So you’re trying to decide if Marvel Unlimited (the artist formerly known as Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited) is worth your money. What comics are actually available through your subscription-to-be?
The 100 Best Marvel Comics From 1998 to 2015 (nearly all in MU!)
Modern Marvel Fast Track (25 Unlimited stories from the 2000’s)
Old School Marvel Fast Track (All available in MU!)
Before beginning, I would quickly point out a few things about Marvel’s digital subscription service for anyone who may be brand new and trying to make a purchase decision.
The first is this: The Marvel Unlimited nomenclature is a BIT misleading. The service does not include every comic ever, hence this list helping you understand what’s actually available. Calling it Unlimited is a bit like calling myself an Unstoppable 2 Guard; It’s largely true, and you’ll get the production you’re looking for come gametime, but I may have exaggerated slightly (weak left hand, what can I say?).
So, when Marvel says ‘Unlimited,’ they are referring to the fact that you can use the service as often as you darn well please – NOT the collection of comics available.
You can find a full review of the service (the short version: It’s worth it!) updated annually here.
Currently, Marvel is running about a 6 month wait period for the newest issues. So essentially Marvel Unlimited is like waiting for the trade, except you’ll be paying only $69 a year ($5.83 a month) for ALL of the trades. If you really want to catch up on Marvel’s immense catalog, you will hardly ever run out of reading material.
Figuring out which digital series are actually a part of Marvel Unlimited can be a little unclear, so here’s a quick guide to hammering out any research you want to do on your own.
This way, when you make it through my list and are appalled that I didn’t even mention ANY Ghost Rider, you can stick it to my lazy bones and check for yourself (protip: Unlimited includes LOADS of Ghost Rider).
The first thing I’d recommend doing is downloading the Marvel Unlimited app for iOS or Android. From here, just click “Browse” and you’ll get a list of every series available in the app. You won’t be able to actually read the comics without a subscription, but you can review the available library.
The main pointer for desktop: Once you’re in the ‘Comics’ section of Marvel’s website, avoid the ‘Marvel Unlimited’ section and go straight to ‘Browse.’ I find browsing by series the easiest, but you can also select Characters, Creators, & Events/Crossovers.
Once you’re in the ‘Browse’ series section you’ll be able to scroll past all the new Featured Series (or at least, you should be able to with a little bit of willpower) and then view every series alphabetically.
Important to note here that not all of the comics listed are available in Marvel Unlimited!
Since the launch of the Marvel Unlimited mobile app, any ongoing series in this section has been marked in bold. Generally speaking this is a good sign that it may be missing issues (seeing as they may have been published in the last 6 months), but that’s less of a signifier for long-running series.
Determining whether your desired series is available is now just a matter of clicking that series and filtering the comics by the ‘Marvel Unlimited’ checkbox. For any lengthy series, I prefer to then change the ‘Most Recent’ sorting option to ‘Oldest.’ This helps identify where the available Unlimited comics start and where any gaps might appear along the way.
You can also verify a comic’s Unlimited inclusion by the little ‘U’ graphic on the right-hand corner of the book cover.
From here it’s really just a matter of going back and repeating the process. The rest of this post will attempt to save you that step for the majority of the most prominent arcs in Marvel’s catalog.
And so we begin.
To save everyone some time browsing series by series trying to figure out if you’ll be able to jump into Punisher Max after reading Frank Miller’s Daredevil, I’ve put together this list of the best comics on Marvel Unlimited.
In a lot of ways, a list like this is trying to answer “What are the best comic book series in the history of Marvel.” That’s how expansive the Marvel Unlimited catalog runs. If it seems like I’ve missed something iconic, you’re probably right. Let me hear about it in the comments and I’ll get it added! (Note: I only mean this if you’re like “No mention of the entire Planet Hulk run?” If you’re upset about me missing some rare Marvel Team-Up one-shot, maybe take up boxing or something. Ok, I kid, I still want to hear what you think. But seriously. Maybe boxing.)
Every other series can be searched alphabetically, or in a separate creator-focused category below. You will find a link to the series page on Marvel Unlimited along with a link to the trade on Amazon. (Just in case you still feel digital will never offer the sweet nubile caress of paper on your handtips! Or something like that.)
These are the books and story arcs that inevitably come up in ANY “What Marvel books should I start with” discussion. This excludes the Marvel events, which have their own category. For the record, the order of the selections is largely arbitrary, with some effort at a general level of chronology (oldest to newest).
This section is probably the most likely to generate controversy (what about BLANK!!! You worthless sack of sock rings!). Shout at me in the comments with your take on what needs to be in here!
Click any of the story titles to see the first issue in the run in Marvel Unlimited. Or, if you want to hold your comics, dagnabit!, just click the ‘buy it’ link for a copy on Amazon.
