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I'm a big fan of comic books but I would say my overall knowledge of the Marvel universe is below average for a comic book fan. I know a lot of origin stories but would like to be able to get into some of the great story lines for characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Spider Man, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Dr.Strange... Basically all of the well known characters.

I have a Marvel Unlimited subscription, but the amount of content seems overwhelming. I like reading the older comics (starting with things like tales of suspense) but for the most part enjoy crossovers, Deadpool (who I'm a lot more well read in), and some of the grittier story lines.

I guess my overall question is, do I have to start from the very beginning with every hero or are there parts that I can skip without missing out on the big picture? To someone who is well versed in marvel, what is the best order to read so as to not miss out on much but at the same time not have a list that would take me decades to read?

edit: I'm more looking for what comics are good to skip, there are great silver age comics but there are also ones that don't have any thing memorable and I would rather know which ones those are before reading them.

closed as primarily opinion-based by phantom42, Valorum, Jason Baker, CBredlow, Möoz Aug 2 '16 at 1:20

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    Related, but not (IMO) a dupe: What Marvel Comics are Accessible to a New Reader? – Jason Baker Feb 14 '15 at 2:38
  • Do you just want to read stuff that really helps you understand the most recent history of the current Marvel Universe, or do you want to know detailed history about certain characters? – user31178 Feb 14 '15 at 5:27
  • sort of a combination of the two, I want to know enough of a detailed history that I could pick up almost all comics and know what's going on, I picked up new avengers and the first issue confused me some, I understood references to civil war, but other than that I didn't really know what was going on – Josh Cz Feb 14 '15 at 6:12
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Personally, this is what I want to read in order to get caught up on more current events in the Marvel comics:

  • Avenger's Disassembled
  • Secret War
  • House of M
  • Decimation
  • Civil War

I recommend reading Civil War (and thus the comics leading to it) because it has influenced Marvel games and media and there's an upcoming Civil War movie.

More generally, I would just read the big crossover events in order of publication date, which you can find on Wikipedia. I would start with either the 2000s, or the 2010s.

As for individual characters (such as Deadpool), I would just read them in the order that interests you. By reading the crossover events, you'll see hints at other previous events that occurred in non-crossover events. This will likely get you excited about reading the other comics. For instance, if you reach World War Hulk, you're probably going to want to read the fantastic Planet Hulk that precedes it.

  • What I'm looking for is a good idea of what to look at to get the full picture of where all of the major characters come from and their histories, for example first appearances of characters like Dr.Doom or Hawkeye would be on the list, but also some of the comics that hold a greater significance with those characters. I'm actually looking for a big list, one that will filter out the more insignificant ones. For example Cap's side of Tales of Suspense #86 wasn't really worth the read. – Josh Cz Feb 14 '15 at 6:29
  • I wish I could help you with that, but I can't. Marvel hasn't done a hard "reset" of their universe, like DC has with their different Crisis storylines. They just do a lot of retconning. I feel as if it makes it more convoluted. You might read the earlier comics, then find later comics completely changed or remove parts of that history. – user31178 Feb 14 '15 at 21:25
  • well, as long as you read from the beginning anything that's retconned would make sense, that's what I'm looking for is a way to read from the beginning so as to skip the unimportant comics to save on time. I would be interested in making a list with people, from Tales of Suspense it seems as though you can skip #39-44 – Josh Cz Feb 15 '15 at 5:06
  • It'd make more sense if you didn't read the pre-retconned stuff, because then you don't have to differentiate between what was the retconned stuff and what is the current continuity. ;) – user31178 Feb 15 '15 at 5:13

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