Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Recommended Reads for Marvel Movie and TV Fans

Do you like Marvel movies and TV shows? Do you want to read the source material, but have no idea where to start? Well, don't worry, I've got you covered.

So this is how this is going to work. I'm going to go through each phase of the MCU and make recommendations based on what I think are good reads for newcomers who enjoyed Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Eternals, etc. I won't cover everything because even I haven't read as many comics as you might think. So there'll be no recs for Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Shang-Chi, Spider-Man or many of the TV series. I also won't cover anything that has yet to be released.

Marvel has a tendency to relaunch and renumber titles at random, usually in an attempt to boost flagging sales, which can make things very confusing for new readers. Whenever a title is relaunched that is classed as the start of a brand new volume, for example The Avengers #1 from 1962 is the start of Volume 1 and The Avengers #1 from 1996 is the start of Volume 2. Adding to the confusion is renumbering. This is where issue numbers revert back to what they would be if the title had never been relaunched. Usually this is done when a title is reaching a milestone number like issue #400 but sometimes it can just happen randomly. One month you're reading issue #14 and then the next it's suddenly issue #549. To compensate for all this I'll be including detailed reading orders with each recommendation.


IRON MAN/IRON MAN 2 (2008/2010)
I'm grouping these two films together because they both drew heavily from the classic stories written by David Michelinie, Bob Layton, and Dennis O'Neil. Michelinie and Layton were the writers who did the most to really define the Armoured Avenger. Their first run from the late 70s, with John Romita Jr. on art, featured some of the all time great Iron Man stories like 'Demon in a Bottle' and 'Doomquest'. After a couple of fill-in issues, O'Neil took over from them and produced another memorable run which saw Tony reach his lowest point after losing everything due to the scheming of Obadiah Stane.

Reading Order:

Iron Man Vol. 1 #115-157 (1979-1982)
Iron Man Vol. 1 #160-208 (1982-1986)

I was thinking of going with Peter David's famous run, but he was on the book for over a decade and that's something you really have to commit to reading. So instead I'm going to give a shout out to Bruce Jones' underrated run for the early 2000s, which the movie definitely lifted more than a few bits from (like Bruce meditating with a metronome to control his inner monster). The standout is the 'Boiling Point' arc, wherein Bruce tries really hard to keep his cool after he's taken hostage in a convenience store robbery gone wrong.

Reading Order:

The Incredible Hulk Vol. 2 #34-76 (2001-2004)

THOR (2011)
Since he co-wrote the story, it isn't at all surprising that the first Thor film is more or less an adaptation of the J. Michael Straczynski 2007 relaunch of the character with Olivier Coipel along with his own brief run on Fantastic Four. This is one of the best Thor runs and the perfect place for new readers to jump in. Unfortunately, due to disagreements with the editors over the direction of the series, JMS abruptly left before he could really wrap everything up, signing off with Thor Giant-Size Finale #1. Kieron Gillen took over with issue #604, tied off the dangling plot threads, and then had a pretty great run himself.

Reading Order:

Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #536-538 (2006)
Thor Vol. 3 #1-12 (2007-2008)
Thor Vol. 1 #600-603 (2009)
Thor Giant-Size Finale #1 (2009)
Thor Vol. 1 #604-614 (2009-2010)

Mark Waid had one of the most beloved runs on Captain America during the late '90s. In 2010 he teamed up with artist Jorge Molina for the acclaimed five-part miniseries Captain America: Man Out of Time, which updated and reimagined Cap's sudden journey from the frontlines of World War II to the present day by focusing on his struggle adjusting to this strange new world.

Reading Order:

Captain America: Man out of Time #1-5 (2011)

Marvel's Ultimate imprint from the early 2000s took the company's biggest names and reimagined them in a modern context free of decades' worth of tangled continuity. Mark Miller and Bryan Hitch's The Ultimates reworked Earth's Mightiest Heroes as a government run super-team used to fight alien invaders and Bush's War on Terror. Although it can be very Mark Miller at times, The Ultimates is still a fun read with Hitch on top form. The MCU took a lot of inspiration from it, but left out all the political commentary and the aggressive Miller-ness.

Reading Order:

The Ultimates Vol. 1 #1-12 (2002-2004)
The Ultimates 2 Vol. 1 #1-13 (2005-2007)


IRON MAN 3 (2013)
This film is a very loose adaptation of the 'Extremis' arc by writer Warren Ellis and artist Adi Granov that launched Iron Man Vol. 4 (which was renamed Invincible Iron Man with issue #17). Both left after the first six issues, but the storyline continued in the 'Haunted' and 'Red Rain' arcs by writer Daniel Knauf and artists Roberto De La Torre, Jackson Guice, and Carlo Pagulayan.

Reading Order:

Iron Man Vol. 4 #1-16 (2004-2007)
Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1 #17-28 (2007-2008)

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)
The classic Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. stories from the 1960s, which included the legendary work by Jim Steranko, are all worth checking out, but if you want something more in tune with the show then your best bet is Jonathan Hickman's Secret Warriors, which is where AoS got the majority of its ideas from. Hickman's S.H.I.E.L.D. series with Dustin Weaver, which explored the agency's extremely bonkers history, is also great and best read before Secret Warriors.

