05/04/2010

Reading Order FAQ

What does TPB stand for?
TPB stands for trade paperback. Many comic publishers will release collected editions of comic story arcs to make it more convenient for readers to assemble their collections. The format in which these collected comics come is called a trade paperback.

Why does this table exist?
As a new reader of X-Men comics, I found it difficult knowing which books to pick up and when to read them. All I was looking for was a simple list of the chronology of collected comics Marvel has released. Upon finding few really useful sources, I decided to make my own list in the form of a table, the result of which is what you see above.

This website sucks, why didn't you make a better one?
With the few website-creating skills I possess, I managed to piece together the information I have in the simplest form. I don't really care about this enough to make a pimped-out webpage, so this is all you get.

Some of the information posted is wrong, what can I do about this?
If you notice a mistake in the table, please leave a comment stating the problem and it will be fixed as soon as possible.

How can I get out-of-print books?
Unfortunately, publishers only produce a certain number of books at a time, and sometimes these go out of print. These are indicated by being written in RED on the table. The books have been checked on multiple online bookstores to verify whether they are in print or not. If a title is not red, it generally means that the book will be available somewhere (i.e. not worldwide). The obvious way to avoid this is to buy books as soon as possible after the date they're released. If you missed your chance, however, let the hunt begin. The easiest place to obtain out-of-print books is Amazon Marketplace or AbeBooks, or any one of the hundreds of other sites like that, as well as eBay. Alternatively, you can wait for a new printing, although that might never happen.

What reading material does this table actually contain? Is it all vital?
My main intention when making this thing was to have a basic skeleton of X-continuity that can be padded out later on. That is it contains basically all the main X-books and crossovers that have had some effect on the X-universe. Some of these books are vital material, others not so much. It's really up to you. The list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it a prescription of what you have to read. It really is just a guide.

Why are there Wolverine books at the side of the table?
This was really more for my own purposes than anything else. As a reader of Wolverine comics, I like to know when abouts in the mainstream X-continuity the events in those books happen. It's just good to know.

Why are books like Avengers Disassembled included? They aren't really X-Men related.
There may be books up there that aren't vital reading but might offer some insight into what's going on in the contunuity. For example, Avengers Disassembled is the precursor to House of M, which had massive effects on the X-continuity we know today. Therefore, it might be in your interest to have this background knowledge. The same goes for a book such as Uncanny Avengers, which is by no means a definitive X-Man book, but nonetheless prominently contains X-Men characters and also sets the tone for a lot of other books in the Marvel Universe.

What do the numbers in brackets mean after some of the comic titles?
Every so often, comic publishers like to spice things up a little and restart the numbering. This might be because it's the dawn of a new comic books era, a new creative team, a special occasion, a relaunch, or they just got bored and like to mess with our heads. Therefore, various comic series have multiple volumes. On the table above, these are indicated by the numbers in brackets, e.g. if you see X-Force(1) #28, it means the 28th issue of the first volume of X-Force (as opposed to the 28th issue of the second volume).

What is the difference between Uncanny X-Men (UXM) and X-Men (XM)?
This is where it gets (even more) complicated. Back in the day there was one X-Men comic book - Uncanny X-Men (actually there's more to it but for the sake of this question, I'll leave it at that). The book eventually became so popular that they decided to release another book in 1991, which they called, just plain-and-simple, X-Men (often referred to as Adjectiveless X-Men or X-Men [2nd series]). The books contained two different teams (Blue and Gold), and interacted at varying levels. The X-Men title would eventually go through some name chages, making the whole thing yet more complex (see next question).
UPDATE: As of September 2010, Marvel released a brand new adjectiveless X-Men book, starting with issue #1. Outside of this reading list, this is known as X-Men volume 3. To avoid confusion, I am referring to this series as XM(2010).
UPDATE: As of  October 2011, the long standing Uncanny X-Men book was relaunched with a new #1 issue. Additionally, the team once again split into two, creating another book, Wolverine and the X-Men. Subsequent issues of Uncanny X-Men will be referred to as UXM(2011) to avoid confusion with other books. Wolverine and the X-Men is referred to as WATXM.
UPDATE: Starting in October 2012, Marvel relaunched a number of its titles as well as introducing some new ones. Uncanny X-Men was relaunched with a new #1 and is referred to as UXM(2013). X-Men (2010 series) was also relaunched with a new #1 and this is referrred to as XM(2013). X-Men Legacy also got a new #1 but rather than complicating things even more, I've decided to just call this XML. A new X-Men book, All-New X-Men (ANXM) has also been released, as has Uncanny Avengers (UA).

