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In preparation for seeing the film Captain America: Civil War, I'd like to read the Marvel comic event that it is based on. I have Marvel Unlimited, so I can read all of the issues no problem. However, I notice that there are 103 issues listed as part of the event, and that's more than I'd like to read.

What are the essential comics of the event? Basically, I'm looking for a good beginning, middle, and end to the story covering the major plot points. I want a complete story, but am not really concerned with how each and every person in the Marvel Universe is affected. I'm guessing that the 7-issue series titled "Civil War" is essential, but I don't know what else is. The Road to Civil War? Civil War: Front Line? Others?

I think I would want to read no more than 20-25 issues.

So what are the essential comics in Marvel's "Civil War" comic event?

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Thanks to some help on Reddit and my own efforts to read the series, I think I've discovered the best reading orders, based on how many issues you want to read. All are available on Marvel Unlimited:

Bare bones (9 issues)

This reading order tells a complete story about the passage of the Superhero Registration Act and the resulting Civil War, focusing on the two sides of the conflict, led by Iron Man and Captain America.

The Road to Civil War

The major players in the Marvel Universe fear that a Civil War will happen

Civil War

The Superhero Registration Act is passed and conflict erupts throughout the Marvel Universe

Civil War Epilogue

Everyone reflects on the fallout of the Civil War

Fleshed out (22 issues)

In addition to showing the two sides of the Civil War between Iron Man and Captain America, this reading order includes Spider-Man's side of the story being caught in the middle between them. Spider-Man has a major role in the main events of the Civil War, but it is only in his own comic series where we see his motivation and struggle with doing what he does. Also, this order adds some additional information about Captain America's whereabouts, especially since he is not as prominent in the main series as his rival Iron Man.

The Road to Civil War

The major players in the Marvel Universe fear that a Civil War will happen, and Peter Parker is recruited by Tony Stark to help.

Civil War

The Superhero Registration Act is passed and conflict erupts throughout the Marvel Universe. Spider-Man is unsure of what side he's fighting for, and Captain America is on the run.

Read these issues in publication order

Civil War Epilogue

Everyone reflects on the fallout of the Civil War

"Full" Story (33 issues)

There's another side to the Civil War: that of the everyday person without superpowers. The well-regarded Front Line mini-series tells the Civil War from the perspective of two journalists who are covering it, and includes them on the scene at many side events that present a more complete world. It also has backup stories involving the remaining survivor of the incident that started the Civil War, and short reflections on the parallels between the Civil War and other historical events.

This reading order is the same as the "Fleshed Out" reading order above, but add Front Line to the list of Civil War books. Like that one, you should read each issue in that grouping in publication order.

Extras

If there are any other superheroes you like, you can read their tie in events, but they have little impact on the main event. However, they are completely optional to read. One Redditor noted that he actually got burnt out trying to be a completionist and reading everything, so it's recommended not to.

There is also What If? Civil War, which explores an alternate conclusion to the event.

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So I went through the same thing Friday, and went to my comic store to get more information. This is the book I was directed to:Amazon Link, this was the book that covered the main event, while the other books that existed were mostly what other characters were doing during this time.

  • It looks like the trade you linked to just covers the 7-issue main Civil War series. Some of the reviews said that it feels like it's missing an ending though, so I'm wondering if there are more comics to be read to get a complete story. – Thunderforge Apr 20 '16 at 5:50
  • @Thunderforge That is also what I recall. – apollo Apr 20 '16 at 5:59

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