OK,you’re realizing there’s only so many times you can see Avengers: Endgame in theaters (or have you?) but you still haven’t kicked that Avengers fever. How can you kick it? Simple, check out some of the iconic stories of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in their original comic book format.
And you’re in luck since this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day meaning lots of stores will have special deals and discounts to welcome you to the wide world of comic book collecting.
I put together a list of some of the best trade paperbacks for newcomers who want to get a taste of the comics. It’s probably going to be a couple of years before the next Avengers film so there’s plenty of time to start catching up on the storied history of the team.
The most expensive option on the list, but you kinda should start with this one as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Don Heck kick off The Avengers. You might be surprised seeing how many elements of the early days of the team carried through to the movies. The creative team was so on point and there’s so many interesting stories, personality clashes and villains that it’s amazing to see how much of the core of the team was established so strongly in these first 30 issues.
The Avengers had long established themselves as Marvel’s team supreme, but their might gets challenged in this arc where Loki and Dormammu manipulate the Avengers into a battle with The Defenders. MCU fans might be surprised to see Hulk and Hawkeye alongside Doctor Strange and Valkyrie as Defenders, but it makes for a fun clash of titan teams. Writer Steve Englehart and an assortment of artists team up to deliver a story that would be fun to see play out in some form in the big screen since so many characters are already part of the MCU.
Kurt Busiek and Carlos Panchecho craft this terrific 12-issue maxi-series where an assortment of Avengers from past, present and future unite to deal with the machinations of Kang the Conqueror and learn some long-held secrets of their earlier days. Avengers Forever was the inspiration for at least a few pivotal scenes in Endgame and the mix of characters aren’t what you might expect resulting in a story that definitely plays differently than a standard story arc. Free of having to keep up with the existing plots in the main Avengers title. Avengers Forever might be a little overwhelming at first for newcomers, but becomes a rewarding experience as the 12-issue story plays out.
Decades in the making, this Busiek/George Perez collaboration pits the greatest teams of DC and Marvel against each other.
It doesn’t disappoint as fans of all eras of the characters are serviced and we get to see the fights we always dreamed of from Superman vs. Thor, Captain America vs. Batman and Green Lantern vs. Iron Man. And a whole slew of villains also join in on the fun as well. This is basically the end all/be all of comic book crossover events and more than lived up to the hype.
There’s exactly no chance in Hades that we could get a big, small or tablet screen version of this crossover. But it doesn’t matter since it’s hard to imagine a movie or animated movie having the characters down as perfectly as Busiek’s script or cram as much detail as Perez’s art.
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This trade collects some of the way too short run noted DC writer Geoff Johns had working for Marvel. Based on his success with JSA, Johns seemed like an ideal fit for a team as massive as the Avengers. Not surprisingly, Johns delivered a fun run with some great character interplay — Iron Man distrusts Black Panther; Ant-Man and Jack-of-Hearts can’t stop sniping at each other and Captain America and Falcon consider giving Henry Gyrich a second chance. Johns showed why he’s so good with team books as he juggles the larger cast with no problem while providing some fresh insight into the characters.
Jonathan Hickman starts his acclaimed run expanding the team to be more of a global and intergalactic strike force. Along with classic characters, Hickman adds some new blood just in time for the team to face new threats from space. Hickman’s Avengers run is so expansive and unique from any that came before it. His companion book New Avengers focusing on the Illuminati Avengers with artist Steve Epting was a great cerebral read with some complex moral dilemmas and shifting allegiances.
Photo Credit: Marvel Comics