Why do X-Men, New X-Men, and X-Men Legacy all share the same numbering?
As you now know, the second X-Men book was first published in 1991. In 2001, the name changed to New X-Men, then in 2004 to 2008 it went back to its original X-Men title. As of 2008 it has been published as X-Me: Legacy. Throughout all this crazy name-changing, the series has kept its original numbering. So basically X-Men, New-X-Men and X-Men Legacy are the same book.

What are crossovers?
Crossovers are generally story arcs where characters from different books come together in one continuity (for example Messiah War was a crossover between Cable and X-Force). Crossovers are often large events (such as the Age of Apocalypse crossover) which affect mainstream continuity in a big way (which is why they've been included on this list).

What is Marvel NOW!?
Marvel NOW! is a relaunch of sorts that began in 2012 and involved a number of books being relaunched, as well as new books being introduced to the line up. It's not really a reboot but a kind of re-jigging of the Marvel Universe to simplify the reading process and attract new readers (mostly through an abundance of #1 issues). The Marvel NOW! relaunch issues have been marked on the table for readers who are interested in those books. Marvel NOW! is happening in 'waves', so look out for new developments.

Why don't you update the table more often?
Because I have a life.
Quite honestly I kind of fell off the comic book radar for a lot of last year and for some time before that so I missed out on a lot of great books and stopped keeping track of trades. But I aim to keep more of an eye on comics now and in the future. This doesn't mean that real life won't get in the way, so in the mean time, if you have a trade and don't know where it belongs chronologically, follow this system to get a rough idea:
  1. Look up the name and issue number of the first and last issues in the trade (for example on marvel.wikia.com).
  2. Make a note of the release dates of the issues.
  3. Go back to the table and use the issue dates column to find some other trades that contain issues from around that time.
  4. Enjoy your trade!


If you have any questions not answered above, please leave a comment.


44 comments:

Will said...

Great job, i'm using your list right now. You missed the Deadly Genesis TPB though.

Scarlet Witch said...

Hey Will, thanks for pointing that out. I origianlly only dealt with the main ongoing series, but upon closer inspection Deadly Genesis has some pretty big implications on continuity so you'll now find it up on the list.

Brett said...

Thank you for this list. I stopped reading X-Men after Morrison's run and picked up stories like Rise and Fall of the Shiar and Messiah CompleX only after alot of hype. Now I have 2+ years to catch up on and this list is EXTREMELY helpful!

Anonymous said...

"X-Men: Legacy - Emplate" needs to be moved. It occurs after the move to Utopia and was part of the "Nation X" period.

Scarlet Witch said...

Thanks for pointing that out anonymous person. I've moved things around a little bit now, I stuck Emplate before Nation X, after Utopia. Let me know if that's still not right!

Anonymous said...

where does mutant massacre tpb fit in all of this or is it included in one of the essentials?

Scarlet Witch said...

Mutant Massacre can be found in Essential vol. 6, or as a trade on its own.

templesweeper said...

X-Force Vol 3 is a bit tricky to figure out. It gets split up. Issues 12-13 you can read after the first two volumes pretty independently.

And then vol 3 skips about three issues and picks up at issue 17-19 I think.

Issues 14-16 are part of the Cable/X-Force Messiah War. To read this you need to have read the Messiah Complex Trade Paperback and the Cable series up until the same point. It all deals with Cable and the new Mutant kid. So, you could skip it, but as you can see on the list, it does have the Cable/X-Foce Messiah war listed there. And it is very good. You could skip the Cable seriers up to that point and still kind of get what is going on, but I wouldn't recommend it. Make sense?

templesweeper said...

X-Force Vol 3 is a bit tricky to figure out. It gets split up. Issues 12-13 you can read after the first two volumes pretty independently.

