What to read before all the new Disney+ shows
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Last week Disney had it's Investor Day presentation. It was a four hour livestream previewing all the projects it plans across all it's platforms over the next 2 years. Most of these will stream on the House of Mouse's streaming services Disney + and Hulu. 10 new shows or movies each for Star Wars and Marvel properties, plus several independent and original projects were included. A lot of those projects were based on books, or have tie-in material. So, as your librarian and geek extraordinaire, I've put together a list of essential reading for those of you who want to get caught up in advance.
I've provided links to my Bookshop affiliate shop. If you buy through that link I will receive a small stipend. Even if you don't, please consider buying from Bookshop or supporting an indie bookstore if you can. And don't forget to support your local library!
I've also put together an expanded list in my in my store that includes sequels and supplemental material I couldn't get to here. Feel free to check it out and add to your already overburdened TBR piles.
Written by Brian K Vaughn, writer of another series that has been adapted on Hulu, The Runaways. A strange plague attacks the world, only affecting nearly all animals with a Y chromosome, and killing swiftly, the world finds itself suddenly without men. Except for two, Yorrick Brown and his capuchin monkey Amperstand. As the women of the world adjust to the new reality, Yorrick must hide his existence, while also trying to connect to his girlfriend who is on another continent.
WandaVision was announced as one of Marvel's newest shows. While it's not specifically based on a comic, it takes influence from two in particular.
House of M was a large crossover event involving the X-men and Avengers. After suffering a devastating loss of both Vision and her children, Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch has regressed into insanity. She had begun changing the world around her to undo the events of her loss. Eventually, she remakes the whole world to her ideal paradise, changing all the Marvel heroes along with it. The only one not affected is Wolverine and he must race to convince the other Avengers and X-men to confront Wanda to get the world back to normal.
The Vision- this is a very recent take on Vision. Written in 2015 by Tom King, Vision decided to take matters into his own hands and build a "normal family" in the suburbs. With his wife and twin teens Vision attempts to be a normal member of society. Unfortunately, for a family of synthoids, life is not easy, and what follows is a series of tough choices and brutal examination of what if means to be human and the sacrifices you make for family.
Secret Invasion was also announced as an upcoming Marvel show. In the comics this huge crossover event in the post Civil War world where the Skrulls invaded Earth. Because of their ability to shapeshift they were able to take the place of many superheroes, making it impossible to know who to trust. According to the announcement, Sam Jackson as Nick Fury will lead this show, but if they stay true to the comic, it will involve many heroes across the Marvel Universe, new and old, and maybe a few pretenders. And the biggest question, will they defeat the Skrulls the same way as in the comic? Because if they do, they'll need the Deadpool, who's been rumored to be slated for MCU entry. This would be a great way to see the Merc with a Mouth make his debut. I'm including the Deadpool comic detailing his role in subverting the Skrull queen as essential reading because it's just good comics.
Secret Invasion could not have happened without Deadpool. It also kicked off the run of comics by Daniel Way that's still one of the best runs that exists. Even if we don't see Wade Wilson teaching Skrulls to fight, this is a great read and fun for any Marvel fan.
Falcon and Winter Soldier
Another exciting show coming to the lineup is Falcon and Winter Soldier. I couldn't find a lot of comics specifically about this team up, but I've included Sam Wilson's run as Captain America by Rick Remender. There is an upcoming team up comic by Federico Vinentini available to preorder that will probably delve into the partnership more. I've included that and some essential Winter Soldier reading on my expanded list at the end.
What if...? was a fun twist on Marvel events that has a long history with the comics. Some of the books are out of print, but I have a feeling reprints will become available as we get closer to the show's premiere. I'll add those to my expanded list if they become available. Meanwhile, the comics were short, fun tales, narrated by the Watcher Uatu as alternate realities. From the trailer, it looks like the show will follow a similar premise. While they won't be cannon, you may remember that Stan Lee's cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 involved him reporting to the Watchers. Even though we've lost Stan, it would be a fun way to tie into the MCU by giving Stan an animated cameo in this series.
A somewhat recent addition to the Marvel lineup is Ironheart. Riri Williams is a super-genius engineering student who has always idolized Tony Stark. In the comics she steals materials from her school and builds her own Iron suit. At first she's pursued as a criminal for her theft, but when she uses the suit to stop crime and save the day Tony steps in and helps her become a real hero. Since Tony is no longer with is in the MCU it will probably be Piper or Happy who steps in, or maybe Fury. Who knows? Either way, Riri is a fun character who has a lot of potential in the MCU.
