Marvel Master Reading Order

Welcome to the Marvel Master Reading Order.  This is a reading order for all Marvel comics that are deemed important or are just enjoyable comics to read.  Starting around 2004 and the Avengers Disassembled crossover this order becomes more comprehensive and includes all major comic series.  Starting with the Marvel NOW! event the reading order includes all in-continuity Marvel comics.

Comics from the Golden and Silver Ages can be tough to read as the plots rely on staggering amounts of coincidence and the characters tend to hammer home their personality traits issue after issue.  If you aren’t enjoying reading the earliest issues it is recommended you skip forward a bit, into the 70’s at least.

First appearances are marked by the earliest issue the character appeared in,  not necessarily their earliest chronological appearance.

Not including events

Issues:  Thor: Son of Asgard #1 to Astonishing Tales #13

Years:  1961-1972 (plus many later series that take place near the beginning of the Marvel timeline)

Events:  None

First Appearances:  Abomination,  AIM,  Alex Summers,  Angel,  Annihilus,  Asgardians,  Banshee,  Beast,  Betty Ross,  Black BoltBlack Panther,  Captain Marvel,  Carol DanversCyclopsDoctor DoomDoctor OctopusDoctor StrangeDormammuEgo the Living Planet,  Electro,  Enchantress,  Eternity,  FalconFantastic Four,  Flash Thompson,  Galactus,  General Ross,  Green Goblin,  Gwen Stacy,  High Evolutionary,  Harry Osborne,  Hulk,  Iceman,  InhumansIron Man,  J. Jonah Jameson,  Jane Foster,  Jean Grey,  KingpinKraven the Hunter,  the Kree,  The Leader,  Living Laser,  Living Tribunal,  The Lizard,  LokiMagnetoMan-Thing,  Mary Jane Watson,  Morbius,  Mysterio,  Professor X,  Rhino,  Rick Jones,  S.H.I.E.L.D.,  The Sandman,  Shocker,  Sif,  Silver Surfer,  Sinister Six,  Skrulls,  Super-Skrull,  Surtur,  Thor,  Uatu the Watcher,  Ultron,  Vision,  The Vulture,  Yellowjacket

Containing by far the most first appearances of significant characters of any Marvel era.  You will see how the biggest superheroes in the Marvel Universe received their superpowers and witness the foundation that decades of comics will be built on.  Witness the formation of the X-Men,  Fantastic Four,  and Avengers.  Like most Silver Age comics there are numerous guest appearances but few actual crossovers.  The beginning of the reading order features numerous limited series that take place chronologically before,  as well as during,  the earliest published Marvel comics.

Issues:  Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 to Rom #24

Years:  1972-1981

Events:  Avengers/Defenders War,  Thanos War

First Appearances:  Alpha Flight,  Arcade,  Arnim Zola,  Black Cat,  Cassie Lang,  Colossus,  Dazzler,  Elektra,  Emma Frost,  Gamora,  Ghost RiderHeroes for HireHoward the DuckIllyana Rasputin,  In-Betweener,  Iron FistJames RhodesKitty Pryde,  Korvac,  Luke CageMachine Man,  Mariko,  NightcrawlerNovaThe Punisher,  Pyro,  Rachel Summers,  RogueSabretooth,  Scarlet Spider,  Scott Lang,  Storm,  TaskmasterWolverine

Containing the second most first appearances of significant characters,  we see the introduction of some extremely popular heroes,  especially among the X-Men.  We also see the first significant crossover when the Avengers battle the Defenders.  This part of the reading order also contains some of the most popular X-Men storylines of all time;  the Phoenix Saga,  Dark Phoenix Saga,  and Days of Future Past.

Issues:  Moon Knight #1 to Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21

Years:  1980-1987

Events:  Wraith WarSecret Wars IIMutant Massacre

First Appearances:  ApocalypseBeta Ray Bill,  The Beyonder,  Forge,  Hobgoblin,  Madelyne Pryor,  Nebula,  New MutantsPsylockeSymbioteX-Factor,  Yukio

Here we see the birth of large scale crossover events.  Contest of Champions is Marvel’s first Limited Series and serves as a sort of prototype for the line-wide crossovers to follow.  The original Secret Wars event is wildly successful and its less successful sequel comes out a year later.  The X-Men line expands with the introduction of X-Factor and the New Mutants.  The popular villain Apocalypse is introduced and we see the beginnings of the symbiote that will go one to become Venom.