And then vol 3 skips about three issues and picks up at issue 17-19 I think.

Issues 14-16 are part of the Cable/X-Force Messiah War. To read this you need to have read the Messiah Complex Trade Paperback and the Cable series up until the same point. It all deals with Cable and the new Mutant kid. So, you could skip it, but as you can see on the list, it does have the Cable/X-Foce Messiah war listed there. And it is very good. You could skip the Cable seriers up to that point and still kind of get what is going on, but I wouldn't recommend it. Make sense?

Jason said...

This is amazing! You're amazing! I've been looking for a list like this for a very long time! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Now I can finally start reading this huge stack of trades I've been accumulating!

Where would you suggest fitting in:

X-Men: Kitty Pryde - Shadow & Flame,
X-Men: Phoenix - Warsong,
& X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong?

Those are the only other 3 I have that you didn't mention...

I'm halfway through Day of Atom... do I need to go back?

Scarlet Witch said...

Hi Jason, glad to help you out. Shadow and Flame came out June 05 - November 05, so I'd say it fits in around Astonishing X-Men v. 2/X-Men Golgotha-ish. It's not super important for coninuity from what I gather. Endsong ran March 05 - June 05 so I'd also put it around Astonishing v. 2 and Golgotha. Warsong came out November 06 - March 07 so I'd put it between X-Men: Supernovas and Astonishing v. 4 (although Warsong is a direct sequel to Endsong and neither of them are that coninuity-heavy so it won't make a huge difference if you read them one after another in one sitting). Hope that helps :)

Jason said...

Yes, that helps immensely!

You're so great for taking the time to put this up. I started with Joss's Astonishing X-Men run and then I picked up the 3 vols of New X-Men. So far I've collected from Poptopia to Sisterhood and I'm only just reading The Cruelest Cut, so I've still got a lot to read! You're list has been a huge help in putting the stories in the best reading order! So thank you again so much!

jason said...

I must agree with everyone else,this list is a godsend! It's been sooooo helpful in trying to figure out the reading order of the x-men trades. I hope you keep the list going after the revelations stuff!

Scarlet Witch said...

@jason No problem, and yes, the list is still having items added to it, just waiting for a few more titles to build up so I can post them in batches.

Anonymous said...

You are awesome, Scarlet Witch! Who would have thought that someone so evil to the X-Men would compile such a great reading order. I almost wish you hadn't died trying to infiltrate Jean's body.

Craig said...

Wow, this list phenominal! It's probably one of the best chronologies I've found. So you know, I've looked around online and found the Essential Classic X-Men books that cover issues 1-66. What would make this list even greater is if you found a way to integrate some of the other series in here, too, like X-Factor, New Mutants, Excalibur, etc. Just a suggestion! Keep up the great work though!

Michael said...

This is an awesome list!
the only way it could be better is by doing what Craig said and incorporating X-factor, new mutants and so on into the mix.
Keep up the awesome work cause i'd be totally lost without this reading guide (i am new to Marvel comics :D)

NonProphet said...

Just wanted to say thanks. I’ve only read in Trade for a wile now and have looked for a list like this for years. Found your list a few months ago and its been in my favorites since. Thanks

Brett said...

Scarlet Witch - I think you need to add Excaliber Vol 3:

Excalibur: Forging the Sword
Excalibur vol. 3, #1-4 November 2004

Excalibur: Saturday Night Fever Excalibur vol. 3, #5-10 June 2005

House of M: Excalibur - Prelude Excalibur vol. 3, #11-14 August 2005

There explain Magneto's return from Planet X, who Xorn was and explaining Scarlett Witch's powers and persona leading upto House of M.

Brett said...

Oh and also New Avengers Vol. 4 The Collective 2007

Explains Shen Xorn, The Collective and Magneto disappears until his partnership with The High Evolutionary to regain his powers.

downthepub said...

Your website is awesome and has been invaluable in putting together my collection. I don't suppose you know if anyone has done a similar table for Avengers or Spider-Man?

Kucko said...

Wow!
Great work,
this is what i'm looking for!

Regards from Spain

Scarlet Witch said...

