The Modern Marvel Universe in 25 Trade Collections: 2000 to 2012 Fast Track

It’s recently occurred to me that although I have my comprehensive reading order guide to the Marvel Universe (often imitated, never duplicated),  I don’t really have a fast track guide.

You know, for people that aren’t as obsessively inclined to read all of the comics in the history of ever. Wimps, if you will. (Jokes, my little wimpy, jokes!)

So here it is – the fast track guide to the Modern Marvel Universe, giving you all the essential story lines in 25 trade collections. Save money, save time, and get your true believer on all at once!

Two caveats before I dive in:

  1. This is not a “best trades of the decade” list. I actually have a list of the best 100 Marvel Comics from 1998 to 2015. But this is not that list. These are the trades most essential to giving you the major plot lines and story threads that drive the Marvel U.
  2. Since this is the fast track, there are oodles of additional stories and comics that will not be covered here (including Marvel Cosmic!). If you find that you’d prefer a more complete guide, well, look what we have here!

Comic Book Herald's My Marvelous Year


1) New X-Men Omnibus (Issues #114 – #154) – Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely

Nearly everything we know and love about the X-Men today can be traced back to Morrison and Quitely’s excellent New X-Men run. The devious presence of Emma Frost, the cat/awesomeness of Beast, Cyclops as something other than a milquetoast boyscout… it’s all here.

Of course, there’s much more than that, and New X-Men sets the stage for all X-events to come. Even universe-wide events like House of M are fairly reliant on details on developments from within this series. It’s a must read, both for quality comics and influential storylines.

Buy New X-Men by Morrison & Quitely

Read New X-Men on Marvel Unlimited


2) Fantastic Four (Issues #60 – #70, #500 – #524) – Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

Much like New X-Men, Waid & Wieringo’s run on Fantastic Four finds the intersection of best comics of the decade, and most essential story lines. In many ways, the urge to include this series is because it’s the best Fantastic Four comic arc I’ve ever enjoyed. Until Jonathan Hickman’s more recent run on the title, it was the best recent arc by a wide margin. 

So what’s essential about these issues of Fantastic Four? For starters, any guide to the Marvel Universe without Marvel’s first family is flat out going to feel incomplete. And aside from best-in-class characterization and plotting, Waid & Wieringo also give us major developments for the Fantastic Four family. Most importantly, a certain Doctor you may know and love becomes entangled in a certain kind of Doom that will come into play in later Marvel events.

Read Comics!

Buy Fantastic Four from Waid & Wieringo (4 hardcover Ultimate Collections available)

Read Fantastic Four on Marvel Unlimited


3) Daredevil (Issues #16 – #81) – Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev

Daredevil? Daredevil is essential?

Despite the pedigree Frank Miller brought to the character, I can understand some skepticism surrounding the man without fear’s impact on the Marvel Universe as a whole.

Nonetheless, the “Out” story arc, and writer Brian Michael Bendis’ proximity to the character make Matt Murdock one of the major Marvel players. These are great, thought-provoking superhero stories, and Alex Maleev’s shadowy lens on crime make them some of the most interesting books to look at on this list.

A note here that unlike New X-Men and Fantastic Four, the Daredevil issues in this collection overlap several of the trades and stories to come.

Read Daredevil!

Buy Daredevil from Bendis & Maleev

Read Daredevil on Marvel Unlimited


4) Avengers Disassembled (Avengers Issues #500 – #503 + Finale) – Bendis & David Finch

And the age of events begins. It doesn’t take much beyond the story title to make it clear the impact these issues will have on the Marvel Universe as a whole, but the actual story is even more devastating than it sounds. For the curious, here’s my detailed guide to tie-ins and issues in Avengers Disassembled.


Buy Avengers Disassembled – (the issues in this trade are also included in the New Avengers omnibus below)

Read Avengers Disassembled on Marvel Unlimited (+ Avengers Finale!)


