looking for Marvel Unlimited recs
June 3, 2014 1:23 AM   Subscribe

What comics on Marvel Unlimited should I read? I asked how to read Captain America a couple months ago and read through the Brubaker run and enjoyed a lot of it. I'm looking for more recommendations for what to read that's up on the Marvel Unlimited site-- I'm not really interested in buying issues that aren't up yet.

What I really liked about Captain America and The Winter Soldier and some of the tie-ins and Marvel Events I read was focus on character relationships (not just the romantic ones-- in fact the only romantic one I really cared for was Bucky/Nat, I couldn't really bring myself to care about any of Steve's romances). I'm an odd person for comic books because I'm really not in it for the action. Here is a list of things I am particularly interested in:
  • female characters who are awesome and interesting
  • characters who face emotional trauma but don't get all Batman manpain-y over it (Steve Rogers does this really well)
  • awesome character friendships
  • funny characters with excellent jokes and snark and such
  • interesting and unusual art styles
  • queer characters
  • introspection
Based exclusively on his appearances in Civil War, I'm pretty sure Spider-Man should be on my list, but I'm not sure where to start with him. But I know that Marvel's been doing some really good work with female characters recently and am wondering which ones I should pick up. (Ms. Marvel, unfortunately, isn't on Marvel Unlimited yet, and I'm not sure which of the million She-Hulk runs is the She-Hulk run people are talking about.) I also want to give Deadpool a shot but am not sure where to start with him either. (Is the panel where Deadpool jokes to Spidey about how they must read different websites from an actual comic? Or is it shopped? If it is from an actual comic, which one is it from, and is it usually that funny or was that a fluke?)

Also, let me know if there are any particular fan tie-ins related to the stuff you're recommending that I might like. I know it's MCU and not the main Marvelverse, but I really, really like Steve Rogers' American Captain-- introspective dealing-with-being-in-extraordinary-circumstances stuff is totally in my baileywick.
posted by NoraReed to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Most of the really progressive Marvel comics with lead female characters are too recent to be on Unlimited. The She-Hulk run people are talking about is only on issue 4. Hawkeye is a possible exception (Kate develops into the lead protagonist in some later issues). Here are some good runs on Unlimited that spring to mind. Your interests make me think that you like what I like, so I feel comfortable in recommending these. I'll use the series titling conventions that they use on Unlimited.

  • Fraction and Aja's run on Hawkeye (2012-present): issues 1-whatever's most recent on Unlimited. Don't miss the Annual, which is listed separately. It comes after issue 12. This and Ms. Marvel are probably the most innovative and exciting books to come out of Marvel right now.

  • For Spider-Man, I'd go with Bendis and Bagley's run on Ultimate Spider-Man (2000-2009): issues 1-113. Or however long you care to go. This is the single longest run of a writer/artist pair. It's a great Spider-Man series, even though it's non-canonical in the main MU. But who cares?

  • For canonical Spider-Man, Dan Slott is doing really fun work. I think you have three options. If you're in it for the long haul, start at Brand New Day (Amazing Spider-Man (1999): issue 546) and just read ASM on from there. Dissolving Spidey's marriage to Mary Jane was a contentious move, but it's led to great stories. Or, probably more reasonably, start at the beginning of Dan Slott's run (issue 648), and read on from there. Slott's run is still ongoing. Or, read ASM issues 698-700, and then read all of Slott's Superior Spider-Man (2013), which is a really fun twist on the character.

  • Brubaker and Fraction's run on Immortal Iron Fist (2006-2009): issues 1-16. If you liked Brubaker's Captain America run, this is a natural follow-up.

  • Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men (2004-present): issues 1-24. I like it when X-Men books emphasize fun character interactions and humor rather than action, and Whedon gets it right. If this gets you wanting more X-Men, Bendis's All-New X-Men (2012) has been a fun soap opera.

  • Waid's run on Daredevil (2011-2014): issues 1-36. (I think that not all of these are on Unlimited though.)

  • Vaughan's run on Runaways (2003-2004): issues 1-18 and Runaways (2005): issues 1-24.

  • posted by painquale at 3:39 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

    I have read a lot of Spider-Man and the J. Michael Straczynski run which dovetails into Civil War is one of my favorites, and very new reader friendly despite some numbering weirdness. Lots of snark, lots of geekery, and lots of heart – there's plenty of action, but the emotional core of the run is Peter's relationships with Aunt May and Mary Jane Watson.
    - Try the first two storylines, Amazing Spider-Man v2 #30-35 and 37-38, and if you like it keep going. The full run is Amazing Spider-Man v2 #30 - v1 #545, thanks to a mid-stream renumbering.
    - #525 to 528 is part of The Other crossover storyline which should be all on Unlimited, but honestly you can just skip it.
    - When the New Avengers come in you can of course start reading New Avengers – it's a lot more action-y, but very funny with a lot of banter.
    - I would probably skip the last two issues of the run (which JMS wanted to Alan Smithee, for good reason) and read this instead.

    Paul Jenkins's Peter Parker, Spider-Man run (#20-50) starts a little before JMS' Amazing run and is a surprisingly successful balance of wacky hijinks and gentle meditations on the human experience. Try #20, 26, and 38, read the rest of the run if you like those.

    While I like many of painquale's recs, I have to say I'm not a fan of the Brand New Day/Dan Slott eras in large part due to really off-putting, rape culture-y treatment of female characters. That said, I can't write a Spider-Man recs list without mentioning the "Spidey and Wolverine go to a bar" story in ASM Extra #2, which is as magical as it sounds, and surprisingly poignant. The Captain Marvel team-up in Avenging Spider-Man #9-10 is delightful, and you can hop sideways into Captain Marvel by the same writer.

