Be a Mental Organism Designed Only for Comics! Our best picks for comics that inspired the 2021 MCU shows

With 2020 firmly in hindsight, the Marvel Cinematic Universe can continue apace as new films and television series expand the ever-growing stable of characters and worlds. In 2021, we’ve had The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, MODOK, Loki, and the upcoming Black Widow and Eternals. But before these characters hit the small and silver screens, all of their stories came from the comics, which tend to be far wilder and crazier than most cinematic budgets allow.

Did you know that the reason Sam Wilson became Captain America was because Steve Rogers was rapidly aged to be 80 years old? Or that before MODOK became a stop-motion sitcom patriarch, he ran his own Ocean’s Eleven heist crew and built a gun made of mushrooms for SHIELD as a Secret Avenger? Or that the Winter Soldier once went to space and romanced an telepathic alien princess from a planet named after a Japanese noise musician, and fought Loki, who was also fighting a younger version of himself at the time, and went to the moon with Black Widow to shake down a newly omniscient Nick Fury?

Whether you’re a True Believer following your favourite MCU characters or just need something to tide you over before the next series hits, check out our recommendations below. And if you wanted to do the same for WandaVision, you can read Monty’s recommendation blog here.

All-new Captain America [1] : Hydra ascendant / Remender, Rick
All-new Captain America is the first series where Sam Wilson takes on the role of Captain America, combining his winged Falcon suit with a slick new red, white and blue update. Writer Rick Remender uses the opportunity to reintroduce the weirder and pulpier science-fiction enemies that defined the franchise in the 70s and 80s, and Stuart Immonen is one of the best comic artists for style and action, which makes Sam Wilson’s debut as Captain America a high-flying, HYDRA-punching thrill-ride.

Bucky Barnes, the winter soldier. 1, The man on the wall / Kot, Ales
After Nick Fury becomes the Watcher (long story), Bucky Barnes takes over his position as ‘The Man on the Wall’, the only espionage agent protecting Earth from extra-terrestrial threats. Only once he gets to space, Bucky doesn’t find threats, but peace, love, and mind-expanding telepathic conversations with alien princesses. Writer Ales Kot is one of the best at subverting the bleak and world-weary tropes of modern spy fiction, and artist Marco Rudy makes the whole series look like a 50s sci-fi paperback novel cover.

Super-villain team-up : MODOK’s 11 / Van Lente, Fred
Ever wanted to see a heist movie where all the thieves have superpowers? Fred Van Lente and Francis Portela give you the best version of that idea in MODOK’s 11. The titular Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing is ousted from his position as the head of the science-terrorist group AIM, and in revenge, he assembles a team of C-list villains to steal an absurdly powerful energy source from under AIM’s nose. Snappy one-liners, double-crosses, and explosions ensue in the Merry Marvel Manner. The comic also gets a fun reference in the MODOK TV show (although in that version, he can only manage a mere MODOK’s 6).

Secret Avengers [1] : let’s have a problem / Kot, Ales
Run the Mission. Don’t Get Seen. Save the World. This is the credo of the Secret Avengers, a clandestine team made up of the Marvel heroes best suited for spy work. This time however, they’re joined by MODOK, who’s been put to work making weapons for SHIELD in exchange for immunity. Ales Kot and Michael Walsh deliver high-stakes superhero wackiness paired with some surprisingly deep character drama, as MODOK falls in love, sentient bombs are talked out of exploding, and the team confronts their individual traumas through the power of friendship and Argentinian magical realism. If you’ve ever wanted to see Jorge Luis Borges explained by Deadpool, then this is the book for you.

Loki : agent of Asgard [1] : trust me / Ewing, Al
After a stint in the Young Avengers, Loki goes solo and discovers that trying to keep on the straight and narrow is harder than it seems. Especially when you have a) a living lie detector for a friend, b) an older version of yourself hunting you down, and c) your morality flipped so you can only be good, just in the same overly complicated and circuitous way you were when you were bad, so either way no-one trusts you. Created by Lee Garbett and Al Ewing (of Immortal Hulk fame), Agent of Asgard is considered the best modern take on Loki, so if you’re a fan, it’s well worth your time.

