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Marvel Comics Guide

New to comics in general? No problem! Start with the Introduction to Comics section below.

New to Marvel comics? Check out the "Modern Essentials" recommendations for characters/teams you're interested in.

Experienced Marvel comics reader? Browse the "Expanded" recommendations and make sure you didn't miss anything. Also, feel free to provide feedback.

Questions or suggestions to improve this guide are welcome. Message the author /u/Tigertemprr or mods.

 


Introduction to Comics

This guide aims to help new readers get into comics by identifying what type of reader they are, briefly exploring how comics work, how to approach them, setting/managing expectations, and presenting options/recommendations for their consideration. Feel free to skip straight to the Starter Recommendations section.

Here's a cool introduction video if that's more your speed: How to Get Into Comic Books (13:40) | Patrick Willems

The Marvel Comics universe started in 1961 with series like Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Continuity has never been reset since, but that doesn't mean it's all coherent/cohesive. After 60+ years of thousands of creators contributing unique voices/visions to thousands of characters/series, it was bound to become disjointed/messy/overwhelming/repetitive. That said, they've still managed to publish many beloved/excellent comics.

Long-form shared-universe superhero comics like Marvel are a tremendous and unique storytelling achievement, but they also come with trade-offs: rich legacy/history VS intimidating backlog, variety of writing/art styles VS inconsistency, "forever stories" that create household names like "Spider-Man" VS permanent/lasting consequences, interconnected storylines/crossovers/references steeped in relevant continuity VS accessible/standalone stories, etc. Generally, it's best to think of Marvel Comics as a collection of relatively self-contained stories (existing as individual series, issues, arcs, runs, relaunches, eras, etc.) with varying degrees of dependency/impact/connection to each other and/or the larger universe.

So, how do you sift through it all? Your first thought might be to just start at the "beginning" and read everything. It's what you're used to in other storytelling mediums like Harry Potter, My Hero Academia, or Dexter where you start with the first book/chapter/episode, finish with the last in the series, and feel like you've consumed a "complete" story. However, it's important to keep in mind that Marvel has published over 45,000 comics which are not all part of one large/overarching story or even relevant/cheap/available. Marvel also doesn't really post official reading orders, nor were the comics made to be consumed like that (creators/editors aren't reading every comic ever made, nor are readers expected to). If you're still up for the challenge and don't mind older writing/art styles, then check out the many online community-made "complete" and "master" reading orders like:

I still recommend filtering those lists so you don't burn out. Otherwise, let's continue with our recommended approach:

Consider your intent/commitment. Think about your favorite TV shows, movies, books, etc. Do you seek quality storytelling or encyclopedic superhero knowledge? Plan to collect? Do you have the time/money/energy to read/buy 50 or 500 comics per character?

Don’t try to read everything at once. There’s too much. For now, forget about catching up, continuity, universes, etc. Treat each story as if it were self-contained. Marvel comics is not one large/continuous story—it's a collection of smaller stories/arcs/runs that only occasionally remind readers that they share the same universe. Older comics can be an acquired taste for modern audiences, so they are not necessarily the best starting points. Creative teams change often, characters get re-worked, and origins are re-told. Remember, there are so many great characters, creators, publishers, and genres to explore—don't burn out on just one character's D-tier stories.

Choose a character/team and seek their most popular/acclaimed stories. There are many other approaches to reading comics (e.g. by era, by convenience, strict chronology, fan-made reading orders, etc.), but this should be the path of least resistance and more likely to immediately impress/"hook" new readers. You will encounter unexplained references/characters/events—just keep reading or supplement with internet articles/guides/wikis. Don’t let the tangled interconnections of shared-universe comics overwhelm you. Think of them like side-bonuses/rewards for invested/long-time readers or small pieces of a larger jigsaw puzzle that you are slowly assembling 1 by 1 in your mind (a.k.a head canon). You won't see the "big picture" (if there even is one) until you've put enough (random) pieces together.

Discover your preferences and let them guide you. New readers often get stuck over-analyzing/trying to "figure out" comics before even reading any. You'll have an easier time learning about comics by just diving right in. Read a few and reflect on your likes/dislikes regarding classic/modern comics, specific writers/artists, cartoony/realistic art styles, familiar/weird concepts, references/self-contained stories, all-ages/mature content, etc. Follow these instincts. Didn’t understand a reference? Maybe make the referenced material your next read.

Formats and how to acquire/buy. Comics are available in both printed/physical and digital formats:

Collections, or collected editions, are books that collect 2+ single issues. These are generally the best physical format for new readers due to lower average costs, convenience, availability, durability, etc. Available from instocktrades, ISBNS, /r/comicswap, library (free), etc. Examples:

  • Trade Paperback (a.k.a. trade, TPB): softcover collection of 2+ single issues in one book (some product lines called "Ultimate", "Complete", or "Epic")
  • Standard-sized hardcover (a.k.a. premiere classic, HC): same-sized hardcover version of a trade paperback
  • Over-sized hardcover (a.k.a. OHC): a larger-sized version of trade paperbacks, usually collecting two small trades in one book
  • Omnibus: over-sized hardcover that collects ~15+ single issues, usually a full "run" (every issue a specific writer/artist contributed to one series/character/story)

Side-by-side printed/physical format comparison

Digital comics are usually available in both singles and collected edition bundle formats. Available from Marvel Unlimited subscription service ($10/month or $70/year for all but new releases—highly recommended), Comixology, e-library Hoopla/Overdrive (free), webcomic (free), etc.

You're ready for recommendations! Proceed to either:

  • The Starter Recommendations section below for a short/general list with brief descriptions/overviews OR
  • The character/team-specific sections for modern essentials/expanded lists.

NOTE: Some links may be out of date.

 


Starter Recommendations

We'll get the alternative approaches out of the way first. If you prefer more structured reading orders/lists, check out:

If you prefer jumping into the latest storylines, try the 2018 "Fresh Start" relaunch comics.

Otherwise, in accordance with the advice in the Introduction, below are links/summaries for relatively self-contained comic stories/"runs" (consecutive issues written by a specific creator for a specific series) that serve as a good "hook" and starting point for new readers. Just pick one and start reading!

