The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest name in entertainment, but would not exist without the comics. Marvel has been around for decades, creating amazing characters and telling thrilling stories that have hooked fans for years. The MCU has used many of those stories as blueprints and while they’ve sometimes done a good job of adapting the stories, they’ve failed more than once.
There are a lot of great Marvel stories that MCU fans should give a try. It’s always fun to experience the source material, and in Marvel’s case, the original comics offer fresher takes on bold storylines than the MCU can offer.
10 Earth X Is A History Lesson Wrapped In A Great Alternate Future Storyline
The Marvel Universe can be daunting for new readers but there are some comics out there that do a great job of setting out its history. One of them is Earth X, based on ideas by Alex Ross, written by Jim Krueger with art by the late great John Paul Leon. Earth X takes place in a future where everyone has powers and just gets wilder from there.
It may seem like a paradox to read a book set in the future to learn about Marvel’s past, but Earth X begins every chapter with a history lesson and goes from there, building on classic themes to tell an epic story. Earth X will educate MCU fans on the comics and entertain them in a way they never thought possible.
9 The First Twelve Issues Of The Thunderbolts Are A Comics Masterclass
With the MCU seemingly setting up the Thunderbolts, now’s a great time for MCU fans to discover the origins of the group. The Thunderbolts #1-12 from 1997, by writer Kurt Busiek and artist Mark Bagley, are some of the best Marvel comics of the ’90s. Introducing the titular group, readers were thrown for a loop when their identities were revealed as Baron Zemo’s Master of Evil and things only got better. The first twelve issues play with the book’s central conceit about villains trying to be heroes while some of their fellows were still trying to be villains.
8 Ultron Unlimited Is Everything Avengers: Age Of Ultron Should Have Been
Avengers: Age Of Ultron was a massive disappointment for many MCU fans, especially after the shine wore off, but there is a much better version available – Avengers: Ultron Unlimited, by writer Kurt Busiek and artist George Perez. The movie lifts plot elements whole cloth from the comic, but the comic nails them in a way the movie just didn’t.
Ultron is a frightening force of destruction not some vaguely charming, quippy AI and the story is just structured better in every way. Ultron Unlimited is exciting and remains one of the best Avengers stories of all time.
7 Avengers Disassembled Presents Villainous Scarlet Witch Very Well
Scarlet Witch was the villain of WandaVision, using her powers to force people to live lives that weren’t their own so she could feel better about the world. Instead of exploring that, the series threw Agatha in to lessen the horror of what Wanda did. For MCU fans who want to see a story that doesn’t flinch away from Wanda as the villain, there’s Avengers Disassembled, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Finch. The story of the worst day in Avengers history, Avengers Disassembled doesn’t pull any punches with Scarlet Witch.
6 Avengers Forever Is A Kang And Immortus Story Done Right
With the introduction of He Who Remains in Loki, fans were introduced to a Kang variant that left a lot to be desired. He Who Remains was an MCU cliche villain, all quips and false charm. A better story starring a Kang is Avengers Forever, by writers Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern and artist Carlos Pacheco. Pitting a team of Avengers from throughout time against Immortus and the Time Keepers, Avengers Forever is an epic the MCU will never match.
There’s so much to love about this story. For MCU fans, the best part will be the Kang history lesson the book supplies and getting to see the villain as he should be, something that will maybe make them hold the MCU to a higher standard.
5 X-Men: Mutant Genesis Is A Compact Gut Punch Of X-Men Goodness
It’s hard to know what direction the MCU will go with the X-Men because there are so many great X-Men stories that have stood the test of time. A wonderful choice would be X-Men: Mutant Genesis, by writer Chris Claremont and artist Jim Lee. The introduction of the X-Men Blue Team, one of the group’s most popular incarnations, the book pits them against Magneto and his new team, the Acolytes.
A three issue masterpiece, X-Men: Mutant Genesis is everything that makes the X-Men great rolled into one wonderful package. Mutant Genesis is chock full of action, humor, and just plain amazing storytelling. MG beats just about any MCU movie in these regards and is a classic.
4 Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon Is The Perfect Primer For The Upcoming Show
With Hawkeye – both Clint and Kate – getting their chance at solo glory, MCU fans should check out the Disney+ show’s inspiration. Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon, by writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, is the beginning of the best batch of Hawkeye stories ever. The show is basically adapting this book and it’s always fun to be able to spot all the Easter eggs by reading the comic.
Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon has everything. The book looks amazing, the characters are great, and there’s wonderful action. My Life As A Weapon is the total package when it comes to comics and it’s perfect for MCU fans.
3 Infinity War Is Better Than Its Predecessor In A Lot Of Ways
Infinity War, by writer Jim Starlin and artist Ron Lim, is not related to the movie at all. Instead, it’s the sequel to Infinity Gauntlet and pits Adam Warlock and the heroes of the Marvel Universe against the Magus, a classic cosmic Marvel threat. Infinity War also presents a sympathetic, heroic Thanos without trying to make genocide seem cool.
Infinity War is better than IG in a lot of ways; Infinity Gauntlet is just kind of a slugfest of varying levels to get the Gauntlet from Thanos, while War is a more faceted story. Infinity War twists, turns, and has amazing action. The book is infinitely re-readable and perfect for MCU fans who crave more.
2 Infinity Gauntlet Is Pure Spectacle
Infinity Gauntlet, by writer Jim Starlin and artists George Perez and Ron Lim, is the inspiration behind the biggest movies in cinematic history. Illustrating the battle between Thanos and the Marvel Universe, the book does an amazing job of re-introducing the Mad Titan to the Marvel Universe after years away and is grade-A comic spectacle.
IG is one of the best comic events ever. The event takes Thanos on a journey and the character who begins the story is very different from the one at the end of it. Much like Infinity War, Infinity Gauntlet does this without making trying to make Thanos’ viewpoint on genocide seem valid.
1 Civil War Is Much Better Than The Movie
Civil War, by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, sometimes gets a bad rep, but it’s aged much better than most imagine. The movie was an efficient action scene generator that seemingly went out of its way to justify Iron Man. The comic doesn’t do this, presenting Iron Man as the right wing fascist he’d actually be in this situation.
While Civil War also lives and dies by its action, it’s a much smarter book that most fans give it credit for. The MCU’s Civil War is a simplistic tale with no nuance beyond Steve and Bucky; it doesn’t even try for it. Compare this to the comic’s more layered interpretation of the core conflict.
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