So you've just seen one of the latest comic book movie blockbusters, and you're interested enough to take a peek at what these characters are like on the page. Good for you, literate fan! However, once you enter your local comic-book store, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the fact that there are many versions of your new favorite heroes and villains on the shelf. Picking one up may result in you finding something that is nothing like what you had hoped for.
In the spirit of new discoveries, we decided to provide a brief primer for those of you excited by the latest and upcoming superhero releases, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. This might get a little complicated, but if read the right stuff you can become the most knowledgeable comic book movie fan on the block. Which may or may not be a blessing!
Quick Note: this isn't a list of the best comics from each character, but rather suggestions as to the best way to keep up with current continuity, which differs from movie continuity.
If You Liked X-Men: Days Of Future PastThe Movie: Based on the iconic comic book storyline by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin, this adventure joins the characters introduced in X-Men: First Class with those from the earlier X-Men trilogy. X-Men: Days Of Future Past is a time travel adventure where the heroes must prevent a cataclysmic incident in the seventies that leads to the mutants nearing extinction in the near future.
The Movie's Inspiration: First of all, it might be fun to look up the original Days Of Future Past storyline, which was only a two issue arc and is slightly less-advanced reading compared to some other massive multi-issue crossovers. The story focuses not on Wolverine, but on the character of Kitty Pryde, and the target of the assassination attempt at the core of the story is not on Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), but rather Senator Kelly. Other than that, it's a fun, brisk read, if predictably dark.
If you're looking to jump onto the modern continuity, however, good luck. X-Men comics have always prided themselves on knotty, complex storytelling, and the current run is no exception. The biggest point of confusion is that Professor X is not alive in current continuity. His death at the hands of Cyclops (at the time possessed by the Phoenix Force seen onscreen in X-Men: The Last Stand) splintered the X-Men for good.
On one side, Wolverine now serves as the unlikely headmaster for the Jean Grey School For Higher Education, where he and fellow senior X-Men team members educate the future X-Men. None of these characters are very familiar to casual fans, though some will spot Genesis, who bears a resemblance to his father, the eponymous villain in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.
On another side, Cyclops leads a rebel faction of mutants at a Weapon X base in Canada, which even casual fans will remember as the place where Wolverine received his Adamantium skeleton. Aligning himself with Magneto, Cyclops is militarizing his followers and no longer shares Xavier's ideals for peace between mutants and humans. There is also the matter of the five original X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, Iceman) who have somehow traveled in time from the beginning of the X-Men's existence and are now a part of our timeline. And yes, it's often hard to keep up with which Cyclops is which.
Current Comics: The X-Men crowd pop up in several ongoing series. Wolverine And The X-Men and Amazing X-Men focus specifically on the students at Jean Grey's School For Higher Education. If you like Quicksilver from the current film, you can catch him as one of the members of All-New X-Factor run. Uncanny X-Men places the spotlight on Cyclops' squad, while X-Men actually has a current focus on an all-female team led by Storm, Jubilee, Kitty Pryde and others. All New X-Men spotlights that team of the original five trapped in time, while titles like X-Force and Savage Wolverine present a diverse look at the rest of the mutant world.