Issues:  Avengers #267 to Mys-Tech Wars #4

Years:  1986-1993

Events:  Kraven’s Last HuntFall of the MutantsEvolutionary WarInfernoAtlantis AttacksActs of VengeanceDays of Future PresentX-Tinction AgendaMuir Island SagaInfinity GauntletOperation: Galactic StormInfinity WarDead Man’s HandRise of the Midnight SonsX-Cutioner’s Song

First Appearances:  Bishop,  CarnageDeadpoolDomino,  Eddie Brock,  Gambit,  Genosha,  Great Lakes Avengers,  Jubilee,  Squirrel GirlVenomWar MachineX-Force

Now we really see the crossover events swing into high gear.  The Infinity Gauntlet event takes place,  one of the greatest comic events ever.  Venom,  Gambit,  and the mutant group X-Force are introduced and prove to be immensely popular.  In the comic book business the speculator market is in full swing but its end is already in sight.

Issues:  Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #48 to X-Men Unlimited #24

Years:  1992-1999

Events:  For Love Nor MoneyMaximum CarnageInfinity CrusadeBlood and ThunderFatal AttractionsBloodtiesMarvel 2099Midnight MassacreRoad to Vengeance: Missing LinkSiege of DarknessChild’s PlayTime and Time AgainPhalanx CovenantCountdownAge of ApocalypseSecond Clone SagaOver the EdgeOnslaught SagaOperation: Zero ToleranceHeroes RebornSpider-Man: Identity CrisisMC2Eighth DayThe Hunt for XavierMagneto War

First Appearances:  Pete WisdomSecret Defenders,  Thunderbolts

The 90’s “Dark Age of Comics” is in full swing.  If you are a fan of pouches you are in luck.  We see the seminal X-Men event Age of Apocalypse as well as the will-it-ever-end Spider-Man event Second Clone Saga.  The first of several Marvel Alternate Universes are printed in this era;  the futuristic Marvel 2099 and the MC2 universe,  which mainly featured Spider-Girl.  Near the end of this section we see many of the most popular and long-running Marvel series relaunched with new #1 issues that will serve as a good jumping on point for new readers.  In the comic business world the market crashes and the industry is devastated.

Issues:  Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #1 to Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2 #14

Years:  1999-2004

Events:  Apocalypse: The TwelveMaximum SecurityEve of DestructionEarth X

First Appearances:  Cassandra Nova,  Doop,  Exiles,  Fantomex,  Jessica Jones,  Quentin Quire,  Sentry,  X-Statix

Here we see the start of Grant Morrison’s work on the X-Men with New X-Men #114 which can be seen as the start of the “Modern Age of Marvel” and serves as an excellent point to begin reading Marvel comics as it forms the basis for the X-Men moving forward and the beginning of the modern mega events is just around the corner.

Issues:  Fantastic Four Vol. 3 #60 to Mary Jane Loves Spider-Man #24

Years:  2002-2007

Events:  Marvel 1602Avengers DisassembledHouse of MDecimationSpider-Man: The Other

First Appearances:  Anya Corazon,  Daken,  Maria Hill,  Runaways,  Winter Soldier,  X-23Young Avengers

The era of Marvel mega events starts here with the Avengers Disassembled event and the beginning of the New Avengers series.  Following that we have House of M which will have repercussions through the various X-Men books for years to come.  Garth Ennis’ fantastic run on Punisher continues with Punisher Vol. 6 under the MAX imprint.

Issues:  Araña: Heart of the Spider #1 to Punisher War Journal Vol. 2 #26

Years:  2005-2009

Events:  Civil WarOne More DayPlanet HulkThe InitiativeWorld War HulkAnnihilationX-Men: Endangered SpeciesX-Men: Messiah ComplexX-Men: Divided We StandX-Men: Manifest DestinyX-Men: Original SinMessiah WarAnnihilation: ConquestSecret Invasion

First Appearances:  Agents of Atlas,  Hope Summers,  Lyra,  Red Hulk,  Skaar

Start off with Civil War,  one of the biggest Marvel events ever,  and follow that with the excellent Planet Hulk and Annihilation events,  a string of X-Men events,  the Wolverine storyline Old Man Logan,  and then finish it all off with the massive Secret Invasion event and you have a packed reading order.  Unfortunately One More Day also takes place during this time.

Issues:  Ghost Rider Vol. 6 #33 to Generation Hope #9

Years:  2009-2011

Events:  War of KingsDark ReignUtopiaX-Men: Nation XNecroshaSiegeRealm of KingsThe Thanos ImperativeFall of the HulksWorld War HulksX-Men: Second ComingHeroic AgeShadowlandCurse of the MutantsWolverine Goes to HellChaos WarAge of X

First Appearances:  Red She-Hulk

The tightly packed events continue.  The cosmic saga of Marvel,  which is one of the highlights of recent Marvel history,  continues with War of Kings,  Realm of Kings,  and The Thanos Imperative.  The status quo after Secret Invasion is explored in the 300!? issue Dark Reign era.  Siege marks the culmination of events that started with Avengers Disassembled.