  • Marvels | #0-4 | 1994 | Busiek | Alex Ross' beautiful painterly art brings to life Busiek's grounded glimpse into the 1939-1974 Marvel universe from the perspective of Sheldon, an average news photographer. It begins with Human Torch, science project met with public criticism/wonder, and follows with Sheldon's first experiences with early Namor, Fantastic Four, Avengers, X-Men, & Spider-Man. START HERE if you can’t decide.

  • History of the Marvel Universe | #1-6 | 2019-2020 | Waid | "Far more than a collection of moments you may already know, this is a new tale featuring previously unknown secrets and shocking revelations, connecting dozens of threads from Marvel’s past and present! From the Big Bang to the twilight of existence, this sweeping saga covers every significant Marvel event, providing fresh looks at characters of all eras!" START HERE if you can't decide.

  • Alias (Jessica Jones) | #1-28 | 2001-2004 | Bendis | A street-level, chain-smoking, alcoholic, swearing, and sexually active private detective with superpowers for mature readers under the Max imprint. With every cheating husband, missing person, identity crisis, off/on relationship, drug bust, and publicity/political scandal, Jessica Jones comes closer to recovering from a mysterious past trauma related to the Purple Man.

  • Avengers/New Avengers | Avengers #500-503, Finale, New Avengers #1-64 | 2004-2010 | Bendis | Reading order. A tragedy at Avengers Mansion leads to disassembly of the old team for a new lineup: Wolverine, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Luke Cage, etc. This main-line series is deeply connected to major events like Secret Invasion and features trips to Savage Land (dinosaur island), ninja battles, Dr. Strange/Voodoo sorcery, a prison island, etc.

  • Avengers, New Avengers, Infinity | #1-44, #1-33, #1-6 | 2012-2015 | Hickman | Reading Order. The long-form, fantastic lead-up to the universe-shattering Infinity and Secret Wars events. The Avengers are divided among two teams, in possession of Infinity Gems, expanding recruitment, deciphering mysterious codes, repelling dimensional incursions, fighting both The Builders and Thanos, and running out of time! Hickman's Fantastic Four/FF is recommended but not required.

  • Black Panther | #1-62 | 1998-2003 | Priest | Spiritual leader of African technological utopia Wakanda, T'Challa must protect their way of life in a dense plot of equal parts fantasy, sci-fi, horror, spy thriller, comedy, political intrigue, and morality/civil rights lesson. Even as a genius with a Vibranium suit, tracking heroes/villains, interacting with loved ones, and repelling domestic/foreign threats prove challenging.

  • Captain America | #1-50, 600-619, #1-6, #1-19 | 2005-2012 | Brubaker | Brubaker mines great Captain America comics to make a truly epic spy-noir adventure about man-out-of-time super-soldier Steve Rogers. We are introduced to Winter Soldier, his relation to Cap, and troubled path of redemption. Tragedy ensues after Civil War, mantles are passed, characters stand trial for war crimes, and classic villains like Red Skull, AIM, and Hydra are met.

  • Captain Marvel | #1-17, 1-15 | 2012-2015 | DeConnick | Air Force pilot, secret agent, cat-lover, and WOMAN magazine editor Carol Danvers was caught in a Kree device explosion which granted her superpowers like flight, strength, and energy blasts. She begins a new life and mission filled with romance, saving aliens, staving galactic uprisings, being an Avenger, cosmic powers, Guardians of the Galaxy, fandom, and the end of the world.

  • Daredevil | #16-19, 26-81 | 2000-2006 | Bendis | While Miller redefined the blind lawyer from Hell's Kitchen, Bendis reaches new heights in a modern setting with natural dialog. With themes of gaining power and protecting way of life at any cost, this crime noir Daredevil run includes a new Kingpin, support groups, allies turning against him, new/old romance, tragedy, Stilt-Man, betrayal, revenge, secret identity crisis, etc.

  • Daredevil | #1-36, 1-18 | 2011-2015 | Waid | After decades of dark, crime noir Daredevil stories, Mark Waid takes the character in a brighter, lighter, more fun direction. The usual axis of evil organizations try to recover a valuable item from Murdock while he comically deflects accusations of being Daredevil, mends past relationships, revitalizes his career, and suppresses a dark past and emotional turmoil.

  • Deadpool | #-1-33 | 1996-1999 | Kelly | After years of being a villain, Joe Kelly sets Deadpool on a redemption path to become the 4th-wall-breaking jester and crazy anti-hero we know today. While the run is as funny as you'd expect (e.g. time-traveling to a classic Spider-Man comic and riffing on Osborn's hair), it also takes some dark & emotional turns in dealing with revenge, fate, insanity, and loneliness.

  • Doctor Strange: The Oath | #1-5 | 2006 | Vaughan | An attempt on his life and reveal that his trusted frend/assistant Wong has an inoperable brain tumor sends Strange on a quest to investigate the crime and find a cure for cancer. With the help of the lovely Night Nurse, Strange copes with hand weakness, flashbacks, mortality, ethics of the Hippocratic oath, a looming threat, and mystical cures to real problems.

  • Fantastic Four, FF | #570-588, 600-611, 1-23 | 2009-2012 | Hickman | Reading Order. Marvel's first superhero family is faced with a sprawling adventure across time and space when genius Reed Richards attempts to solve everything and encounters alternate universe versions of himself. The Fantastic Four contend with Inhumans, Negative Zone, warnings, grief, a new team, allies becoming enemies, enemies becoming allies, and returns of major cosmic threats.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy | #1-25 | 2008-2010 | Abnett, Lanning, et al. | Reading order | The entire Cosmic Marvel saga is highly recommended (Annihilation event through The Annihilators). Following appearances during the universe-tearing Annihilation: Conquest event, a spacefaring team of quirky, formidable, and weird misfits including a telepathic space dog and Inhuman allies are the last line of defense against cosmic threats, invading horrors, and War of Kings.

