After watching the Avengers take down Thanos in an epic war or seeing Spider-Man sling his way through New York City, you might have the urge to seek out the source material for these superheroes. But big-name characters have decades worth of comic book history, and with that extensive archive comes several storylines, iterations and developments tackled by a number of different writers. Thus, choosing new comic books to try out can be really intimidating, and with so much available content to sift through, you might not even know where to start.
The first thing to remember is that you don’t need to have already read everything to “get” certain aspects of your favorite heroes. Comic books differ from TV shows; TV shows force viewers to catch up on several seasons of plot to be involved in the ongoing discussions, but comics allow you to move from story to story with absolute ease.
On top of that, writers often go through several runs that wipe the slate clean so that any newcomers can jump right in with only a basic knowledge of a character.
So, with that being said, here are my top Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and crossover choices if you want to dive into the vast world of superhero comic books.
- “Ultimate Spider-Man”
If you’re looking to catch up on the adventures of the infamous red-and-blue web crawler, look no further than the “Ultimate Spider-Man” line of comic books. The “Ultimate” tagline was a project started by Marvel in the early 2000s and was created with the intention of rebooting all of the main Marvel franchises so new fans could have a nice starting point.
The “Ultimate Spider-Man” series starts off nicely at Volume 1 and remixes the famous origin story for Spider-Man — aka Peter Parker — in a more modern setting. With lots of unique takes on well-known villains, these comic books are a perfect starting point for anyone looking to dive into the Spider-Man mythos.
- “Superior Spider-Man”
The “Superior Spider-Man” storyline is a different yet refreshing take on the standard Spider-Man plotline. In this run, Peter Parker gets killed off and famous villain Doc Ock manages to take over his body to become the new Spider-Man. It’s an exhilarating series with lots of twists and turns that is worth checking out if you’re on the hunt for a less conventional tale.
- “Superman: Birthright”
If you’re looking to start at a neat origin story for the Man of Tomorrow, “Superman: Birthright” is a great take on Superman’s roots in a present-day setting while also introducing fans to his biggest nemesis, Lex Luthor.
- “All-Star Superman”
On the other hand, if you’re not interested in going through the same origin story, another great read is “All-Star Superman.” This plotline follows our legendary hero after he’s diagnosed with a serious illness that gives him only a year to live. With his one year remaining, Superman ventures to save as many people as possible while also rediscovering his purpose as a beacon for humanity. It is a beautiful character study that will have you reflecting on your own personal potential.
- “Batman: Hush”
Rather than doing another read-through of Batman’s origin story, why not instead take a look at a modern classic? “Batman: Hush” is great for beginners looking to explore Batman’s background. This series features great artwork and a compelling mystery as it takes you through most of Batman’s rogues’ gallery, which includes villains like Killer Croc, Harley Quinn and the Joker.
- “Batman: The Long Halloween”
Another classic, “Batman: The Long Halloween” follows our brave caped crusader as he investigates a series of murders that stretch out over the span of an entire year, with each crime occurring on a particular holiday. With fantastic artwork by Tim Sale that crafts an intense noir-like feel, you’ll be in complete suspense attempting to deduce this comic’s culprit.
Crossover Comic Books
- “Civil War”
The classic that inspired the 2016 film of the same name is a perfect starting point to whet your appetite for the Marvel universe. This storyline pits our favorite heroes against each other as a divided Avengers team grapples with the passing of a new Superhero Registration Act that could threaten their freedoms.
- “Kingdom Come”
This DC story sees traditional heroes like Wonder Woman and Superman older and retired from their crime-fighting days. In their place is a new group of vigilantes who grow increasingly hostile and amoral toward their civic duties. Now it’s up to the mature and experienced versions of our beloved classic characters to teach the new heroes a lesson in what it truly means to be super. Every panel of “Kingdom Come” is like a painting come to life that is sure to take your breath away as you read this explosive piece.
Alternatively, if you’re perhaps tired of the more cliché and tropey types of superhero stories, look no further than “Watchmen.” The “Watchmen” comic books follow the story of a group of heroes being hunted down by a mysterious killer. Heroes Rorschach and Nite Owl try to uncover a conspiracy while navigating a society that has turned its back on heroes.
What’s great about “Watchmen” is how it serves as a deconstruction of the superhero genre. With compelling characters like Dr. Manhattan and its intense Cold War setting, “Watchmen” is sure to make you question what it would really mean to see superheroes flying around in the real world.
Ultimately, don’t feel intimidated by comic books with decades worth of history. As long as you know the basics of some of these characters, you can dive right into these classic stories with relatively no issue at all. So what are you waiting for? Put on your favorite superhero shirt, cozy up with a blanket and let these heroes take you on some remarkable adventures.