Black Widow : the complete collection / Waid, Mark
Writer Mark Waid, artist Chris Samnee and colourist Matt Wilson, who worked together on a critically beloved and fan-favourite run on Daredevil, team up again for this Black Widow miniseries in which the Avenger’s premier spy must go on the run from SHIELD after they declare her an enemy. Featuring some of the best visual action storytelling I’ve ever seen in a comic (Samnee dictated the story more than Waid, a rarity in comics where the writer normally takes the lead) and a creatively versatile use of a sparse colour palette by Wilson, this series is a great primer for Black Widow that will get you psyched for the movie.

The Eternals : monster-size / Kirby, Jack
Kirby’s Eternals revealed an entire new realm of heroes. Once worshipped as gods, this fantastic group left Earth to explore the stars after warring with the Greek, Roman and Norse pantheons for supremacy over humankind. But the Eternals are just one part of a cosmic mythology. Their opposites – the Deviants – also secretly populate Earth, and the towering cosmic entities that created both – the Celestials – are fated to return and judge us all.

Within the Mystery of WandaVision

After a lengthy hiatus, the Marvel Universe of films have restarted on Disney Plus with the unexpected meta-fictional world of WandaVision. Continuing on from the endgames of the last Avengers film, WandaVision eschews the usual Marvel film template with interlocking levels of mystery and deeply conflicted characters all wrapped up within a darkly satirical sitcom parody running across the decades.

Below are a selection of comics, films, TV series and books that directly influenced WandaVision’s complex world of mischievous invention, enigma and heartbreak. From comics that helped drive plot in the TV series to TV sitcoms that influence each episode’s comedy, look and feel, to the Marvel films themselves, consider this a sideways look into the many genius aspects of WandaVision

Vision : the complete collection / King, Tom
“He was created to kill the Avengers but he turned against his “father.” He found a home among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and love in the arms of the Scarlet Witch. It didn’t end well. Now, the Vision just wants an ordinary life with a wife and two children, a home in the suburbs, perhaps even a dog. But it won’t end any better. Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta confound expectations in their heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, breath-taking magnum opus collected in all its Eisner Award-winning glory.” (Catalogue)

House of M / Bendis, Brian Michael
“The Marvel event of the decade is here! The Avengers and the X-Men are faced with a common foe that becomes their greatest threat: Wanda Maximoff! The Scarlet Witch is out of control, and the fate of the entire world is in her hands. Will Magneto help his daughter or use her powers to his own benefit? Starring the Astonishing X-Men and the New Avengers! You know how sometimes you hear the phrase: ‘and nothing will ever be the same again?’ Well, this time believe it, buster! Nothing will ever be the same again! Collects House of M #1-8, and Pulse House of M Special Edition Newspaper.” (Catalogue)

Scarlet Witch [1] : witches’ road / Robinson, James Dale
“Wanda Maximoff ‘s magical mystery tour continues on the streets of Paris; she will find the broken-hearted hero Le Peregrine. Can Wanda mend his broken wings and help him soar again? She’ll risk life and limb to try; next stop, Hong Kong, where an ancient warlock named the Dark Tongi has taken a powerful hold. Wanda must seek the help of a young witch, known as the Wu – but she has her own battle to fight. The former Avenger’s personal journey gets reflective as she explores her early memories and attempts to reconcile the sins of her past, but it’s time for a family reunion with her twin brother Pietro…but what happens when the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are on opposing sides? ” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Avengers: Disassembled, Brian Michael Bendis (ebook)
Collects Avengers (1998) #500-503. It begins with the return of a team member thought dead and by the time it’s over, everything you know about the Avengers will have changed! It’s the worst day in team history, as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes try to deal with the shocking tragedy around them. Who is behind this, and why? Will it tear the team apart? Who will fall at the hands of the Avengers’ greatest enemy? Guest-starring every Avenger…ever! (Overdrive description)

