This thread is for general discussion about all things Marvel comics related. That means Marvel history, creators (or “architects” if you like marketing lingo), styles, and of course, the books themselves. What this thread is not for is discussion of Marvel animation, movies, birthday supplies, shoes, pajamas, sheets, and so on. There will be threads for these in the appropriate sections of the boards. It’s fine to mention these things, just move any serious discussion to the appropriate thread.
But gogisha, I know nothing about the Marvel Universe! Well fear not, here’s a quick primer. Set up partly as a response to the public finding the more god-like superheroes of DC less and less relatable, Marvel launched a line of comics aimed at creating more “realistic” (and they have used that term very loosely) take on superheroes. Set on basically our version of Earth (called Earth-616), Marvel heroes have fantastical powers but often gained them through freak accidents rather than having them from birth. Peter Parker was a high school student first before he became Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four were a family before they gained their silly powers, and so on. Good Marvel books use this to show a more human side to the colorful superheroics that occur within their covers, and that is what lead to a lot of the company's early success. Aside from that, the main things to keep in mind are that SHIELD is a team of international cops, the Avengers are the world’s main superhero team, the X-Men are persecuted mutants with uncanny powers, and it’s really awesome/sucks to live in the Marvel Universe New York.
Now that the legal business is out of the way, let’s get to the books!
Avengers: The Bendis Corner of Lots of Dialogue
Love him or hate him, Brian Michael Bendis has been in charge of the main Avengers franchise for the last five years or so, and he continues to do so in Avengers and New Avengers. The former is Captain America’s main team while the latter is a more “street” team lead by Luke Cage. He’s also started writing Avengers Assemble which seems to be an excuse to have an Avengers book with the same roster as the movie and seems to be mediocre at best. Besides the main two, we have Secret Avengers, where Rick Remender gets to continue his love of black ops team business and is doing a pretty good job at it so far, and Avengers Academy, about a school for troubled superhumans run by Hank Pym, a book which received high praise for its early issues, but has since lost a bit of steam due to gaining all of the characters ever. Finally I’ll throw Defenders in here, as it is a Doctor Strange lead team going on more esoteric adventures.
I know, I know, “the Fantastic Four are stupid,” you say, “I don’t care about them,” you say. Well a wonderful man by the name of Jonathan Hickman has been rocking Marvel’s first family since issue 570 along with the FF companion series he started. Get them, read them, find them amazing, then come back to post about how wrong you were.
X-Men: Cyclops’ Fun Time Island of Happiness
Cyke and Wolvie have had an argument! About how to raise their mutant kids! Cyclops and his team have stayed on their island home of Utopia off the coast of San Francisco, and favor teaching their kids combat skills to survive in a world that hates them. We have the main powerhouse “extinction team” in Uncanny X-Men, the Storm-led covert side team in adjectiveless X-Men and Dani Moonstar’s band of crazies in their Real World house on mainland SF in New Mutants.
X-Men: Wolverine’s Insane Twitter-based School
Cyke and Wolvie have had an argument! About how to raise their mutant kids! Wolverine and his team flew back over to the east coast to restart Xavier’s school, now the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. The main school hijinks occur in Wolverine and the X-Men while the more Rogue-centric X-Men Legacy provides some supplemental adventures. A lot of the staff and students have their own twitter feeds for extra goofy fun. Peter David’s X-Factor, while excellent, has almost nothing to do with the rest of the X-titles and focuses on a Jamie Madrox-led detective agency, while Uncanny X-Force is Rick Remender’s black ops book in the X-universe, and pretty excellent to boot.
Assorted X-Titles for Fun
Aside from the main X-books, we’ve got Astonishing X-Men for more continuity light mutant adventures, with a Northstar wedding special in the future. Age of Apocalypse takes place in an alternate reality where Apocalypse rose to power, but then lost it, but then didn’t, but then humans became the minority, and then the Scarlet Witch happened, and who knows, but I’ve heard it’s actually quite good. And of course we’ve got the OG Wolverine title if you only dig that big teddy bear.
Solo Adventures for the Lonesome Hero
Team books not your thing? Well there are plenty of solo books to keep you occupied! Like Asgard? The Mighty Thor is where to go for the titular character’s exploits, although at the moment he’s been replaced by some celtic thunder god so go figure, while Journey into Mystery stars the adorable Kid Loki as he tries to do good in his own scheming way. More into bursting out of your shirt? Hulk follows General Ross (aka Red Hulk) on his crazy adventures while The Incredible Hulk focuses on Banner as he somehow has separated himself from his green counterpart. Feeling patriotic? Ed Brubaker continues to kill it in his Captain America run, while the upcoming Captain America and Hawkeye team-up book looks to be entertaining. Are you rich and a genius? We’ve got Matt Fraction’s great take on Tony Stark in The Invincible Iron Man who’s currently getting some heat from the US government. Feel more at home on the streets? Then check out Slott’s love it/hate it Amazing Spider-Man where Peter Parker is always amazing, and the funny Spidey team up book Avenging Spider-Man. For more darker takes on the streets look to Remender’s Flash Thompson as agent Venom, Kaine returning as the Scarlet Spider, The Punisher doing his murder business and Mark Waid’s excelent excelent excelent Daredevil.
Ultimate Universe of Ultimate Destiny
If you hate the main 616 universe, why not try Marvel’s line of alternate reality books? Set on Earth-1610 for those counting, it was originally made as a less daunting version of the Marvel U, free from previous years of continuity. Things got pretty crazy though, and then crappy Ultimatum happened, but now we have three relaunched series that are all quite good. Ultimates is 1610s version of the Avengers, and with Hickman at the helm it is turning out to be a great book filled with some some mind boggling evolution experiments. X-Men stars a small team of mutant heroes in a US where mutant internment camps are totally cool. However, the shocking revelation that mutants were engineered by the government and not by evolution has everyone in a tizzy. Finally, there is perhaps the best thing to come out of the new crop of Ultimate books, MILES “FRIGGIN” MORALES in Spider-Man. After the death of Peter Parker, Miles, an adorable middle schooler recently comes down with a case of spider powers and decides to follow in the footsteps of his comrade in alliteration and becomes the new Spider-Man. Join him as he tries to hang out with his friend, hide his secret from his parents, break racial barriers, and overall learn how to not freak out.
Next Big Thing!
The huge 2012 Marvel extravaganza known as Avengers vs. X-Men is starting up soon and promises to be at least filled with cool fights. Hope is the Phoenix maybe, Scarlet Witch is back, and I guess heroes don’t like each other in the Marvel Universe. Aside from the event business, there is a new Captain Marvel series with Miss Marvel taking up the mantle with a new haircut and a more sensible costume, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and drawn by Dexter Soy. As Marvel’s only solo title with a female lead expectations are high, but things are looking great so far. We’ve also got a really promising digital-only Nova series coming up that looks to take advantage of digital comics as a new medium more than just putting pictures up on screen, plus it’s written by Mark Waid and drawn by Stuart Immonen so expect great things. There’s also an Xtreme X-Men title coming from Greg Pak and Stephen Segovia starring the reality jumping adventures of an alternate version of Wolvie, Emma Frost, some version of Dazzler and adorable Kid Nightcrawler!
Anyway I’m sure I’ve missed tons of stuff, but now you’ve got a general idea of the current status of the Marvel U. Who knows, maybe this will all be scrapped at the end of the year for a “New 616” relaunch but for now read some comics, make some posts, and as Kitty would say, be good!