With Avengers: Endgame set to deliver the follow-up to the game-changing Infinity War, it’s a good time to reflect on the best starting places for new comics readers. In addition to comics series that likely share connective tissue or inspiration for the Infinity War / Endgame narrative, I’ve put together my picks for where to start with the major players.
Now, since *technically* many of the players in the MCU are snapped (snupt?), I’ve concentrated the guide to those players on the right side of Thanos’ whims. Plus, if I’m being honest any attempt to read Spider-Man between Infinity War and Endgame is impossible with the amount of tears swelling in my eyes.
So without further ado, I’ll pick the ONE essential story for each character!
Iron Man (2004) #1 to #6
Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s modern reinvention of ol’ Shellhead still works as the best modern entry point for MCU fans. Impressively, “Extremis” doubles as Tony Stark’s origin story and the inspiration for pieces of Iron Man 3.
If you’re looking for the fastest path to where the character’s at today, the Dan Slott written Tony Stark: Iron Man (2018) will put in the context of the current Marvel Comics universe.
Captain America —
Captain America (2004) #1 to #14 [But keep going, like, forever if you enjoy!]
While any MCU fan worth their weight in vibranium is familiar with the “Winter Solider,” reading the comics version that started it is also the entry point into writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting’s time on Captain America.
In present day (aka when this article was written!), author Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing an ongoing Captain America comic that launched in 2018. This series deals closely with the events of Secret Empire (2017), which greatly impacted Captain America’s reputation.
Thor: God of Thunder (2012) #1 to #24!
The 2012 Marvel NOW! Thor series by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic is an all-time great Thor story, and the beginning of an Aaron written run on the title that extends to present day. If you’ve been hearing about Marvel’s “War of the Realms” event in 2019, that storyline begins with “God of Thunder” right here!
Hulk: Future Imperfect (1992) #1 to #2
Sure, “Planet Hulk” is an equally sensible pick given its influence on Thor: Ragnarok. Nonetheless, when I think classic Hulk, I think “Future Imperfect.” Hulk’s pre-Endgame role is fuzzy, making this Peter David and George Perez take on Hulk as leader of a future dystopia all the more intriguing for a look back.
You could also just as reasonably dive straight into Immortal Hulk (2018), the most recent title for the character from writer Al Ewing and artist Joe Bennett. Immortal Hulk is well on its way to all-time classic status, so well worth a look from Hulk fans!
Captain Marvel —
Captain Marvel (2012) #1 to #6
Most MCU fans have likely already explored the Captain Marvel canon, following the heroes MCU debut in early March 2019. My super streamlined Comic Book Herald recommendation is to read Captain Marvel (2012) issues #1, #9, and #17.
For the rest, I’d also recommend John Galati’s tips on the 5 essential starting places for Captain Marvel.
Dora Milaje —
World of Wakanda (2016) #1 to #5
It’s not my favorite Black Panther or Wakanda series, but author Roxanne Gay’s foray into comics is a uniquely focused look into the world of the Dora Milaje. Because I enjoy it, I’d also recommend reading this series in conjunction with Ta-Nehisi Coates time writing Black Panther. The Coates run on the title will also get you up to speed with the realm of Wakanda in the current universe.
Hawkeye (2012) #1 to #23
Not only a great Hawkeye read, but an instant classic in the superhero genre, and one of my favorite comics of all time. You can definitely make a case for Hawkeye’s days as “Ronin” as a more connected lead-in for this point in the MCU, but those comics (in the pages of New Avengers (2004)) are substantially more concerned with broader Marvel Comics continuity.
Black Widow —
Black Widow (2011) #1 to #5
One of my favorite 100 Marvel Comics of the 2000’s, and my pick for best Black Widow story I’ve read. Despite her status as the leading female Avenger in the MCU since 2012, Natasha’s solo comics catalog is surprisingly thin.
Scott Lang (Ant-Man) —
Ant-Man (2015) #1 to #5
Despite his leading status in the MCU, Scott Lang is actually Marvel’s *second* Ant-Man, following the legacy of founding Avenger Hank Pym. Lang definitely benefits from the light comedic rebranding of the Paul Rudd and Peyton Reed led movies, as writer Nick Spencer was able to reshape the character in the Marvel Universe across similar lines.
Thanos Quest (1990) #1 to #2
I flippin’ love Thanos, to the point that the Thanos reading order was the first major guide I ever published on Comic Book Herald. Thanos Quest is the lead-in to Infinity Gauntlet, and for my money its a near perfect two issues from character creator Jim Starlin.
Present day Thanos continuity can otherwise get pretty messy pretty fast, so I’d direct new readers to Guardians of the Galaxy (2019) written by Donny Cates with art by Geoff Shaw.