Pleasantville
“Two 1990’s teenagers find themselves in a 1950’s sitcom where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The twilight zone : the original series. Season one. “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call… The Twilight Zone.” (Catalogue)

 

Gilmore girls. The complete first season
“Lorelai and Rory are a mother and daughter who are sharing life’s ups and downs in a small town in Connecticut. This heartfelt, humorous drama appeals to young and old alike with it’s blend of traditional family issues and hip attitude.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Modern family. The complete first season
“Modern Family takes a refreshing and funny view of what it means to raise a family in this hectic day and age. Multicultural relationships, adoption, and same-sex marriage are just a few of the timely issues faced by the show’s three wildly diverse broods. No matter the size or shape, family always comes first in this hilariously ‘modern’ look at life, love, and laughter.” (Catalogue)

 

The office [US]. Season one
“Earnest but clueless regional manager Michael Scott, the world’s worst manager, provides hilarious examples of bad management practice at the local Dunder Mifflin Paper Company Inc. office.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Avengers. Endgame
“The grave course of events set in motion by Thanos that wiped out half the universe and fractured their ranks compels the remaining to take one final stand in the grand conclusion to twenty-two films.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Captain America : civil war
“After another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps, one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark₂s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.” (Catalogue)

Avengers readers, assemble! New Marvel comics are on Overdrive!

Continuing on from Comicfest 2019, that happened on May 4th, and the box-office smash hit Avengers: Endgame, we’ve updated our Overdrive collection with new comics and classic comics from the House of Ideas, Marvel Comics! From the tales that inspired the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to new hits that have been the critical darlings of the comic world, there’s enough to satisfy any True Believer!


Overdrive cover Black Panther (2016), Volume 1, Ta-Nehisi Coates (ebook)
“A new era begins for the Black Panther! MacArthur Genius and National Book Award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me) takes the helm, confronting T’Challa with a dramatic upheaval in Wakanda that will make leading the African nation tougher than ever before. When a superhuman terrorist group calling itself The People sparks a violent uprising, the land famed for its incredible technology and proud warrior traditions will be thrown into turmoil.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Iron Man: Extremis, Warren Ellis (ebook)
“A landscape of terrifying new technologies threatens to overwhelm fragile mankind! What is Extremis, who has unleashed it, and what does its emergence portend for the world?” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Planet Hulk, Greg Pak (ebook)
“Savage alien planet. Oppressed barbarian tribes. Corrupt emperor. Deadly woman warrior. Gladiators and slaves. Battle axes and hand blasters. Monsters and heroes…and the Incredible Hulk!” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover New Avengers (2004), Volume 1, Brian Michael Bendis (ebook)
“In the wake of the systematic destruction of the original Avengers, just what sort of threat to the world could persuade Captain America to assemble an all-new team? How does Cap, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine sound? Fate has brought them together, and now Captain America wants to make it permanent! Who will take his hand and join the new Avengers? And will they be strong enough to fight the mysterious forces at play around them?” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Amazing Spider-Man (2014), Volume 3, Dan Slott (ebook)
“When the evil Inheritors begin exterminating spider-characters throughout the multiverse, every single Spider-Man ever is needed to save the day! A spider-army gathers to fight Morlun and his deadly family, and the Superior Spider-Man intends to lead it! Our universe’s amazing Spider-Man has an issue with that, but the army doesn’t have time for this in-fighting! When the Prophecy comes to fruition, every spider must fight — and no spider is safe!” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Ms. Marvel (2014), Volume 1, G. Willow Wilson (ebook)
“Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City – until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the all-new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! As Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to handle? Kamala has no idea either.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2015), Volume 1, Amy M. Reeder (ebook)
“Lunella Lafayette is a preteen genius who wants to change the world, but lives in fear of the Inhuman genes inside her! Now, Lunella’s life is turned upside down when a red-scaled beast is teleported from the prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call…today! Together they’re the most Marvelous Team-Up of all — Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur! But will they be BFFs forever, or just until DD’s dinner time?” (adapted from Overdrive description)