For fans of superhero movies, print comics are plenty accessible

Lee Henry

Everyone has a favorite superhero thanks to million-dollar blockbusters, cartoon series and video games based on comic books. But decades of publication history often prove too intimidating for new fans to overcome. Comic publishers have made it easy to engage with the print adventures of characters like Wolverine and Batman through trade paperbacks, which are reprinted and bound collections of comic story arcs. All of these recommendations are available in this format, and can be found at any local Austin comics and games store such as Dragon’s Lair or Austin Books & Comics. 

The Daily Texan created a buyer’s guide to orient new fans with the universes of these characters. The stories listed here are accessible to new readers without sacrificing quality, and in most cases, echo the tones of the movies that feature their lead characters. 

Thor

People are Thor fans for two reasons: either they love Chris Hemsworth or they love Loki. Both sects of fandom will enjoy J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel’s “Thor.” Asgard has been destroyed by a cataclysmic event, but Thor and his fellow gods are given a second life on Earth. The catch is that everyone but Thor has been trapped in a human body, and it’s up to the God of Thunder to restore his brethren and rebuild Asgard while contending with the manipulations of his brother, Loki, who has been reborn as a woman. It’s a high-stakes and dramatic reinvention of the Thor family, and it’s available in three trade collections.

Batman

Batman is one of those heroes who seems impossible to catch up with. He’s been around since the 1930s and appears in upwards of four comics every month. Fans of the darker Christopher Nolan Batman films should pick up Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s “Batman: Hush” — a 12-issue arc in which Batman contends with a new villain while finally confronting his relationship with Catwoman. The Dark Knight and Catwoman have never looked better than under Jim Lee’s pencils, and it’s one of the most accessible and critically beloved of the more recent Batman stories.

Wolverine

The Wolverine movies may have been hit and miss, but the world’s meanest mutant has some fantastic stories available in paperback. One of the best is Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s “Old Man Logan.” It’s a stand-alone, alternative future story in which Wolverine has given up fighting after Marvel’s supervillains made an alliance that finally destroyed the heroes. Definitely R-rated in terms of violence, the comic is still beautifully rendered by McNiven. Logan’s internal struggle with his pacifism as the world shatters around him is emotionally devastating, and “Old Man Logan” features some of the most haunting moments in the character’s history.

The Avengers

Marvel is currently retooling its universe in response to the phenomenal success of 2012’s Avengers film, but the currently published monthly Avengers titles are weak and unnecessarily convoluted. With such a wide array of characters, it’s hard to find a series with a similar lineup to that of the movie. “Secret Wars” is an Avengers miniseries from the 1980s that featured many of the biggest heroes of the day fighting a deadly team of villains on a planet called Battleworld. Every Avenger from the film except for Black Widow appears, and the Iron Man present is Jim Rhodes rather than Tony Stark. The series will introduce any new Avengers fans to some of the best characters ever on the team. The Fantastic Four and the X-Men also appear, and in many ways, it’s the ultimate universe-spanning crossover in Marvel’s history.