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by Mark Banaszak

From the serial adaptations of comic books such as Batman, Superman, and Captain Marvel (a.k.a Shazam) in the 1940s to modern blockbusters such as The Dark Knight and The Avengers–as well as indie favorites such as Persepolis and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World–movies have been looking to comics for source material almost since the beginning of the format.

Similarly, many films have had their storylines continued well beyond the cinema in the form of comic books series. Science fiction fans have been able to follow the continuing adventures of some of their favorite franchises through comics, including Star Wars, Star Trek, RoboCop, and The Terminator.

Given the visual nature of both media, it should be no surprise that stories and characters from comics would provide suitable inspiration for films – and vice versa.  To help readers navigate the myriad of overlapping comics and cinema this year, PREVIEWSworld takes a look at the comics that have inspired – or have been inspired by – big budget films, along with recommended volumes for readers to start with.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Release Date: April 4

When Stan Lee revived the World War II-era superhero Captain America in the pages of the Avengers in 1964, he added a tragic twist to the hero's history: his young sidekick Bucky was killed in the same battle that lead to the Captain (a.k.a. Steve Rogers) being frozen for twenty years. In the mid-2000s, Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting revealed that the former hero was not actually dead, but had been revived and made into an assassin called the Winter Soldier. This storyline forms the basis of the new Captain America film, in which Rogers must face his former friend, while adjusting to the modern world.

Recommended volume to start with:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
(Marvel Comics)
Item Code: SEP130783

Amazing Spider-Man 2
Release Date: May 2

The latest film incarnation of the friendly neighborhood web-spinner focuses on Peter Parker’s attempts to juggle the stresses of high school (grades, girls) while maintaining his secret identity as the crime-fighting Spider-Man, while trying to uncover the suspicious experiments at the science firm OsCorp. But with a number of super-powered villains suddenly appearing in the city, he'll have his hands full.

Recommended volumes to start with:

Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 9: Ultimate Six
(Marvel Comics)
The Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day
(Marvel Comics)
 
Item Code: APR041734 Item Code: AUG082456

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Release Date: May 9

This animated film, which takes viewers back to the world created by L. Frank Baum in his beloved series of children’s books, is based on the novels from Baum's great-grandson, Roger Stanton Baum. In this movie, Dorothy must leave her home in Kansas and return to Oz to help her friends save the enchanted land from the wicked rule of the Jester. The graphic novel prequel story is available from IDW Publishing.

Recommended volume to start with:

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
(IDW Publishing)
Item Code: JAN140504

Godzilla
Release Date: May 16

The most famous of the Japanese kaiju (literally, "strange creatures") and a mainstay of Japanese film for five decades, Godzilla has not graced the big screen since 2004. But fans of the King of the Monsters have still been able to witness his battles with the human race – in various Godzilla comic series, most notably those from IDW Publishing, which began in 2010. The current series feature not only the star monster himself, but various others from the films, giving fans the "giant monsters all-out attack" they’ve been lacking until this year's release of Legendary Pictures' new Godzilla.

Recommended volume to start with:

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters Volume 1
(IDW Publishing)
Item Code: JUL110352

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Release Date: May 23

Director Bryan Singer returns to the helm of the film franchise he helped launch with this film that brings the casts of both the original X-Men and X-Men: First Class films together. Forming the basis of the plot is a storyline from Chris Claremont and John Byrne's run in the 1980s: In a future where mutants are hunted and killed by government-deployed robots called Sentinels, one of the surviving members of the X-Men travels back in time to try and change the course of history.  

Recommended volume to start with:

X-Men: Days of Future Past
(Marvel Comics)
 
Item Code: OCT130749

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Release Date:  June 27

This summer sees the fourth film in director Michael Bay's blockbuster series, Transformers: Age of Extinction. While the Transformers originated as a toy line from Hasbro, the character names and backstory of heroic Autobots defending the Earth against evil Decepticons was created for the comic book series that launched alongside the toys. The personalities given to Optimus Prime, Megatron, and the other Transformers have proven as much a part of the appeal of the franchise as the toys themselves, and has formed the basis for the stories being told today.

Recommended volume to start with:

Transformers: Robots in Disguise Volume 1
(IDW Publishing)
Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Volume 1
(IDW Publishing)
 
Item Code: MAR140425 Item Code: MAR140426

Guardians of the Galaxy
Release Date: August 1

The mismatched band of cosmic adventurers isn't the average super-team – as evidenced by the talking raccoon tree and gun-toting raccoon. But the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book matched sci-fi action/adventures with tongue-in-cheek humor, a combination that the film looks to carry on.

Recommended volume to start with:

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Cosmic Avengers
(Marvel Comics)
Item Code: MAY130717

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Release Date: August 8

Long before the four amphibious adventurers became a permanent part of pop culture, the Turtles began as a self-published black and white comic from creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Three decades later, the TMNT are set to return to the big screen in a live action feature film produced by Michael Bay, along with starring in an animated series on Nickelodeon.  

Recommended volume to start with:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 1: Change is Constant
(IDW Publishing)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro Series Volume 1
(IDW Publishing)
 
Item Code: JAN148115 Item Code: JAN148114

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Release Date: August 22

Frank Miller's stylized take on the crime genre returns to the screen in this sequel to Robert Rodriguez' 2005 movie. With Miller as unofficial co-director, Rodriguez successfully adapted the black and white over-the-top stories to a live-action film that was visually impressive and contained the dramatic punch of the comic's tales of murder, revenge, and redemption. A Dame to Kill For returns to the familiar setting, telling the tale of a reformed ex-con looking to walk the straight-and-narrow – and the ex who comes calling to ruin that plan.

Recommended volume to start with:

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
(Dark Horse Comics)
Item Code: MAY100034


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