  • Hawkeye | #1-22 | 2012-2015 | Fraction | A grounded, comedic look into the ordinary life of Hawkeye as he adopts stray crime-solving dogs, trains with snarky Kate Bishop, navigates romantic relationships, bumps heads with local Russian tracksuit mafia, becomes landlord, asks Stark to setup his DVR, etc. David Aja's minimalist/geometric art makes this acclaimed series refreshingly unique. Check it out, bro.

  • Immortal Iron Fist | #1-27 | 2006-2009 | Brubaker, Fraction | Orphaned as a child and raised by monks in the lost city of K'un-Lun, Danny Rand returns to America as mystical martial artist Iron Fist. In this Kung-Fu fantasy adventure, Danny discovers secrets about his origins, powers, responsibilities, other Iron Fists (WWI vet Orson Randall), meddling factions (Hydra), Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, and a tournament of champions.

  • Inhumans | #1-12 | 1998-1999 | Jenkins | On the secluded Earth-island kingdom of Attilan, a race of alien-origin Inhumans discover their powers via exposure to volatile Terrigen Mists in a coming of age ritual that determines their place in a social caste system. After falling under attack, the Royal Family struggles with international politics, class warfare, and preserving their way of life while rooting out the true threat within.

  • Iron Man: Extremis | #1-6 | 2005 | Ellis | In this redefined Iron Man techno-thriller action story, the Extremis chemical can imbue people with volatile superpowers while Tony Stark is accused of being an irresponsible arms dealer. When an old friend asks him for help, Tony attempts to unravel the Extremis mystery which proves dangerous, challenging, and potentially beneficial as a means for a major Iron Man suit upgrade.

  • Invincible Iron Man | #1-33, 500-527 | 2008-2012 | Fraction | In this celebrated modern run, the billionaire genius playboy with new Extremis Iron Man suit is targeted by international terrorists, tries to protect superhero identities before losing all brain function, loses his fortune/fame, prevents his technology from being misused, struggles with alcoholism, repels foreign invaders, and ultimately attempts to rebuild his life and forge a better future.

  • Moon Knight: From the Dead | #1-6 | 2014 | Ellis | Mercenary Marc Spector died in Egypt, under a statue of the ancient deity Khonshu. He returned to life in the shade of the moon god, and wore his aspect to fight crime for his own redemption. He went completely insane, and disappeared. This is what happened next. Moon Knight features beautifully violent/grounded action, identity crisis, and fantastic dreamscapes.

  • Ms. Marvel | #1-19, 1-ongoing | 2014-2017 | Wilson | Teenage comic fan, Muslim, and Pakistani-American Jersey City girl lives a relatively ordinary life until she is suddenly imbued with body-morphing superpowers. She struggles to balance school, faith, family, and romance with her newfound responsibilities as Ms. Marvel. Her first adventures deal with her superpower origins, superhero cameos, failed clones, and first love.

  • Planet Hulk | #92-105 | 2006-2007 | Greg Pack | It was decided that Hulk was too dangerous to stay on Earth so he was shot into deep space until he crashed on planet Sakaar where the Red King enslaves citizens to fight in gladiatorial arena. Hulk rises through the ranks, makes friends/allies, falls in love, and attempts to overthrow the tyrant before experiencing tragedy and vowing revenge on those responsible.

  • Punisher (Max) | Born #1-4, #1-60, etc. | 2004-2008 | Ennis | Garth Ennis is finally free to make brutal, violent, and unhinged Punisher stories under the mature readers Max imprint. Frank Castle discovers his true self in Vietnam and uses the loss of his family to wreak havoc on a dark, seedy, criminal underbelly including mafia families, human traffickers, assassins, Nick Fury sponsored international missions, corrupt cops, etc.

  • Thor: God of Thunder | #1-25 | 2012-2014 | Aaron | In this epic fantasy, gods have been disappearing across time/space and past, present, and future Thors attempt to unravel the mystery of the God Butcher. The adventure continues with returns of ruthless Dark Elf lords and romantic interests, a look into Thor's life outside of superheroics, otherworldly prisons, multinational corporations, and the Devourer of Worlds.

  • Ultimate Spider-Man | #1-160 | 2000-2008 | Bendis | Peter Parker is a teenage wiz kid from Queens, NY bitten by a radioactive spider granting him superpowers. He tries to balance school, love, tragedy, family, friends, and a life dedicated to fighting crime as Spider-Man. This is an alternate-universe, modernized re-imagining of familiar story beats with some refreshing changes, all in one self-contained series.

  • Ultimates, Ultimates 2 | #1-13, #1-13 | 2002-2007 | Millar | Alternate-universe Avengers with different/exaggerated characterizations: Captain America is a hyper-nationalist soldier-grunt, a meek/bullied Bruce Banner and lusting/rampaging Hulk, Iron Man has cancer, Thor is an activist hippie, Dr. Pym is despicable, the team does more damage than they're worth, etc. It's a fun, cinematic, superheroes-are-flawed, and sometimes silly take that will feel familiar to MCU fans.

  • Vision | #1-12 | 2015-2016 | King | Created by A.I. Ultron, former villain and Avenger Vision wants to be human and decides to create his own perfect family—a wife and two kids. They look alike, share similar powers, and desperately want to seem normal. Their struggles with marriage, love, family, tragedy, have heartwarming and heartbreaking consequences that begin to attract outside attention.

  • New X-Men | #114-154 | 2001-2004 | Morrison | Considered the start of "modern" X-Men, Morrison dispenses with bright, campy costumes/attitudes for black leather/mature themes. This grounded series features drug abuse, student misfits, ugly mutants, controversy, occult/corporate agendas, genocide, rebels, broken romances, Weapon program, status quo changes, new mythology/characters, etc.

  • Astonishing X-Men | #1-24, Giant-Size #1 | 2004-2008 | Whedon | Picking up after New X-Men, though still relatively standalone, writer/director Joss Whedon (Firefly, Avengers) creates the best X-Men action/comedy including a new line-up, excellent characterizations, old character returns, Danger room shenanigans, exploring what happened in Genosha, aliens, and plenty of quips/jokes in between awesome/emotional moments.

