Introduction to the Marvel B-List
April 9, 2015 2:44 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to read some of the graphic novels that are behind the new Netflix/Marvel series that are coming out, but with all the re-boots and multiple story lines I have absolutely no idea where to start.

To complicate a simple question:

I've never been able to get into the whole superhero genre. There are graphic novel series that I love (Sandman, Saga, and too many bande-dessinée to list), but I didn't care for a lot of the 'classics' in the genre (Watchmen, Walking Dead, and everything related to anything 'Dark Knight').

But I love the idea of world building, and these new series sound like a fun way to give the genre another shot. I'm also hoping that I might appreciate the tv shows a bit more if I actually understand the universe a bit. It's all opaque from the outside, though.

As a bonus, knowing the source materail will make the FanFare discussions on Daredevil more interesting.

Related: Marvel Unlimited like a good deal, considering how expensive hard cover books are these days ... has anyone used it?

Recommend me some fun comic books
understanding superhero comics requires some arcane magic I do not have
posted by kanewai to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Hey, that previous link is mine!

I ended up reading the Mark Waid Daredevil and really enjoyed it. It has more of a sense of fun than the perpetually grim period of Daredevil kicked off by Frank Miller.

If you want to read about Iron Fist the "Immortal Iron Fist" comic, which starts with this volume, is a LOT of fun. And goes into detail on his section of the Marvel universe.

Jessica Jones I'm not an expert on so I'll leave her to others.
posted by selfnoise at 2:48 PM on April 9, 2015

BTW Luke Cage appears in Immortal Iron Fist so it has that going for it as well.
posted by selfnoise at 2:51 PM on April 9, 2015

Best answer: I very recently got into comics myself and I have a very hard time knowing where to begin and how to follow a thread. I often just google: "[EVENT_NAME | COMIC_NAME] reading order" and that seems to work sometimes. In particular comicbookherald has a bunch of helpful reading lists. Otherwise, I swing by my local comic shop and ask, but then I feel compelled to buy at least one trade book and I don't really feel like owning up to the fact that I'm asking so I can read online ('cause using them for that is sort of a dick move).

In general Unlimited is a good deal (here's an overview) - if you have an iPad. That said, one of the most frustrating things about it is the lack of ordered reading lists. You can't make your own reading list, it doesn't provide ordered reading lists for events, and you can't create and share reading lists. So, if you want to follow some larger story line (i.e. Annihilation) you have to jump around after every issue.
posted by lucasks at 3:01 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

At this point, we don't really know what Daredevil or any of the others are about, so you might as well just dive in, especially since DareDevil starts tomorrow. Plus the shows are based on the comics, not connected or interacting with them, so some things will be different between the two mediums.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:06 PM on April 9, 2015

Best answer: My friend Nathan does a show called Meanwhile. Basically, he tells you how to start reading [insert comic here].

Here is his Daredevil episode.

And here is his Jessica Jones episode.
posted by JimBJ9 at 3:42 PM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Jessica Jones is easy, just pick up the Alias omnibus. That's the start and end of the story right there. (It's also a fantastic read. One of my favorite comics ever.)
posted by greenland at 4:08 PM on April 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: This is going to be fun. And potentially expensive. I prefer graphic novels in hard cover, but I think I might start with a Marvel Unlimited subscription for now. Though Lukasks wasn't joking when he wrote that the site is frustrating.

The most recommended of the recent series, along with Amazon prices, are:

Brian Michael Bendis, 2001-2005. 3 volumes. $76
Mark Wald, 2011-2015 (reboot). 3 volumes. $83

Jessica Jones
Alias. 2001-2004. Omnibus. $68
- Not on Marvel Unlimited

Iron Fist
The Immortal Iron Fist. 2006-2009. 2 volumes. $55

Luke Cage
- No modern series. Appears as a character in Jessica Jones and Iron Fist.
posted by kanewai at 7:04 PM on April 9, 2015

I would go with those recommendations.

