The Avengers franchise is what made Marvel Studios the completely dominant force in comic based entertainment. The way they streamlined Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and other characters into an expansive universe that also includes television shows like Daredevil and Agents Of SHIELD is something that has never been achieved before in motion picture entertainment.
The Avengers continuity, even without including the individual characters is supremely daunting. So, I’ve put together a chronology of some of the best Avengers related books that are currently or were recently available in collected editions (the recently available are still around for pretty cheap on various online outlets and in bookstores) into ten TV seasons.
Ok, so I had some fun setting up The Secret Invasion as the climax for Season 4 and then yanking it away. That’s because we need a whole lot of time for Secret Invasion. Perhaps, an entire season. As we saw in the last season, certain heroes and villains were switched out by Skrulls. When? Nobody knows. Nobody knows how far back this goes, and how many people might be Skrulls. That’s going to make for an interesting season.
Season 5: Dark Reign
(Showrunner: Brian Michael Bendis)
Episode 1: New Avengers Illuminati
(written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Brian Reed and Jim Cheung)
The most powerful people in The Marvel Universe meet up periodically to deal with the biggest events that transpire. See how The Kree/Skrull war fit into Secret Invasion, and reminisce about The Infinity Gauntlet and the original Secret Wars (which I’ve spared you from) before getting to the super problem of the coming Invasion.
The Cabal. 1 episode
Episode 2: New Avengers Secret Invasion Book 1
Episode 3: Mighty Avengers Secret Invasion Book 1
Episode 4: Avengers The Initiative Secret Invasion
Episode 5: Secret Invasion Runaways/Young Avengers
Episode 6: New Avengers Secret Invasion Book 2
Episode 7: Secret Invasion Thor
Episode 8: Ms Marvel Secret Invasion
Episode 9: Thunderbolts Secret Invasion
Episode 10: Deadpool Secret Invasion
Episode 11: Secret Invasion
(written by Bendis and many authors, art by Leinil Francis Yu and many artists)
There’s almost no use in describing each individual collection. This is the least spoilery order to read the trades. Discover why The Skrulls are invading and watch as each team/hero deals with their doubts and methods for stopping wave after wave of Skrulls. There are about ten other trades dealing with The Secret Invasion, but these are the most relevant to Avengers continuity. The only one that might look like it shouldn’t be here is Deadpool, but, surprisingly enough, he’s entirely responsible for what happens for the rest of the season.
Secret Invasion. 10 episodes
Episode 12: Secret Warriors Nick Fury Agent Of Nothing
(written by Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman, art by Stefano Caseli)
Thanks to Deadpool and the Skrulls, SHIELD is no more. Norman Osborne is running things now, and his organization is called HAMMER. But Nick Fury has assembled a covert ops team to keep him and his mission alive.
Nick Fury Agent Of Nothing. 1 episode
Episode 13: Dark Reign The List
(written by many, art by many)
Norman Osborne has assembled a list of the people he’s got to destroy or gather to his side in the coming era. Now all he needs is a team or two of people to help him out.
The List. 1 episode
Episode 14: Avengers The Initiative Disassembled
(written by Dan Slott and Christos Gage, art by Steve Kurth)
Does The Initiative even have a place in the age of HAMMER?
New Direction. 1 episode
Episode 15: Thunderbolts Bringing Down The House
(written by Andy Diggle, art by Roberto De La Torre)
Norman has big plans for the future but before he can launch them, he needs to clear up The Thunderbolts team he used to run. Luckily, he has just the former Thunderbolts to take down the current Thunderbolts.
Bringing Down The House. 1 episode
Episode 16: Dark Avengers Assemble
(written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Mike Deodato JR)
Norman Osborne is now The Iron Patriot and has assembled his own team of Avengers who look a lot like previous Avengers but have a lot more in common with The Thunderbolts. Some of them even used to be Thunderbolts.
Dark Avengers Assemble. 1 episode
Episode 17: Dark Reign Sinister Spider-Man
(written by Brian Reed, art by Chris Bachalo)
Venom gets to play Spider-Man for a while. And eat people. He also gets to eat people.
Sinister Spider-Man. 1 episode
Episode 18: Deadpool Dark Reign, Dark Reign Deadpool Thunderbolts
(written by Daniel Way, art by Paco Medina)
The Merc With A Mouth is a little put off that Norman Osborne intercepted the key to stop The Secret Invasion before it could reach Nick Fury. He doesn’t care about the ethics. He cares that Nick was going to pay him, and Norman didn’t. So now he’s got to kill Norman Osborne. Unfortunately, The Thunderbolts are just one of many obstacles in his way.
Deadpool. 1 episode
Serial 2: New Avengers Power, New Avengers Powerloss
(written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Philip Tan, Alex Maleev, and Stuart Immonen
Someone has kidnapped Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’s baby, and The New Avengers won’t stop until she’s back. While all the other teams have had to adjust to going underground during the reign of Norman Osborne, this team was prepared by having an entire season of hiding after Civil War. But now they want to make their presence felt.
