Hey! Who’s for a bit of a shameless tie-in to the really quite ridiculous barrage of announcements Marvel have just made about all their upcoming movies? We thought you might be, so settle in as we do the thing we’re known to at least four people for doing best: expertly guiding fans of the movies through new and exciting reading choices in the world of the comics themselves.
For each of the just-announced Phase Three films, we’ve picked a comic we reckon you should read that either (seemingly) ties directly into the film in some way, or is just otherwise relevant in terms of getting a handle on the character(s) involved. They’re not necessarily the best comics featuring these characters, they’re not necessarily the comics we think the movies will be directly based on, but we reckon they all have some kind of relevance and (more importantly) are all worth a glance.
Captain America: Civil War
Given that Civil War is going to be a Cap film, rather than an Avengers film, we’d bet good money that it won’t actually be anything like the Mark Millar comic – this seems more likely to be an Age of Ultron type situation, of just nicking a good title, and that instead the plot will cover the final stages of the SHIELD/Hydra war.
Nevertheless, you’re going to be hearing the words “Civil War” so often over the next eighteen months that if you haven’t ever read the book, you should at least make sure you do so so that you’re aware of what it’s all about. Just… don’t expect it to be especially great. I mean, it’s plenty significant, but… well, it’s very firmly a Mark Millar comic, put it that way.
Stephen Strange has made for a great member of teams such as the Defenders and the Illuminati for several years, but it’s been a good long while since he actually really had major significance as a solo lead. Indeed, he’s arguably not really done so since his Steve Ditko-driven 1960s heyday as a countercultural icon. Therefore, we’ll suggest the standalone Doctor Strange: Season One as a more recent way into reading about him. The Season One books are generally very enjoyable, and very movie-esque, fresh takes on classic origins, and this one has the added bonus of a terrific creative team in the form of Greg Pak and Emma Rios.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
While the first Guardians movie owed a significant debt in several ways to the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning comics, the relationship is inverted by the more recent Brian Michael Bendis series, which feels like a deliberate attempt to bring the comics version of the group closer to where the movie left them. The first volume of the new series, Cosmic Avengers, makes for a pretty entertaining read – it’s got a guest appearance by Tony Stark, art by Steve McNiven and Sara Pichelli, and includes the excellent Star Lord origin 0.1 issue.
We don’t think this movie is going to be about Tony Stark’s robotic Thor clone, initially known as “Clor” but later given the name “Ragnarok” – although the fact that there’s also a movie titled Civil War is something of a worrying omen.
The thing about Ragnarok (the event, not the Thor-clone) is that it’s something that can’t ever really happen – it’s the event that hangs over the Norse mythos, and if you ever actually tell the story, you don’t really have anywhere to go after it.
We’re not necessarily saying the film shouldn’t have that title, it’s just that this is the reason why there isn’t actually really an equivalent storyline in the comics.
What we’ll do instead, therefore, is recommend a comic you’ll get on well with if you like the MCU take on the character of Thor. Which leads us to the no-brainer that is telling you that you should read Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee’s Thor: The Mighty Avenger immediately. It’s an absolutely delightful, standalone,
out-of-continuity story that plays up the “fish out of water” comedy elements and is genuinely charming and witty. It’s also a rare example of a modern superhero comic that’s genuinely suitable for all ages.
We’re not exactly experts when it comes to Black Panther comics, but we do know that an upcoming issue (#27, to be precise) of the Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes hardcover partwork series is focused on the character. Due out at the end of December, it may or may not (it does) feature additional behind-the-scenes content written by one of the authors of this very article, hence why we’re shamelessly plugging it. It collects T’Challa’s first appearance in Fantastic Four issues #52-53, as well as a three-part Jason Aaron story from Black Panther #39-41. You should be able to find it in all good comic shops and even some newsagents, and you can find out more about the series here. And look! It’s got a TV advert and everything:
Look, we were going to shoehorn in a reference to this thing on the site at some point, be glad we made it vaguely relevant to something topical.
Created out of the same Stan Lee / Jack Kirby alchemy that produced most of Marvel’s biggest heroes, the Inhumans are finally getting their due – although it’s not a huge surprise, given how Marvel has recently been promoting the characters. Despite a rich mythology they’ve been supporting characters far more frequently than they’ve been the stars, but the 12-issue “Young Inhumans” series by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee gives a close look at Inhuman society and most prominent characters from the perspective of an outside, making it ideal for new readers to jump in with.
Captain Marvel’s latest iteration is a far shout from her earliest appearances as Ms. Marvel and latterly the Avenger known as Warbird, which means getting to know the character isn’t easy. If you want a taster of the test-pilot turned cosmic superhero, start with the two issues of Avenging Spider-Man that introduced her new Jamie
McKelvie-designed look (#9 & #10) and then follow it up with her current solo series as written by Kelly Sue Deconnick. If you want to imagine how she’ll fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can also look out for her guest starring in some of the later volumes of Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy.
Avengers: Infinity War
The two-part Avengers epic might be called Infinity War, but don’t under any circumstances pick up the comic with that name, because it’s an awful sequel to the story that this movie will actually adapt, which is Infinity Crusade. In this universe-spanning brawl, Thanos unites the Infinity gems and gains true omnipotence. It’s up to the assembled heroes of Earth to stop him. Featuring every Marvel Character you could name and a fair chunk who you’ll have absolutely no idea about. It’s five years until the movie, so if you want to experience even a fraction of the excitement, this is what you’ll need to read.
Of course, by the time the latest-announced of these films actually hits screens, you’ll have had enough time to read absolutely everything that’s available on Marvel Unlimited. So, you know, you could just do that.