@downthepub Thanks for your comment, glad you found it useful. I haven't heard of any sites that offer a table sort of reading order like this one. You might find http://www.tradereadingorder.com a useful resource, but I find the site to be a tad confusing in terms of layout. Otherwise, there's a partial trade reading order list on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Avengers-TPBs-in-chronological-order/lm/29JD1KVNK9PCY). Other than that I can only recommend google and your own rigorous research. Hope that helps a little.

Carole said...

Hey, like others, I think this list is wonderful. I stopped reading a few years ago, and it's a nightmare to come back. So great job ! I totally love it.

choobacca said...

Please update this wonderful guide.

Shorty said...

Crushing Krisis also has an excellent TPB reading guide that includes all the other X-books, such as X-factor, X-force, New Mutants, etc. This list is definitly a good starting point though. Excellent Job Scarlet Witch

http://crushingkrisis.com/collecting-x-men-comic-books-as-graphic-novels/

Shorty said...

Also, anyone interested in the overall marvel universe, including the X-books, there's another site which lists those also:

http://thecentrecannothold.net/tpb-timelines/marvel/earth-616-marvel-universe-pt-002/

Shorty said...

Essentian X-Men volume 10 is coming out soon, you can preorder it on amazon

Scarlet Witch said...

@Shorty: Splendid! I've got a bunch of titles waiting to be added to the list now so it'll be updated soon.

cannibalcreep said...

I truly appreciateall the effort you put into this guide its exactly what I've been looking for. Many thanks SW

Anonymous said...

Here is a trade missing from the list, it came out in 2009 (so it should be available still) and collects work from 1999. I'm staring at it now, so I know the contents are correct. :)
X-Men: The Shattering [Collects Uncanny X-Men #372-375; X-Men #92-95, Astonishing X-Men #1-3; and material from X-Men 1999 Yearbook]
Thank you for the site. This entry completely replaces an old out of print trade and adds a couple more issues.

Scarlet Witch said...

: Thanks a lot for the suggestion of The Shattering, I'll be sure to add it next time I update the list!

Phil said...

Just wanted to say thank you very much for putting all of this together.

Le Bandit said...

Great List !!!

I keep refering to it !
Do you intend to add the X-Force and Uncanny X-Force to it ?

Anonymous said...

Oh Yeah..

Great list


.... Please add X-Force ;-)


Chris

Shorty said...

well, if you're gonna add X-Force, might as well add X-Factor, New Mutants, and the rest of the individual characters such as Cable, Deadpool, X-man, etc.

Shorty said...

Would be a pretty big task tho, so if you need help getting a list of all that, I could help, or you can just refer to krushing krysis.

ECcab said...

you might also want to reference the pocketbooks as well for those who want to read the stories in Essential in colour http://www.tradereadingorder.com/marvel-series/marvel-pocket-books/

Shorty said...

do the pocket books have every book in chronological order like the essentials, or are they just color reprints of the major storylines?

Nathan said...

Just want to say I have been using your list for a couple of months now. I left X-men comics around the M-day/Decimation storyline, but have caught up through the local library. I am checking your list all the time. Thanks.

IHunterMusic said...

I love this list thank you. I am always checking it and it has been a great help. Slight fear that you may stop updating it one day. If so, how do you go about updating it in the first place? Everywhere seems to contradict everywhere else! Thanks :-)

templesweeper said...

I would REALLY encourage you to add Uncanny X-Force to this list. It isn't just a "side X-book." In some ways, some of the events there (what happened with Angel/Archangel, Fantomax, Ethan, Psylocke) are pretty essential reading. Especially Angel/Archangel. Besides, it's probably the best written of all the X-Books (well, Remender is about to leave the book and move over to Uncanny Avengers, which should probably also be added to this list at some point as half of that team is made of X-Men). If you need help with X-Force and figuring out where it lands, let me know. Great list.

ihuntermusic said...

Woohoo! Just checked for the first time in a while (I always keep coming back in the hope of an update) and the update has happened! Thanks :-)

Jacob cuglewski said...

are the Essential X-Men books collected in any other paperbacks? I find the Essential really hard to read without color, and on the easily rip able paper.