The Marvel Unlimited app seems perfect. Ten bucks a month and you get most of the Marvel Comics catalogue from the beginning of time all the way to six months ago. Unfortunately, bugs and glitches relegated it to being an exercise in annoyance until its newest update about a month ago finally made things more functional.
When you finally get to the app, the unending selection may seem overwhelming (even with a pretty nifty search engine), so I’m here to help you grab nine series to binge read. Every series run here runs at least about 30 issues deep so you can occupy your summer of sh*tty TV shows and *gulp* baseball with some quality comic reading. These are also good jumping-on series to get your friend or girlfriend who’s not into comics yet introduced. So there you go.
Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena
I don’t get all emotional or worked up over comics too often, but Uncanny X-Force haunted me every time it came out. From the end of the first arc to the Psylocke/Archangel romance to the father issues between Wolverine and his son, this book became the comic version of Breaking Bad. High praise? Totally deserved.
Black Panther Vol. 3
Writer: Christopher Priest
Artist: Mark Texeira and Sal Velluto
Marvel Knights was Joe Quesada’s attempt to turn Marvel’s second-tier crappy characters into well-written centerpieces. Black Panther was one of those characters. Christopher Priest put together T’Challa’s best run as a character and legitimized Wakanda in the Marvel Universe. Just whatever you do, STOP READING WHEN REGINALD HUDLIN TAKES OVER! TRUST ME, JUST DO IT!
Invincible Iron Man
Issues 1-33, 500-527
Writers: Warren Ellis and Matt Fraction
Artists: Adi Granov and Salvador Larroca
Bias alert: Warren Ellis is probably my favorite comic book writer. Hello? Planetary anyone? So naturally his “Extremis” storyline that made its way to Iron Man 3 deserves a nod. But the star here is Fraction’s arc highlighted by the arc in which a literally brain dead Tony Stark has to run away from Norman Osborn. Edge-of-your-seat drama here, kids.
Issues 570-605 (Fantastic Four) and 1-17 (FF)
Writer: Johnathan Hickman
Artist: Dale Eaglesham, Steve Epting and Neil Edwards
Okay, I’ll be honest: I read Hickman’s Fantastic Four books recently in a binge session and I absolutely hated them. And I hate his current Avengers run. They suffer from the same issues of too many characters, overly-complicated stories that take forever to develop and a general unenjoyable reading experience. But people love his Fantastic Four stuff as it’s critically acclaimed so I guess you should read it. *shrugs*
Daredevil Vol. 1
Writer/Artist: Frank Miller
Before The Dark Knight Returns there was Miller’s Daredevil. What once was a campy hero became one of Marvel’s darkest, most multi-dimensional characters. Here is where we see Elektra for the first time and the Bullseye and Kingpin rivalries really turned up. I actually went back and read this recently and even though I knew a pivotal death was coming, I still got a little choked up.
Captain America Vol. 4
Issues 1-50, 600-619
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting
This was about as good of an espionage book you’d see at Marvel. Brubaker turned Captain America into a spy book that hit on all cylinders. Think of how many people would have butchered the return of Bucky Barnes and the convoluted Marvel Event surrounding Cap’s death.
The Ultimates Line
Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar
Marvel’s previous reboots and alternate titles were all horrible (I’m looking at you, 2099), so expectations were pretty low for the Ultimate line reboot. And really, the line has stunk for a while now, but when Bendis and Millar took over, they had some pretty magical stories for a couple of years. I say devour them all then jump ship immediately.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Whoever Could Replace Frank Quietly When He Was Behind Schedule
Sure things got a little weird at the end with the weird portrayal of Magneto and a shocking turn that didn’t make much sense, but the first 75 percent of Morrison’s run was spectacular, changing the X-Men status quo forever. The franchise was in a funk for almost a decade leading up to this 2001 series, and Morrison saved it. Hell, “E For Extinction” alone is worth it.
Daredevil Vol. 3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
This is my favorite creative run on any super hero book ever. Bendis gets a ton of sh*t for his blockbuster books (most recently the putrid diarrhetic known as Age Of Ultron), but his noir-y stuff is incredible. The premise of the book is what happens when Daredevil’s secret identity is splattered across every tabloid in New York.