With over 80 years of stories to catch up, getting into Marvel Comics in 2020 is a massive task — but it’s not impossible. While comics can require a significant time investment, there’s plenty of fantastic stories that still deserve your time and attention. Here’s some ways to begin reading Marvel.
Start with the Marvel movies
If you want to get into Marvel in 2020, it’s likely you’ve had some exposure to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Sony’s movie adaptations — whether it’s the blockbuster Avengers films or even solo movies like Captain America, Thor or Spider-Man.
While the movies do tend to take liberties with the source material, many of the best big screen adventures are based on the comics — so you might like to start there.
If your favourite Marvel film is The Winter Soldier you’ll want to start with Ed Brubaker’s classic 2005 Captain America stories. They’re available in collected volumes or via the Marvel Unlimited digital app, much like the rest of the comics on this list.
Thor: Ragnarok is loosely based on the Planet Hulk comics, Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame are based on the Infinity Gauntlet saga and much of Iron Man movie franchise is based on Warren Ellis’ Extremis stories. They’re all available in print form, or digitally online.
While not every movie is directly based on the comics, you’ll definitely be able to see the inspiration that’s been taken from these books. If your favourite isn’t on that list and you’re not sure where to start, an alternative approach is to stick with the characters you know.
Start with a character you like
It’s easier to start reading Marvel if you narrow down which characters you want to read about. Many of the big screen Marvel heroes have their own self-titled comics you can pick up and read fairly easily, although you’ll want to start with more modern issues.
Classic comics tend to have 100+ issue runs that are difficult to get through while modern comics generally receive new creative teams and ‘#1 issues’ every few years, meaning it’s rare to have a modern solo adventure go for more than 50 issues at a time. While these stories are shorter, they’re far more palatable and easier to jump into as a new reader.
Each creative team will generally take their own approach to the characters so if you don’t like a series or story, you can easily skip to another volume. Comics are very good at catching up readers on past events, so you likely won’t need a lot of background to pick a new volume and dive in.
Comics from the early 2000s and onwards will likely be more appealing to new readers as they tend to have higher quality art and more complex stories. Newer tales have also been shaped by the movies, with many characters now being written more closely to their film counterparts.
There are plenty of guides online to help you find the best stories for your favourite characters. Here’s a few of our favourite reading order guides for the most popular Marvel characters and teams:
If you can’t find a reading guide for your favourite character, you can always check out their character profile on Comic Vine, read up on their recent history and find a comic to dive into.
Catch Up On Recent Marvel Crossovers
If you don’t have time for big solo adventures, you can also stick with blockbuster crossover events, which often play out like a big screen Avengers battles. Every few months, Marvel comic issues will feature tie-in stories to a larger event. They’re usually based around serious cosmic or Earthbound enemies trying to take over the world and feature several heroes working together to save the day.
Recent Marvel events like Infinity Wars and War of the Realms are complex and sweep across multiple different titles — but they do solid jobs of explaining the core problems and key players via first page recaps before every issue. Some of the finer points and character nuances may be missed without an understanding of every character involved, but if you’re even a little bit familiar with Marvel’s cast of characters, you’ll be able to pick up most story threads easily.
Big crossovers are a chance to see Marvel’s entire cast in action. They tend to be larger in scale, far more epic than solo issues, and a whole lot more fun for fans. The issues following a crossover also tend to be a soft reset for each character involved, so starting with a crossover lets you see characters at their best and how they deal with the aftermath.
Where To Read Marvel Comics in Australia
Marvel Comics are available in collected editions (which usually bring together 6-12 single issues) from a variety of comic stores, specialty bookshops, online stores or digitally via the Marvel Unlimited comics app.
Here a few options for purchasing or reading:
Visit your local library: Comics have breached the mainstream so you might find your local library keeps stop of the most popular or newest comics. Visit your library’s website or online catalogue to find out if they stock what you’re looking for before you head out to purchase.
Subscribe to Marvel Unlimited: This app contains a 25,000+ issue selection of the best Marvel Comics around and it’s likely you’ll find what you need here. To access them, you’ll need to sign up — the monthly subscription fee is around $15 a month.
Check out ComiXology: This Amazon-owned app contains over 75,000 comic and manga issues from a range of publishers including Marvel. Comics are sold as single issues or in larger collections — and they also offer a ComiXology Unlimited service where you can read from a 25,000+ issue collection (although this also features non-Marvel titles). Comixology Unlimited will cost you $9 a month, but does only feature a sliver of Marvel’s back catalogue.
Shop at your local comic store: Comic stores often struggle to survive due to thin margins on books sold, but they’re fantastic places to be in and run by awesome people. If you have a local comic store, you can pop down anytime and ask for recommendations or just a chat about comics. They’ll help steer you in the right direction and you’ll be supporting a great local business. Here, you’ll be able to purchase comics in single issues as they come out, or as larger graphic novel collections.
Check out other local retailers: Comics are more mainstream than ever, meaning your local bookstore is likely to have a comic section. Dymocks and Kinokuniya both have a fantastic selections, as do many discount or basement book stores. While they may not have more niche titles, they’ll have a great selection to choose from.
Head online: Online stores like Booktopia and BookDepository have massive libraries of comics available. No matter what you’re looking for, whether it’s a solo volume or a team-up book, you’ll be able to find any collected edition you need.
It’s not hard to dive into Marvel Comics in 2020. With robust resources online and plenty of available options, you should have no trouble picking up a comic and getting right into it.