Issues #48-#50 of the Fantastic Four may well offer the pinnacle of Stan Lee & Jack Kirby’s tenure creating the Marvel universe. The First Family meets the Watcher, Galactus, and the Silver Surfer for the first time. Ya know, just like the second Fantastic Four movie.
(Jokes, people, jokes. Seriously, just kidding. The movie is nothing like this. Ok, what are you doing with that trash can? I don’t think it needs to be over my head like that…)
One of the most iconic, tragic story lines of all time – and an ongoing spoiler for Amazing Spider-Man 2. Aside from Uncle Ben, this is one of the most enduring and frequently referenced deaths in comics. There have been those who have
desecrated the beloved virginal cherub altered the details of Gwen’s past, but nobody’s undoing what Gerry Conway did with the Green Goblin and Gwen the first time around.
Avengers #89-#97 from Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema. The Kree/Skrull War was so monumental in Marvel’s history that it factors heavily into many of Marvel’s more recent events, namely Secret Invasion. Just be forewarned that this was a weird point in Hawkeye’s life. I wasn’t ready for what my eyes beheld.
Avengers #167-#168 and #170-#177. Time-travel, Guardians of the Galaxy, cosmic power… one of the first Marvel epics of this scope and magnitude.
Alcohol’s a drug and Tony Stark’s about to find that out. One of the more serious looks at human issues in the Iron Man series and one that will have implications on Tony Stark for years.
The whole Chris Claremont/John Byrne reinvention of Uncanny X-Men is worth your hard earned dollars, but the Dark Phoenix saga is the ultimate payoff after investing issue after issue in the characters. A lot of times you can tell how monumental a series arc was by how frequently it’s referenced TODAY in modern comics. If AvX is any indication, the Dark Phoenix Saga (#129-#137) is in a state of perpetual rebirth.
Another classic Chris Claremont storyline from Uncanny X-Men, and the inspiration for all sorts of parallel universe X-stories to come (including the latest X-movie). It’s only two issues (#141-#142) but these would leave their mark on the Marvel Universe and the very notion of dystopian alternate reality futures in comic books.
Not that Frank Miller needs more accolades, but did you know he was writing DD #227-#233, the ‘Born Again’ story arc, the same year as The Dark Knight Returns. Only one of the three most regularly praised comic series of all time, no big deal.
As a result, ‘Born Again’ tends to fly under the radar (at least compared to Dark Knight), which is a shame. This is Daredevil pushed to his absolute limits, and in many ways it sets the stage for the work of Kevin Smith and Brian Michael Bendis to come.
While Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’s Marvels is technically available via Marvel Unlimited, I implore you to get a copy of this one in your hands. Whether that means purchasing a copy or finding one at your local library is up to you, but Alex Ross’s painted art is glorious in person, and kind of tarnished on the digital reader.
Amazingly, even without the incredible art, Marvels is one of the finest stories ever put to paper. While it’s a little more common now, Busiek sought to explore the real living people within the Marvel Universe and gauge the heroes’ impact on their daily lives. It also serves as a great history listen for anyone invested in the Marvel Universe over the years.
The epic and iconic look at Wolverine’s time in the Weapon X program. Probably the coolest layer of intrigue ever established for the character. Marvel Unlimited makes this one confusing, as the series originally ran in Marvel Comics Presents #72-#84. There are a handful of separate stories that ran under Weapon X titles, but the issues linked above set the standard.
Kurt Busiek might be best known in the Marvel universe for his incredible work on Marvels, but Avengers Forever is possibly even more impressive a love-letter to the Marvel Universe. The depths of Avengers history that get covered in this timeless are unparalleled. Mix that in with some good old fashioned Kang the Conqueror and time-travel, and you’ve got an early decade triumph.
I’m a sucker for these ‘color’ series from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (yes, the creative team that brought us The Long Halloween). Just good old-fashioned getting to the root of the hero.
Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee’s run on the Inhumans is one of my favorite Marvel series of all time. The opening shot of Black Bolt soaring through Attilan is about as strong an example of comic art out there, and the royal intrigue and complexities of Inhuman lore are amazingly well done. This is the definitive Inhumans story.
Coming off a decade of both genre-shattering innovation with The Invisibles and era-defining runs with DC on Animal Man and JLA Marvel finally wooed Grant Morrison over to X-Men.
Thank my stars and garters.
Morrison’s X-Men gave a bold new direction for Marvel’s mutants, giving them a place in the world while simultaneously finding out what really makes these characters tick.
I’ve tried writing some coherent thoughts about this run by Waid and Weiringo, but every time I start it’s just gushgushgush. This book is everything I ever wanted in a Fantastic Four comic – it’s funny, fun, touching, and Marvel’s first family explores the outer reaches of everything. Great, great run in Marvel’s history.
