The Top Ten Marvel Comics For Beginners
The Marvel Cinematic Universe finished up its glorious phase 3 with Avengers: Endgame and it was nothing short of spectacular. That being said, call us crazy but we know why you’re here. With thousands of different comics, you're probably asking yourself, "Where do I start?". Well, here’s a list made just for you. Enjoy.
The rise of Marvel in the film industry has sparked a new intrigue in Superheroes again. However, unlike Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings there isn’t one single source material that you can simply binge read over the week. The collision of universes, thousands of different story arcs, all-different heroes (Thor is a girl now???) and even the resurrection of seemingly dead ones may confuse new readers. We have filtered the best comics for STARTERS. We removed all the stories that may be either too old/outdated or too hard to understand for a new guy like you. Whether it’s to see Spider-Man deal with high school drama, experience Jean Grey turn into your batshit crazy ex or even just to admire America’s ass one time, here is the list of the top ten comics for beginners.
10. Hawkeye Vol. 1 (2013)
I picked up this story a few summers ago , and it was actually a surprisingly good read . It is centered around the "forgotten" Avenger, Hawkeye. His appearance in Endgame is just a preview of how bad-ass this dude can be. Matt Fraction does a great job taking this"powerless" archer into a butt-kicking superhero who is experiencing some sort of hero-mid-life crisis. Artist David Aja provides complementing art that has a sort of "cartoony" feel, which I personally loved. The comic is action-packed, funny and has a really compelling plot. Any new reader will be able to enjoy this as it does not require much background reading as it is sort of creates a world for itself.
Reading Importance Meter: Unless you're a Hawkeye Fan, try reading some of the others on this list first.
9. Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1 & 2 (2000)
Before the electronic Stark industry designed suits was a young teenage weirdo who struggled getting to class in time. Ultimate Spider-Man is a great story tackling the humble beginnings of our beloved web-slinging hero. Lets face it, the original first comics of Spider-Man ( Amazing Fantasy) are kinda old and boring, making Ultimate Spider-Man the perfect reboot. In this story, Brian Michael Bendis shows a more present-day Peter Parker and how he embraces the role of Spider-Man in Marvel's second universe. As a teenager, I will always have this special connection with Spidey. It's just cool how even a superhero has normal high school problems like homework, crappy teachers and even girls.
Reading Importance Meter: Read this before the next Spider-Man movie this summer.
8. Secret Wars (1984)
You're probably saying that I broke my promise of no "old" comics with this 1984 vintage one. But hear me out on this one. My dad recommended this book back when I was around 13. At first, I thought this would be packed with cheesy action scenes and a tedious “I have-to-explain-my-power” dialogue . Boy was was I wrong. Secret Wars was probably the first major event that brought in most of the heroes and villains together (it was Infinity War, before Infinity War). Nothing gets better than a classic slugfest of the strongest super-heroes and their enemies. The heroes in the story are just as confused as you as to how they got to this mysterious planet. If you already have a decent background on most Marvel characters, this will be an enjoyable read.
Reading Importance Meter: If you really wanna show that you're hardcore, this is basically the Bible.
7. New Avengers Vol. 1 (2009)
After the disassemble of the Earth's mightiest heroes, a new team was needed to protect the Earth. Hence, the assembly of The New Avengers. If the original Avengers were the ‘84 Dream Team, this New Avengers would be the ‘08 Redeem Team. The new roster includes new heroes like Luke Cage, Spider-Woman, Sentry, Wolverine and Ronin . But also kept familiar faces like Cap, Spidey and Ironman. Brian Michael Bendis shows his greatness with this excellent, gritty story line. The artist, Steve Mcniven, is also one of my favorites. The first issue is amazing, dealing with an all out super-villain prison break. I really commend this story for creating a very engaging new team, with vibrant personalities. They really kick-ass. It is also their first appearance, so any new readers wouldn't have a hard time catching up.
Reading Importance Meter: Wolverine on the Avengers? Sign me up.