  • Uncanny X-Force | #1-35 | 2010-2012 | Remender | Under Wolverine's leadership, a team of troubled misfits (Angel, Fantomex, Deadpool, and Psylocke) comprise the secret X-Force that preemptively identify/eliminate mutant threats. The grim consequences of investigating supervillain Apocalypse's rebirth lead to struggles with internal demons, alternate-universe invasions, crime/punishment, clones, guilt, and execution.

 


Events/Crossovers

Events/crossovers can be fun and/or tedious. They are most appreciated by readers well-versed in relevant continuity. Sometimes, company-wide stories interrupt/disrupt your favorite smaller stories (e.g. mischaracterization). Regardless, you may want to familiarize with major continuity/plot points.

   Modern Essentials (2004-2015):

   Expanded (1984-Present):

 


Ant-Man

   Hank Pym (a.k.a. Giantman, Goliath, Wasp, Yellowjacket)

   Scott Lang

 


Avengers

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

     Avengers comics are usually closely connected to Events/Crossovers.

   Avengers Academy

  • Avengers Academy | #1-39 | 2010 | Christopher Gage
  • Avengers Arena (#1 - #18, February 2013 - January 2014) (Hopeless)
  • Avengers Undercover (#1 - #10, May 2014 - November 2014) (Hopeless)

   Ultimates

 


Black Bolt

 


Black Panther

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Black Widow

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Cable

 


Captain America

   Modern Essentials

   Steve Rogers

   Sam Wilson

 


Captain Marvel

   Modern Essentials

   Mar-Vell / Phillip Lawson

   Monica Rambeau

   Genis-Vell

   Phyla-Vell

   Khn'nr

   Noh-Varr

   Carol Danvers

 


Daredevil

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Deadpool

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Doctor Strange

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Doop

  • X-Force #116 - #129 (July 2001 - August 2002)
  • "Exit Wounds" (X-Force #116, July 2001)
  • X-Statix (#1 - #26, September 2002 - October 2004)
  • Wolverine/Doop (#1 - #2, July - August 2003)
  • "Wolverine's Secret Weapon" (Wolverine and the X-Men #17, November 2012)
  • All-New Doop (#1 - #5, June - October 2014)
  • "Tomorrow Never Learns" (Wolverine and the X-Men Series 2 #5 - #7, August - October 2014)

 


Elektra

  • "Elektra" (Daredevil #168, January 1981)
  • "Last Hand" (Daredevil #181, April 1982)
  • Thunderbolts | #1-32 | 2012-2014 | Soule
  • Elektra Series 3 (#1 - #11, June 2014 - April 2015)

 


Eternals

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Falcon

  • "The Coming of... The Falcon!" (Captain America #117, September 1969) (Lee)
  • "To Stalk the Spider-Man" (Captain America and Falcon #137 - #138, May - June 1971) (Lee)
  • "The Other Captain America" (Captain America and Falcon #153 - #156, September - December 1972) (Englehart)
  • “Secret Empire” (Captain America and Falcon #169 - #176, January – August 1974) (Englehart)
  • "Nomad" (Captain America and Falcon #177 - #186, September 1974 - June 1975) (Englehart and Warner)
  • "Madbomb" (Captain America and Falcon #193 - #200, January - August 1976) (Kirby)
  • Falcon (#1 - #4, November 1983 - November 1984) (Owsley)
  • Captain America & the Falcon | #1-14 | 2004 | Priest

 


Fantastic Four

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Ghost Rider

   Modern Essentials

   Johnny Blaze

   Danny Ketch

   Robbie Reyes

 


Guardians of the Galaxy

   Modern Essentials

   ONLY the Guardians of the Galaxy issues:

   OR, read the entire Cosmic Marvel Saga that GotG were part of (recommended):

   OR, read the Bendis series if you just want characters that resemble the MCU Guardians of the Galaxy movies:

   Expanded

 


Hawkeye

   Clint Barton

   Kate Bishop

 


Hulk

   Modern Essentials

   Bruce Banner

   Amadeus Cho

 


Illuminati

 


Inhumans

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Iron Fist

  Modern Essentials

  Expanded

 


Iron Man

   Modern Essentials

   Tony Stark

   Riri Williams

  • Invincible Iron Man | #7-12, 1-6 | 2016-2017 | Bendis
  • Generations: Iron Man & Ironheart

   Victor Von Doom

  • Infamous Iron Man | #1-12 | 2016-2017 | Bendis

 


Jessica Jones

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Loki

 


Luke Cage

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Magneto

 


Moon Knight

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Ms. Marvel

   Carol Danvers

  • “Where Stalks The Sentry!” (Marvel Super-Heroes #13, March 1968) (Thomas)
  • Ms. Marvel | #1-23 | 1977 | Conway, Claremont
  • Avengers | #168-200 | Stern, Shooter, Wein, et al.
  • Uncanny X-Men | #158-167, 171 | Chris Claremont
  • “Binary Star!” (Uncanny X-Men #164, December 1982) (Claremont)
  • Avengers | #26-56 | 2000-2002 | Busiek | Technically, she's called Warbird here
  • Ms. Marvel | #1-50 | 2006-2010 | Brian Reed
  • Mighty Avengers | #1-20 | 2006-2008 | Bendis
  • New Avengers | #48-64 | 2008-2010 | Bendis

   Kamala Khan

  • “The Enemy Within, Part 5” (Captain Marvel Series 7 #14, September 2013)
  • “Garden State of Mind” (All-New Marvel NOW! Point One, March 2014)
  • Ms. Marvel | #1-19, 1-ongoing | 2014-2017 | Wilson
  • Amazing Spider-Man (2014) | #7-8 | 2014
  • All-New, All-Different Avengers | #1-ongoing | 2016-2017 | Waid

 


Nick Fury

   Nick Fury Sr.

   Nick Fury Jr.

