The year 2013 is shaping up to be a big one for genre movies, with a long list of science fiction and fantasy films, as well as adaptations of both well-known and under-the-radar comic books. Fortunately, there's lots of time to get prepped for all of these movies and – more importantly – make the time between now and these films' premiere dates go by a little bit quicker.
Whether it's comics that have served as the source material for movies or prequel and sequel comics that serve as tie-ins to what you see on the screen, your 2013 movie calendar can start now with some great projects from the world of graphic novels.
Here are some of the year's most anticipated genre movies and the comics you can (and should) read to get ready for them:
Iron Man 3
If you're looking for a fun, all-ages take on Iron Man and his arch-enemy the Mandarin (who will make his debut in Iron Man 3), pick up the collected edition of Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin written by Joe Casey with art by Eric Canete. This 2008 series offers a nice adventure that introduces both Tony Stark's alter ego and the Mandarin, and features cartoon-style art that younger audiences will appreciate as much as adults.
For older fans, Iron Man, Vol. 5: The Haunted offers one of comics' most memorable, frightening portrayals of the Mandarin and the threat he poses to Iron Man. The story takes place in the regular Marvel universe, so it might be a little confusing if you're not aware of that period's status quo (Captain America is dead, Tony Stark is the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., etc.), but the story at the heart of this arc is one of the best Iron Man adventures you'll read. Authors Charlie and Daniel Knauf get to the heart of why the Mandarin really is one of Tony Stark's greatest foes.
Man of Steel
Next year will mark the debut of a new, ongoing Superman series penned by celebrated Batman writer Scott Snyder and famed artist Jim Lee, and the still-untitled series is rumored to offer a nice bridge between Zack Snyder's upcoming Man of Steel movie and the universe of DC's comics. There's no release date set for the series yet, but it's worth keeping an eye out for as we get closer to the premiere date for the Man of Steel reboot.
If you're looking for a comic available now that provided some inspiration for Man of Steel, grab a copy of Superman: Earth One, Vol. 1. Written by J. Michael Straczynski and illustrated by Shane Davis, this series reinvented Superman's origin for the modern era, and provides a bit of a darker, more mature spin on the Man of Steel, much like Snyder's upcoming film seems to do.
Star Trek Into Darkness
IDW Publishing has a great reputation for delivering great comics based on movie, television and toy licenses like G.I. Joe and Transformers, and its Star Trek comics are no exception. Back in 2009, IDW delivered a tie-in comic that expanded on the universe of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot, and with the sequel arriving in theaters this year, IDW recently announced plans for Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness. The four-issue miniseries will hit shelves in January and features a prequel to Star Trek Into Darkness penned by Mike Johnson and the movie's cowriter Roberto Orci. The comic promises to bridge the gap between Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, so it's must-read material for Trekkies new and old.
World War Z
If you're eager to check out the big-screen adaptation of Max Brooks' novel about life during (and after) a global zombie outbreak, hunt down 2009's The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. This graphic novel written by Brooks a few years after World War Z chronicles humanity's battles with zombies throughout history, and while it probably isn't likely to have many obvious connections to the movie (which seems to be only loosely based on World War Z anyways), it does give you a nice way to pass the time until the film hits theaters. Plus, the Recorded Attacks comic was optioned back when it was first published, so there's a chance of getting a head start on the next big zombie movie, too.
Hugh Jackman's return to the screen as Wolverine demands a reading of one of the greatest stories ever told about the character – which also happens to be the inspiration for The Wolverine. Now available in collected form, the first story arc of Wolverine's solo series was penned by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, and saw Logan journey to Japan on an adventure that would provide some of the character's most defining moments. You can pick up the collected edition of Wolverine now to reacquaint yourself with everything that made the character so great back in the day, but be warned: it's a brutal, bloody tale that might not be appropriate for younger readers.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
The long-awaited sequel to Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City movie, A Dame to Kill For will hit theaters in 2013 and be based on the second book of Miller's Sin City series, A Dame to Kill For, as well as a few new, original stories written by Miller. It should be easy to find copies of A Dame to Kill For, which unfolds as both a prequel and parallel narrative to the events of Sin City. If you haven't read the first book, The Hard Goodbye, make sure to pick up that one and the following chapters for a more complete experience, as all of the stories tend to overlap and feed into each of the other arcs' narratives.
Thor: The Dark World
Writer-artist Walter Simonson is considered by many fans to be the most influential, iconic author of Thor's adventures in the character's history, and his unbelievably long run on The Mighty Thor included the story arc that will likely provide much of the inspiration for Thor: The Dark World. In a wonderfully convenient coincidence, the Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson, Vol. 1 collected edition contains that story arc, in which Thor travels to the realm of the faeries to battle Malekith the Accursed, a villain played by Christopher Eccleston in the upcoming film. If you have even a passing interest in Thor, you owe it to yourself to pick up that first volume of Simonson's run, because it will not only prep you for the movie but also give you a taste of the very best stories ever written about Marvel's god of thunder.
The Lone Ranger
While it doesn't have any direct connection to the upcoming film starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, Dynamite Entertainment published an extremely good Lone Ranger comic book series back in 2007 that's worth checking out for anyone interested in the upcoming film. Offering a spin on the character that was darker and more mature than previous iterations of the Lone Ranger, the series was a critical and commercial success for the publisher and went on for several volumes' worth of stories. You can still find it in collected form, so give it a shot if it seems appealing to you.
Everyone's talking about the new trailer for Oblivion, Joseph Kasinski's sci-fi adventure starring Tom Cruise, but anyone who wants an early peek at the story has been able to do so for more than a year now. Back when he was trying to drum up support for the project, Kasinski created an “illustrated novel” based on Oblivion that was released by Radical Publishing. The project is a little hard to find these days, as it was only released in limited numbers and there was an effort made to remove some of the images from the Web after the project got the green light – but if you can locate a copy of the book, you'll be ahead of the game.
Anyone looking forward to the upcoming adaptation of Orson Scott Card's sci-fi classic Ender's Game could certainly give the novel another read, but there are also some great comics available that adapt and expand the universe of the novels. Marvel Comics' series of Ender's Game comics first hit shelves in 2008 and included a long list of adaptations of existing stories set in the Ender's Game universe and a few original tales conceived by Card. They're must-read material for fans of the series and anyone wondering what all the fuss is about.