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Guide Part 1 (1999-2004)

The Marvel Knights Era Begins

The whole point of Comic Book Herald is to help you decipher which comics and
collected trade paperbacks are worth your time and in what order to read them. More
often than not, when a newcomer to the comic book scene asks for guidance on where
to begin with Marvel Comics, they’ll hear “Start with Avengers Disassembled.”

This is not necessarily terrible advice, as Avengers Disassembled begins the Event-
centric modern era of Marvel that continues to this day. Nonetheless, I’m avoiding this
approach for one very big reason: the immediate material leading up to Avengers
Disassembled is absolutely crucial in developing an understanding of the Marvel
Universe that is to come. Plus, there are some of the best Daredevil, Punisher,
and Fantastic Four stories of all time within this timeframe (just to name a few).

As a result, what you’ll find below is a spoiler-free reading order guide to the Marvel
graphic novels originally published in the early part of the new millennium. A handful will
even date back to the late 90’s, but for the most part, this is the Marvel Knights era of
my favorite comic publisher, capturing exactly how Marvel built their way to Avengers

I hope that you’ll find the below guide useful. There’s a ton of great material here from a
decade ago, as well as a ton of laughable material that nonetheless helps paint a
complete picture.

Without further ado, this is the Marvel Universe up until the Era of Events. Devour as
you so choose.

Previously: X-Men Onslaught

Marvel Comics Reading Timeline

Dave’s Note 5.1.16: I have updated the below guide to include Deadpool and the Kurt
Busiek & George Perez Avengers comics!