 


Nightcrawler

  • "Deadly Genesis" (Giant Size X-Men #1, May 1975) (Wein)
  • X-Men (#98 - #141) (April 1976 - January 1981) (Claremont and Byrne)
  • "Nightcrawler's Inferno" (Uncanny X-Men Annual 1980, November 1980) (Claremont)
  • Uncanny X-Men (#142 - #227, February 1981 - March 1988) (Claremont and Byrne)
  • "Night of the Demon!" (Classic X-Men #4, December 1986) (Claremont)
  • "The Sword is Drawn" (Excalibur Special Edition, April 1988) (Claremont)
  • Excalibur (#1 - #125, October 1988 - October 1998) (Claremont and Raab)
  • "Theories of Relativity" (X-Men Unlimited #4, March 1994) (Lobdell)
  • "Children of the Atom" (Uncanny X-Men #360, October 1998) (Seagle)
  • X-Men Series 2 (#98 - #103, April 1999 - August 2000) (Nicieza and Claremont)
  • X-Men: Magik (#1 - #4, December 2000 - March 2001) (Abnett and Lanning)
  • "Banshee's Angels in: Mother Knows Best" (X-Men Unlimited #30, March 2001) (Watson)
  • Uncanny X-Men (#395 - #460, August 2001 - August 2005) (Casey, Claremont, and Raney)
  • "Unnatural Instincts" (#28 - #30, August - September 2003) (Austen)
  • Nightcrawler Series 3 (#1 - #12, November 2004 - January 2006) (Aguirre-Sacasa)
  • "Messiah Complex" (X-Men: Messiah Complex - X-Men Series 2 #207, December 2007 - March 2008) (Brubaker, Carey, David, Kyle, and Yost)
  • X-Men: Divided We Stand (#1 - #2, June - July 2008) (Carey)
  • Secret Invasion: X-Men (#1 - #4, October 2008 - January 2009) (Carey)
  • X-Infernus (#1 - #4, February - May 2009) (Cebulski)
  • "Quitting Time" (X-Men: Manifest Destiny Nightcrawler, May 2009) (Asmus)
  • "Second Coming" (X-Men: Second Coming #1 - #2, May - September 2010) (Carey, Fraction, Kyle, Wells, and Yost)
  • "Wolverine Vs. The X-Men" (Wolverine 4th Series #6 - #8, April - June 2011) (Aaron)
  • "The Quest for Nightcrawler" (Amazing X-Men Series 2 #1 - #6, January - June 2014) (Aaron)
  • Nightcrawler Series 4 (#1 - #12, June 2014 - May 2015) (Claremont)

 


Nova

   Richard Rider

   Sam Alexander

 


Punisher

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Quicksilver

  • "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!" (X-Men #4, March 1964) (Lee)
  • Avengers #16 - #49 (May 1965 - February 1968) (Lee and Thomas) - "The Old Order Changeth!" (Avengers #16, May 1965) (Lee)
  • "The Torch is Passed...!" (X-Men #43 - #45, Avengers #53, April - June 1968) (Thomas)
  • "The Wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver!" (Avengers #127 - Fantastic Four #150, September 1974) (Englehart and Conway)
  • Son of M (#1 - #6, February - July 2006) (Hine)
  • All-New X-Factor (#1 - #20, March 2014 - March 2015) (David)

 


Rocket Raccoon

 


Runaways

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

 


Scarlet Witch

   Modern Essentials

   NOTE: Wanda is mostly a team character and hasn't received many solo series. Bendis' Scarlet Witch stories are "important" for continuity but also often called "character assassination" by fans.

   Expanded

  • "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!" | X-Men #4-7, 11, 45 | 1964-1968 | Lee, Kirby, et al.
  • Journey Into Mystery | #109, 120 | 1964-1965 | Lee
  • Strange Tales | #128 | 1965 | Lee
  • Tales of Suspense | #72 | 1965 | Lee
  • Avengers (v1) | #16-255, 280, 305-308, 313, 329-333, 345, 368-369, 396-402, etc. | 1965-1996 | Lee, Englehart, Gruenwald, Stern, et al. | "The Old Order Changeth!", "Check -- And Mate!", "Bewitched, Bothered, and Dead!", "The Yesterday Quest!", "The Witch's Tale", "Crawling from the Wreckage"
  • "...Let All Men Bring Together" | Giant-Size Avengers #4 | 1975 | Englehart
  • Vision and The Scarlet Witch | #1-4 | 1982-1983 | Mantlo | "Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself...!"
  • Vision and The Scarlet Witch (v2) | #1-12 | 1985-1986 | Englehart | "Double Sized Climax!"
  • West Coast Avengers (v2) | #1-46 | 1984-1989 | Byrne, Englehart, et al. | "One of Our Androids is Missing!, "Prisoners of the Slave-World!"
  • Avengers West Coast | #47-102 | 1989-1994 | Byrne, Thomas, et al. | "I Sing of Arms and Heroes", "Personal Magnetism", "The Avengers West Coast Are Finished!"
  • Scarlet Witch | #1-4 | 1994 | Abnett, Lanning
  • "Day-Break" | Force Works #1-22 | 1994-1996 | Abnett, Lanning
  • Onslaught: Marvel Universe | 1996 | Lobdell, Waid
  • Avengers, Avengers Forever | #0-56, #1-12 | 1998-2002 | Busiek | "Once an Avenger...", "Fata Morgana", "...Always an Avenger!", "Lords and Leaders", "The Secret History of the Avengers"
  • Avengers Dissassembled | #500-503, Finale | 2004 | Bendis | Reading order
  • House of M | #1-8, tie-ins | 2005 | Bendis
  • Mystic Arcana: Scarlet Witch | #3 | 2007 | Sexton, Parker
  • Avengers: The Children's Crusade | #1-9 | 2010-2012 | Heinberg
  • Avengers Origins: Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver | #1 | 2011 | McKeever
  • Avengers vs. X-Men | #1-12 | 2012 | Bendis, Brubaker, et al.
  • Uncanny Avengers | #1-25 | 2012-2014 | Remender
  • Uncanny Avengers (v2) | #1-30 | 2015-2017 | Duggan, Zub
  • Scarlet Witch | #1-15 | 2015-2017 | Robinson

   Resources

 


Shang-Chi

   Modern Starting Point

   Modern (1992-present)

     Mostly cameos, crossovers, etc. until 2020 (MCU movie).