This limited ‘elsewhere’ style narrative has Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert establishing what the Marvel heroes would have looked like in the year 1602. I wasn’t particularly sold on the concept to start, but there are some fun elements here.
I recommend just reading the whole series starting with Kevin Smith’s Guardian Devil, but if you really want to maximize your life equity, Bendis’s epic run starts with issue #26. The combination of Bendis’s noir-style DD and Alex Maleev’s art makes this one of my favorite Marvel series of all time. What happens when a superhero’s identity gets out to the public? Like for real this time?
The comic line that made the Avengers awesome again. Follows hot on the heels of Avengers Disassembled and puts together the coolest Marvel U team until Uncanny X-Force. Crosses over hardcore with all the Marvel Events, so definitely a series you’ll want a reading order for… hint… hint.
The whole thing, issues #1-#24 (don’t forget the Annual conclusion!), is beyond excellent. Grant Morrison kicked off a brave new world for the X-Men of the new millennium, but for my money it’s Whedon and Cassaday who deliver the ultimate X-Men experience. Anybody who read this just knew The Avengers movie was going to blow the gates off heaven.
Mark Millar brainwashes Wolverine and pits him against the whole Marvel Universe. One of the more beloved Wolverine (#20-#32) story arcs from the last decade. Wolverine infiltrating the Baxter Building and taking on the Fantastic Four? Right, I’ll be here with more when you get done reading.
The best idea anyone’s had for an Iron Man story in a clean 30 years. It’s a shame Ellis didn’t last longer than 6 issues at the time, but this one inspired every Iron Man comic to follow and also served as the foundation for the Iron Man 3 movie.
Just hearing the name of this series is one of the clearest moments I remember falling in love with comics again. Greg Pak’s epic run on Incredible Hulk (#92-#115) set the stage for World War Hulk, but it also gave this millennium a defining Hulk story. Wonder what Gladiator would have been like if Russell Crowe had been The Hulk? Check out Planet Hulk.
Ed Brubaker and Billy Tan take the X-Men into space for a new era in the Shi’ar Empire. Definitely the type of run that pays to know your X-history, namely Chris Claremont’s Phoenix sagas in Uncanny X-Men. You’ll also want X-Men: Deadly Genesis under your belt for this, or the name Vulcan will just conjure images of Spock. Actually, that part’s pretty unavoidable, but the story will make more sense.
The comic book run that finally made Captain America a must-read in the new millennium. This is one of the single best long-running series of the 2000’s, including several major moments in the life (and… Death!) of Captain America.
Warren Ellis’ & Mike Deodato’s Thunderbolts – Weirdly listed under ‘Dark Avengers’ but it IS in Marvel Unlimited. This series takes a deep dive into some of the most psychotic villains in the Marvel Universe… now attempting to serve the government. Or is that being coerced? The events of this series have a major impact on many Marvel events to come.
Mark Millar returns to Wolverine (#66-#72) for a look at Logan on the senior discount. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m super excited to get it started. People LOVE this comic arc.
So to explain to the kids at home… this story is about… Wolverine goes to hell. Jason Aaron’s start on Wolverine, making him the bad a-word he should be.
Rick Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force is outstanding, but it all really centers around the Dark Angel Saga (#8-#18). Any fans of Age of Apocalypse will be in heaven throughout this run collecting the coolest Marvel team this decade (Wolverine, Angel, Psylocke, Fantomex, and Deadpool!).
Just finished reading this one on the iPad app, and it has Marvel Universe implications for anyone who has read Avengers Disassembled and House of M. Marvel writers have been teasing resolution for the Scarlet Witch for years, and Children’s Crusade finally delivers. I wasn’t sure how they’d bring Wanda Maximoff back to the light after her enormous impact on the Marvel U, but this arc finds the perfect path.
A quick note: this is a nine issue mini-series that largely follows the Young Avengers. While the primary Avengers are involved, you might want to start with the original Young Avengers run for clarity.
Jonathan Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four (and eventually FF, aka Future Foundation) is one of my favorite Marvel Unlimited reads this year. Although I’d highly recommend the whole body of work, the series really strikes a chord with the mainstream press generating “Three.” As you probably remember, one of the Fantastic Four will die!
Fortunately, Hickman is a skilled enough story-teller that the arc elevates past sales-bait and into a genuinely emotional event. As a warning, much of the action in this event ties heavily into Hickman’s ongoing arc, so as a starting place there will be some confusion. It’s not unreadable by any means (I started here and was just fine), but you will suddenly find yourself exposed to things like the “Interdimensional Council of Reeds.”
One of the absolute finest comics released by Marvel in the 2000s, from Matt Fraction and David Aja.
Marvel Unlimited is nearly caught up on all 22 issues (mid-year 2015).
