After the universe-changing comic event that was Secret Wars, the marvel line has shifted and rebooted. Everything is back down to #1 with all-new storylines and creative teams, so it’s a great time to jump into the world of comics – whether it’s your first time or you’ve been out of the game for a while. Before the release of Captain America: Civil War, check out these series, recommended by our avid comic book readers.

Black Panther

Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel Comics)

Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel Comics)

In his Fantastic Four, Avengers, and Secret Wars series’ Jonathon Hickman gave us a taste and a beginning of a vast history and mythology of Wakanda. Ta-Nehisi Coates is taking that beginning and, without needing to divide his focus between different heroes and teams, digging into it for his Black Panther series. As of writing this piece one sold out issue has been released and already fans (including this writer) are chomping at the bit for more. Coates’ Wakanda is an unmistakably African country that is rich in its traditions while also being highly futuristic. Coates has Black Panther as a character caught between defending his people as a hero while being a king with all the diplomacy and heavy crowns that come along with it. One issue in and Coates has brought in new characters, new ideas, and also shown that he knows his way around a good action sequence and has a comic book voice that is rich in his usual poetry. Probably too early to put this on the best ever shelf, but I’m going to clear a spot just in case. – Sean Fallon

Spider-Man

Sara Pichelli (Marvel Comics)

Sara Pichelli (Marvel Comics)

While the Ultimate line of Marvel comics had mixed results, the one consistently brilliant series was Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man. As the series progressed, we lost one alternate Peter Parker and gained a new Spider-Man in Miles Morales. After Secret Wars brought parallel universes together, Miles is now a fully-fledged member of the Marvel universe, and the reborn series has had a great start. It’s nice to see a Spider-Man book set in high school again, but besides some similar powers and the mantra of “with great power comes great responsibility”, Miles is very different from Peter Parker. He’s a multifaceted character with his own flaws and strengths. There’s no time wasted even in the first issue as we see Miles’ school life, the dynamics at home, and his relation to other superheroes (Ms. Marvel!) and the original Spider-Man. There’s plenty left to explore, with the second issue touching on his relationship with best friend Ganke, as well as how the media reacts to the fact that the new Spider-Man is black. It has such firm ground in its cast of characters that I’m looking forward to how they all change and interact as the series goes on. – Jack Godwin

Spider-Gwen

Robbi Rodriguez (Marvel Comics)

Robbi Rodriguez (Marvel Comics)

This is it. This is the Marvel comic that proves mainstream productions can still explore interesting ideas while being a whole lot of fun. Admittedly the ideas are pretty similar to events of early Spider-Man days with the discussions on “great power, great responsibility” but with a different approach from everything up to world building (I’m really digging the potential future of Frank Castle in this universe) down to the color schematics. Most comic art is defined by how realistic a drawing might be. I’m not about that. Artwork should be expressive and evolutionary when it comes to tonal choices. Naturally I am all about Spider-Gwen coming in and changing the game for mainstream artwork. Edits and scene shifts feel cut from the same fabric of Whiplash to the extent where I can hear myself think “Not my tempo” when I return to my other regular comic pull list. Folks, this is one for the ages. – Diego Crespo

Doctor Strange

Chris Bachalo (Marvel Comics)

I’ve never been particularly interested in Doctor Strange – I liked the idea of the Sorcerer Supreme dealing with the mystical side of the marvel universe, but there haven’t been much to keep me on board in recent years. However, Jason Aaron’s new series is not only a fun, intelligent, and imaginative exploration of Stephen Strange’s world, but one of the most interesting series out there. In the first issue Strange battles a nomadic tribe of otherdimensional soul-eaters, only for it to be revealed that he was fighting within the mind of a young boy who had fallen into a coma. He was simply making a house call. Aaron gives us a character that feels the weight of a terrifying and absurd world that only he and a small community of magic-wielders can even see, brought out by the inventive art of Chris Bachalo. The cost of his actions are felt, as he claims he “coughs up chunks of my soul at least twice a day”. Still, it’s a job that he loves, and there’s a thrilling sense of wonder and adventure alongside the darker themes at play. And with his cinematic debut later this year, I’m eager to see more of what this series has to offer.  – Jack Godwin

 Most- Anticipated: Civil War II

David Marquez (Marvel Comics)

David Marquez (Marvel Comics)

It’s been ten years since Marvel’s event series, Civil War changed the shape of the Marvel Universe. Of course, many other events have happened since them but most have paled in generating the same about of hype amongst comic-readers. There’s no telling if sequel will have the same result and spawn an eventual film of its own, but I’m optimistic that Civil War II could be something special instead of just a cash-grab. Written by Marvel mainstay, Brian Michael Bendis, and drawn by new superstar David Marquez, Civil War II focuses on the conflict between Iron Man and Captain Marvel when an Inhuman with the ability to predict the future changes the stakes of heroism. While Bendis has been a bit hit and miss with Marvel events in the past (Secret Invasion is really good, while Age of Ultron, not so much) I’m hoping that he’s able to given each character their own distinct voice in the conflict and step away from his decompressed storytelling habits. What’s most exciting about this new event is how different the Marvel Universe is from where we were ten years ago. Captain Marvel is a power player, Sam Wilson is Captain America, Jane Foster is Thor, and newcomers like Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Ms. Marvel add a fresh-perspective to the Marvel Universe. Captain America: Civil War may be the blockbuster film of the summer, but Civil War II is shaping up the be the blockbuster comic event all us comic book readers will be talking about. – Richard Newby

Featured Image: Sara Pichelli (Marvel Comics)