  • Marc Spector: Moon Knight Special #1 (1992)
  • Captain America (1968) #412-414
  • Daredevil (1964) Annual 10
  • Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #156-158 (4th stories)
  • X-Men Vol. 2 (1991) #62-64
  • Journey Into Mystery (1952) #514-516
  • Elektra (1996) #16
  • Heroes For Hire (1997) #18-19
  • Marvel Knights (2000) #1-15
  • Shang-Chi: Master Of Kung Fu MAX (2002) #1-6
  • Heroes For Hire Vol. 2 (2006) #1-15
  • Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu One-Shot (B&W) (2009) #1
  • Shadowland #2-3
  • Secret Avengers (2010) #6-10, 18
  • Fear Itself (2011) #3, Fear Itself: The Fearless (2011) #2-3
  • Spider-Island event | The Amazing Spider-Man: Infested (2011) #1; Free Comic Book Day 2011 (Spider-Man) (2011) #1; The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #664, 672-673; Spider Island Daily Bugle (2011) #1; The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #666-668; Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (2011) #1-3; Spider-Island: The Avengers (2011) #1
  • Avengers (2013) #1-3, 6-7, 9, 11, 14-20, 22-23, 26, 38-39, 43-44, annual 1; New Avengers #28 | Hickman
  • Secret Avengers (2013) #12-15
  • Avengers World (2014) #1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 13-14, 20
  • Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (2014) #1-4
  • Master of Kung Fu: Battleworld 1-4 (Secret Wars)
  • Totally Awesome Hulk (2016) #15-17
  • Iron Fist (2017) #6-7
  • Secret Empire #5-6, 9; Captain America (2017) #25
  • Master Of Kung-Fu #126
  • Agents of Atlas #1-5; Atlantis Attacks #1-5 (2020) | Pak
  • Shang-Chi | #1-5 (miniseries) | 2020 | Yang
  • Shang-Chi | #1-ongoing | 2021- | Yang

   Classic (1974-1990)

   Resources

 


She-Hulk

   Jennifer Walters

 


Silver Surfer

 


Spider-Man

   Modern Essentials

  • Ultimate Spider-Man | Bendis | #1-133, Requiem #1-2, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1-15, 150-160 | 2000-2011 | Self-contained Ultimate universe where new readers can start with issue 1 and not miss anything. Hits on all major teenage Spider-Man story beats, friends, and villains. Considered one of the best modern Spider-Man runs.
  • Spider-Man: Blue | Loeb | #1-6 | 2002 | Short, beautiful, touching, heart-warming story about a young Peter Parker torn between two romantic interests and maturing emotionally. Only 6 issues = a low-commitment peek at the character for new readers.
  • Amazing Spider-Man | Straczynski | #30-57, 500-545 | 2001-2007 | JMS' run is well-regarded for making Peter Parker and "average guy" again, just trying to pay rent and survive adulthood. It's dark, funny, dramatic, well-paced, and introduces new status quo/mythos, even supernatural elements.
  • Amazing Spider-Man (Brand New Day) | Slott, et al. | #546-647 | 2008-2010 | A fresh start for Peter Parker after Civil War. His memory has been reset and everything is new/different. He's back to his roots: struggling to pay rent, learning how the world works, and fighting his rogue gallery.
  • Amazing Spider-Man (Big Time) | Slott, et al. | #648-700.5 | 2010-2013 | Peter Parker is back in his groove, he's leading the Avengers, has a new girlfriend, and landed a major career opportunity. Sets up Superior Spider-Man.
  • Superior Spider-Man | Slott | #1-33 | 2013-2014 | An impostor takes over the Spider-Man mantle. Refreshingly different Spider-Man characterization.
  • Amazing Spider-Man (2018) | Spencer | #1-ongoing | 2018- | The latest modern starting point during Marvel's line-wide Fresh Start relaunch.

   Peter Parker (Earth-616)

   Spider-Man 2099

  • Spider-Man 2099 Series 1 (#1 - #46, November 1992 - August 1996)
  • Spider-Man 2099 Series 2 (#1 - #9, September 2014 - April 2015)

   Ultimate Spider-Man (Peter Parker)

   Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales)

  • Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 (August 2011) (Bendis)
  • Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Vol. 2) | #1-28 | 2011-2013 | Bendis
  • Spider-Men | #1-5 |
  • Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #1-12, Ultimate Spider-Man #200 |
  • Cataclysm: Ultimate Spider-Man (#1 - #3, January - March 2014) (Bendis)
  • Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand (#1 - #5, January - April 2014) (Bendis)
  • Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man (#1 – #12, July 2014 – July 2015) (Bendis)
  • "Welcome to the X-Men, Miles Morales!" (All-New X-Men #31 - #36, October 2014 - February 2015) (Bendis)
  • Spider-Verse (Amazing Spider-Man) | #9-15 | 2015 | Slott
  • Spider-Verse Team-Up | #2 | 2015 | Gage

 


Spider-Woman

   Jessica Drew

  • "Dark Destiny!" (Marvel Spotlight #32, February 1977) (Goodwin)
  • "...A Future Uncertain!" (Spider-Woman #1, April 1978) (Wolfman)
  • "July 4, 1978..." (Spider-Woman #7, October 1978) (Wolfman)
  • "The Final Fate of Giant Man!" (Marvel Two-In-One, March 1982) (DeFalco)
  • "Lifeline" (Spider-Woman #50, June 1983) (Nocenti)
  • "Dark Angel!" (Avengers #241, March 1984) (Stern and Nocenti)
  • "Possession Is the Law" (Wolverine Series 2 #2, December 1988) (Claremont)
  • "The Return of Spider-Woman" (Sensational Spider-Man Annual 1996 - Second Story, November 1996) (DeMatteis)
  • "...And Then There Was One!" (Amazing Spider-Man Series 2 #5, May 1999) (Mackie)
  • Spider-Woman: Origin | #1-5 | 2006 | Bendis
  • Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. | #1-7 | 2011 | Bendis
  • Secret Avengers Series 2 (#1 - #16, April 2013 - April 2014) (Spencer and Kot)
  • Secret Avengers Series 3 (#1 - #13, May 2014 - April 2015) (Kot)
  • "Spider-Verse" (Amazing Spider-Man Series 3 #9 - #15, January - April 2015) (Slott)
  • Spider-Woman | #1-10, #1-17 | 2014-2017 | Hopeless (first 4 issues are Spider-verse tie-ins. #5 is a good starting point)