5) Captain America (Issues #1 – #25) – Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting

Brubaker & Epting’s Cap transformed the character from an easily dismissed boyscout to the leading hero of the modern Marvel Universe. Aside from revitalizing Steve Rogers, this Captain America omnibus also gives us some of the most monumental character deaths, resurrections, and mysteries of the decade. This isn’t the last we’ll see of this outstanding creative team on this list. I’d note that the next item on our list (Secret War) can be read before Cap #16. An additional note that issues #23 through #25 and the Winter Soldier one-shot from the omnibus tie into Civil War.


Buy Captain America by Brubaker & Epting

Read Captain America on Marvel Unlimited


6) Secret War (#1 – #5) – Bendis & Gabriel Del Otto

5 issue mini-event about Nick Fury’s covert dealings with Dr. Doom’s Latveria. Secret War often flies under the radar during discussion of major Marvel events, but it has major ramifications for Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. If that’s not enough to convince you it’s important, I’ll just mention that Wolverine gets mad. Like, really, really mad.


Buy Secret War

Read Secret War on Marvel Unlimited


7) Astonishing X-Men (#1 – #24 + Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1) – Joss Whedon & John Cassaday

Aside from being one of the best comic collections of the decade, featuring stories from Avengers director Joss Whedon, Astonishing X-Men goes a long way to explaining the pre-House of M state of the X-Men. Admittedly, Astonishing X-Men is more essential in terms of excellence, and less so in terms of story. Nonetheless, you won’t regret reading, and in many ways, Astonishing begins laying the groundwork for themes explored later in Avengers vs. X-Men.


Buy Astonishing X-Men from Whedon & Cassaday

Read Astonishing X-Men on Marvel Unlimited


8) New Avengers (#1 – #31 + Annual) – Bendis & David Finch

You didn’t really expect that Avengers: Disassembled thing to ruin things forever, did you? New Avengers starts putting the band back together, although in a way Marvel’s never seen before. A note that the New Avengers omnibus includes the Avengers Disassembled issues as part of its package. Additionally, you will want to start New Avengers #16: The Collective after reading House of M.

Update: Thanks to Matheus in the comments for the following. New Avengers really runs as a narrative thread running through the Marvel Universe, and is best read in increments: 1-15 – After Avenger Disassembled 15-20 – After House of M 21-25 – During Civil War (tie-ins) 26-37 – After Civil War and then, as it’s not on the list, if you want you can read these like this: 38-47 – ties-in to Secret Invasion 48-60 – Part of Dark Reign 61-65 – Ties-in to Siege


Buy New Avengers Omnibus

Read New Avengers on Marvel Unlimited


9) House of M (#1 – #8) – Bendis & Oliver Coipel

I’m a sucker for alternate universe stories, and House of M is right in my wheelhouse. Quite possibly my favorite Marvel event from the decade, and one frequently referenced throughout the remainder of the decade.


Buy House of M

Read House of M on Marvel Unlimited


10) Iron Man: Extremis (Issues #1 – #6) – Warren Ellis & Adi Granov

It took Warren Ellis six issues to completely define and revitalize Iron Man for the 2000’s, which is of course why he’s Warren Ellis and we are mere unwashed masses. The story here has played a pivotal role in all three Iron Man movies, as well as Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. It also goes on to establish Tony Stark’s place in the Marvel Universe to come.


Buy Iron Man: Extremis

Read Iron Man: Extremis on Marvel Unlimited


11) Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk (Issues #92 – #105) – Greg Pak & Carlo Pagualyan

Hey remember the Hulk? Big, green, tear a city apart in a blink Hulk? Well Marvel’s elite minds decided to shoot him off into space. Right, no way that comes back to haunt anybody. Fortunately, it also produces one of the best Incredible Hulk stories in years and sets the stage for the return of a whole new kind of Hulk.


Buy Planet Hulk

Read Planet Hulk on Marvel Unlimited


12) The Road to Civil War (New Avengers: Illuminati, Amazing Spider-Man #529 – #531, Fantastic Four #536 – #537)

Civil War is the most popular Marvel event of all time, so it only makes sense to include some preliminary reading to set the stage. The Road to Civil war trade explains Spider-Man’s connection to Tony Stark, and brings back a few old friends in the pages of the Fantastic Four. Even cooler, the trade introduces Marvel’s Illuminati, the clandestine meeting of the minds that shapes the Marvel Universe.


