In the first of a series of guides to becoming an alpha geek, FHM eases you into the mad, bad, brain-punching world of Avengers comics.

What is it?

A superhero team with a constantly rotating roster, the Avengers were first introduced in 1963, in issue one of Marvel Comics' The Avengers. The first line-up comprised Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, Thor and the Hulk. 

Why would I want to get into it?

“At their best, Avengers comics take incredibly disparate elements – a god, a man of science, a man from another century, a monster, plus others – and find a way to tell a story that makes sense having all these people in it,” says Rich Johnston of respected comics’n’movies gossip site Bleeding Cool.  

“You get a tale that’s part Boy’s Own adventure, part science-fiction epic, part fantasy and part balls-to-the-wall kicksplode action. Plus, they’re trying to keep it all together while remaining housemates as well. It’s The Young Ones, but superheroic.”

Captain America, Hawkeye and Scarlet Widow get their war-faces on in Avengers Assemble Hawkeye, Captain America and Black Widow get their catwalk strut on

Where should I start?

“I’d recommend The Ultimates: The Ultimate Collection by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch,” says Rich. “It doesn't have Avengers in the title, but this volume is the closest thing you’ll find to the Avengers movie in comics.”

“It has a totally different plot, but it reinvents Thor, Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man for the twenty-first century. Artist Bryan Hitch also drew Nick Fury to look like Samuel L. Jackson, years before the first Iron Man movie. Mark Millar would go on to write Kick Ass and Wanted, comics that were both adapted into movies.”

What should I steer clear of?

“Avoid Avengers: The Crossing,” warns Rich. “It’s a mixture of time travel, too many Avengers, plots from decades ago suddenly re-emerging, and Tony Stark being turned into a teenager. It sounds awesome – it's an awful mess. It was recently collected in graphic-novel form, and nobody is really sure why...”