Mark Waid brings Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, back to the light after being put through the ringer by Bendis, Maleev, Brubaker, and Shadowland. Highly acclaimed and great DD read, available in its 36 issue entirety on Marvel Unlimited.
The Spidey story so crazy, they changed the title. Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman crafted an absolutely bonkers bit of off-the-wall fan fiction that somehow became one of the best Spider-Man stories in years.
Crossovers are almost uniformly included for any events in the 2000’s. That said, if you’re browsing by series, you’ll find that each crossover is listed as its own separate series, which may not include all the comics in said event. The event specific page on a desktop includes a tab for all crossovers. Also, clicking one of the issues will lead to the individual comic page, which means you’ll have to navigate back to the events page after each click. I recommend opening in a new tab.
Messiah CompleX spans a number of X-lines, so I recommend checking out this guide I put together if you’re reading on your desktop.
Like Messiah Complex, Utopia is spread across a number of different comic series, making digital reading more of a challenge. The order of the issues you’ll want is as follows: Utopia #1, Uncanny X-Men #513, Dark Avengers #7, Uncanny X-Men #514, Dark Avengers #8, Dark Avengers/X-Men: Exodus. All of those should be within your Unlimited comics.
Most comics that don’t fall within the Marvel Universe are not included in Marvel Unlimited. This includes the likes of Marvel’s Icon imprint, Kick-Ass, Casanova, Powers, and Criminal. All fantastic comics, all listed among the series you can browse, none in the MU.
Marvel Unlimited also has not traditionally carried their MAX line of “mature” R-rated comics.
I was surprised this one wasn’t in the library. Not to be confused with
Elektra’s Jennifer Garner’s Alias TV show, the Marvel Universe Alias is Brian Michael Bendis’s addition of hard-nosed, foul-mouthed Jessica Jones to the world of heroes. She’ll become a major player in the pages of New Avengers and The Pulse, but it all starts in Alias – the run that many consider Bendis’s best work with Marvel.
I must have looked for this Punisher run by Garth Ennis a clean 100 times now, and every time I’m confounded: how does the MDCU not include Punisher Max?
Find yourself just about any best-of list and there’s a good chance Punisher Max by Ennis will make the cut. There are select issues from this run available (issues #1, #7, #11 & #12 are available from the 2000 run), but definitely a disappointment to not see the entire run at this point.
A quick suggestion before you dive in – For a lot of annual or ‘Giant-Size’ issues, Marvel lists the comics as a separate series. So if you’re plowing through Bendis’s New Avengers and suddenly realize “Hey, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are… married?” you probably missed a separate listing for the annual issue that covers that story.
This can be confusing and annoying. There’s a whole Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimate Six story arc that just randomly takes place outside the main series. When my brother was knocking out Ultimate Spider-Man at a preposterously unhealthy rate (like 9 years of comics in a week. Seek help, man), he skipped right over this series and had no idea how certain… goblins… wound up… in certain places (no spoilers I think).
The point being – just because a series is here doesn’t mean it’s in order. It’ll just take some digging or a guide to avoid this terrible fate.
Final note – This guide of comics in the library was originally compiled in 2013 after Marvel Unlimited’s app release. There have been a gazillion updates since then! As mentioned, check out the app for the full picture.
Issues Included: #1-#441
Marvel’s done a really nice job digitizing the original runs on their most famous characters, and that’s very apparent with Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man. The first chunk of issues alone covers 1963-1974, and includes such monumental arcs as “The Death of Gwen Stacey” (#121-#122) and “Kraven’s Last Hunt” (#293-#294 – the entire arc is spread across a few different Spidey titles – Unlimited has everything you’ll need for the arc: Web of Spider-Man & Spectacular Spider-Man ).
This particular selection also offers Todd McFarlane’s run as artist on Spidey (#298-#339 – he doesn’t draw the whole arc but it starts here) as well as the “Maximum Carnage” issues within Amazing Spider-Man (#378-#380).
The big takeaway that will be clear throughout the rest of the catalog? There are consistent holes as you enter the late 70’s, 80’s & 90’s. You’ve been warned.
Issues Included: #1-58, #500-#700
Includes the vast majority of JMS’s run on Spidey, along with all the recent stuff from Dan Slott and co. Arcs include JMS’s controversial Gwen Stacey update, the hugely polarizing “One More Day” arc, “Big Time,” and “Spider-Island.”
Issues Included: #1-#49
One of my all-time favorites, starting with Avenger’s director Joss Whedon & John Cassaday before transitioning to the one and only Warren Ellis.
Reading Tip: The conclusion to Whedon’s iconic run comes after issue #24 in the Astonishing X-Men Annual #1!
Issues Included: #1-#42, #55-#119, #140-#151, #167-#177, #181-#196, #267-#277,
Along with Stan Lee & Jack Kirby’s epic start on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, MU includes the Kree/Skrull War (#89-#97) and the Korvac Saga (#167-#168 & #170-#177).