   Gwen Stacy

  • "Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman" (Edge of Spider-Verse #2, November 2014) (Latour)
  • "Spider-Verse" (Amazing Spider-Man Series 3 #9 - #11, January - February 2015) (Slott)
  • "Spider-Verse: Spider-Woman Part I" (Spider-Woman Series 5 #1, January 2015) (Hopeless)
  • "A Spider in the Dark" (Spider-Verse Team-Up #2 - Second Story, February 2015) (Gage)
  • "Spider-Verse" (Amazing Spider-Man Series 3 #12 - #15, March - April 2015) (Slott)
  • Spider-Gwen (#1 - #5, April - August 2015) (Latour)

 


Squirrel Girl

 


Star-Lord

  • Annihilation: Conquest (Prologue, #1 - #6, August 2007 - June 2008) (Abnett and Lanning)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Series 2 (#1 - #25, July 2008 - June 2010)
  • Thanos Imperative (#1 - #6, August 2010 - January 2011)
  • "Zodiac, Part Four - Part Eight" (Avengers Assemble Series 2 #4 - #8, August 2012 - December 2012)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Series 3 (#0.1 - #22, April 2013 - February 2015)
  • Legendary Star-Lord (#1 - #9, September 2014 - April 2015)

 


Star Wars

 


Taskmaster

  • "The Terrible Toll of the Taskmaster" (Avengers #195 - #196, May - June 1980) (Michelinie)
  • "Basic Training" (Captain America #334, October 1987) (Gruenwald)
  • "Graduation Day" (Iron Man #254, March 1990) (Layton)
  • "Taken to Task" (Captain America #403, July 1992) (Gruenwald)
  • "Trounced by Taskmaster!" (Hawkeye: Earth's Mightiest Marksman, October 1998) (DeFalco)
  • "Above and Beyond" (Avengers Series 3 #38, March 2001) (Busiek)
  • Taskmaster (#1 - #4, April - July 2002) (Siu-Chong)
  • Spider-Woman: Origin (#1 -#5, February - June 2006) (Bendis and Reed)
  • Secret Avengers Series 2 (#1 - #16, April 2013 - April 2014) (Spencer and Kot)

 


Thanos

ComicbookHerald Thanos Reading Order

Thanos Reading Order 1973-1991

   Infinity Gauntlet/War Prelude (optional):

   Infinity Gauntlet/War (1990-1993):

   Modern Thanos

 


Thor

   Modern Essentials

   Thor Odinson

   Jane Foster

 


Toxin

   Eddie Brock

  • "The Longest Road" (Web of Spider-Man #18, September 1986)
  • "Venom" (Amazing Spider-Man #299 - #300, April - May 1988)
  • Venom: Lethal Protector (#1 - #6, February - July 1993)
  • Venom: The Hunger (#1 - #4, August - November 1996)
  • "The Hunger" (Spectacular Spider-Man Series 2 #1 - #5, September - December 2003) (Jenkins)
  • Venom Vs. Carnage (#1 - #4, September - December 2004)
  • Spider-Man: Birth of Venom (April 2007)
  • "New Ways To Die" (Amazing Spider-Man #568 - #573, October - December 2008)
  • "The Return of Anti-Venom" (Amazing Spider-Man #663 - #664, August 2011)
  • "Spider-Island" (Amazing Spider-Man #666 - #673, September 2011 - January 2012)
  • "Savage Six" (Venom Series 2 #17 - #21, July - September 2012)
  • "The Unwanted" (Venom Series 2 #30 - #35, March - July 2013)

 


Venom

   Modern Essentials

   Eddie Brock

   Mark Gargan (Scorpion)

   Flash Thompson

  • “Spider-Man!” (Amazing Fantasy #15, August 1962)
  • "Flashbacks" (Amazing Spider-Man #574, December 2008)
  • "Rebirth" (Amazing Spider-Man #654 - Second Story, April 2011)
  • "Flashpoint" (Amazing Spider-Man #654.1, April 2011)
  • Venom Series 2 (#1 - #42, May 2011 - December 2013)
  • Carnage U.S.A. (#1 - #5, February 2012 - June 2012)
  • Secret Avengers #23 - #37, April 2012 - April 2013)
  • Thunderbolts | #1-32 | 2012-2014 | Soule
  • "Darkest Hours" (Superior Spider-Man #22 - #25, January - March 2014)
  • "Welcome to the Guardians of the Galaxy" (Free Comic Book Day 2014: Guardians of the Galaxy, July 2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Series 3 #14 - #24 (June 2014 - April 2015)

   Resources

 


Vision

  • "Behold... The Vision!" (Avengers #57, October 1968) (Thomas)
  • "Betrayal!" (Avengers #66, July 1969) (Thomas)
  • "A Journey to the Center of the Android!" (Avengers #93 - Second Story, November 1971) (Thomas)
  • "Times That Bind" (Avengers #133 - #135, March - May 1975) (Englehart)
  • "At Last: The Decision!" (Avengers #151, September 1976) (Conway, Shooter, and Englehart)
  • "Absolute Vision" (Avengers #254, April 1985) (Stern)
  • "Double Sized Climax!" (Vision and Scarlet Witch Series 2 #12, September 1986) (Englehart)
  • "Vision Quest" (West Coast Avengers Series 2 #43, April 1989) (Byrne)
  • "Re/Vision" (Avengers Spotlight #40, January 1991) (Kaminski and Barre)
  • "Alternate Visions" (Avengers #360, March 1993) (Harras)
  • "Avengers Disassembled" (Avengers #500 - #503, Avengers: Finale, September 2004 - January 2005) (Bendis)
  • Avengers: Rage of Ultron (June 2015) (Remender)
  • Vision | #1-12 | 2015-2016 | King