Buy Road to Civil War


13) Civil War (#1 – #7) – Mark Millar & Steve McNiven

It’s the most popular, best selling, most talked about Marvel event of the decade. It doesn’t get much more essential than this.


Buy Civil War from Millar & McNiven

Read Civil War on Marvel Unlimited


14) Captain America: The Death of Captain America (#25 – #42) – Brubaker & Epting

Brubaker & Epting are back with more Cap, although the story title here is a clear indication that things might not be going so well for Steve Rogers. An essential follow-up to Civil War and one of the biggest Marvel stories of the decade.


Buy the Death of Captain America Omnibus

Read the Death of Cap on Marvel Unlimited thor-jms-omnibus

15) Thor (#1 – #12, #600 – #603, Thor Giant-Size Finale #1) – J. Michael Straczynski & Oliver Coipel

There’s been a sore lack of Asgardian Gods of Thunder on this list so far, and that’s about to change with the return of the Mighty Thor. This is another really fun series with major ramifications on the Marvel Universe as a whole.


Buy Thor Omnibus from JMS & Coipel

Read Thor on Marvel Unlimited


16) Mighty Avengers, Vol 1: Ultron Initiative (#1 – #6) – Bendis & Frank Cho

Civil War really does a number on the state of all things Marvel. Iron Man is led to create a new Avengers team, giving us the Mighty Avengers in their first ever adventure. Of course, things don’t go smoothly, leading to the return of Ultron, and setting the stage for future Ultron related dealings.


Buy Mighty Avengers: Ultron Initiative

Read Mighty Avengers on Marvel Unlimited


17) World War Hulk (#1 – #5) – Greg Pak & John Romita Jr

He’s not happy you guys. He’s just really not happy. One of the most enjoyable action series in the Marvel U.


Buy World War Hulk

Read World War Hulk on Marvel Unlimited


18) New Avengers: Illuminati (#1 – #5) – Bendis, Brian Reed & Jim Cheung

Of all the major stories and creations from Brian Michael Bendis in the 2000’s, the Illuminati might be my favorite. Reed Richards, Dr. Charles Xavier, Tony Stark, Dr. Stephen Strange, Black Bolt, and Namor, meeting in secret to decide the fate of the universe. It’s the absolute coolest, and of course, it sets the stage for so many major storylines to come.


Buy New Avengers: Illuminati

Read New Avengers: Illuminati on Marvel Unlimited


19) Secret Invasion (#1 – #8) – Bendis & Leinil Francis Yu

Although Civil War gets all the accolades for sales, Secret Invasion is actually the climax of the mystery and intrigue set in the pages of New Avengers and the Illuminati. At its weakest point, the Marvel Universe faces a full infiltration from one of its deadliest rivals.


Buy Secret Invasion

Read Secret Invasion on Marvel Unlimited


20) Dark Reign Variety Pack / Siege Prelude

The aftermath of Secret Invasion leads to Dark Reign, a Universe-wide change in the status quo of the Marvel Universe. Suddenly, it looks like the bad guys run the world. While you certainly can dive head first into all of Dark Reign, the simpler solution is this variety of issues collected in trade form. The trade includes: Dark Avengers #1, Dark Reign: The Cabal, Thor #600, Dark Reign: The List – Avengers, New Avengers Annual #3, Dark Reign: The Goblin Legacy, and Marvel Spotlight (1971) #30.


Buy Dark Reign / Siege Prelude


21) Captain America: Reborn (#49-#50, #600-#601, + Reborn #1-#6) – Brubaker & Bryan Hitch

Three guesses what this one is about. The culmination of the essential Brubaker Cap story arcs.


