grey School.

His staff include:

  • Magneto
  • Emma Frost
  • Magik

Magneto

The solicit for issue one reads:

"Once the deadliest, most feared mutant mastermind on the planet, MAGNETO is no longer the man he once was. After falling in with Cyclops and the X-Men, Erik Lehnsherr became just one more pawn in another man's war. But now, determined to fight the war for mutantkind's survival on his own terms, Magneto sets out to regain what he's lost...and show the world exactly why it should tremble at the sound of his name. Magneto will safeguard the future of the mutant race by hunting down each and every threat that would see his kind extinguished-and bloody his hands that they may never be a threat again."

All-New X-Men

In a misguided attempt to get through to Cyclops, Beast brought the original 5 X-men from the past into the present. You can imagine the shenanigans that causes. This is definitely one of my favorite X-Titles

Cyclops

The solicit reads:

"Cyclops just discovered that the father he thought died long ago is alive and well and A SPACE PIRATE. Spinning directly out of ALL-NEW X-MEN, comes the first ongoing solo series for one of the time-traveling Original X-Men. After the events of 'Trial of Jean Grey', Scott Summers stays in space to learn some valuable lessons from his dad: 1) How to shave, 2) How to talk to girls, 3) How to steal a Badoon space-ship."

Wolverine and the X-Men vol 2

Solicit for issue 1 reads:

"WELCOME TO THE JEAN GREY SCHOOL OF HIGHER LEARNING!

The ALL NEW MARVEL NOW smash hit series schools with Jason Latour (WINTER SOLDIER) and Mahmud Asrar (X-MEN) leading the charge with drama, action and homework(?)! World-famous X-Men Wolverine, Storm, and a star-studded faculty must educate the next generation all-powerful, but inexperienced mutants! But with their own lives steeped in deadly enemies and personal crises, how can the X-Men guide and educate-let alone defend-the school? At the Jean Grey School, you never know who will enroll...or who will lead the class! And what mysterious organization waits in the shadows to destroy Wolverine's mutant sanctuary? These questions and more are answered in the All-New Marvel Now sure-to-be-smash, WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #1!"

Savage Wolverine

The Solicit for Volume 1 reads:

"Wolverine awakes to find himself transported to the Savage Land and labeled Public Enemy Number One! With no memory of how he got there, and Shanna the She-Devil his only ally, Logan must unravel the mystery that slumbers at the heart of the Savage Land before it finds a way to kill him first! In search of answers, Wolverine and Shanna venture into the depths of the Forbidden Island - but what will get them first, the island's inhabitants or their tempers? Meanwhile, another hero crash-lands on the island - but is he friend or foe? And what surprising role will the Man-Thing play? NOW!, under the detailed pen of Frank Cho, Wolverine is all brawls, babes and brachiosaurs. And you'll never see the end - or the future of the Marvel Universe - coming!"

X-Men

The solicit from volume 1 reads:

"The X-Women finally get their own book, from critically acclaimed superstars Brian Wood (X-MEN, ULTIMATE X-MEN, DMZ, THE MASSIVE) and Oliver Coipel (AVX, HOUSE OF M, THOR)! An old enemy shows up at the X-Men's door, seeking asylum from an ancient evil come back to earth. Meanwhile, Jubilee has come home, and she's brought with her an orphaned baby who might hold the key to the earth's survival...or its destruction. Against a backdrop of what seems like an alien invasion and an eons-spanning war between brother and sister, Storm steps up and puts together a team to protect the child and stop a new threat that could destroy all life on earth!"