Issues:  Herc #1 to Amazing Spider-Man #697

Years:  2011-2012

Events:  Fear ItselfShattered HeroesX-Men: SchismX-Men: RegenesisSpider-IslandAvengers vs. X-MenMinimum CarnageX-Termination

First Appearances:  None

The X-Men split apart and then battle the Avengers.  In 2012 Marvel NOW! starts and provides an excellent starting point for readers new to Marvel comics.  Years of storylines culminate in the Secret Wars (2015) event which makes way for an All-New All-Different Marvel.

Issues:  Marvel NOW! Point One #1 to Secret Wars (2015)

Years:  2012-2016

Events:  Age of UltronInfinityInhumanityBattle of the AtomThe Trial of Jean GreyGoblin NationOriginal SinDeath of WolverineAvengers & X-Men: AXISSpider-VerseThe Black VortexSecret Wars (2015)

First Appearances:  Angela,  Kamala Khan,  Silk,  Spider-Gwen

Welcome to the Marvel NOW! Reading Order.  Marvel NOW! presents a shift in the Marvel Universe following the Avengers vs. X-Men event and was designed as a jumping on point for new readers and featured many changes to character status quos,  alter egos,  and costumes.  Marvel NOW! ended with the conclusion of the Secret Wars (2015) event and made way for All-New All-Different Marvel.

Issues:  Avengers: Rage of Ultron #1 to Jean Grey #7

Years:  2015-2018

Events:  Avengers: Standoff!Spider-WomenApocalypse WarsCivil War IIDead No More: The Clone ConspiracyMonsters UnleashedInhumans vs. X-MenSecret Empire

First Appearances:  Gwenpool,  Riri Williams

Coming after the Secret Wars (2015) event is an All-New, All-Different Marvel;  meant to reveal the state of the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe and provide a jumping on point for new readers.  Even though after the Civil War II event Marvel began to reuse the Marvel NOW! banner on comic books,  for simplicity’s sake this reading order considers everything post-Secret Wars (2015) to the beginning of Marvel Legacy to be All-New, All-Different Marvel.

Issues:  Marvel Legacy #1 to Infinity Countdown

Years:  2017-2018

Events:  VenomverseVenom Inc.DamnationInfinity Countdown

First Appearances:  None

A relaunch following the Secret Empire event, Marvel Legacy attempted to bring a greater focus to Marvel’s core superheroes. It saw the return of Bruce Banner as Hulk, Tony Stark as Iron Man, and Thor Odinson reclaiming the hammer Mjolnir. Wolverine, Jean Grey, and Franklin and Valeria Richards are all back; while the Thing and Human Torch search for Sue and Reed Richards, who have been missing since Secret Wars.

During Marvel Legacy many series returned to using their legacy numbering.

Issues:  Avengers Vol. 8 #1 to Absolute Carnage

Years:  2018-2019

Events:  Infinity WarsSpider-GeddonAge of X-ManWar of the RealmsAbsolute Carnage

First Appearances:  None

A Fresh Start saw the return of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Logan, Odinson and Bruce Banner to their classic identities of Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Thor and Hulk respectively. The War of the Realms event caps off a seven year run of Thor stories by Jason Aaron. Also Marvel decides to go overboard with all the limited series and one-shots.

Issues: House of X #1 to King In Black

Years:  2019-2021

Events:  Annihilation: Scourge2099Iron Man 2020EmpyreX of SwordsKing In Black

First Appearances:  None

Continuing from A Fresh Start the Marvel Universe rolls on. A new era for the X-Men begins, overseen by Jonathan Hickman.

Issues: Spider-Woman Vol. 7 #9 to Add X-Force Vol. 6 Annual #1

Years:  2020-2022

Events:  Heroes Reborn (2021)Hellfire GalaLast AnnihilationDeath of Doctor StrangeDevil’s Reign

First Appearances:  None

Welcome to Part 12 of the Marvel Master Reading Order.

Issues:  Marvel’s Voices: Legacy Vol. 2 #1 to Marvel Age #1000
Years:  2022-2023
Events:  A.X.E.: Judgment DayAvengers AssembleDark WebSins of Sinister
First Appearances:  None

The Marvel Master Reading Order rolls on with Part 13. I promise to expand this at some point.