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.