Powerloss. 2 episodes
Season 5 has 20 jam packed episodes revolving around green things.
The X-Men franchise has had a few animated series, and is on their way to a sixth live action movie. But how would you put together a ten season live action show with continuity and including the best stories from the various X-books over the years?
After years of destroying and rebuilding Westchester New York, The X-Men decide they need to freshen up their routine, so they head west to go about destroying the Pacific coast for a change. They even form their own little island called Utopia.
Season 8: Utopia
(Showrunner: Matt Fraction)
Episode 1: X-Men Manifest Destiny
(various writers and artists)
The mutants head west to San Francisco. Follow the journeys of Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and many more as all 198ish surviving mutants are invited to take up residence in the new mutant haven.
Manifest Destiny. 1 episode
Episode 2: Deadpool Secret Invasion
(written by Daniel Way, art by Paco Medina and Carlo Barberi)
While the mutants have been moving west, all the NY based superheroes have been battling Skrulls during The Secret Invasion. That’s not really the X-Men’s problem, though. Everyone’s favorite merc with a mouth, on the other hand, sees a profit in taking down the impending Skrull empire. And make a profit he does but at the cost of the entire Marvel Universe as he single handedly ushers in Marvel’s Dark Reign era.
One Of Us. 1 episode
Serial 1: Uncanny X-Men Lovelorn, Uncanny X-Men Sisterhood
(written by Matt Fraction, art by Greg Land and Yanick Paquette)
Back in San Fran, Emma Frost does a little therapy in Cyclops’s head while Colossus battles his past. Also, some old school mutants come back into the picture. Then, everyone’s favorite redhead is back and she and some female villains are kicking X-ass. Also meet the X-Men’s Science Team.
Sisterhood. 4 episodes
Serial 2: X-Men Curse Of The Mutants
(written by Victor Gischler, art by Paco Medina)
Vampire Terrorists? Vampire Bombs? One of the X-Men’s long-shelved c-list characters becomes a Vampire Mutant? San Francisco is not great for this team (please note, I did not use the phrases “San Francisco bites” or “San Francisco sucks” or “bloody hell in San Francisco”).
Cursed. 2 episodes
Serial 3: Avengers & X-Men Utopia
(various writers and artists)
Dark Reign has a team of Dark Avengers and Dark X-Men. Basically, if there’s a team, HAMMER (the organization that replaced SHIELD) has their own version filled with villains.It’s like every team is The Thunderbolts. Well, Cyclops has had enough. He decides to take on Norman Osborne once and for all. Emma will undoubtedly be the key to ending the standoff. Of course she’ll be on the winning side.
Dark Reign In Utopia. 4 episodes
Episode 13: X-Men Psylocke
(written by Christopher Yost, art by Harvey Tolibao)
After the events of Sisterhood, Psyclocke decides to go back to Japan to clear up some loose ends from the early seasons of the X-Men.
Revanche. 1 episode
Episode 14: X-Men Legacy Emplate
(written by Mike Carey, art by Daniel Acuna)
Now that the X-Men are safely on Utopia they shouldn’t have to worry about any…wait. Emplate?
Devil At The Crossroads. 1 episode
Serial 4: X-Men Second Coming
(various writers and artists)
Having been absent all season, Cable and Hope return from the future. Hope is now sixteen years old and her mutant gene is active. But what are her powers? Who, aside form Bishop, is chasing her now? Will she be the savior or the end for all mutantkind? Find out as one pivotal X-Men completely and totally dies. For a little bit.
Second Coming. 3 episodes
Serial 5: Uncanny X-Men The Birth Of Generation Hope, Generation Hope The End Of A Generation
(written by Matt Fraction, James Asmus, and Allan Heinberg, art by Whilce Portacio, Leonard Kirk, Jamie Mckelvie, Steven Sanders, Oliver Coipel, Ibraim Roberson, Tim Green II, and Takeshi Miyazawa)
Now that Hope is back, new mutants have started showing up all over the globe, and it’s up to her to track them down and try and recruit them to the X-Men. But sometimes, the new recruits are a bad idea.
Generation Hope. 2 episodes
Episode 20: Uncanny X-Men Quarantine
(written by Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen, art by Greg Land)
Sublime is back and he has a new drug that can turn anyone into an X-Man. Downside? There’s a plague on Utopia sapping the powers of all the mutants. Maybe these two things are connected? Also, Emma deals with one of the mutants Hope brought back from her mission.
Quarantine. 1 episode
Season 8 has 20 episodes
Interseason Special: Deadpool X Marks The Spot
(written by Daniel Way, art by Paco Medina and Shawn Crystal)
The merc with a mouth has spent years as foe or unlikely ally to the X-Men, just ask Cable. But he really, really wants to be an X-Man. And now that all the mutants are on Utopia, he’s determined to join their ranks. They’d be crazy not to accept him.