Buy Captain America: Road to Reborn & Captain America: Reborn

Read Captain America: Reborn on Marvel Unlimited (Road to Reborn starts here)


22) Dark Avengers / Uncanny X-Men: Utopia – Matt Fraction & Mike Deodato, Luke Ross

In the midst of Dark Reign, Norman Osborne’s Dark Avengers clash with Cyclops and the X-Men. An essential update on the state of mutants and the X-Men, and also a lead-in to the events of Siege. Collects Uncanny X-Men #513-514, Dark Avengers #7-8, Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia, and Utopia Finale.


Buy Dark Avengers / Uncanny X-Men: Utopia

Read Dark Avengers / Uncanny X-Men: Utopia on Marvel Unlimited


23) Siege (#1 – #6) – Bendis & Oliver Coipel

Dark Reign culminates with Siege, Norman Osborne’s war on Thor’s Asgard. It’s an epic, all-out war that will completely shift the state of the Marvel Universe forever.


Buy Siege

Read Siege on Marvel Unlimited


24) Avengers: Heroic Age – Bendis & John Romita Jr, Alan Davis, Stuart Immonen

The Heroic Age follows Dark Reign, and nothing will get you up to speed with the new era like the Avengers titles. Avengers: Prime in particular gives us a Cap, Iron Man, and Thor story in the immediate aftermath of Siege. COLLECTING: Avengers 1-6, Avengers Prime 1-5, New Avengers 1-6


Buy Avengers: Heroic Age Omnibus

Read Avengers: Heroic Age on Marvel Unlimited (Avengers Prime + New Avengers)


24a) Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade (#1 – #8) – Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung

Is this totally cheating in order to hit 25 trades? Yeah, pretty much. Nonetheless, Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade is notable for concluding the Scarlet With saga that began all the way back in Avengers Disassembled.


Buy Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade

Read Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade on Marvel Unlimited (4th issue is here. No clue why.)


25) Avengers vs. X-Men (#1 – #12) – Various artists

So it’s clear, in getting to Avengers vs. X-Men, I bypassed Fear Itself, Chaos War, and Age of Ultron. While all three of these Marvel events occur before Avengers vs. X-Men, I assure you this is intentional, and not just general carelessness or laziness (although there’s plenty of that in my life). Even though I’m one of maybe 7 Marvel fans willing to admit I kind of really enjoyed Age of Ultron (stop throwing things!), it just doesn’t have much of an impact on the state of the Marvel Universe. Same goes for Chaos War and Fear Itself. They’re varying degrees of worthwhile, but they aren’t the type of events that change the status quo or get referenced moving forward. Avengers vs. X-Men? It gets referenced constantly moving into Marvel Now! While the event title might seem like little more than the Capcom-ification of comics (everybody fights!), this is a pretty interesting story with all your favorite Marvel Characters. And just like they promise: things will never be the same. In the Marvel Universe, that’s always a good thing.


Buy Avengers vs. X-Men Omnibus (+ companion tie-ins)

Read Avengers vs. X-Men on Marvel Unlimited

To continue enjoying Marvel comics, I recommend Comic Book Herald’s Marvel NOW! fast track which will take you through the essentials of 2012 to 2015.

59 Replies to “The Modern Marvel Universe in 25 Trade Collections: 2000 to 2012 Fast Track”

  1. Thanks for making this list. Its hard if not damn near impossible to keep up with everything in order and continuity. I was wondering if you have one for DC comics or can point me in the direction of one like this. I am a Marvel guy for the most part but I like to keep up with DC. Thanks.

  2. I like this like but I do feel some stuff was skipped over that definitely should not have been. Annihilation + Conquest / Rise and Fall of the Shi-ar and Remenders entire run of X-Force are all absolutely more necessary to catching up to the modern Marvel Universe than over half of these.

    1. I mostly skipped over the cosmic stuff since I catalog that elsewhere. You might have a point about annihilation – that could take a slot.

