So last time we looked at the core stories that will likely be the bulk of source material for the upcoming Infinity films of Marvel’s cinematic universe. Today we look at the more recent stories, and the best tales for modern perspectives, especially in regards of those stories that best capture the feel of the films.
Marvel’s cosmic corner returned to prominence with the surprisingly epic Annihilation, which saw space faring titles focused on a giant war. It included the death of Thanos after a couple attempts to give the Titan his own series with all of the character depth applied to him by Jim Starlin over numerous tales. The follow-up to Annihilation, Annihilation: Conquest saw the return of Adam Warlock, and the first modern iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Annihilation series was Marvel’s cosmic characters done in big action stories for modern sensibilities and set the tone for a lot of what is going on now.
Annihilation: Conquest Omnibus
War of Kings Omnibus
War of Kings Aftermath: Realm of Kings Omnibus
The Thanos Imperative
The Modern Guardians of the Galaxy
From the hot success of Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest comes the new generation of Guardians of Galaxy, and the first team to take place in the Modern era, instead of it’s usual 1000 years into the future stance. Hot writing team Dn’A (who had a fight and are no longer a thing), used lore from the future flung team to create a new mythology that included a telepathic talking dog and the head of Celestial as a hidden space base. These stories present classic characterizations within the modern context and setting that would carry over to the films, with the exception of Adam Warlock, but maybe soon, who knows.
Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning Omnibus
Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning: Complete Collection Vol. 1
Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning: Complete Collection Vol. 2
Jim Starlin’s Infinite Continuity
Jim Starlin did a series of graphic novels that write off every Thanos story not written by Starlin with a quick cut that states all those other Thanos’ were just clones, exploring different life choices in Thanos’ Shakespearean quest to fully understand the divine. These stories are heavy, weighty tales that the rest of the Marvel Universe literally ignores completely. So technically these stories cancel themselves out but for the purest take on these characters from the mind of their creator and with occasionally flashes of Alan Davis brilliance, you must venture here.
Thanos: The Infinity Revelation
Thanos: The Infinity Relativity
The Infinity Entity
Thanos: The Infinity Finale
Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy (forthcoming)
Jonathon Hickman’s Marvel Cannon
This here is a biggie, and likely needed its own article to discuss in detail, but Hickman brought his world building skills from Image to Marvel in a BIG way. Hickman meticulously plans epic stories and those complex machinations can be seen with razor sharp characterization and pay offs that just make you feel like all is right in the world. Largely an Avengers story, Hickman focuses on the archetypes of the Marvel Universe and its founders, mainly the Richards family. What we have here is a huge epic that touches every corner of the Marvel universe under a blanket so large and inviting, it’s just an amazing read. No prior Marvel knowledge is needed here, it is to me the best Marvel story ever. It’s big and there’s a lot to read, but every page and cent is worth it. Hickman manages to revive Thanos as a terrifying, death worshipping, space pirate/general, while also giving him some distance from the Infinity Stones. The stones Hickman uses wonderfully, first as a McGuffin, then destroying them, deconstructing them, and then rebuilding them all to make them more special in their current position within the comic universe. This culminates in Secret Wars, which is epic on its own, but like an amazing head rush if you do all the groundwork leading into it. Secret Wars also includes a one-off Infinity Gauntlet story that has a unique take on the stones that also builds up their legendary status.
Secret Warriors: The Complete Collection Vol. 1
SHIELD: Architects of Forever
Secret Warriors: The Complete Collection Vol. 2
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 1
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 2
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 3
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 4
FF by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 1
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 5
FF by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 2
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 6
New Avengers Vol. 1: Everything Dies
Avengers Vol. 1: Avengers World
Avengers Vol. 2: The Last White Event
Avengers Vol. 3: Prelude to Infinity
New Avengers Vol. 2: Infinity
Avengers Vol. 4: Infinity
Avengers Vol. 5: Adapt or Die
New Avengers Vol. 3: Other Worlds
New Avengers Vol. 4: A Perfect World
Avengers Vol. 6: Infinite Avengers
Avengers: Time Runs Out Vol. 1 – 4
Secret Wars: The Infinity Gauntlet: Warzones (not Hickman)
BMB’s Guardians of the Galaxy
I love a fun Bendis romp they can be great fun. But then suddenly all the characters sit down for lunch and it’s like you can do nothing to move them from that table. This is the closest you will come to the movie versions of the team and the same kind of fun, rock n’ roll type adventure you get in the film. That said though nothing happens in these books that directly affects the Infinity Stones and the cosmic order he establishes is largely ignored outside of Hickman. It is all the charm of the films though, so it makes the list.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Angela
Guardians of the Galaxy/All New X-Men: The Trial of Jean Grey
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: Guardians Disassembled
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4: Original Sin
Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men: Black Vortex
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 5: Through the Looking Glass
Guardians of Knowhere: Warzones
Guardians of the Galaxy: New Guard Vol. 1 - 4
Guardians of the Galaxy by Brian Michael Bendis Omnibus
The Ultimates and current series Ultimates 2 rebuilds the cosmic order and will be the go to for all future reference to Marvel’s cosmic universe. The cosmic balance being played with here is bigger than anything we’ve seen before and echoes the insanity of Starlin and Engleheart. It’s hard to say if it will stick forever, but for now it is, literally, redrawing the cosmic order.
The Ultimates: Omniversal vol. 1: Start with the Impossible
The Ultimates: Omniversal vol. 2: Civil War
The Ultimates 2 (ongoing)
Recently concluded, Drax, and the recently launched Gamora, are excellent stories more securely linked to the movie universe and only superficially connected to the comic universe. They’re essentially at play within the Marvel Comic Universe but they take personality and behavioural cues from the films.
Drax The Destroyer: Earthfall
Drax Vol. 1: The Galaxy’s Best Detective
Drax Vol. 2: The Children’s Crusade
The newest ongoing Thanos series uses the revamped origin from Jason Aaron with the classical characterizations of a number of cosmic characters, giving Jeff Lemire the uniqe position of having, hands down, the best successor to the Starlin legacy, while being also disavowed by Starlin’s Infinite Continuity, which states all Thanos(es) but his, are clones. This book was like a warm fire in a safe haven, the characters presenting modern sensibilities while feeling the most true to Starlin’s vision of days past. Quite nice!
Thanos (2016 – ongoing)