The Five Graphic Novels You Need to Read for Marvel Vs. Capcom 3

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Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds comes out tomorrow in North America for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Some of the Marvel Comics characters in the console fighting game are fairly big names: we assume Spider-Man and the Hulk don’t need much of an introduction. But other playable Marvel characters may not be quite as familiar. Here’s a short reading list of graphic novels that are worth checking out for background on the more mysterious figures in the game.

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Super-Villain Team-Up: MODOK’s 11. MODOK–the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing–is not exactly a high-profile character, but he’s got something of a cult around him. (There was even a short-lived Journal of MODOK Studies.) He’s a playable character in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3; one of his most recent significant gigs in comics was starring in this goofy heist/action thriller by Fred Van Lente and Frances Portela.

X-23: Innocence Lost. Wolverine’s one of the playable characters in the game, of course, but maybe a more interesting one is X-23–his young female clone, a killing machine who just wants to be a normal teenage girl, and whose sad, brutal origin is told in this volume by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost and Billy Tan.

Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four, Volume 5. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s ’60s-era Fantastic Four comics are where an awful lot of Marvel’s significant characters first appeared. This volume is where they really kicked into high gear–notably in the sequence running from #48 to #50 that introduced the Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 final boss Galactus.

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Essential Dr. Strange, Volume 2. The classic Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Dr. Strange stories are in volume 1–but the reason you’d want to have a look at this one is the storyline that introduced the Cthulhu-style creature Shuma-Gorath, who’s available for Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 as a downloadable bonus character.

Annihilation, Book 2. Apparently, the developers of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 weren’t able to use the members of the Fantastic Four proper, but they did include the Super-Skrull–an alien who has all their powers–as a playable character. The only starring role he’s ever had was in Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Greg Titus’ Annihilation: Super-Skrull miniseries, collected here.

BONUS! Taskmaster: Unthinkable. Okay, this collection won’t actually be out until May. But you don’t need a time machine to bone up on this creepy, skull-faced villain, who can mimic anyone else’s physical movements and voice: Fred Van Lente and Jefte Paolo’s four-issue Taskmaster miniseries came out late last year, and your local comic book store might still have the original issues on hand if you’re lucky.