Shang-Chi is known as the Master of Kung Fu in Marvel comics. Conceived in 1972, he was originally inspired by Marvel's desire to adapt comics for the Kung Fu television show. They never acquired those rights, but did acquire Sax Rohmer pulp villain Dr. Fu Manchu. Shang-Chi was originally believed to be an unknown son of the villain. He's appeared in many Marvel projects over the years and had a few single titles. A new single title by Gene Luen Yang is upcoming for 2021.
One of the more exciting announcements was the confirmation of a She-Hulk tv show. Starring the ever wonderful Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black).
She-Hulk has been a staple of the Marvel universe since 1980, created by Stan Lee and John Buchema. Jennifer Walters is a cousin of Bruce Banner who received a transfusion of Bruce's blood by mistake and gained many of his Hulk powers. There have been so many runs of She-Hulk over the years. Many great writers and artists have done her justice. She has a huge potential for great stories, as both a woman, and a successful lawyer she battles monsters both in and out of the courtroom as well as her personal demons that constantly put her as risk of becoming the "Green Rage Monster" he cousin is known to be.
Last but not least, this is definitely the addition to the MCU I've been looking forward to most. Kamala Khan will finally take her place in the wider world of Marvel in her new show Ms. Marvel.
The title Ms. Marvel was originally held by Carol Danvers, but she changed her moniker to Captain Marvel in 2012. That same year, Kamala Khan was introduces and a young Pakistani girl struggling with her heritage and idolizing her favorite superhero. When Kamala sneaks out to a concert one night and accidently ends up in a Terrigen mist, her Inhuman genes are activated and she gains superpowers. This run of comics is fun and insightful. Despite some controversy behind the scenes I'm really hoping the producers are able to do the comic the justice it deserves.
Moving on to some other news, Lucasfilm announced it will be developing the book series Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Honestly, this was one of the most exciting projects I saw announced. I adore these books and Tomi's personal journey as child of Nigerian immigrants and winning her contract through the Twitter based #PitchWars is nothing short of inspiring.
These books follow a young African girl, Zélie Adebola, who's tribe is descended from magic users know as maji. Magic was destroyed by an evil king, but Zélie discovers an ancient scroll that restores her powers and gives her a path to restoring magic for good. She and her brother start an epic journey across their country and beyond to restore magic and liberate her people.
These books are amazingly written and Tomi Adeyemi was named one of 2020's most influential people. It's great reading and I can't wait to see this story brought to life onscreen.
Disney also announced another book series it would be adapting. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. This series is a middle grade mystery/thriller. It's centered around a team of orphans who are recruited by the strange "Mr. Benedict" to help infiltrate the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened (L.I.V.E), which is sending hypnotic signals through radio and television to control humanity and create panic.
It's a fun romp with lots of humor and puzzles and should look fun on screen.
I know this list is getting long, but I can't leave without at least addressing Star Wars. Disney announced 10 new projects over the next two years involving the galaxy far far away and it already has a plethora of cannon tie-in comics and books. I've only chosen two to feature, but I'll add more to my expanded list.
First is Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston. This book covers some of Ahsoka's time between Clone Wars and Rebels. After Order 66 the former padwan is in hiding. But she can't seem to stay out of the fight. Everywhere she goes, the Empire follows and eventually she's drawn back into battle and realized that she can still help people even if she isn't a Jedi.
This book explained a lot about the character, and even some insight into the Jedi themselves. She explains how Kyber crystals are harvested and builds her now iconic twin white lightsabers (and explains why they are white). It's good reading for some background into her character from the Mandalorian and how she will be going forward into her own series.
There are so many Star Wars books I could be hyping, such as the new Thrawn books by Timothy Zahn or the Aftermath series by Chuck Wendig, both of which have elements cross over into The Mandalorian. But I found this project more intriguing.
There are two series about to come out in comic book form that take place in the High Republic. A new show was also announced, currently named The Acolyte.
The High Republic is almost 200 years before the events of the prequels so it will feature new characters and the Jedi at the height of their power. We also will get to see a much younger and possibly more idealistic Yoda. The 900 year old Jedi Master has lived through several eras of the Jedi at this point. Seeing him younger, maybe even before he was a Master, could be a fun development in his character. If he ends up playing a big part. We'll see.
This is all I have for here. But I have made an expanded list at my affiliate bookshop that you can access here. It includes sequels and other fun reading.
What are your favorites? What other essentials should we read for this mass roll out of entertainment? Let me know!