WARNING: Mild Avengers: Infinity War spoilers ahead!
It’s been a week since Avengers: Infinity War dropped into our lives like a purple space menace hell-bent on destroying our emotional well-being. Or like half of our emotional well-being, because duh — gotta save some for the next movie! Point is, the overwhelming number of people who have already seen the movie are now facing a new kind of challenge: figuring out what to do with themselves now.
Well, Ant-Man and The Wasp will be arriving in a few months, and that looks like it’s shaping up to be a reasonably fun, light-hearted antidote to all that glitter-gloved death and destruction. But what about all those Avengers and Guardians and Asgardians and Webslingers we love, who are now either depressed or piles of ash in the MCU? Fear not! They still exist in one form or another… in the pages of Marvel Comics! And no, I’m not just talking about doing your homework and reading The Infinity Gauntlet, the inspiration for the Infinity War film (not to be confused with The Infinity War follow up comic series). Instead, here’s a handy little guide to some books that might help fill that hole in your heart, while pretending that all is right in the world of your favorite heroes.
Miss Spidey? Check Out Spider-Man and the X-Men!
Spider-Man, a guidance counselor to mutants? Sure, why not! After the death of Wolverine, Storm finds notes he left behind about hiring Spidey to work with a special group of students at the Jean Grey School, in order to suss out a possible mole… and things go swimmingly, OBVIOUSLY. This 6-issue series stands on its own, but it’s useful to know that after the Schism event, the mutants were divided along ideological lines. Cyclops led one group, and Wolverine led another. And one thing that Wolvie did was reopen Xavier’s school, in honor of Jean. So on top of being, you know, WOLVERINE, he also tried to be a headmaster (I also recommend reading the series about that, called Wolverine and the X-Men, if you are so inclined). What makes these two arcs interesting is that you get to see iconic heroes grappling with new roles, and alongside them are a bunch of really fascinating new mutant kids to get to know. Also they’re relatively lighthearted — and sometimes downright funny! But Spider-Man and the X-Men adds a whole fish-out-of-water element, with Spidey having to earn the trust of a bunch of angsty teenagers who don’t really know why he’s there in the first place. Also, this meme happens:
Feeling Strange? Then Try Picking Up 2015’s Doctor Strange Series!
Ugh. The longer a character has been around, the harder it is to find a good jumping-on point. And look, maybe you want to start way, way back with Doctor Strange’s origins. But if you’re lazy, I recommend starting with Jason Aaron’s 2015 Doctor Strange series. It’s fun, it’s weird as hell, you don’t need a whole lot of prior knowledge (it’s clearly meant to be an easy access point for new readers), and I’m a total sucker for Chris Bachalo’s art on this series. One thing it explores is that there is a cost to doing magic — a theme that gives this series more depth than just the usual issue-by-issue parade of magical hijinx.
There’s Never Enough Bucky… But 2014’s Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier Is A Great Start
This series is a batshit crazy, gorgeous, and fun throw-back pulp sci-fi adventure. Simply put, it’s Bucky In Space! After the Original Sin event, Bucky finds himself taking over Nick Fury’s position as “The Man on the Wall” (a secret first line of defense against space shit, basically). In this series, Bucky partners with Daisy “Quake” Johnson to investigate a new space-drug, and along the way there may or may not be multiple Winter Soldiers and some alien romance.
Are We Sick Of Loki Yet? Doesn’t Matter. Loki: Agent Of Asgard Is A Fresh Twist
Look, there was a lot of revamping going on around 2014 (though when it comes to Marvel, that statement applies like every other year). And sure, this is basically another in a long line of comics designed to bring characters more in line with their movie counterparts, or offer an easy jumping-on point for new readers, or otherwise capitalize on an uptick in interest thanks to the MCU. So yes, this series is a naked money-grab… but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still work. Movie Loki is bad, but sympathetic. But still… usually bad. Except when he’s occasionally not so bad. And so Loki in the comics also, over time, became less of a cartoonishly sinister villain and more ambiguous. And that sort of came to a head in this series, where Loki has to grapple with the various versions of himself as separate entities. And it becomes a meta examination of the nature of stories, and whether it’s possible to change your part or erase your mistakes. It helps to know a bit about the evolution of the character preceding this series (like that time he was a kid, and good!), but it also fills you in on most of what you need to know along the way. Even if you’re sick of the character, this may have you rooting for him once again. And if nothing else, there’s some solid plot twists to enjoy!
And If You’re Craving A Super Team, Just Read Goddamn Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E. Already!
It’s funny. It’s filthy. It’s weird as fuck. Which makes sense, considering it’s written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Stuart Immonen. The plot? Irrelevant. All you need to know is that it mostly doesn’t take place in the normal Marvel continuity (although it’s subsequently been linked to it, kinda) and it features a lineup of lesser Marvel characters — including Monica Rambeau, Elsa Bloodstone, Tabitha “Meltdown” Smith, Machine Man, and a dude named “The Captain” — fighting Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction. Instead of Nick Fury there’s a dude named Dirk Anger. Also there are weaponized koalas. Ok, fine — this has nothing to do with Avengers: Infinity War whatsoever. But fuck it. It’s my favorite.