Avengers: Infinity War is upon us. Ten years of cinematic storytelling has lead to this, but it’s taken over 70 years of comics to get to this point. If the film has made you want to read the comics but you don’t know where to start, we’ve got the recs.
Infinity/Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers
Infinity War takes inspiration from is 2013’s Infinity. The avengers head to space to stop the threat of the Builders, an alien race set to destroy all imperfect life. Earth is left without Avengers. Thanos sees this as the perfect time to invade. He sends his generals, the Black Order (the Children of Thanos in Infinity War), to raze the planet and find the Infinity Stones. It’s all a ruse though as Thanos has a much more intimate prize in mind. Meanwhile, the Illuminati deals with the problems of alternate realities bleeding into and wiping out their existence.
It’s a massive high concept comic that is equal parts sci-fi and superhero with a bit of military fiction thrown in. Infinity can be read alone, although it continues many plot points from Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers. It’s best read as part of the full run. You’ll want to read the whole series as it’s one of the best The Avengers has ever had.
Avengers and New Avengers are available in paperback, digital, and hardcover with only the chapters of each series. Infinity is available in a separate volume as a complete story. Hickman’s entire Avengers run is available in two omnibuses.
If you don’t want to deal with the hyper-complex storylines of the Hickman run and just want some fun comics, Avengers Assemble is the book for you. Launched in 2012, around the same time as the Avengers film, it was made to be a jumping-on point for movie fans. The first arc is written by Brian Michael Bendis, who made the Avengers into the juggernaut franchise it is today. The art is by Bendis’ long-time collaborator Mark Bagley, who brings classic superhero style to the book. The story features everything you’d expect, the movie team, Thanos, the Cosmic Cube, and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Post-Bendis and Bagley, the series would go through several writers, notably Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel, Bitch Planet), Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Iron Man: Extremis), and Al Ewing (U.S.Avengers, Immortal Hulk). The series remains new-reader friendly, made up of short story arcs perfect for casual readers.
The Bendis/Bagley story is available in digital, paperback and hardcover. The rest of the series is available in two paperbacks, except for nonessential crossovers.
All-New Guardians/Infinity Countdown
The newest run of Guardians of the Galaxy is the best the series has been in quite some time. The series is written by Gerry Duggan (Deadpool, Uncanny Avengers) with art by Aaron Kuder (Action Comics, Death of X) and Marcus To (Multiversity, Flash). It was launched to coincide with the release of the second movie but isn’t just a cheap cash-in.
Duggan builds on the phenomenal Abnett/Lanning cosmic mythology that inspired the film. He also makes sure it’s also accessible for new readers without a Ph.D. in Marvel history. The series does a great job of blending the movie personalities and easing readers into the Guardians mythology.
The series ended and was turned into Infinity Countdown-clearly to capitalize on the movie. As a continuation of Guardians (the first three issues were originally intended as issues of Guardians), it reads much better if you have read the prior. This is leading up to the (marketably named) Infinity Wars crossover of which few details have been revealed.
Marvel Comics Digest
For a quick read and an easy pickup, Archie Comics is releasing Marvel Comics Digest Starring the Avengers Featuring Thanos. Despite the clunky name, it’s a great little collection for both adults and kids.
It contains all-ages Avengers comics from the 60’s to today. Stories including the first appearance of Thanos and three major stories of him facing the Avengers. It’s available at your local supermarket and comic book shop.
There are some big omissions from this list, including the other inspiration for the movie, The Infinity Gauntlet. We’ll be back soon with a reading guide for the Mad Titan himself, Thanos.