There are a handful of additional issues in the #200 and #300 issues, but it’s very hit or miss with standalone issues here and there.
Issues Included: #1-#62
This Black Panther arc from Christopher Priest often flies under the radar, but it’s one of the first Marvel arcs I truly loved. The whole thing is available on Marvel Unlimited and it’s a great take on the character of Black Panther.
Issues Included: #1-#6
This is a standalone arc from Brubaker & Rivera and I include it here as our first reminder that Marvel Unlimited includes some really cool single story arcs that aren’t part of a larger narrative (and stand nicely outside the muddle of continuity). Plus, sometimes we all just need a little more Doom in our lives.
Issues Included: #1-#50
The whole shebang – Marvel Unlimited includes the entire run of Cable & Deadpool from Fabian Nicieza & Mark Brooks (with cover art from Rob Liefield). This is one of the most singularly fun comic book runs of the entire decade and it may have single-handedly catapulted Deadpool to superstardom – God help us all.
Issues Included: #1-#50, #600-#616 + Reborn #1-#6
File this one under acclaimed, critically.
Issues Included: #1-#34, #53
Inevitably, if you’re looking for Captain Marvel, you’re probably looking for “The Life & Death of Captain Marvel.” This series only includes the life, in issues #22-#33.
As for the death? It was written as a single graphic novel by Jim Starlin in 1982 and cannot be found among any of the series in Marvel Unlimited. At one point the entire graphic novel was available digitally to subscribers, but as of now it looks like your best bet is grabbing it Amazon.
Issues Included: #1-#53, #158-#191, #215-#233, #253-#265
Gives you the iconic first ten Wally Wood issues, along with Frank Miller’s legendary run as both artist and writer on DD (issues #158-#191 and back for Daredevil: Born Again with issues #226-#233).
Issues Included: #1-#119, #500-#512
Another personal favorite – includes amazing runs from Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith), Brian Michael Bendis, and Ed Brubaker. I haven’t thought this one all the way through, but I’ll make a snap judgment that these Daredevil storylines make up the most interesting Marvel superhero of the decade.
As a side note, Marvel Unlimited already includes issues #1-#11 of Mark Waid’s acclaimed and Eisner award-winning run. Also issues #16-#17, but oddly no #12-#15 at time of publication (haha, publication. I’m a professional, I swear!).
Issues Included: #100-#172
As I mentioned in the critically acclaimed portion with Warren Ellis’ run, this Dark Avengers series title is immensely confusing. The reason: the majority of these comics are Thunderbolts issues. As in, they say Thunderbolts on the cover and everything. For actual Dark Avengers…
Issues Included: #1-#16
The actual start to Dark Avengers from Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Deodato. Takes place after Secret Invasion, during Dark Reign, and leading up to and through Siege.
Issues Included: #1-#63
Every Deadpool comic from Daniel Way.
Issues Included: #1-#11
Dr. Strange, The Hulk, Silver Surfer & Namor. The coolest Marvel team of the 70’s gets its start with Steve Englehart & Sal Buscema.
Issues Included: #1-#9
I have no idea if this is worth endorsing. I just like that it’s included in Marvel Unlimited. People seem to really dig this collected trade volume, and it’s pure, unadulterated Jack Kirby… so long live the King!
Issues Included: #169-#178
Throwing this apparently paltry Dr. Strange selection to remind you that the iconic Lee/Ditko/Steranko Strange takes place in Strange Tales.
Listing all three of these together to make a couple points: 1) If you’re looking for this saga, Marvel Unlimited includes the whole thing in their digital library & 2) I would HIGHLY recommend you don’t read these in digital format.
The main reason is that Alex Ross’s painted art just does not translate on the digital page. If you like the comic style of Alex Ross (as seen in Kingdom Come or Marvels), Earth X in particular is a potentially great read. But not on digital.
You can begin exploring Earth X on Amazon here.
Issues included: #1-#19
Another attempt to say hail to the King. All 19 issues of Jack Kirby’s Eternals.
Issues Included: #1-#7
Neil Gaiman’s modern update on Jack Kirby’s Eternals. Short-lived but quality series taking place towards the tail-end of Civil War.
Issues Included: #1-#100
People love this series. Spawns from Age of Apocalypse, so it’s not hard to see why.
Issues Included: #1-#141, #204-#218, #241-#296, #334-#354
Stan Lee & Jack Kirby – whoever you’re giving creative credit to this is the comic that started it all for Marvel(Lee & Kirby runs #1-#102). Aside from Lee & Kirby’s classic “Galactus Trilogy” or introduction of the Inhumans, Marvel Unlimited includes John Byrne’s beloved writer/artist run (#211-#294). This is where you’ll find such gems as “The Trail of Reed Richards.”
