I’m excited to unveil my first non-X-Men comprehensive reading order: Avengers Reading Order – The Bendis Years (2004 – 2012)
The guide includes the story-by-story or “trade reading order” of all the Avengers team titles from Brian Bendis taking over Avengers with issue #500 in 2004 to the end of his run on the 2010 volumes of Avengers and New Avengers in the wake of Avengers vs. X-Men in 2012. That’s over 350 individual issues from more than a dozen titles. In most cases, I explain the placement of each story and offer special notes for reading.
Head to the guide right now, or read on for more background on the period and how I assembled this Avengers resource.
Brian Bendis completed the modernization of the Avengers begun by Kurt Busiek in 1998, taking them from a quaint card-carrying club of do-gooders to the Marvel’s Justice League. If Busiek helped to centralize and modernize a team that had lost its core in the mid-90s, Bendis made them Marvel’s ubiquitous, movie-ready flagship.
After his introduction of new members like Spider-Man, Wolverine, Luke Cage, and Dr. Strange, it became completely normal for any Marvel hero to be drafted into the team if it served a story. The period also expanded the team franchise from its previous all-time high of two books in the late 80s to a minimum of four.
It also tangled with a crazy line-up of line-wide events, rivaling 90s X-Men for the amount of interruptions of its plot – to the point that the interruptions became the plot, and standalone arcs were mere breaks in the action.
I am historically not a major Avengers reader. In my backlog of 90s floppies I have a decent run of 300s-era Avengers, but it’s mostly owing to Steve Epting’s amazing covers rather than being particularly allegiant to the series.
My early collected edition bookshelf reflected that, with just a few Avengers books marking major Scarlet Witch stories. (Just like Marvel and Fox, I consider her to be as much an X-Men character as an Avengers one.)
That changed in 2012. We were surging towards Avengers vs. X-Men, which came with rumors of Brian Bendis taking over the X-Men books. I foolishly thought knowing something about The Avengers’ recent history would help me be less depressed about the shoe-horning of Avengers into a rightfully X-Men story or Bendis likely derailing all of their awesome plotlines.
I browsed through New Avengers collected editions trying to decide what to sample, and I realized I could not make heads or tails of them. There were two different New Avengers runs with similar numbering and a set books with similar titles and covers that had wildly different contents! [Read more…] about A Bendis Avengers Reading Order