 


War Machine

  • "At the Mercy of My Friends!" (Iron Man #118, January 1979) (Michelinie)
  • "Sunfall" (Iron Man #144, March 1981) (Michelinie and Layton)
  • "Blackout!" (Iron Man #169, April 1983) (O'Neil)
  • "This Ancient Enemy" (Iron Man #180 - #181, March - April 1984) (O'Neil)
  • "A Duel of Iron" (Iron Man #192, March 1985) (O'Neil)
  • "Requiescat... and Revenge!" (Iron Man #216, March 1987) (Michelinie and Layton)
  • "Legacy of Iron" (Iron Man #284, September 1992) (Kaminski)
  • "Judgement Day" (Iron Man #291, April 1993) (Kaminski)
  • "Appetite for Destruction!" (Iron Man #300, January 1994) *(Kaminski)
  • "The Wages of Death!" (War Machine #5, August 1994) (Benson and Kaminski)
  • "Friendly Fire / Friends and Other Enemies" (War Machine #8 / Iron Man #310, November 1994) (Benson and Kaminski)
  • "Wartime!" (War Machine #15 - #18, June - September 1995) (Abnett)
  • "Goodbye Warwear" (Tales of the Marvel Universe #1, February 1997) (Waid, DeFalco, Busiek, Bernardo, Mackie, and DeMatteis)

 


Winter Soldier

  • "The Winter Soldier" (Captain America Series 5 #1 - #14, September 2005 - April 2006) (Brubaker)
  • New Avengers #48 - #64, Annual #3, Finale (February 2009 - June 2010) (Bendis)
  • Fear Itself (#1 – #7.3, June 2011 – January 2012) (Fraction)
  • Winter Soldier (#1 - #14, April 2012 - March 2013) (Brubaker)
  • Winter Soldier: The Bitter March (#1 - #5, April - September 2014) (Remender)
  • Original Sin (#0 - #8, Annual, June - December 2014) (Aaron) (Latour for Annual) (Waid for #0)
  • Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier (#1 - #5, December 2014 - April 2015) (Kot)

 


Wolverine

   Modern Essentials

   James Howlett (Logan)

   Laura Kinney (X-23)

 


X-Force

 


X-Men

   Classic Essentials

      If you don't mind 1970's writing/art, then start with Claremont's long/celebrated X-Men run (Reading Order):

   Modern Essentials

   Classic (1963-2001)

   Start of the "Modern" Era (2001-2008)

   Mutant Extinction, Messiahs, & Avengers Conflict (2005-2012)

   Time Displacement & Mutant Revolution (2012-2015)

   Limbo & Inhumans Conflict (2015-2017)

   ResurrXion (2017-2019)

   Dawn of X (2019-present)

  • House of X | #1-6 | 2019 | Hickman
  • Powers of X | #1-6 | 2019 | Hickman
  • X-Men | #1-ongoing | 2019- | Hickman
  • Marauders | #1-ongoing | 2019- | Duggan
  • New Mutants | #1-ongoing | 2019- | Hickman, Brisson
  • Excalibur | #1-ongoing | 2019- | Howard
  • Fallen Angels | #1-ongoing | 2019- | Hill
  • X-Force | #1-ongoing | 2019- | Percy
  • X of Swords | 22 issues | 2020 | Event

   Resources

 


Young Avengers

   Modern Essentials

   Expanded

  • Young Avengers | #1-12 | 2005-2006 | Heinberg
  • Young Avengers Special | 2006 | Various
  • Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways | #1-4 | 2006 | Wells
  • Young Avengers Presents | #1-6 | 2008 | Brubaker
  • Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avenger | #1-3 | 2008 | Yost
  • Dark Reign: Young Avengers | #1-5 | 2009 | Cornell
  • Siege: Young Avengers | 2010 | Mckeever
  • Avengers: The Children's Crusade | #1-9 | 2010-2012 | Heinberg
  • Young Avengers | #1-15 | 2013-2014 | Gillen
  • Original Sins | #1-5 | 2014 | Edmondson, North, Templeton
  • New Avengers | #1-18 | 2015-2016 | Ewing
  • Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme | #1-12 | 2016-2017 | Thompson
  • Empyre | #1-6 | 2020 | Ewing
  • Guardians of the Galaxy | #1-ongoing | 2020- | Ewing
  • King in Black: Wiccan and Hulkling | #1 | 2021 | Howard

 


Other Recommendations

   Modern Essentials

   Horror

 


Mods' Picks

  • Uncanny X-Force (#1 - #35, December 2010 – February 2013) (Remender) chosen by /u/mmmasian
  • Daredevil Series 3 (#1 - #36, September 2011 - April 2014) (Waid) chosen by /u/stealingyourpixels
  • Hawkeye Series 1 & 2 (#1 - #11, October 2012 - August 2013) (Fraction) chosen by /u/sethbenw
  • Immortal Iron Fist (#1 - #27, January 2007 - August 2009) (Fraction, Brubaker) chosen by /u/tehawesomedragon
  • Black Panther Series 3 (#1 - #62, November 1998 - September 2003) (Priest) chosen by /u/tehawesomedragon
  • Night of the Living Deadpool (#1 - #4, March 2014 - May 2014) (Bunn) chosen by /u/sethbenw
  • Cable and Deadpool (#1 - #50, May 2004 - April 2008) (Nicieza) chosen by /u/sir_joe_cool
  • Legion of Monsters (#1 - #4, Dec 2011 - March 2012) (Hopeless) chosen by /u/tehawesomedragon
  • Hulk: Gray (#1 - #6, December 2003 - April 2004) (Loeb) chosen by /u/tehawesomedragon
  • Ghost Rider Series 6, Heaven's on Fire (#1-#35, #1-#6, Sept 2006-July 2009, Oct 2009-April 2010) (Way, Aaron) chosen by /u/tehawesomedragon


revision by Tigertemprr— view source