Issues Included: #53-#70, #500-#611
I’ve already professed my love for Waid & Wieringo’s run on Fantastic Four (#53 and on through the #500 rebrand until #524). This collection continues right on up to Jonathan Hickman’s FF takeover, including the hugely publicized “Three” story arc.
Issues Included: #1-#4
Weird, dark 4 issue story arc from Grant Morrison. This is the farthest I’ve ever seen anyone push the Fantastic Four. It is both uncomfortable and… well, fantastic.
Issues Included: #1-#23
Another example of a pretty new, ongoing Marvel series that you can easily catch up on through digital reading. Plus, if you play Avengers Alliance, you can finally understand what’s going on with those white outfits on the Fantastic Four.
Issues Included: #1-#25
If you weren’t already sold on Marvel’s best cosmic adventures, there’s a Racoon who talks and carries big guns. His name’s Rocket Racoon.
Issues Included: #1-#33
Howard the Duck is one of the most unique comic series to ever come out of the Marvel Universe. Steve Gerber’s thinking-man’s take on a talking duck doesn’t fit into the superhero genre in any way, shape or form (save the inevitable Spider-Man cameo). And yet, it’s a provocative, fun look at ways the comic book medium can expand and innovate, even today. If you’ve seen or even ever thought about the horrendous movie, you’d do well to forget what you know and read Howard the Duck for yourself.
Issues Included: #1-#27
Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction, alongside art from David Aja put together an out of the blue masterpiece with this run on the Immortal Iron Fist. Danny Rand has never been so interesting, and kung-fu has never found a better in the Marvel U.
Issues Included: #113-#141
What happens when you combine the Lion of Olympus with the world’s 7th smartest person? Basically the same thing that happens when you combine writer Fred Van Lente with the creator of Planet Hulk. Important and fun read if you plan on making your way through Chaos War.
Issues Included: #1-#6, #102-#131, #314-#319, #331-#378
I’m not gonna sit here and pretend I totally know what’s going on with this Hulk sampling. You can start with the first 6 Lee & Kirby issues and from there I’d make my way to Peter David’s run from #331-#378.
Issues Included: #1-#13, #34-#117
Includes Greg Pak’s classic Planet Hulk (#92-#105), immediately followed by the events of World War Hulk. And yes, Marvel Unlimited includes the Red Hulk saga, but that’s the next installment of Incredible Hulk and I have to draw my quality line somewhere.
Issues Included: #1-#12
Love this Inhumans story arc. Definitely one of the best runs available.
Issues Included: #1-#527 (renumbers with #500 after issue #33)
Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s much loved restoration of Tony Stark. Following the events of Civil War and Secret Invasion, Tony needs a rebrand, and he comes out of the events of Dark Reign having done just that – and then some.
Issues Included: #1-#279
As with Dr. Strange and the following Journey Into Mystery, Marvel’s old school generic titles throws a wrench into the true start to Iron Man. For the real start, you’re going to want to turn to Tales of Suspense.
In the meantime, Marvel is making a huge push to include just about every Iron Man story ever told before the release of Iron Man 3 in the summer. This chunk includes the classic ‘Demon in a Bottle’ (#120-#128) along with ‘Armor Wars’ (#225-#232).
Issues Included: #1-#17, #83-#125
As with Dr. Strange and ‘Strange Tales,’ the start of Thor begins within the pages of Journey Into Mystery (#83-#125). This is another classic Stan Lee & Jack Kirby production, introducing Thor, Loki and all of Asgard. So be it!
Fun mid-80’s Chris Claremont romp, or stretch of an excuse to fill in a series for the K’s? I’ll let you decide.
No L’s. Kinda weird, huh? Try Locke & Key instead.
Issues Included: #1-#6
The standalone series so great it gave us years of Peter David’s X-Factor. I didn’t think I cared much about Madrox the Multiple Man, but this series changes all that.
Issues Included: #1-#3
I just love this title, and the issue one cover of Magneto sitting on a throne.
Issues Included: #1-#6
Mark Millar brings the Marvel universe into the real world. Like, the real real world, ya know?
Issues Included: #1-#6
Grant Morrison’s surreal introduction of Marvel Boy. Morrison writes Kree a little too well, and while this story isn’t perfect, it introduces an important character for the next decade of the Marvel U.
Issues Included: #1-#4
Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’s Marvels. File Under: acclaimed, critically. I maintain that you’ll want this one in your hands, but it is available through your subscription.
Issues Included: #1-#36
The complete run of Mighty Avengers. Not quite up there with Bendis’s better half (that would be New Avengers), but good stuff if you’re invested in the events and crossovers of the era.
