It’s been a few weeks since Avengers: Infinity War found its way to the big screen. The film has been a massive success, as was to be expected. However, Marvel is not really going to be a prominent player in the year to come. Apart from Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel shortly before the release of Avengers 4, there will not be any other films in the MCU. While this is bad news for fans of the MCU, perhaps it is time to look beyond the big screen and read the comics which inspired these films. Perhaps this will make the wait between films a little bit easier.
Secret Wars (1984-1985)
An omnipotent being called The Beyonder observes the mainstream Marvel Universe. He is fascinated by Earth’s superheroes and what they do. So he decides to create a planet called Battleworld in a distant galaxy. He then teleports a bunch of superheroes and super villains to this planet. His goal is to let them battle and see who wins. Everything is possible.
Three camps are created: the superheroes, the X-men who choose to be their own camp and the villains. Some of the stars in this comic battle royale are the classic Avengers, ¾ of the Fantastic Four, the 80’s X-men team, Spider-man, Spider-woman and the Hulk. The villlains are Doctor Doom, Enchantress, Klaw, The Lizard , Doc Octopus and many more.
I think this story is a must-read, maybe even worthy of a movie adaptation. A great cast of very different characters, cool battles and scheming of the villains. Plus this is where Spidey got his black suit. It even spawned a sequel, where The Beyonder travels to earth.
Civil War (2006-2007)
This has already been made into a movie. I think the Captain America: Civil War movie is one of the better ones in the MCU. The orginal comic book story was bigger, more expansive and harder to make into one movie.
An explosion of an Elementary School in StamFord, Connecticut at the hands of the super Villain Nitro causes outrage in the world. The U.S. Government passes a bill named the Superhero Registration Act. Everyone with powers has to be registered. This means they have to go public with their real names. They will be under official regulation, refusal to be registered will result in capture. Registered superheroes can even work for S.H.I.E.L.D. as agents.
The titular Civil War is between the pro-registration camp and those who want to be free. They even start using super villains to hunt down unregistered superhumans. Just like in the movie, one camp is led by Tony Stark and the other by Steve Rogers. The story doesn’t end well for one side.
I think it’s a suggested read, but only read the main story line. There are way to many side stories to keep track. The main storyline remains relevant; the fine line between security and freedom. What will you sacrifice to feel safe? There was a sequel called Civil War II, but you’d be better off skipping that one.
Planet Hulk (2006)
Planet Hulk has been made into an animated movie, plus part of it’s story ended up in Age of Ultron and Thor Ragnarok.
Hulk loses all control when hit by a Gamma Bomb. The result is that he nearly demolishes Las Vegas. There is a council of Tony Stark, Professor X, Namor, Doctor Stephen Strange, Reed Richards and Black Bolt. Each member represents a different part of the Marvel Universe. In order: government/Avenger, liason to the mutant community, King of Atlantis/the Antihero, the Mystical/non-Science part, the Science based part of the community and finally King of The Inhumans/Galactic part. I hate to say the name of this council, but they called themselves the Illuminati.
They decide Hulk is too dangerous, so they plan a way for him to be removed. They send him away in a shuttle. The destination was meant to be a very peaceful planet, but thanks to a wormhole, Hulk ends up in Sakaar. A world ruled by a violent monarch named the Red King. After the crash, a weakened Hulk is subjegated and forced to be a gladiator. He quickly becomes popular and forms a Warbound with some of his fellow gladiators. Some of them might look familiar to you.
He is then asked to become part of the rebellion and he agrees reluctantly. His main motivation and source of his never ending rage is to get back home and punish those responsible for his exile.
Planet Hulk is a great read and I highly suggest it. Certain parts of the story have been used in the movies, but it’s so damn good. Hulk has been underappreciated in the MCU in my opinion. This story shows why he is a force to be reckoned with. I even suggest the sequel World War Hulk where he and his Warbound travel back to Earth.
The Infinity Gauntlet (1991)
Last but not least, the story that inspired Infinity War: The Infinity Gauntlet. In the comic, Thanos is given the task to bring balance back to the Universe by his love interest Mistress Death. He has to kill half of it. In his research on how to accomplish his task he finds out about the six infinity gems. In the main story, Thanos succeeds in collecting them. He now hopes to be treated as an equal by Mistress Death. She is not pleased by the fact that he hasn’t fulfilled his task.
And so a scorned Thanos snaps his fingers. The sudden disappearance of half the earth’s population is cause for concern for all superheroes. Silver Surfer warns Doctor Strange about Thanos and later on the enigmatic Adam Warlock appears before him. He suggests that Earth’s heroes need to rise up against Thanos under guidance of Adam Warlock. But who is this mysterious Adam Warlock? That deserves an article of its own. For now, let’s just say he was the original keeper of the Soul Stone. In the future he becomes evil, so he travels back and stops himself, banishing out his good and bad side to become a neutral character.
This story is a must read. It’s a great world building story. It gives a lot of background to Thanos. You are being immersed in the cosmic part of the Marvel Universe. You get to meet entitities like The Living Tribunal and Eternity. The first being the entity that oversees al realities and keeps their balance, the latter is the living embodiment of the universe. Plus you get to see to see Nebula, Drax and Gamora in their comic book forms!
There are two follow up stories: Infinity War and Infinity Crusade. In Infinity War the evil side of Adam Warlock, Magus tries to reunite all infinity stones. In Crusade it’s his good side the Goddess who tries the same. The sequels are decent.
I hope you like my suggestions. Let me know if you’re planning on reading any of these.