Where to being your Marvel Comics Journey
You’ve watched eighteen films and numerous TV shows but you’ve never picked up an actual comic. Where do you start? With a 57 year long history it won’t be easy but this handy guide will hopefully get you started within the world of Marvel comics.
Marvel Comics – Like I Remember
We won’t be focusing on any particular characters or story-lines but rather on the various ways you can start reading Marvel comics. Our first recommendation is the Essential Marvel collection. This series reprints classic stories in a large format black and white volumes.Typically these contain 20-30 issue of a comic and run anywhere between 450 and 650 pages. This represents incredible value and reminds me of the way I read my first Marvel comics back in the 1970’s in UK reprints.
Numerous volumes are available featuring characters like Spider-Man, Ant-Man, The Avengers, Black Panther, Captain America, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, The Silver Surfer and more off-beat comics like Howard the Duck, Killraven, Man-Thing and The Tomb of Dracula.
The Essential Marvel collection covers stories published from the 1960s through to the early 1990s and should be readily available. The collection itself stopped being published and has since been replaced with our next recommendation.
Marvel Comics – Four Colour
The Marvel Epic collection brings colour to your comics. Printed in a similar format to the Essential line but now in full colour and containing 300 to 500 pages this collection fills in the gaps not covered by the previous collections. These collections are numbered and contain sequential issues of a comic, occasionally including any relevant crossover issues. Again all the main characters are featured including Spider-Man, The Avengers, Daredevil, New Mutants, Wolverine and Doctor Strange and other titles like the Marvel Star Wars comics.
Marvel also publish the Ultimate/Complete Collection line in this format which brings together entire runs of a title, or runs by popular creators. Many more modern titles are collected here including Josh Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, Alias (the original Jessica Jones series) and much of the Marvel work by Brian Michael Bendis but it also includes colour reprints of older stories like S.H.I.E.L.D. and Man-Thing. This line has titles regularly added so keep an eye out for new additions
Marvel also publish smaller Trade Paperbacks (TPB) often referred to as just Trades of their more recent comics. These typically reprint 4 to 6 issues of a title but with the regular relaunches of comics at Marvel this can become a bit of a minefield to navigate. Several volumes can be numbered 1 for each character, with the only way of identifying which issues this covers is by reading the back covers to discover which particular sequence it contains.
Marvel Comics – Going Digital
If filling your house with huge collected volumes seems a bit much then modern technology can come to your rescue. One great way of reading comics is now via tablet devices using apps like ComiXology and Marvel Unlimited.
ComiXology is a virtual comic shop in your pocket and can be a useful way of reading collections of your favourite characters. They often have sales of comics collections in Essential and Epic lines along with the more recent TPB. You have to use the ComiXology website to make purchases as you can’t buy directly via the app. As ComiXology is owned by Amazon our tip is to check prices on both the ComiXology app and Amazon site to get the best deal as any purchases from Amazon Kindle will be added to your ComiXology collection.
Marvel Unlimited is a subscription based service which costs £8.99 a month or £50 per year which allows you access to over 20,000 Marvel comics via their app. Marvel Unlimited runs around six months behind the monthly published comics but can be a great way to read older issues. They also often have suggested stories which collects together the comics you would need to read to experience one complete story. There are gaps in the comics available which can be frustrating when a run of issues is disrupted for no apparent reason but if you just want to explore and read Marvel comics this can be a great way to do it. You can often get one months access for free and they regularly run discounts on the subscription to tie into film releases or big comic events. ComiXology also offers an Unlimited service with includes some Marvel titles.\
Marvel Comics – The Best Option
The best way to get into Marvel comics, if you possibly can, is by visiting your local comic book store. In Birmingham we are lucky enough to have one of the best in Nostalgia and Comics. It may feel overwhelming at first when you are confronted by the racks of comics of all kinds but don’t worry. Talk to one of the friendly and knowledgable staff about the films and TV shows you like and what other kinds of fiction from books, films and TV you’re in to and they can help guide you to the collections and current issues that will best suit you. They may also make recommendations for other titles outside the Marvel stable that you might enjoy.
One other option for the budget conscious reader is checking out your local library. Their range of titles will be smaller and exclusively trades but most libraries will have a graphic novel section. It’ll be pot luck which titles they will have on offer, but if you have done some research you’ll be able to get them to order books in for you.
Whichever characters you love, whomever publishes them, and however you read them, there will always be a comic for you out there. It may take a while to discover it but you’ll have a great time exploring the incredible universes that the incredibly talented writers, artists, colourist, letterers and editors have assembled for you.