    Spider-Man: Blue is a retelling of some early stories that focuses on the Peter-Gwen-Mary Jane dynamic – gorgeous and definitely non-superhero standard art and a meditative storyline. It's a mini-series which you can read all on its own.

    Heartily seconding the Ultimate Spider-Man rec, including the post-Bagley stuff. If you're curious about that Miles Morales fellow you can start directly here – I believe the first arc is 1-6. Otherwise just follow painquale's suggestion.

    And I will be back with non-Spidey recs later.
    posted by bettafish at 5:07 AM on June 3, 2014

    Seconding the Iron Fist and Hawkeye recs above.
    posted by griphus at 5:53 AM on June 3, 2014

    Is Alias in Marvel Unlimited? It's currently out of print but who ever knows with Marvel. Originally from like 2000? Bendis' first major Marvel book. Anyway, if it's there, I highly recommend it--it's about Jessica Jones, a former lower-tier Avenger, who's quit being a superhero to be a PI. The first case we see has her set up to find out Captain America's secret identity and she gets embroiled in all sorts of conspiracies. She's friends with Luke Cage and Daredevil (they're three of the four characters getting Marvel tv shows on Netflix, which makes Alias being out of print even dumber). She also hangs out with Carol Danvers, who I believe is now Captain Marvel. The art is not great (early 2000s style, all muddied) but the story is one of my favorites.
    posted by leesh at 6:45 AM on June 3, 2014

    I also like Ultimate Spider-Man, though I've only read some of the ones back when the Ultimate Universe got rebooted in like 2009. It's Peter Parker and a bunch of other Marvel characters in high school! There are lots of good girl characters--Kitty Pryde, Gwen Stacy, etc.

    Also seconding Runaways and Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men.
    posted by leesh at 6:48 AM on June 3, 2014

    I recommend the Kid Loki run of Journey into Mystery, and then continue onto Young Avengers. Really character and relationship-focused storytelling, funny and heartbreaking in spots, and Young Avengers is maybe the most gay-positive book Marvel has done to this point. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

    I hope it is on Marvel Unlimited. I think at least the Journey into Mystery stuff would be.
    posted by joelhunt at 6:55 AM on June 3, 2014

    Right, so I already mentioned Captain Marvel above, but will do so again! Female lead with an emphasis on relationships between women, surmounting trauma with no (wo)manpain, snark, introspection. I'm not a huge fan of the art in the first storyline but after that it's fantastic. Author Kelly Sue DeConnick also wrote a concurrent run of team-up comic Avengers Assemble, issues 9-23.

    Seconding Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona/Takeshi Miyazawa's Runaways. It's hard to beat a high concept like "teenagers run away from home because they find out their parents are supervillains." Dark in places, but never nihilistic, fun quirky art (which you will see again in Ms. Marvel.)

    There's also Young Avengers – the first volume and its miniseries follow-up Children's Crusade are fairly straightforward superhero stuff; the second is experimental and what I would call quirky if it weren't so brash. I enjoy v1 and love v2; many people hate one and love the other, so try both. Team line-up is refreshingly low on straight white dudes and (in v2 especially) heteronormativity.

    If you were at all intrigued by the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, try its source material. A bit more action-packed than some of the recs I've tried to give you, but it doesn't skip on character development. Includes several characters who were cut from the film, including a lesbian/bi couple (cosmic powerhouse and a psychic who can turn into a dragon).

    I keep hitting myself for not having read Black Widow: Name of the Rose (found here), which literally all my friends adore. I think I'll go and do that now that I'm wrapping up.

    On preview, I can't believe I didn't think of Alias!
    posted by bettafish at 7:12 AM on June 3, 2014

    Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men (2004-present): issues 1-24. I like it when X-Men books emphasize fun character interactions and humor rather than action, and Whedon gets it right.

    I came to recommend this, but with a caveat for using Marvel Unlimited: the conclusion of the last storyline is actually in Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1, so if you're just click through the Marvel Unlimited "Next Issue" button, you'll miss it, and you'll be confused as to why the obvious cliffhanger where everyone might die isn't resolved (as happened to me just last night) Also, one issue is out of order or at least was for me.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:30 AM on June 3, 2014

    Pretty much agree with all the above.

    Can't stress the Thor: God of Thunder enough.

    When I read the first story arc, I turned to the Mrs and said "THIS! This is why I got into comics!"
    posted by PlutoniumX at 12:49 PM on June 3, 2014

    Try Dan Slott's 2004 run on She-Hulk, which is 12 issues of Jennifer Walters, Single (Green) Female Lawyer. I second Journey Into Mystery - it is a pain to read on Marvel Unlimited but follow the guide linked above to catch the crossovers, the art is a little patchy but Doug Braithwaite and Stephanie Hans are excellent. Volume 2 of Young Avengers follows on with Loki's story from Journey into Mystery, and it is funny and filled with queer characters and has great art throughout. It starts here but the last few issues aren't on MU yet.
    posted by penguinliz at 4:12 PM on June 3, 2014

    Response by poster: These are great! Thanks everybody!
    posted by NoraReed at 10:14 PM on June 3, 2014

    Response by poster: Okay so I started with Hawkeye and it is GREAT. I love the art style; I'm okay with the art style of the stuff I was reading but I wasn't exactly blown away by any of it and the sort of minimalism that they're doing in these comics is wonderful. The internal monologue is wonderful. The entire issue from the point of view of a dog is wonderful. I totally want to read more like this-- if anyone wants to recommend based on this sort of unconventionality, it's totally a route I'm interested in going further down.
    posted by NoraReed at 3:29 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

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