Issues Included: #1-#12
I got really into this series before it cancelled, so seeing it live here in the MDCU is super exciting. For fans of Bendis and Maleev’s work on Daredevil, or anyone really into heroes who hear Avengers in their head.
Issues Included: #1-#24
A seemingly random inclusion, only because this was penned by none other than Brian K. Vaughn. Or at least the first thirteen issues were.
Issues Included: #1-#64
I love just about everything about New Avengers and I don’t care who knows it. Brian Michael Bendis does what no Marvel writer has done before – puts Spider-Man and Wolverine on the Avengers. Wait, a whole team full of Marvel’s most interesting and awesome heroes? Why has nobody ever thought of that before…
Issues Included: #1-#34
Including the continuation of New Avengers as reminder that Marvel Unlimited is continually updating ongoing series. It’s usually not an exact 6 months from release date (it might be a lot more), but if you’re playing catch up you’ll never notice.
Issues Included: #114-#156 (issues in the #140’s are out of order but ARE included)
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s rebranding of the X-Men. One of the most important comic runs of the 2000’s for Marvel – this series established not only the future of the X-Men, but in a lot of ways the future of what Marvel would be willing to do with their major characters.
Issues Included: #1-#6
In retrospect, I’m not sure I needed the origins of Wolverine. Nonetheless this is an interesting read on one of Marvel’s most famous Hugh Jackman’s.
Issues Included: #1-#16
Uh, FrankenCastle. Like Frankenstein with Frank Castle, aka the Punisher? I don’t know, man. This is comics.
You aren’t seriously looking for Quasar. Get out of here with that.
Issues Included: #1-#18
Runaways will live on after Brian K. Vaughn, but this is where you want to begin. One of the nicest innovations within the Marvel Universe all decade. Don’t let the “This is about kids? Forget that, I’m a grown man!” line of thinking keep you from checking this one out.
Issues Included: #1-#6
This is one I’d like to see update past issue #6. Jonathan Hickman gives Marvel’s best known intelligence agency a history that spans time and space.
Issues Included: #1-#37
Cool title, murderer’s row of writers: Brubaker, Nick Spencer, Ellis, Remender. Mix in some Mike Deodato & John Cassaday, add water, make fun comics (Don’t add water. You will literally ruin everything.)
Issues Included: #1-#28
I suspect I’ll look back on this list and remember that I was on a huge Jonathan Hickman kick when I wrote it. In the meantime: Nick Fury’s Secret Warriors!
Listen, I don’t feel good about this either. But all nine issues of the second installment of Secret Wars are here in the MDCU. The Beyonder comes to Earth and looks and odd amount like Michael Jackson. Then… well actually that about covers it.
Issues Included: #1-#5
I’m not sure how much of admiration for this Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee reunion is residual love for Inhumans, but this Sentry arc introduces an immensely important character for the coming decade of Marvel comics.
Issues Included: #1-#23
A fairly limited selection all things considered, but you can get started with the first twenty-three issues. I honestly have no idea if these are great, mostly just including it because I’m sure my Dad loves the series.
Issues Included: #1-#12
Showing some love for Shulkie. I would not have expected to enjoy a She-Hulk series, but this is solid stuff from Dan Slott and co. Also probably the finest work Andy the Android has ever done.
Issues Included: #1-#18
That doesn’t feel like enough, does it? Turns out issue #18 was actually the final Stan Lee & Jack Kirby script on Silver Surfer before the series was cancelled. The Surfer wouldn’t rise to prominence again until…
Issues Included: #34-#38
Why in the name of Norrin Radd should you give a hoot about these issues? They’re a hugely important and fun part of the ‘Rebirth of Thanos’ story arc.
Issues Included: #1-#63
Including this selection here as a reminder that 90’s Spider-Man is mostly found under ‘Amazing Spider-Man.’ Offering this title as a standalone is just confusing.
Issues Included: #1-#4
4 issues of The Spider-Knight Returns.
Issues Included: #110-#168
One of the most beloved 60’s Marvel runs, featuring the cosmic mind-altering exploits of Dr. Strange (note: there are also Human Torch issues combined in Strange Tales. So… those exist too). Right up there with Amazing Spider-Man as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s most impressive work.
Issues Included: #1-#12
Mark Gruenwald’s mid-80’s version of Marvel’s Watchmen. I didn’t say it IS Watchmen. Relax, everybody, it’s going to be ok. There’s only one Watchmen. Would it help if I stopped saying Watchmen? Maybe a little? Ok – do yourself a favor and check out Squadron Supreme.
Issues Included: #1-#6
Six issue mini series giving everyone’s favorite horse named Bill his due. Great for fans of Beta Ray Bill confusingly horse-y to probably everyone else.
Issues Included: #1-#14
I dig The Pulse, alright? A nice little appetizer for fans of Alias and Bendis.
