If I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe (movies and TV) should I read the comics? If so, where should I start. Is it worth it?

ScreenHunter_1143 May. 25 17.26

My @Quora answer to If I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe (movies and TV) should I read the comics? If so, where s…

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

The answer to that question falls into a deterministic probability with two answers:

  • YES, but…

  • If you love it, you should marry it. (It costs as much.)

As a comic reader of 40+ years, if you are new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and have never read comics before, your experience may resemble THIS:

See that snowy part of the iceberg on the top? That is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let’s call it 1000 hours of movies, cartoons, commercials from any company (we’ll lump ALL Marvel products no matter who makes them, i.e. Sony) as long as they AREN’T comics. All the information you could glean from all of those sources is the stuff on top.

The comic universe, all 70+ years of it, is the stuff on the bottom of the iceberg. There is more information there than almost anyone can responsibly put into their head and effectively be allowed to roam the streets without supervision. If you just tried to read the Marvel Wikia and Wikipedia entries on all of the Marvel Universe entries you could be reading for YEARS (hell, decades) and never fully be able to thread the stories together.

First issue of Amazing Spider-Man!

Why because comics are a serial medium. A single book say: Amazing Spider-Man has an incredible amount of data stored within just its pages. Heroes, villains, backstory, technology, and other events. These stories are just his (with the occasional guest star.) Wikipedia reminds us: The Amazing Spider-Man has 700 issues alone!

The Amazing Spider-Man (abbreviated as ASM) is an American comic book series published by Marvel Comics, featuring the adventures of the fictional superhero Spider-Man.

Being the mainstream continuity of the franchise, it began publication in 1963 as a monthly periodical and was published continuously, with a brief interruption in 1995, until its relaunch with a new numbering order in 1999. In 2003 the series reverted to the numbering order of the first volume. The title has occasionally been published biweekly, and was published three times a month from 2008 to 2010. A film named after the comic was released July 3, 2012.

After DC Comicsrelaunch of Action Comics and Detective Comics with new #1 issues in 2011, it had been the highest-numbered American comic still in circulation until it was cancelled. The title ended its 50-year run as a continuously published comic with issue #700 in December 2012. It was replaced by The Superior Spider-Man as part of theMarvel NOW! relaunch of Marvel’s comic lines.

The title was relaunched in April 2014, starting fresh from issue #1, after the “Goblin Nation” story arc published in The Superior Spider-Man and Superior Spider-Man Team-Up.

Now multiply that by three hundred or more titles over seventy years and you begin to see how big your iceberg really is.

Marvel has been thinking about people just like you.

Marvel realizes their multiverse (collection of related or associated comic universes) has grown too large to remember and too large for the new reader to come on board. The burden of history is now crushing…

What do I suggest? There are three paths to enjoying comics these days:

  • Online subscriptions – Getting a subscription to the Marvel.com website. Before you starts shelling out MAD money and (nowadays it is mad money to buy a single comic, as much as a paperback novel once cost) going broke over trying to read all of the Marvel Universe, instead go to their online comic shop and read comics through your computer.
  • No it won’t be the same as holding them in your hand, but if you want to get a little background on a character and want to feel it rather than Wikia it, this is a great way to get a taste of the old writers, artists and uniquely Marvel style. It isn’t perfect, but if you want to learn, to absorb all things Marvel, this does work.
  • Trade Paperback/Graphic Novels – In the past, when Marvel created a story or series of stories that were so awesome they wanted to put them together in a single tome or if they had a story that was so awesome, it was an EXPERIENCE, it became a Graphic Novel. The Death of Captain Marvel was the first such graphic novel. (And an amazing read to boot! He’s also one of the few blokes in Marvel’s comics to die and stay dead!)
  • Graphic Novels are the ultimate comic book gateway drug. Imagine the best stories of a particular comic series bound together in one single publication, without ads, without interruption, in glorious high quality paper, ink and four color awesomeness. I kid you not. Graphic novels are the best of the best. They also cost a mint so be prepare to kiss your spending cash goodbye. Most of the time they ARE worth the effort and the painful sucking sound from your wallet.
  • Secret Wars – Battleworld – And the final solution for helping you with the history of the Marvel Universe. A solution so drastic, I can only show you one image:

Bet you thought I was going to show you their Battleworld logo…

They threw it all away.

That’s right, for a limited time only (or until fans scream, cry, tear out their eyes or their hearts on video) Marvel has decided to REBOOT THEIR UNIVERSE! What this means is, if you started reading in the next few months, there would be no previous continuity required for you to know to enjoy their publications. You would be free of the burden of history because everything that was happening right now was happening for the first time in this new universe.

For the new reader this is a great boon and a terrible loss (yes, together). The boon is you are free to learn about Marvel, the same way old fans did. When it was fresh and new and unseen, unknown, without any idea what was happening next.

So long, Earth-616. We’ll miss you (at least until the next retcon…)

A loss because there are so many wonderful stories you may never get to know about unless you plumb the internet for pieces of those great stories and then wander the isle of comic book stores where store owners who look like these guys may be able to help you with their encyclopedic knowledge of the former Marvel Universe:

Comic Book Men is an AMC television show where geeks become famous talking about comics. Who knew?

To recap:

  • It’s a good time to enter the Marvel Universe since they just blew it up and made a new one. Everything is new, tacky costumes are bound to be everywhere until they decide on what everyone should look like.
  • Stories won’t be connected together, right away at least, so you should be able to pick a character you like and read their book without having to buy a four hundred page crossover series.
  • Comics ain’t cheap, bub. And they aren’t getting any cheaper. Be sure to have a good job to support your comic habit because if you collect more than a few titles they will get very expensive, very quickly.
  • Go online to get your history fix. You can go to Marvel.com: The Official Site you can go to the Marvel Wikia, you can go to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange where there are histories and story information on lots of characters.
  • If you want to check out a hero or villains most awesome now historical moments, search the internet for (“your hero/villain’s name” and “greatest feats” or just “feats”). Comic fans are some of the most loyal web citizens out there and have compiled amazing dossiers.
  • I haven’t addressed the issue of whether the comics are good for one reason. They haven’t happened yet. So I can’t say if it will be worth it, only that you have a shot at starting over and maybe they can do a better job than they have been doing in the last ten or fifteen years. Good luck.

Welcome to the new Marvel Universe. Maybe they can make a “true believer” out of a new generation. Excelsior! (Something Stan Lee used to say on the end of his editorials, back in the Comic Jurassic Age.)

REFERENCES:
Marvel.com: The Official Site
Wikipedia: Amazing Spider-Man
How Much More Do Comic Books Cost Today? (the article is from 2012 but you can see just how much comic costs have evolved.)

If I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe (movies and TV) should I read the comics? If so, where should I start. Is it worth it?

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