      I love uncanny x – force but I’m not sure it’s as essential in terms of information about the Marvel Universe. Definitely has a place on my ‘best of’ list.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    2. duuude! new favorite comicbook site!
      i gotta say thanks for making this site. i am a life long marvel reader whose convincing his friends to get back into the heavy habit.Thing is when I start talking modern Marvel I geek out too much. I get caught up in all the craziness while explaining how things stay connected. Any one of the major books can end up being the butterfly that flaps its wings and sets off a shit storm. Next thing you know I’m talking about deaths and gems and wars and waves and schisms + battles for atoms. I realize how esoteric it can seem when it leads to exclaiming “No reboot! A new number one is not a reboot! Trust me- there’s a Council of Reeds…things get weird.#space/time” Now I can check your site, give em what issues I got and tell em to get ready for Secret Wars 2015!

      immediately bookmarked-’nuff said.

  3. I was reading through these in order but decided to pause Captain America at 10 and New Avengers at 16 because it seems like House of M happens around there. Is that a good idea?

  4. Thanks for putting this list together; I’m fairly new to Marvel and I’ve started using it to try to catch up.

    One thing I’ve found while trying to pick these up: it looks like the big Captain America omnibus linked at no. 5 is out of print (and pretty damn expensive in the few places its available). Been digging around, and it seems the best way to get that run right now is the Ultimate Collection TPBs – “Winter Soldier” and “Red Menace” cover most of it (#1-#21), and the rest is included in the Death of Captain America Ultimate Collection at no.14 on the list.

  5. Great list, wow! This helps so much!

    Any chance you are going to, (or have made), one about all the craziness going on now? Like inhumanity, inhumans, infinity, Axis and God knows what else? I tried getting into Infinity when that was released but I really just got confused and fell off. After that I just set up camp re-reading all the good old Spider-Man comics I love. But now I really want to get into the new stuff again.

  6. I hate to nit-pick, but the current X-Force book (as well as the few other X-Force comics that came out and have since been cancelled just previous to it) have been effected big time by Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force and it is heavily mentioned. It relates to the mind-set of each of the characters and their inter-personal relationships with their teammates. If I hadn’t read those arcs, I’d definitely be scratching my head at a few moments. These same arcs resulted in Evan (now the new Apocalypse) being introduced into the Marvel Universe and provides an origin of this reiteration of the character.

    So with all that being said, I’d say that Uncanny X-Force is pretty darn important to the current continuity and fleshes everything out pretty well and fills in some of the gaps. Especially now with the role that Apocalypse is having in Axis. Plus, that run was amazing a lot of fun to read. It also had a dream team roster!

    1. That’s a great call. I completely agree and I absolutely love Uncanny X-Force. Such a great read, and it’s definitely become more and more essential as we get deeper into Axis.

      Now I just need to figure out where to fit it 🙂

  7. It’s been said before, but I’ll reiterate. You’ve put together a fantastic website. I was a big comic book fan as a teenager in the *ahem* 80s *ahem* and since the movies started coming out I wanted to get back in to it. Thanks for putting together a great starting off point.

    I would never have even glanced at a Daredevil comic and I’m so glad I took your advice.

    One question. I notice a distinct lack of any run of Spider-man comics. I mean, they are included in the event tie-ins, but I was surprised that none of the Spider-man stories would make top 25. I’m not really a fan of the webhead, but it was interesting to note. Why do you think that is?

    Also, it’s been a whole 5 months since someone asked for a DC equivalent of this list. What gives? Tick Tock! Just kidding.

    Either way, thanks for putting this all together. Keep up the great work!

    1. The Spider-Man question is a really interesting one, and one I may grab for a question of the week. I think a big part of Spidey’s absence from this list is his newfound presence in New Avengers. The Marvel U gets more of a Spider-Man fill through his involvement with the Avengers this decade. AMS maintains a general level of quality, but most of Spidey’s “events” are questionable at best (The Other) and enraging fans everywhere at worst (One More Day). That said, when I update this fast track guide through Marvel NOW, I’ll be including Superior Spider-Man.

      Also, I totally did the DC guide! But yeah, yeah, I’ll narrow it down to a nice 25 one of these days 🙂

      Glad you dig the site, and hope you enjoy the comics!

