The idea of going back to read the very first Avengers comics might sound appealing, but reading a comic from 1963 in the modern day can be a bit jarring. To that end, Marvel has produced a re-telling of the Avengers' initial storylines, bringing the old stories to the new century with the slick storytelling style of today's comics. If you're not sure where to start, this might be a good way to ease into the Avengers universe.
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This is arguably where the Avengers as we know them today began in the main line of Marvel Comics. Beginning with "Breakout," the New Avengers consists of a team of superheroes that broke off from the central team and formed their own group with their own values (specifically, being against hero registration). The roster is stacked with the likes of Captain America, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Wolverine and Spider-Woman, with new and familiar faces joining the team down the line. New Avengers helped cement the epic, almost cinematic look and feel of what we know as marquee superhero books today.
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If you'd like to really dig into some old-school Avengers comics, you can't go wrong with The Korvac Saga. This tale brings together the classic Avengers team with a version of the Guardians of the Galaxy from the far-flung future. With their forces combined, they attempt to battle Korvac, a tragic but incredibly powerful villain from the 31st century. The thing with Korvac is that he has no problem outmatching pretty much everyone else on sheer strength, and he also has a very good reason for doing what he does. It's not as simple a story as good guys punching bad guys until the day as won, as the heartbreaking ending will show you.
If there's one comic above all that inspired the current tone and feel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's probably The Ultimates. Casting off decades of baggage in favor of a separate, rebooted continuity, the Ultimates imagines an Avengers team that was formed in the 21st Century. Captain America, Hulk, Thor and the X-Men are all still around, but the stories have a contemporary edge that you're use dto seeing in the movies. Notably, The Ultimates is also responsible for Samuel L. Jackson being cast as Nick Fury, as the rebooted version of the character bears such a striking resemblance to the actor that even the comic characters can't help but comment.
These other comics are all great in their own ways, but they won't exactly help when it comes to figuring out the Marvel movie universe. That's where Infinity War Prelude comes in. Acting as a kind of deluxe recap, the comic gives you all you need to know heading into the Avengers' first big confrontation with Thanos. We even get a little more insight into Shuri's rehabilitiation of The Winter Soldier.
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I know I know, we're done with Ultron, but hear us out here. What happened in Age of Ultron is vastly different than the events of Rage of Ultron. See, it all hinges on the creation of the villain, which is very different in the original source material. Ultron's comics origin story places him as a creation of Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas in the Ant-Man movies). Having a very specific father figure gives Ultron a very specific set of daddy issues, which play out in spectacular fashion throughout the course of this mindbending saga.
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Flashing back a few decades once more, we come to Under Siege. This one's fun because of how simple it is: Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil stop bickering amongst one another and just say "Screw it," and decide to storm the Avengers Mansion. Somewhat to their surprise, the plan works, and they all proceed to dismantle Marvel's premier superhero team piece by piece. Will Thor and Captain America arrive in time to save the day? Well I mean, yes, but that doesn't mean it won't be a blast along the way.
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If you really want to get into a long, deep saga spanning dozens of planets and multiple universes, Avengers World is where you want to start. That's where Jonathan Hickman's monster run on the series begins, taking the ever-growing team through a space opera rivaling Star Wars. You know a storyline is huge when the Avengers run into Thanos and reality almost gets destroyed -- and then the series keeps going. There probably won't be a big-budget Avengers HBO series any time soon, but in the mean time, this is your best bet.
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