Comics – Where to begin?

Scott –

The flux of Marvel and DC movies has created interest in comics everywhere.  I've never read a comic in my life, but the movies have intrigued me enough to where I quickly rush home to Wikipedia to get more information on these characters/worlds/villians, trying to find easter eggs in the movies, etc.  As you would imagine, Wikipedia isn't always the most consistent source.

My question is…as a potential first timer reading comics…where in the world do I start?  With so many deaths and restarts happening all the time in every franchise, I would love an opinion from you and/or your bloggers on where someone with no real history with any characters (besides movies) can get an accurrate start.  Thanks.

Phew, that's a toughie.  Usually comics are something where you start reading as a kid and form your attachments based on those early memories of it.  The whole problem for newer readers to comics in general is that sequential art is not something that necessarily lends itself well to easy figuring.  It's not like a standard book where you just read the words left to right, there's a lot of figuring out if things are moving up and down or side-to-side depending on how the page is laid out and such.  The second problem is that the comics industry is such an insular group to begin with — I'm a pretty hardcore comics guy and even I don't like hanging out in comic shops.  That's why I buy everything digitally now.  Which might actually work well for you, because if you check out there's a wide variety of free comics you can check out to sample stuff.  The thing is, you never know what you like until you read some stuff and figure out what you like.  If you're just interested in the standard capes and tights stuff, DC and Marvel are generally your best bets, and they're falling all over themselves to welcome new readers at this point.  DC in particular just did a whole month of "#0" issues a year after rebooting the entire universe (don't ask), and any of them are a good starting point for that particular title. Marvel is also doing a similar deal with Marvel Now, although on a much smaller scale.  Most of Marvel's books have an incredibly handy "Previously on Lost…" type of recap at the beginning that makes it easy to jump in, regardless.   

Generally speaking, the safest bet is Watchmen.  Everyone's got a copy, whether comics nerds or not, and it's basically one of the greatest comics stories ever done.  You can find it at any bookstore for a reasonable price, too.  If you're wanting to sample a normal monthly title, try Batman.  You'll already know the characters from the movies, it's a great book and very new reader friendly, and everyone loves Batman anyway.  Superman frankly sucks right now so unless you want to delve into the classic stuff, I'd avoid him.  There's also Justice League, which has the big seven heroes that everyone knows and is the biggest selling comic on the market right now.  On the Marvel side, everyone is connected to either the Avengers or X-Men at this point, and Uncanny Avengers (combining the two teams!) just launched, plus it's got Captain America, Thor, and Wolverine and everyone knows who they are.  
Hope that helps as a start.