      1. “That said, when I update this fast track guide through Marvel NOW, I’ll be including Superior Spider-Man.”

        Could you tell me when will that be? Thanks for your awesome job.

          1. Secret Wars came and no update 🙁
            Any update on how close to release it is?
            Thank for everything!

  8. Thanks!! This guide has helped me a lot as I’m new to the Marvel universe.
    But: where do I go from here? Is there a similar guide covering the most recent events? or are you planning on expanding this guide?

  9. Any chance you’d do a SHIELD overview soon, with info on the new Nick Fury? Similarly, could you provide some info on good Black Widow runs? Thanks, great list for someone like me who was recently drawn into the comics by the movies

  10. So, somewhat confusing For Astonishing X-Men, it mentions #1-#24 + Annual. The Annual here is actually called Giant-Sized Astonishing X-Men. I was looking all over for Astonishing X-men Annual, but the only issue called that is from 2012. Might want to make a note. Great list, though. I’ve been really enjoying reading through it. Thanks.

  11. So, been reading through your list Dave. Thanks for the suggestions! X-Men was very good, now tag-teaming Winter Soldier and Daredevil. But here’s my question: right around Cap 16, there’s a reference to Fury going underground but none of the previous episodes of the Soldier run never showed. This is obviously a tie-in, and so I’m wondering how you address that? basically they’re making you want to read every comic from that year just to make sure you get all the side stories.. Again keep up the good work.

    1. That’s because this is still going to happen, but on the next story on the list, “Secret War”. This happend because Cap started before Secret War but ended AFTER. As this is a fast track, he tried his best to make the list as short as he possibly could, but it ends up causing situations like this.

      But be prepared, if you are going to follow this list, you’re going to be in situations like this more and more frequently. See, this is a “Essential” list, so he left out the majority of the events tie-ins, this is meant for people who want to get a felling of marvels past runs and catch up to the recent one quickly.

      If you don’t want to miss much, follow his other list, the complete one, and filter out watch you want to read:

    2. Oh, and pay close attention to New Avengers, it’s part of multiple events, so don’t read them all at once. This is something Dave should add to the topic, it should be read like this:
      1-15 – After Avenger Disassembled
      15-20 – After House of M
      21-25 – During Civil War (tie-ins)
      26-37 – After Civil War

      and then, as it’s not on the list, if you want you can read these like this:
      38-47 – ties-in to Secret Invasion
      48-60 – Part of Dark Reign
      61-65 – Ties-in to Siege

  12. I’m surprised that this hasn’t been asked already, but if you were going to continue this essential/fast track list until today, what trades would you include? As a guess, I’d guess you’d say the Infinity TPB which collects Infinity 1-6, New Avengers Vol. 3 7-12, and Avengers Vol. 5 14-23, the Original Sin TPB which collects Point One 1 , Original Sin 0-8, and Original Sins 1-5, and (at least) the Avengers & X-Men: Axis TPB which collects 1-9 of that series. Is that right or would you not include any of those? Additional ones? Would you include other events/arcs? Additional Axis TPB’s? I’m actively acquiring the TPB’s which you recommend in an attempt to get caught up, so I’d really like to hear what you think.

    1. Good question, James. So there are two newer features on Comic Book Herald that can help answer. The first is my mega Marvel NOW! guide, which gives you a reading order for the entire Marvel Universe from 2012 to 2015. This is not limited to the essentials, but if you focus on the Events within that section, you’ll get a similar fast track to major Marvel U continuity. This will include Age of Ultron, Infinity, Original Sin, Axis, and Time Runs Out.

      Alternatively, my new “Best 100 Marvel stories from 1998 to 2015” list will give you the trades I most recommend picking up. The guide is ordered by publication date, so you can navigate on down to the 2012 time frame to see the books I’d recommend.

  13. Im pretty much OK with the list, but i think you miss “X-men: Messiah Complex”, as the begining of the rebitth of mutants in Earth 616

  14. Thanks from a “born-again” Marvel Zombie (quit reading in the early 2000s) for the fantastic fast track guide. It’s been a great guide for catching up on Marvels tales, keep up the good work!

