Audiences might already be familiar with the core Avengers from the many Marvel movies to date (not least of which is 2012’s The Avengers), but this week’s Avengers: Age of Ultron is also the movie debut of a number of mainstays from the company’s comic book mythology. Want to know more about Ultron, the Scarlet Witch, or the Vision before Friday but don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. The list below should offer you the primer you need. Think of it as required reading for your Avengers 102 crash course.
Avengers Vol. 1 #54-58 (1968)
Looking back on them now, it’s impressive how quickly the origins of both Ultron and the Vision got established. Both characters appeared a couple of months apart, in two-part storylines that would take far longer if told today. (Avengers #56, in fact, is an entirely unconnected story altogether.) Sure, there’s the pre-requisite melodrama and lack of subtlety on display in these stories, but in terms of invention and bombast, this is the real thing. The Age of Ultron got its start here.
How to read it: Available digitally and in the Essential Avengers Vol. 3 print collection.
The Vision and Scarlet Witch Vol. 2 #1-12 (1985-1986)
Almost two decades later, a lot had changed in the Marvel Universe—including the fact that the Vision and the Scarlet Witch had fallen in love and gotten married. Yes, in a world as crazy and mixed up as Marvel Earth, it really was possible for two mixed-up kids who happened to be robots and mutants to find true love. And in this year-long series, they also got to create a family of their own, thanks to magic, copied brain patterns, and the return of Ultron himself. It might not be the future of the movie versions of these characters, but we can hope and dream that it is.
How to read it: Available in the Avengers: Vision and Scarlet Witch — A Year In The Life print collection.
Avengers Vol. 3 #19-22 (1999)
A fan-favorite storyline, “Ultron Unlimited” saw the robot go further than he had ever managed before in his attempts to eradicate the human race, and in the process lay a lot of the groundwork for the current movie. (The army of countless robot drones fighting our beleaguered heroes? You have this story to thank for that.) Also included for the price of admission: One of the coolest Thor moments in any Avengers comic, and it all comes down to one line about wanting to talk. You’ll know it when you see it.
How to read it: Available digitally and in the Avengers Assemble Vol. 2 print collection.
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #1-9 (2010-2012)
Pity poor Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch. The 21st century hasn’t been kind to the character, with her suffering a nervous breakdown and destroying the Avengers (before depowering the majority of the X-Men’s mutant race) as a result. This 10-part series, which focused on the Young Avengers spin-off team in addition to Wanda herself, attempted to rebuild and repair her legacy.
How to read it: Available digitally and in a print collection.
Avengers: Rage of Ultron (2015)
Wondering where Ultron, the Vision, and the Scarlet Witch are in today’s comics? Thankfully, Marvel has released a graphic novel that takes things in a whole new direction. How “whole new”? Well, Ultron starts the story as a planet, and he ends it in a new form that makes a curious amount of sense, despite the potentially horrific concept that underlies it. (No, we’re not offering spoilers; suffice to say, it’s a big change for Ultron.) The future of cybernetic killing machines is here, and fans of The Black Hole might find it oddly familiar.
How to read it: Available digitally and in print.