Where Should You Begin with Marvel Comics?

Starting to read comics can feel very intimidating.  When I first began, I did not know where to start or what comics I could read without feeling like I had to start at the beginning of the story–perhaps decades ago!  Over time, however, I have found a few favorite comics.  And learned some titles that easier for beginners to access.  Here are my suggestions for readers new to Marvel.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North (Writer) and Erica Henderson (Illustrator)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has quickly become what is perhaps my favorite Marvel comic, even over Ms. Marvel.  (Thanks to Michael over at My Comic Relief!  Check out his blog for cool comic discussions and recommendations!)  Doreen Green’s preferred method of dealing with supervillains is by trying to rehabilitate them–a refreshing new take on the old “beat them up and hope they learn their lesson this time” routine.  She believes unfailingly in the goodness of people and in the power of second chances, meaning that, even though her squirrel abilities perhaps make her “unbeatable,” it is more likely her optimism and confidence.

But why start with Doreen Green aside from her winning personality?  Is it the humor?  The squirrel armies?  A hero who named himself Chipmunk Hunk?  Well, maybe, but, perhaps equally important is that you really don’t need to know much about Marvel history to read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  The comics fill you in on the pertinent parts, meaning you won’t feel overwhelmed or confused if you start reading here with limited (or no) knowledge of comics.

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Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson (Writer) and Adrian Alphona (Illustrator)

Like The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel is great for new Marvel readers because the stories do not expect readers to be intimately familiar with Marvel history.  Kamala Khan’s story is just starting out, so it provides all the necessary background information you’ll need to feel comfortable diving in.  Aside from that, Ms. Marvel is a great comic because it features a relatable protagonist just trying to do her best and keep it all together.  School, family, friends, romance–and saving the world?  Kamala wants to be the best in every area of her life, but learns over the course of the series that sometimes you need a little help.  It’s a great message with a winning protagonist.

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Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Writer) and David Lopez (Illustrator)

When I first read the first volume of DeConnick’s run, I was admittedly confused.  However, I tried again and was immediately won over by Carol Danvers’ confidence and her desire to help others.  The new Captain Marvel movie and the excitement it generated makes this another great comic for new readers to take up, as I’m sure they’ll fall in love with Carol all over again.

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Runaways by Rainbow Rowell (Writer) and Kris Anka (Illustrator)

This series starts up some time after the original run by Brian K. Vaughan, but it supplies all the necessary background information for readers to dive into the story.  I did not need to know what happened to the characters previously to be invested in their current struggles, which focus a lot on their interpersonal relationships and their desire to find their place in the world, now that they have escaped from their supervillain parents.  Rowell writes with heart and humor, making me love her run even more than Vaughan’s, which I began reading after I read Rowell’s first two volumes.

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Spider-Man: Miles Morales by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), et al.

I actually began this series with volume two because my library did not have volume one–and I still ended up loving it.  Miles Morales is such a wonderful protagonist, concerned with doing the right thing and being a good person.  I loved the focus on school, friendships, and family.  Even though I found myself slightly more confused by references to past events,  this did not stop my enjoyment of the series.  I think Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a great place to start particularly for readers who are looking for some of the newer heroes or a teenage hero.

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Conclusion

Jumping into the world of comics can be scary, especially when you think of the decades of history behind some of the characters and the stories!  However, jumping in is really the best way to go because, the  more you read, the more comfortable you’ll become!  I still don’t know all the characters or what happened to them, but I’ve found that even seeing some cameos or references can help build up your knowledge and make you feel more comfortable the next time you see a character.  And, eventually, you start to realize that you belong!  Comics are for you!

Do you read Marvel comics?  Where do you thing new readers could begin?

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21 thoughts on “Where Should You Begin with Marvel Comics?

  1. Mei-Mei says:

    I started with Captain Marvel, and then Ms. Marvel, and then went on to read the original Runaways, so I think these are great suggestions! I really want to read Rowell’s run when I can get around to it

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      That is so awesome! I really want to read more Captain Marvel after Deconnick’s run, though some of the reviews I’ve seen weren’t entirely positive. I just need my library to get it in. Or maybe it’s interlibrary loan time!

      I’ve been enjoying Rowell’s run a lot! I think sometimes I’m just really a fan of brightly-colored illustrations.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jonny Pongratz says:

    Great post. I LOVE Marvel comics. I was one of those 90’s kids who begged their parents to take them to the comic book store every weekend.

    Hmm, hard to say where a new reader should start. Definitely at the beginning of a series for sure, but I haven’t read a comic book in a while so unfortunately I can’t give a recommendation.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      That’s so awesome! I’m pretty new to comics, so I never had that experience–it’s a lot of interlibrary loans for me!–but it sounds like a great childhood memory!

      See, I think that is what makes me nervous around comics. I look at something like Spider-Man and think, “But what is the beginning?” It’s scary!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jonny Pongratz says:

        Oh yeah, the 90’s were my golden age. Comics and the arcade were my thing.

        I do hear you. There are several reboots for almost every popular comic series, so it’s like “Is this the real beginning or should I go back further? What’s going on?” Yeah, that’s definitely an element.

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        • Krysta says:

          I wish there were a master list somewhere of all the characters and how you should read them. I found a really great article explaining Captain Marvel, for instance, and which volumes contained the same stories and which were spin-off series, etc. I want that for everything!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. libraryraider says:

    Wonderful post! The only Marvel comics I read are The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel- I’d like to read more, but my area doesn’t have a comic store, so I’ll just stick to what I can find in the library.

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  4. Michael J. Miller says:

    I love it! Your choices are absolutely brilliant! And you’ve written the single best description of Squirrel Girl I’ve ever read – “She believes unfailingly in the goodness of people and in the power of second chances, meaning that, even though her squirrel abilities perhaps make her ‘unbeatable,’ it is more likely her optimism and confidence.” Oh my gosh you captured her perfectly!!!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I feel like that’s quite a compliment from the person who introduced me to Squirrel Girl! I have been trying to get people to read her, but have not yet succeeded. However, I think it’s only a matter of time before I wear them down. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael J. Miller says:

        Yes! That’s exactly what Doreen would do too. She’s not one for just giving up…you know, what with her being unbeatable and all. I have faith in you! And they people who don’t take us up on the suggestion of reading Squirrel Girl have NO IDEA what they are missing!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Emma says:

    Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl are the first comics I ever read, the Spider-Gwen comics are also a pretty good place to jump in for newcomers. I still need to read Captain Marvel, as well as Rainbow Rowell’s run of Runaways

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  6. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall says:

    Ah, Krysta, this is such a lovely and helpful posts! I’ve been wanting to begin reading comics, but I haven’t had a clue where to begin! Since I adore the Into the Spiderverse animation so much, perhaps I’ll check out the Miles Morales comic! Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel also sound like super enjoyable reads! I’ll have to look into them! Thanks for the recs, love! ❤

    Like

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