  15. I love this site btw but I was wondering if I were to follow the fast track guide reading order where could I fit in marvel cosmic like annihilation?

  16. Hi Dave, thanks for putting this together. I’ve recently been converted to reading comics and can’t get enough, so I’m going to make a good stab at the Marvel U and also Deadpool. My question is will I be able to read them side-by side with no continuity, or does Deadpool fit into this list in reasonably neat chunks? Looking at your Deadpool reading order, I should be able to start off around Deadpool Classic Vol. 9 and run parallel to the MU. What do you think?


    1. Deadpool slips in and out of Marvel U continuity really easily. You’ll see the occasional Civil War tie-in, but the issue will be clearly marked so you’ll know to check out the larger Marvel landscape at that time. Enjoy the comics!

  17. Hi, so glad you’ve done this list it’s been so incredibly helpful in my journey into comics. One thing I did notice was on Thor, shouldn’t you include the giant size issue at the end of the run? I simply bring it up since when I got to that point on marvel unlimited I was just like “Wait! What happens?”

    Thanks again

  18. Hi Dave

    As a lapsed reader whose interest has been revived by all the recent great films, I’m looking to get back into comics and wanting to catch up on the Marvel universe. Thanks for these great lists but I’m a little unsure on the best way to start and would appreciate some feedback. I’d like to get up to date on back story, enjoy some of the classic events (Civil war for example) and pull out particular character story arcs that I personally enjoy, but of course time is limited! Here are a couple of options I’ve considered – what do you think would give me the best coverage and overview given the above, without missing anything too major – or do you have a better option?
    (I’m considering Marvel Unlimited in order to read most of these and not spend a fortune)

    1. Go for the full monty using to pull out the major events and also the particular ‘other’ character arcs that I particularly enjoy. Could take a while!!

    2. Fast track on modern events into the current reboot (and use the full list above to visit favourtie characters story arcs)

    3. Best comics (and again full list for favourite character storys)

    Thanks for the help and again the brilliant site and guides.


      1. That’s correct. And I like the approaches you’ve laid out!

        Personally, I prefer the 100 best stories list. It covers a ton and really lets you find what you like, while simultaneously moving through the Marvel U from the early 2000’s on.

        That said, one thing I always encourage is to jump around as your interest dictates. That list begins w/ 50 issues of Black Panther. I love ’em, but if they aren’t working for you, move on to Daredevil!

        And as always, enjoy the comics!

        1. Thanks Dave

          Thanks for your response and the Top 100 has definitely piqued some interest as Black Panther was one I fancied looking at anyway. Taking that into account I’m thinking of running through your 2 essential lists (1961-2000 and 2000-2012) and incorporating your Top 100 where they aren’t already on the essentials.

          Quite a lot of reading material there so we’ll see how we do, but as you say, not being too precious, if not enjoying something then move on and if a particular character/team/event sparks an interest then look to follow it in a bit more detail 🙂

          I’ve started on the 1961+ essentials list with the Amazing Spider Man which is a great opener. As as an older reader(not quite as far back as that but even so!) I can appreciate this more simple(?) style and it brings back memories of some of the comics I did buy when little, as well as an introduction of a lot of classic characters such as Green Goblin, Sandman etc. and some good stories.

          Bring on the reading!

  19. Hey im a new reader ! So i have watched all the marvel movies and niw id like to start read the comics . so you recommend to start the reading with the comics above ?? Oh your blog rocks btw 😉

  20. Thanks a lot dude.DC had a convenient hopping point for new readers (new 52), but I didn’t know where to start reading when I saw marvel.This list has proven to be of great use to me .
    Thank you.

  21. Great List!!
    I’m loving all of it!
    I was never a comics reader, but with marvel unlimited I found a way in into this marvelous universe!
    So I have lot of catching up to do, so I can get to the All-New All-Different Marvel.
    Any chance of doing a similar list for Marvel Now pre-Secret Wars?
    Thanks a lot!

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