A question on https://www.reddit.com/r/comicbooks/ sparked this short essay. “I’d like to know what books inspired people to dive deeper into the marvel universe. And what books anyone can pick up with limited knowledge and enjoy? I’ve found the Marvel Universe pretty hard to get into in general ”
My comic collection is roughly two thirds DC, but I’ve always had a deep appreciation for Marvel. More than a few books inspired me to dig deeper into the Marvel Universe. I had to make a few suggestions.
Marvel Comics for DC Fans:
- Uncanny X-Men #108, 109, 111–143 by John Byrne and Chris Claremont. It’s not out of line to say this run on the X-men revitalized the book, defined the characters, and bore some of comics most beloved stories. Marvel began to publish the book every month, Byrne crafted Wolverine as we know him and created Kitty Pryde, and the team gave us “Days of Future Past” and “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” In many ways, this book mimicked what was happening in New Teen Titans and League of Super-Heroes at that time and may give DC readers a nice bridge into the Marvel mythology. The late 70’s and early 80’s offered a wealth of character driven, longer form story lines.
- The Mighty Thor #357–382 by Walter Simonson. Simonson writes Thor as a god in this stretch of stories, driven by powers beyond mortal ken, and driving into all sorts of interesting situations. In this run, Thor meets one of the few other worthy of holding his hammer and is even turned into a frog. It’s all a great mix of drama and humor that’s pretty much uniquely Marvel.
- Daredevil #158-161, #163-191, #219, #226-233 by Frank Miller. A Batman knock off with a twist, Frank Miller used this run to separate Daredevil from the source material by better explaining the character’s history, powers, and expanding the cast of characters. This is when ninjas got cool.
- Ms Marvel volumes 3 and 4 by G. Willow Wilson. This book hearkens to some of the lighter fare from DC, like Impulse or Young Justice. All fun, character driven stories with solid art.
- Marvels #1-4 by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross. A great introduction to the Marvel Universe, touching on all it’s major eras and themes as told through the eyes of a photographer.
- Vision #1-12 by by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta . Tom King really shows a love of a character’s history and personality in this book. He “gets” Vision and this take had me tracking down all sorts of stories from the Android’s past.
DC Comics for Marvel Fans:
- Superman Annual #11 by Alan More and Dave Gibbons. Many comics fans don’t seem to understand what a good story about Superman would look like. “For the Man Who Has Everything” is likely one of the best five Superman stories and demonstrates how to write the character and make him interesting.
- All-Star Superman #1-12 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly. I offer this run for the same reasons as above. It may give the skeptic a chance to really enjoy Superman (for a longer time than just one issue.)
- Tales of the Teen Titans #42–44 and Tales of the Teen Titans Annual #3 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. “The Judas Contract” offers a compelling story about super-heroes living in the shadows of their older counterparts. It’s similar to X-men in that it’s character driven, soap opera dramatic, with incredible art. Tales of the Teen Titans really pushed the envelop for comics at the time with a pedophile villain and non-martial, cross species sex.
- The Golden Age #1-4 by James Robinson and Paul Smith. This story traces several characters through an oft overlooked period of DC history, the 50’s. An Elsewhere, or non-cannon, tale, Golden Age heroes have to face life after WWII and the advent of McCarthy-ism. Robinson reveals his deep understanding of the DC Universe in this book and it made me want to find out more about what came before, and after.
- Batman Vol. 3 #1-85 by Tom King and others. To a certain extent, Batman has become a self satire, more difficult to write well than Superman, and without a really meaty, solid story line since maybe Death in the Family (IMHO). (OK, there must have been something since the 80’s but really, Batman’s been bad for a long time. hmmm. Maybe the Grant Morrison run?) Tom King breaks that string of so-so stories with a solid, multi-year run that examines the character of Batman, drives other than “the Mission,” and clearly defines his relationships with Catwoman and Superman. This is the first time I’ve seen such a nuanced and three dimensional Batman for a while.
What would you suggest to a DC or Marvel Zombie looking to branch out?