Some people like to go into movies and be completely surprised. Others, however, want the full backstory before sitting down. If you're in the latter camp and want to know everything you need to know before Captain Marvel , you've got your work cut out for you: There are more than 50 years worth of comic books to get through. But if you're wondering where to start, don't worry. We've got you covered.
Captain Marvel Vol. 1 #1-18
Marvel's first Captain Marvel comic book series might have featured a different hero—the male alien, Mar-Vell (get it?)—in the title role, but Carol Danvers is still present, fulfilling an all-too-cliche part as a love interest. That said, there's a lot to enjoy here, not least of which Carol's super heroic origin story, appearances from both the Supreme Intelligence and Ronan the Accuser, and a villainous turn by Jude Law's character, Yon-Rogg. Consider it retroactive studying to help make sense of just where the movie was coming from all along.
How to read it : Available digitally.
Avengers Vol. 1 #89-97
The conflict between the Kree and the Skrull is, at this point, a comic book staple, but the first place it was really noticed by fans was this now-classic storyline called, appropriately, "The Kree/Skrull War." Not only does it bring Earth's Mightiest Heroes into the conflict, but Captain Marvel—the old one, the dude; Carol wouldn't take on the role for decades yet—joins the Avengers, kind of. (Oh, and the war ends. Again, kind of .) A taste of things to come, perhaps…?
How to read it : Available digitally, and in the Avengers: Kree/Skrull War print collection.
Captain Marvel Vol. 8 #1-15
While Carol took over the role of Captain Marvel in a comic book series that launched two years earlier, her first outing as Captain Marvel is relatively uneven for a number of reasons. Far more enjoyable is the relaunch, which kept what worked—not least of which being writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, the voice behind Carol Danvers' transformation and the writer most responsible for who the character is today, in comics and elsewhere—and added more stability in terms of visuals and tone. This, then, is the core text behind the MCU version of the character.
How to read it : Available digitally, and in the Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero Vols. 3 and 4 print collections.
The Life of Captain Marvel #1-5
In advance of the character's cinematic debut, Marvel's comic book arm retconned in a new origin for the character that foregrounded the feminist appeal and pushed the debt she owed to a male predecessor far into the background. It wasn't entirely graceful or subtle, but it created the new status quo of the character as she rejoined the Avengers and became a far bigger deal for Marvel than she ever had been before. (Spoilers: Pay close attention to her mother.) (Spoilers, Part 2: Surprisingly, the retcon pushed the character further from her movie incarnation than she had been previously.)
How to read it : Available digitally, and in the Life of Captain Marvel print collection.
Meet the Skulls #1-5
With the shape-changing aliens playing a significant role in the Captain Marvel movie, it's no surprise that Marvel would want to do something with them again in comics. What is a surprise is the the approach taken by this just-launched five-issue miniseries that asks the audience to sympathize with the alien invaders, and consider issues of assimilation and passing in addition to the more familiar invader tropes.
How to read it : Available digitally.
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