Immortal Iron Fist is the way to go for that character. Brubaker, Fraction and Aja were a great combination and I'm annoyed that title ended as quickly as it did.

I think the Bendis run on Daredevil was really good, but at least half of that was because of Alex Maleev's art. But it tended to the dark. Waid's current run is great too.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:06 PM on April 9, 2015

Jumping on to nth Alias. I had similar tastes to you, Alias was my first marvel comic and even though I wasn't wild about it, it did serve as a fantastic jumping off point and now I am in deep to superhero comics.
posted by KernalM at 5:42 AM on April 10, 2015

I love the current Mark Waid-written run of Daredevil, but it won't really gel with the Netflix show (which seems to be pretty much going with the Bendis grim and gritty crime thingy). The Waid run is a direct response to all those years of grime and misery. It is a delight, and the Chris Samnee art is terrific in a Mike Allred-esque "clean-line" way, but I think if you read it and then watch the show you might have a heart attack.
posted by joelhunt at 7:42 AM on April 10, 2015

Marvel unlimited is great if you have an iPad or Android Tablet.

A bunch of the daredevil stuff is on sale (digitally) for a few bucks on Comixology today too.
posted by Oktober at 8:22 AM on April 10, 2015

And potentially expensive.

It is entirely possible that your local library system has trade paperback collections of all sorts of comics. And in fact, doing a quick search for "brian michael bendis" at the Hawaii State Public Library System site gets 11 pages of results. So that's a good way to sample a bunch of comics (and specific writers and artists) for free - this is actually pretty much entirely how I do my comic reading these days. You won't find the very latest stuff, of course, and it can be a little hard to read a series in order, but things like the Bendis run on Daredevil and a bunch of stuff connected with the Marvel "Civil War" story arc (which is the basis for the upcoming Captain America 3 and further MCU films) should be readily available.

And, IMO, doing some wide if shallow reading of a variety of titles should give you enough background on characters and repeating themes and tropes that the superhero genre as a whole will start to make some sense. It seems opaque from the outside, but collections often have an intro giving a quick rundown of what happened in previous issues, and the characters often refer back to previous events in varying detail, so it doesn't take much to pick up on a storyline even if you haven't read all the issues in order.

Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist have been pretty major characters in most of the modern-ish Avengers/New Avengers storylines I've read, starting (I think) with the "Avengers Disassembled" arc from 2004 and continuing from there.

I didn't care for a lot of the 'classics' in the genre (Watchmen, Walking Dead, and everything related to anything 'Dark Knight').

Well, "Watchmen" was largely about deconstructing & re-examining a lot of the common superhero themes and tropes, so if you're unfamiliar with the source material (so to speak), I could see it not making a lot of sense. If you do get into comics even a little, maybe try revisiting it in a couple of years.

I don't know if you mean the Nolan films or the Frank Miller "The Dark Knight Returns" graphic novel, but kind of like "Watchmen", these are about re-examining/rebooting/setting a new tone for a character that's had a pretty wide range of mood and characterization over the years; so, similarly, if you're not familiar with Batman history you might not see the appeal. You might like it better after sampling some collections of older Batman material. (Then again, maybe grimdark quasi-nihilist Batman isn't for you, and that's fine too.)

"The Walking Dead" isn't superhero, of course, so I dunno if your dislike for that series will be much of an indicator as to whether you'll dig current/modern super hero comics. I myself let it go after about 3 collections, admittedly probably because I've read/watched a whole bunch of zombie/zombie apocalypse/other post-apocalypse stuff over the years and while TWD has a relatively fresh take on the subject it wasn't quite fresh enough to sustain my interest.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:52 AM on April 10, 2015

Response by poster: Day one follow-up: Marvel Unlimited is super cool and super irritating. I ended up making a list of titles to search for using outside sources, and then trying to find them at Marvel [Bendis's run at Daredevil in 2001, for instance, was filed under "Daredevil (1998) ]. But it's a good value, and I've been adding dozens of comics to my 'library' of series that I want to check out.
posted by kanewai at 5:29 PM on April 10, 2015

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