6. House of M (2005)
It may require some background reading, but House of M is a huge event that every comic fan should know about. Like Secret Wars, many of the Marvel heroes are involved in this reality-changing incident. It's the third Bendis work in this list, so needless to say, the plot and storytelling are epic. The comic revolves around the infamous Magneto family! Featuring familiar faces like the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver who are leaders of a mutant utopia. I won’t spoil anything but it’s safe to say that the end was crazy. And I mean craaaaaazy.
Reading Importance Meter: One of the most influential stories out there!
5. Avengers vs. X-Men (2012)
AvX is what you should be reading after finishing House of M. This event finally gave the fans the battle they always craved for; Xavier's top class mutants vs Earth's mightiest. The culmination of some of the best writers, Matt Fraction, Brian Michael Bendis (who else), and Ed Brubaker help create this massive Super Smash Bros-esque battle. I saw how Cyclops goes from a respectable leader to a complete asshole but at the same time, pity how much his race has suffered. I also find it funny how both the Avengers and the X-Men are owned by different cinematic studios, this kinda makes the battle more interesting.
Reading Importance Meter: Mutants vs. Heroes. Fox vs. MCU. Captain America vs. Cyclops. Buy. Read. Repeat.
4. X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga (Uncanny X-Men #129-138, 1980)
I don't think anything is more iconic than the picture of a screaming Scott Summers holding an unconscious Jean Grey in his arms. Yes, I know, this is another oldie but if there was a definition of what a classic comic is, The Dark Phoenix Saga would be that definition. We see the height of Chris Claremont's X-Men with an instant classic, the Phoenix force corrupting one of the strongest mutants to ever live, Jean fucking Grey. There are numerous important events ranging from the first appearance of Kitty Pryde (the best X-Woman ever), the battle with the Hellfire club and to the journeying in space and messing with the Shi'ar empire. Personally, it's my favorite story from the '80s. It's also nothing like the X-Men: The Last Stand, I promise you that.
Reading Importance Meter: One of the most iconic X-Men stories ever.
3. The Ultimates Vol. 1 & 2 (2002)
The Avengers also go their much needed Ultimate Spiderman revamp. The Ultimates shows the assembly, victories and downfalls of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes in a more present day world. Say goodbye to traditional caped crusaders, Mark Millar sets the gritty tone of the comic to portray a more realistic kind of Avengers. In a lot of ways, the movies mirror this story line. We see the Hulk going all berserk in New York, a Hawkeye that doesn't look like he's from the circus and a more rich-billionaire-playboy-genius type of Tony Stark. After reading The Ultimates, I had a difficult time reading older Avenger comics. They just felt like children-books, seriously.
Reading Importance Meter: A better version of the Avengers movies, so read it like, now.
2. Civil War (2006)
The movie was fantastic. The video game (Ultimate Alliance 2) was great . Civil War is probably Marvel's most famous comic. Personally it is also the first comic that got me hooked to Marvel. For the first time we see Superheroes go at each other instead of villains. If you've watched and enjoyed the movie, it would be a sin to not pick up a copy of the comic. While the movie tried to stay faithful, the comic still is way better. I mean, obviously a full scale war between heroes would trump a 6v6 clash in the airport. Writer Mark Millar also goes more in depth to different motivations of each hero. His ability to create two sides that both have valid reasons to their cause is what makes this comic impressive. Because it means that there is no "better" side that everyone chooses (*cough Captain America*cough). So If you think that watching the movie is enough, you are very wrong my friend.
Reading Importance Meter: If you've watched the movie and haven't pick this up, I don't know what you're doing with your life.
1. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1 & 2 (2004)
To me my X-Men fans! Out of all the comics that I have read, Astonishing X-Men is probably my favorite for various reasons. Joss Whedon, director of the Avengers movie, does a superb job of characterizing each X-Man. From conflicted leader Cyclops, to the young and innocent Kitty and the queen of resting bitch faces Emma Frost. The script and lines of the characters are done to utmost perfection. Joss Whedon really has a gift of incorporating witty moments in serious situations (Hence, the Avengers). I remember reading this story with David Bowie's "Heroes" playing on my Spotify, math assignments on the floor and my mind thinking of ways for me to become a mutant. Lets just say that entire week in school had me depressed and searching for Xavier School for Gifted Students student admissions.
Reading Importance Meter: You cannot die without reading this.