Just like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which gets harder to follow the longer it exists, Marvel Comics' history is vast and complicated. It's tough to know where to jump in, especially if you only want to focus on specific characters or storylines. With Avengers: Endgame ready to hit theaters, we combed through Marvel's decades-long catalog to bring you nine stories that'll either prepare you for Endgame, showcase the MCU's influences, or just act as good supplemental reading material.
Note: All of these titles are available in ebook and physical formats.
- Half the universe: Infinity Gauntlet
- Another kind of sequel: Infinity War
- Thanos: The Origin Story: Thanos Rising
- Avengers: In Space!: Annihilation: The Complete Collection Vol. 1
- The Rise of Ronin: New Avengers Vol. 3
- The death of Cap: Captain America: Reborn
- Greatest crossover in history: Secret Wars
- Even more Carol: Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More
- What's next?: Young Avengers Vol. 1
Half the universe: Infinity GauntletStaff pick
If you want to read up on where the Infinity War as we know it in comics began, you'll want to start with this 1991 limited series about how Thanos wipes out half the universe with six Infinity gems (sound familiar?). It's one of the most iconic Marvel series to date as well, so it's a worthy buy for any Marvel devotee.
Another kind of sequel: Infinity War
Want more after Infinity Gauntlet? Then check out its sequel, Infinity War. Instead of Thanos, the driver of the conflict is Adam Warlock (teased at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), who uses the Infinity Gauntlet to create two verions of himself. There are doppelgangers, cosmic entities, Cosmic Cubes, and so much more.
Thanos: The Origin Story: Thanos Rising
Avengers: Infinity War did a great job making Thanos a complex, almost-sympathetic character, so it makes sense if you want to know more about the Mad Titan before Endgame. If you're looking for something newer than the previous two entries, check out Thanos Rising, a limited series from 2013.
Avengers: In Space!: Annihilation: The Complete Collection Vol. 1
For a while many people thought Marvel would draw from its Annihilation storyline for what we now know as Endgame. While that's likely not the case, it's still a great, influential storyline where Thanos teams up with a lot of our favorite space Avengers, including Drax and Star-Lord, to stop Annihilus, ruler of the Negative Zone, from overttaking the universe.
The Rise of Ronin: New Avengers Vol. 3
Curious about Hawkeye's new look in Endgame? Comic fans knew immediately from his first appearance in trailers that Clint Barton had taken on his Ronin persona, which debuted in a New Avengers issue included in this volume. Beyond that connection, the New Avengers run, which included writing from comic veterans like Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman, is absolutely worth a look.
The death of Cap: Captain America: Reborn
We don't know Captain America's fate in Endgame (yet), but we do know that Chris Evans' contract is up, so it's safe to say the hero as we know it isn't long for the cinematic universe. In Captain America: Reborn, readers must grapple with the death and semi-resurrection (it's complicated) of Steve Rogers. If you want to prepare for the eventual heartbreak of the MCU, this isn't a bad place to start.
Greatest crossover in history: Secret Wars
If you thought the MCU was the greatest crossover event in history, think again. Secret Wars from 1984 was one of the first big crossover events for Marvel and featured many of our favorite heroes and villains fighting in a battle royale on the planet Battleworld. Don't get this confused with Secret Wars (2015), which was an echo of the original series and features the destruction of the Marvel universe.
Even more Carol: Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More
Carol Danvers will be making her second MCU appearance in Endgame, so catch up with this modern iteration of the character with Captan Marvel Vol. 1. Carol, assuming the Captain Marvel moniker, travels the galaxy exploring her past, defending alien life, and just generally kicking butt.
What's next?: Young Avengers Vol. 1
This is more of a post-Endgame pick, but with Kate Bishop showing up in the upcoming Hawkeye series, we think it's a good idea to learn about the Young Avengers. This is a team consisting of Kate, Cassie Lang, America Chavez, a young Loki, the sons of Scarlet Witch and Vision, a shapeshifter named Hulkling, and other heroes and we think it might be important someday.
Where do you even begin?
The MCU has existed since 2008 and has pulled from many origin stories, crossover events, and impactful storylines, which is how it's appealed to comic enthusiasts as well as new fans. However, new fans brought in by the movies or TV shows might be left wondering where they should go if they want to get into the comics. The secret is: don't start from the beginning. Pick up recommended trades and compendiums; it'll be easier on your psyche.
A great place to start is the Infinity Gauntlet limited series, which is only six issues long and shows the reader where Marvel Studios got a lot of the big ideas for Avengers: Infinity War. Its sequel Infinity War is the obvious second choice. Although we haven't seen Adam Warlock prominently in the MCU yet, it's been hinted that we'll see him in Phase 4.
If you don't want a Thanos-centric story, you might want to check out Secret Wars, which was one of the first huge crossover events in Marvel history. For something newer, and because I'm convinced we're getting a Young Avengers team up in the MCU somewhere in the future, check out Young Avengers.
Get your tickets
The biggest movie event of 2019
In Avengers: Endgame, Earth's Mightiest Heroes will attempt to undo the damage done by Thanos. Will they be able to reverse the snap that wiped out half of all life in the universe?
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.