Issues Included: #126-#224, #280-#301, #337-#383
Kick things off with your dose of Stan Lee & Jack Kirby (but not before the real start in Journey Into Mystery), and cap the week without sleep off with Walt Simonson’s legendary run (3337-#383) as writer/artist on Thor (the finest innovation on the mythos of Asgard since Stan the Man. Also, Frog Thor!).
Issues Include: #1-#12, #600-#620
Say what you will about the writer, but John Michael Straczynski’s Thor redefined the character for the current Marvel Universe. To be fair, so did Oliver Coipel’s short-helmet Thor (I like it – I’m just sayign that’s bowl’s gotta be tight on the scalp to stay in place. Thor would have Peyton Manning helmet-redness more often than not). I won’t spoil anything, but this run deals with the aftermath of Ragnarok and the complete desctruction of Asgard (how do you fix that?).
Issues Included: #1-#133
Anyone looking to get into the Ultimate Universe can do so easily with a Marvel Unlimited subscription. I won’t included all the Ultimate lines here, but rest assured MDCU has a TON of them available. Ultimate Spidey is my favorite (I think… I think I might like him even more) so I included this epic 133 issue run from Bendis and Bagley (mostly).
Issues Included: #1-#35
One of the best Marvel titles in recent years, with writer Rick Remender assembling the coolest X-team maybe ever. Issues play heavily with fan-favorite events such as Age of Apocalypse, so if you’ve ever gotten into the X-Men, this is a great one to knock out. Just don’t make any plans for the rest of the day.
Issues Included: #1-#59, #99-#168, #416-#524
If Uncanny X-Men isn’t the most uneven line in the history of Marvel Comics, I don’t know what is. It seems like it would be the flagship X-title (have you SEEN that iconic #1 issue cover with Magneto? Of course you have), but that’s rarely been the case lately. Nonetheless, the Claremont & Byrne run on the title (#99-#168) completely transformed the X-Men and catapulted them into the Marvel superstars we know today.
There are plenty of X-issues in the 200’s and 300’s, but not nearly enough in order to justify laying them out here. That changes with issue #416 as Marvel Unlimited begins offering all issues again.
The only V you’ll ever need.
Issues Included: #1-#15
Jim Starlin took Marvel cosmic to another level in the 70’s and Warlock is a huge part of that. Important reading for fans of Thanos, cosmic cubes, and Infinity Gauntlet.
Issues Included: #1-#22
This is for the BIGGEST fans of Infinity Gauntlet. You know who you are.
Including this here because these are not the Droids you’re looking for. Check out the above sections to see what I mean. Or don’t. This is America (link not for kids), do what feels right to you. (Barry Windsor Smith’s actual Weapon X can be found amongst the M’s).
Issues Included: #1-#4
Chris Claremont on the top of his game with Frank Miller on art. An iconic glimpse into Wolverine’s formative years (and yes, I usually write about Wolverine like he’s Steve Jobs).
Issues Included: #1-#74
Includes Mark Millar’s fan-favorite runs through ‘Enemy of the State’ (#20-#25) and ‘Old Man Logan’ (#66-#72).
Issues Included: #1-#50, #200-#262 (renumbers after #50)
Peter David’s X-Factor is a deceptively outstanding run on the fringes of the X-universe.
This Chris Claremont gem (and the inspiration for the underrate X-Men 2 movie) is included in graphic novel form. It’s one of very few digital GN’s that Marvel includes with a digital subscription. I maintain that for a time they also included ‘The Death of Captain Marvel’ but I can’t find anything to verify that at this point.
Issues Included: #116-#129, #1-#25
There’s Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Statix. And then there’s everyone else.
Unless you’re choosing to read through the super awesome omnibus, you’ll want to start with Milligan and Allred’s X-Factor issues (#116-#129). They then come back for round two with X-Statix.
Issues Included: #1-#12
Much like Runaways, don’t let the “It’s young therefore only a kid would enjoy it” line of thinking fool you here.
Possibly the only reason it’s time Zzzax got his own solo series. You can hit me up about this whenever you’re ready, Marvel, I’m always free.
So How Did This Guide Work For You?
I hope everyone finds this useful, either in your decision to subscribe to Marvel Unlimited, or in your efforts to navigate your existing account.
As a final note, if you DID find this useful you can help out by supporting Comic Book Herald.
I’m relatively sure I didn’t speak to my wife for a clean 39 hours during the making of this, so any support that can go towards repairing THAT mistake is hugely appreciated. (I’m thinking I get her a copy of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane as penance? What’s that you’re saying? She doesn’t even read comics and that’s just an excuse for you to buy more books for yourself? Hmmm, this may require some deeper thought.)
Happy reading everybody! And if you spot holes, or just want to talk about what you’re enjoying reading, I’d love to hear about it below!