Guide Part 1 (1999-2004)
The Marvel Knights Era Begins
The whole point of Comic Book Herald is to help you decipher which collected trade paperbacks are worth your time and in what order to read them. More often than not, when a newcomer to the comic book scene asks for guidance on where to begin with Marvel Comics, they’ll hear “Start with Avengers Disassembled.”
This is not necessarily terrible advice, as Avengers Disassembled begins the Event-centric modern era of Marvel that continues to this day. Nonetheless, I’m avoiding this approach for one very big reason: the immediate material leading up to Avengers Disassembled is absolutely crucial in developing an understanding of the Marvel Universe that is to come. Plus, there are some of the best Daredevil, Punisher, and Fantastic Four stories of all time within this timeframe (just to name a few).
As a result, what you’ll find below is a spoiler-free reading order guide to the Marvel graphic novels originally published in the early part of the new millennium. A handful will even date back to the late 90′s, but for the most part, this is the Marvel Knights era of my favorite comic publisher, capturing exactly how Marvel built their way to Avengers Disassembled.
I hope that you’ll find the below guide useful. There’s a ton of great material here from a decade ago, as well as a ton of laughable material. You can click each book for the Comic Book Herald review or more detailed purchase information.
Without further ado, this is the Marvel Universe up until the Era of Events. Devour as you so choose.
Marvel Comics Reading Timeline
- Avengers Forever (1-12)
- Although I’m placing Kurt Busiek’s Avengers Forever very high in the reading order, I recommend skipping this volume if you’re very new to the Marvel Universe. This is one of the better trade collections on this list, but the story is somewhat reliant on the reader’s knowledge of previous Avengers history. If you’re kind of sitting there like “Avengers, who?” I recommend making it through Avengers Disassembled and then returning to this volume.
- Captain Marvel: First Contact (1-14)
- Black Panther (1-49)
- Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (1-15)
- Black Widow (Collects 2 different 3 issue mini-series)
- Marvel Knights (1-15)
- The Punisher (1-12)
- Fantastic Four/The Inhumans
- Thor: The Death of Odin
- Thor: Son of Asgard (1-12)
- The Son of Asgard trade collects material published after The Death of Odin. Regardless, the stories within are of Thor’s youth and do not conflict with any ongoing continuity involving Odin and the state of Asgard.
- Infinity Abyss (1-6)
- Killraven (1-6)
- Killraven can be read just about anywhere as it stands outside the Marvel Universe. A fun sci-fi romp that happens to have been published by Marvel in 2002 around these other runs.
- Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (16-60) – Ultimate Collection Book 1& Ultimate Collection Book 2
- X-Men: The Search For Cyclops (1-4)
- New X-Men (114-154)
- (Both New X-Men and the previous Daredevil item span a number of years and trade collections. As a result, some books below will actually have earlier publish dates than the later volumes. This is intentional. Reading each complete work as a whole is preferable to a volume-by-volume approach broken up by trades with no bearing on the storylines. You should not be missing any information if you read these all the way through here.)
- Emma Frost (1-18)
- The Emma Frost collection provides a detailed look into Emma’s past. It’s quality backstory for fans of the character, but provides little to no bearing on the events of New X-Men.
- Fantastic Four Vol. 1-4 (60-70. 500-513)
- Fantastic Four: 1234
- Fantastic Four: 1234 technically occurs before the events of Mark Waid’s Fantastic Four. I would recommend reading the 1234 miniseries after, though, as it serves as more of a dystopian alternate reality than anything relating to mainstream continuity.
- Origin (Wolverine)
- Exiles Volume 1 (1-19)
- Wolverine (162-166)
- Weapon X (1-14)
- Weapon X: The Draft
- Weapon X (15-28)
- Agent X (1-15)
- Amazing Spider-Man (30-58)
- Runaways (1-18)
- Hulk/Wolverine: 6 Hours (1-4)
- Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure (1-5)
- Marvel Universe: The End (1-6)
- Iron Man (73-83)
- Hawkeye (1-8)
- Hulk: Nightmercia (1-6)
- Namor (1-12)
- She-Hulk (1-6)
- The Pulse (1-5)
- Loki (1-4)
- Powerless (1-5)
- Elektra: The Hand (1-5)
- Tomb of Dracula (1-4)
- Captain Marvel (15-25)
- Exiles Volume 3 (38-58)
- Rogue (1-6)
- Sabertooth (1-4)
- Mystique (1-13) by Brian K. Vaughn
- Mystique (14-24) by Sean McKeever
- Silver Surfer (1-14)
- Hulk: Gray (1-6)
- Captain America & The Falcon (1-4)
- Incredible Hulk (70-76)
- Hulk & Thing: Hard Knocks (1 -4)
- Strange (1-6)
- Marvel Knights: Fantastic 4 (1-12) Volumes 1 and 2
- Astonishing X-Men (1-6)
- Marvel Knights: Spider-Man (1-12)
- Amazing Spider-Man (500-518)