Reading Order:

Strange Tales Vol. 1 #135-168 (1965-1968)
S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 1 #1-6 (2010-2011)
S.H.I.E.L.D.: Infinity #1 (2011)
S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 2 #1-6 (2011-2018)
Secret Warriors Vol. 1 #1-28 (2009-2011)

The Dark World certainly wins the prize for the worst MCU adaptation of a great comic storyline. Thor's battle with the Dark Elves and their leader Malekith (a far more colourful character than his dour big screen counterpart) is just one of the many highlights of Walt Simonson's legendary four year run as writer and artist, with a little help from Sal Buscema towards the end.

Reading Order:

Thor Vol. 1 #337–382 (1983-1987)

Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's Captain America run, which reintroduced Bucky as the Winter Soldier before making him the new Cap, is a cracking spy thriller and one of my favourite series from the 2000s.

Reading Order:

Captain America Vol. 5 #1-50 (2005-2009)

Don't, I repeat, don't read the 2013 miniseries of the same name. Apart from the title and main villain the two stories have nothing in common. Do, however, read Kurt Busiek and George Perez's classic Avengers run from the late 90s. Published following the mess that was Heroes Reborn, this was a major return to form for Earth's Mightiest Heroes after years and years of increasingly poor storylines. It also produced one of the all-time best Ultron stories, the four-part 'Ultron Unlimited', which this movie loosely adapts.

Reading Order:

The Avengers Vol. 3 #1-56 (1998-2002)

Love or hate him (and there sure are a lot of very good reasons to hate him), Frank Miller remains the most influential writer/artist to ever work on Daredevil. Pretty much everything people associate with the character came from Miller and this show mined as much of it as it could before the axe fell. Best place to start is The Man Without Fear miniseries as that retells the character's origin, then you can read his first run and after that skip ahead to his second, which includes the classic 'Born Again' arc.

Reading Order:

Daredevil: The Man Without Fear #1-5 (1993)
Daredevil Vol. 1 #168-191 (1981-1983)
Daredevil Vol. 1 #227-233 (1986)

The obvious recommendation here would be the actual Civil War miniseries, but it isn't very good so I won't suggest wasting your time with it (and Civil War II should just be avoided at all cost). If you want to read a really great story about Captain America and Iron Man having massive falling out then I say go with 'Time Runs Out', the last phase of Jonathan Hickman's incredible run on Avengers and New Avengers, which really has to be read in its entirety because it is just that good.

Reading Order:

The Avengers Vol. 5 #1-44 (2013-2015)
New Avengers Vol. 3 #1-33(2013-2015)

The best place to start with the Sorcerer Supreme is the original stories by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. These trippy adventures are quite short and easy to get through as they were first published as part of the double feature book Strange Tales, which became the first Doctor Strange solo series with issue #169. The book was eventually cancelled in 1969, but Strange returned as a feature in issues #3-14 of the anthology series Marvel Premiere. The first six issues were written by an ever changing team of creators until writer Steve Englehart and artist Frank Brunner took over and produced some of the best Doctor Strange stories before launching the second solo series.

Reading Order:

Strange Tales Vol. 1 #110-111, #114-146 (1962-1966)
Marvel Premiere #3-14 (1972-1973)
Doctor Strange Vol. 2 #1-16 (1974-1976)

Like The Dark World, Ragnarok draws heavily from Walt Simonson's legendary run (specifically #359-361), but with much more successful results. It is also partially based on the 'Planet Hulk' arc, which saw the Hulk exiled to another planet by the Illuminati and forced to play out his own version of Gladiator. It works a hell of a lot better than it really should.

Reading Order:

Incredible Hulk Vol. 2 #88-105 (2005-2007)

These two films are based on the 1991 miniseries The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin, George Perez, and Ron Lim. This should not be confused with Starlin and Lim's 1992 sequel, Infinity War, which is a completely different story and really not worth bothering with. Same goes for The Infinity Crusade, the final chapter in the trilogy. Before reading main series, though, you really should first read Starlin's run on Silver Surfer and the Thanos Quest miniseries as they do a lot of the set up.

Reading Order:

Silver Surfer Vol. 3 #34-38 (1990)
Thanos Quest #1-2 (1990)
Silver Surfer Vol. 3 #40-50 (1990-1991)
The Infinity Gauntlet Vol. 1 #1-6 (1991)

Carol Danvers had been around since the early 70s, starting out as a supporting character in the first Captain Marvel series, and had numerous superhero identities, but didn't become known as Captain Marvel until 2012. That's when Kelly Sue DeConnick started writing her and that is best place to start, but I suggest reading the 2018 miniseries The Life of Captain Marvel by Margaret Stohl, Carlos Pacheco, and Marguerite Sauvage first if you want a good recount of her origins without having to go through decades of older comics.

