I Loved The Avengers...Now What Do I Read?
Published on Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 2:08pm
Last year I, like many, many other people, went to the movies and saw The Avengers. And I loved it. Not that this was a surprise: I had already seen all the other Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers and I loved them too. In fact, I liked these characters enough to venture into the world of comic books.
If someone had told me at the beginning of last year that I was going to fall in love with Marvel comics -- and even come to care deeply, passionately about different writers and have actual opinions on which artist should draw which books -- I would have laughed at them. I couldn’t have named a comics artist if my life depended on it. Now I have favorites.
But that first step into reading comics is intimidating. There are 70-plus years of back story and so many different titles and books.
Where do you even start?
I started with a combination of “what the library has” and Wikipedia. Between those two things, I was able to figure out what I wanted to read and how what I was reading fit together.
And now I've put together all my knowledge into this my quick primer for you on the Captain America, Avengers and Iron Man universes. It’s in no way a complete guide, but if you liked The Avengers and are thinking you’d like to read more about them then these books are good jumping on places. Plus the library has them all.
I started when Ed Brubaker took over the title. He’s a brilliant storyteller and he’s credited with expanding Captain America's back story. Technically this is known as Volume 5. (This is when I learned that comics numbering system is crazy, makes very little sense and often does things like jumping from “Issue 50” to “Issue 600.”)
Start with ...
Captain America: Winter Soldier Vol. 1 and Captain America: Winter Soldier Vol 2.
This is the beginning of Brubaker’s run. Steve Rogers (AKA Captain America) is on his own when the story starts and Brubaker does a good job of introducing the characters of his world to new readers. You can pick this book up and not worry about needing all the back story. Bonus: This is the story line that the next Captain America movie is addressing.
One of the nice things about the Brubaker run of Captain America is it’s pretty easy to follow.
After Winter Soldier, the series runs like this:
- Captain America: Red Menace
- Captain America: Civil War
- The Death of Captain America Vol. 1: The Death of the Dream
- The Death of Captain America Vol 2: The Burden of Dreams
- The Death of Captain America Vol 3: The Man Who Bought America
- Captain America: The Man With No Face
- Captain America: Road to Reborn
- Captain America: Reborn
- Captain America: Two Americas
- Captain America: No Escape
- Captain America: The Trial of Captain America
- Captain America: Prisoner of War
- Steve Rogers: Super Soldier
That brings you up to the technical end of Volume 5. Volume 6 starts and everything is renumbered starting at No. 1 again. (And people wonder why comics are difficult to jump into.)
Still with me? Let’s talk Avengers. Figuring out where to start with these guys was difficult, since I felt the weight of years of back story hanging over my head.
Start With ...
New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout by Brian Michael Bendis.
When I found this volume, I thought, “Perfect. It even has the word 'New' in the title; surely this is a good place to start.”
And it turns out I was right.
This is the story of Iron Man and Captain America putting together a team, so it’s a great jumping-off place. Bendis writes smart, funny stories and the reader is seldom left wondering who someone is or what is going on. He’s known for his crazy speech bubbles that can spread across frames and rapid-fire dialog. I knew I was going to like these books when I spent half my time reading them laughing over the banter.
Another appealing thing about New Avengers is the numbering system. You can go straight through, from Vol. 1 to New Avengers Volume 12: Powerloss.
You can find all 12 volumes (and then some) in our catalog.
It was a little more difficult to jump in to Iron Man. Unlike Captain America and New Avengers, there hasn't been one writer with control over this title for a long time, so it was difficult to figure out what to read and in what order to read it. I couldn’t figure out where what I was reading fit in with the other books (Avengers, Captain America), because everything does loosely tie together; things that happen in Captain America influence things that happen in Iron Man or The Avengers.
Start With ...
Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis.
It’s great storytelling and it gives the reader a good introduction to Tony Stark. Bonus: From the previews and spoilers leaked about the Iron Man 3 film, it looks like they might be taking some of the plot from this comic. Even if they aren’t, you’ll know what comic book geeks are talking about when they beg for the movies to tackle Extremis.
After Extremis, I discovered Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man series, and fell in love with it. (For those already reading New Avengers or Captain America, Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1: The Five Nightmares takes place after Captain America Civil War and New Avengers Vol. 5: Civil War.)
Be sure to read:
Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2: World’s Most Wanted Book 1
Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2: World's Most Wanted Book 2
Invincible Iron Man: Stark Disassembled
Invincible Iron Man: Stark Resilient Book 1
Invincible Iron Man: Stark Resilient Book 2
World's Most Wanted skips some time. Their story takes place after Secret Invasion and New Avengers Vol. 8: Secret Invasion. Though I hadn't read those titles when I tackled Vol. 2, I never felt lost because Fraction does a good job explaining what’s happened in the past. Plus, when I did get to the Secret Invasion story in the other books, I had a lot of “ah hah!” moments.
Still Thirsty for More?
When you're done with Invincible Iron Man, immediately read Siege and Siege: New Avengers. Really, read anything with "Siege" in the title because this story is satisfying and ties up much of the stuff that happens in both Iron Man and New Avengers.
I’ve found that the more I read, the more I want to read. I want to know more about secondary characters and things that happen in other comics. I started reading Spider-Man, and Hawkeye and Young Avengers. The more I read, the less intimidated I felt.
My very best advice to anyone wanting to start comics is to just pick one up and start reading. You’ll love it.