 Inhumans
 Enjoying Inhumans? Check out Comic Book Herald’s Inhumans reading order.
 Deadpool Classic Vol. 2 to Vol. 5 (#1 to #33)
 Adding Deadpool to the guide by popular demand! If you’re enjoying Deadpool,
check out Comic Book Herald’s Deadpool reading order.
 Black Panther (1-17)
 Enjoying Black Panther? Check out Comic Book Herald’s Black Panther reading
 Black Panther (#18 to #35, + Deadpool #44 (alongside BP #23))
 Deadpool Classic Vol. 6 (#34 to #45, Black Panther #23)
 Black Panther (#36 to #49)
 This is as good a time as any to mention that you don’t have to read all 49 issues of
Black Panther to proceed with any of the following reads. I recommend you do – I
enjoy the series a lot – but if you’re not feeling it, you won’t feel overly lost reading,
say, Sentry. And if you truly want “just the essentials” for Marvel continuity, I have
a fast track guide you’ll love.
 Black Panther (50 – 62)
 Daredevil (1-15)
 Enjoying Daredevil? Check out Comic Book Herald’s Daredevil reading order.
 Black Widow (Collects 2 different 3 issue mini-series)
 Enjoying Black Widow? Check out Comic Book Herald’s Black Widow reading
 Marvel Knights (1-15)
 Sentry
 Marvel Boy
 Doom: The Emperor Returns
 From the CBH readers in regards to these issues: “Those 3 comics nearly
made me pop out my eyeballs with a spoon, burn my iPad and cancel my MU
subscription.” Reader beware!
 The Punisher (1-12)
 Enjoying Punisher? Check out Comic Book Herald’s Punisher reading order.
 Deadpool Classic Vol. 7 & Vol. 8 (#46 to #64)
 Daredevil: Yellow
 Elektra: Marvel Knights (1-22)
 Enjoying Elektra? Check out Comic Book Herald’s Elektra reading order.
 Avengers Assemble, Vol. 1 (Avengers (98 – 04) #1 to #11)
 Avengers Forever (1-12)
 Although I’m placing Kurt Busiek’s Avengers Forever very high in the reading order,
I recommend skipping this volume if you’re very new to the Marvel Universe. This
story is very reliant on the reader’s knowledge of previous Avengers’ history. If
you’re sitting there like “Avengers, who?” I recommend making it through Avengers
Disassembled and then returning to this volume.
 Captain Marvel (1-25)
 This is the Captain Marvel series beginning in 2000, written by Peter David with art
by Chris Cross (awesome artist name). The Captain Marvel and Rick Jones
relationship stems straight out of Avengers Forever, and the book is tied heavily
to Marvel Cosmic. It’s a fun read, but books like Black Panther or Daredevil
above will actually make easier starting places for those not as immersed in Marvel
 This Captain Marvel listing can be pretty confusing in either trade or Marvel
Unlimited form. As a result, I explain in a column in much greater detail which
issues to read.
 Avengers Assemble, Vol. 2 (#12 to #23)
 The above section of the Busiek and Perez Avengers contains one of my all-time
favorite Ultron stories in Avengers #19 to #22!
 Avengers Assemble, Vol. 3 (Avengers #24 to #34, Thunderbolts #42 to #44)
 If you’re reading via the trades, this volume will begin to weave in Busiek’s
concurrent run on Thunderbolts. MU readers will find this Thunderbolts selection
(1997 to 2003) is poorly collected (as of 5.1.16), but issues #42 to #44 are
 Fantastic Four/The Inhumans
 Young Inhumans
 Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed
 Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers was actually released in 2010 but can be read here.
Far from essential, but a fun read.
 Avengers Assemble, Vol. 4 (#35 to #44)
 Thor: The Death of Odin
 Thor: Son of Asgard (1-12)
 The Son of Asgard trade collects material published after The Death of Odin.
Regardless, the stories within are of Thor’s youth and do not conflict with any
ongoing continuity involving Odin and the state of Asgard.
 Avengers Assemble, Vol. 5 (#45 to #56, Avengers: The Ultron Imperative #1)
 Infinity Abyss (1-6)
 Infinity Abyss is very much reliant on some knowledge of Thanos, and actually fits
best within my complete Thanos reading order.
 Killraven (1-6)
 Killraven can be read just about anywhere as it stands outside the Marvel Universe.
A fun sci-fi romp that happens to have been published by Marvel in 2002 around
these other runs.
 Daredevil (16-60) – Ultimate Collection Book 1& Ultimate Collection Book 2
 Alias (#1 – #28)
 Alias is the absolutely fantastic story of Jessica Jones, one-time superhero
Jewel, and current private eye with a whole lot of issues to work out. There
are a handful of references to Bendis’ Daredevil above during this series, so I
would recommend reading it after you’re familiar with DD.
 X-Force (116 to 129) and X-Statix (1-26)
 X-Men: The Search For Cyclops (1-4)
 Note that The Search for Cyclops is a prelude to New X-Men. You can survive
without it, but it will fill in some blanks early on.
 New X-Men (114 – 116, Annual #1, 117 – 154)
 (Both New X-Men and the previous Daredevil item span a number of years and trade
collections. As a result, some books below will actually have earlier publish dates than the
later volumes. This is intentional. Reading each complete work as a whole is preferable to
a volume-by-volume approach broken up by trades with no bearing on the storylines. You
should not be missing any information if you read these all the way through here.)
 Emma Frost (1-18)
 The Emma Frost collection provides a detailed look into Emma’s past. It’s quality
backstory for fans of the character, but provides little to no bearing on the events of
New X-Men.
 Fantastic Four Vol. 1-4 (60-70. 500-516)
 Fantastic Four: 1234
 Fantastic Four: 1234 technically occurs before the events of Mark Waid’s Fantastic
Four. I would recommend reading the 1234 miniseries after, though, as it serves as
more of a dystopian alternate reality than anything relating to mainstream
 Origin (Wolverine)
 Exiles Volume 1 (1-19)
 Wolverine (162-166)
 Weapon X: The Draft
 Note here that there are 5 “The Draft” one-shots including Kane, Marrow, Sauron,
Wild Child, and Zero.
 Weapon X (1-14)
 Weapon X (15-28)
 Agent X (1-15)
 Note that Agent X actually marks Deadpool Classic, Vol. 9 and Deadpool
Classic, Vol. 10
 Spider-Man: Revenge of the Goblin
 After reading this three issue mini-series, read Amazing Spider-Man #25, and then
Peter Parker Spider-Man #25
 Amazing Spider-Man (30-58)
 Peter Parker: Spider-Man (#44 – #47)
 Spectacular Spider-Man (1-5) can be read before Amazing Spider-Man #46-#50
 Spider-Man: Blue (1-6)
 For a more specific breakdown of the Spider-Man reading order.
 Runaways (1-18)
 Hulk/Wolverine: 6 Hours (1-4)
 Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure (1-5)
 Exiles Volume 2 (20-37)
 Kingpin (1-7)
 Human Torch (1-6)
 Short-lived 2003 run on the character. Actually goes to 12 issues in MU, all
12 can be read here.
 The Crew (1-7)
 Sentinel Vol. 1 & 2 (1-12)
 Marvel Universe: The End (1-6)
 Iron Man (73-83)
 Hawkeye (1-8)
 1602
 Marvel 1602: Fantastick Four
 Marvel 1602: New World
 Marvel 1602: Spider-Man
 Hulk: Nightmercia (1-6)
 Namor (1-12)
 She-Hulk (1-10) — Yes, this series goes to 12 issues. Read issue #11 and #12
AFTER Avengers Disassembled!
 The Pulse (1-5)
 Loki (1-4)
 Powerless (1-5)
 Elektra: The Hand (1-5)
 Tomb of Dracula (1-4)
 Exiles Volume 3 (38-58)
 Rogue (1-6)
 Mystique (1-13) by Brian K. Vaughn
 Mystique (14-24) by Sean McKeever
 Silver Surfer (1-14)
 Hulk: Gray (1-6)
 Captain America & The Falcon (1-4)
 Incredible Hulk (70-76)
 Hulk & Thing: Hard Knocks (1 -4)
 Identity Disc (1-5)
 Iron Fist (1-6)
 I’d make a note here that the Comic Book Herald faithful have labeled this series
“so bad it hurts.” I’m still leaving it for reference and mostly because that makes me
laugh. You’ve been warned.
 Strange (1-6)
 Marvel Knights: Fantastic 4 (1-12) Volumes 1 and 2
 Note here that this series is included as “4” in Marvel Unlimited.
 Astonishing X-Men (1-6)
 Marvel Knights: Spider-Man (1-12)
 Amazing Spider-Man (500-518)

NEXT: Avengers Disassembled & Tie-Ins