Reading Order:

The Life of Captain Marvel Vol. 2 #1-5 (2018-2019)
Captain Marvel Vol. 7 #1-17 (2012-2014)
Captain Marvel Vol. 8 #1-15 (2014-2015)


There really aren't many good comics starring the Avengers' most famous couple. Steve Englehart wrote a couple of limited series about them in the 80s, but neither of them is very good, and the less said about how John Byrne (mis)handled them in West Coast Avengers the better. You can also skip the solo titles both had in the 90s as well as Brian Michael Bendis' Avengers Disassembled and House of M since all they do is throw Wanda under the bus in order to upend the status quo. That just leaves us with Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez's great Vision series, and the hit and miss Scarlet Witch by James Robinson. If you want to know more about the twins, Billy and Tommy, then best read the various Young Avengers series by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, and the 2013 series by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.

Reading Order:

Young Avengers Vol. 1 #1-12 (2005-2006)
Avengers: Children's Crusade #1-9 (2010-2012)
Young Avengers Vol. 2 #1-15 (2013-2014)
Scarlet Witch Vol. 2 #1-15 (2015-2017)
The Vision Vol. 2 #1-12 (2015-2016)

If you want to see Sam Wilson taking up the shield for the very first time then read Rick Remender and Stuart Immonen's All New Captain America followed by Al Ewing's Captain America and the Mighty Avengers.

Reading Order:

All-New Captain America #1-6 (2014-2015)
Captain America and the Mighty Avengers Vol. 1 #1-9 (2014-2015)

Natasha Romanoff made her first appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 from 1964, but despite being an Avenger on and off for decades she didn't get her first solo series until 1999. You can skip that one, and the many that followed it, and instead start with the 2016 series from the dream team of Mark Waid and Chris Samesee (who produced one of the best ever Daredevil runs), and then follow it up with the simply amazing (but tragically cut short) 2019 series by Kelly Thompson and Elena Casagrande.

Reading Order:

Black Widow Vol. 6 #1-12 (2016-2017)
Black Widow Vol. 8 #1-15 (2019-2022)

LOKI (2021)
Kieron Gillen's Journey into Mystery remains the definitive Loki story, matched only by his later work with the character on Young Avengers. But if you want to know more about the TVA and He Who Remains, aka Kang the Conqueror, then best try Walt Simonson's runs on Avengers and Fantastic Four followed by the wonderful Avengers Forever limited series by Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern, and Carlos Pacheco.

Reading Order:

The Avengers Vol. 1 #291-297 (1988)
Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #334-354 (1989-1991)
Avengers Forever Vol. 1 #1-12 (1998-1999)
Journey into Mystery Vol. 1 #622-645 (2011-2012)
Young Avengers Vol. 2 #1-15(2013-2014)

Best place to start is not with the original 1970s series by Jack Kirby (admittedly not his finest work), but the 2006 miniseries by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. Then read the most recent series by Kieron Gillen (yes, him again) and Esad Ribić because it is absolutely amazing.

Reading Order:

Eternals Vol. 3 #1-7 (2006-2007)
Eternals Vol. 5 #1-12 (2021-2022)

HAWKEYE (2021)
There are two Hawkeyes, the Avengers' Clint Barton and the Young Avengers' Kate Bishop. Both of them are idiots and I love them and after reading the amazing Hawkeye from Matt Fraction, David Aja and Annie Wu you'll love 'em too. After that, move onto Kelly Thompson's Kate-centric Hawkeye series followed by her painfully brief West Coast Avengers, which saw Kate forming her own team of superheroes and funding it by agreeing to let a documentary crew follow them around. Imagine What We Do In The Shadows, but with twentysomething superheroes and one very tired Barton.

Reading Order:

Hawkeye Vol. 4 #1-22 (2012-2015)
Hawkeye Vol. 5 #1-16 (2017-2018)
West Coast Avengers Vol. 3 #1-10 (2018)

The early Moon Knight stories can be a bit of a struggle to get through at times, so I suggest avoiding all of them and starting with the 2016 series by Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood. It is the best Moon Knight run and one the show took the most inspiration from. After that you should really check out the current series by Jed MacKay and Alessandro Capuccio.

Reading Order:

Moon Knight Vol. 8 #1-14 (2016-2017)
Moon Knight Vol. 9 #1- (2021-Present)

Seeing this as much a Scarlet Witch film as it is a Doctor Strange one, the best place to start is with the 'Nights of Wundagore' arc from David Michelinie and John Byrne's brief Avengers run. Then move onto the 'Montesi Formula' arc from Roger Stern's run on Doctor Strange, which saw Wanda and Strange team up for the first time to deal with the Darkhold. But if you're after a really good, easily digestible tale about Strange being paired up with another of Marvel's famous magic wielders for an adventure across dimensions then it is worth checking out Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment, a terrific graphic novel he wrote with art from Hellboy creator Mike Mignola.

Reading Order:

The Avengers Vol. 1 #181-187 (1978-1979)
Doctor Strange Vol. 2 #59-62 (1983)
Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment (1989)

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig


  1. Albeit as someone who's read most of these stories, this was still very enjoyable! It'll be a good reading list to come back to the next time I want some Marvel!

  2. As someone who took a 30-year break from comics and only recently got sucked back in with the MCU, this thoughtful list was exactly what I needed. Thank you!


We love comments! We moderate because of spam and trolls, but don't let that stop you! It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.