Like Hollywood before it, the American comics industry is well defined by the summer event — and these days it’s the summer event that stretches all the way to September, or even the following March. So what is a better time to kick off a summer event than in late spring?
But it’s not just the biggest and crossover-iest that Polygon’s comics reporters are looking out for this spring: It’s creators who’ve left iconic runs in superheroic settings to craft original stories in new universes. It’s old creators returning to new superheroic territory. And it’s books that only work because of the place that superheroes hold as the mythology of modern history.
These are Polygon.com’s most anticipated comics of spring 2019.
War of the Realms
Kicking off across multiple Marvel titles on April 3
This spring, an Asgard-flavored reckoning comes for the entire Marvel Universe. From the Avengers to the X-Men to Daredevil to Shuri to Blade and even Venom, Earth’s heroes will unite to defend the realm of Midgard from the forces of the Dark Elf Malekith, who has conquered nine of the ten realms and is just itching to complete the set.
Writer Jason Aaron and his collaborators have been teasing War of the Realms in Thor and The Avengers ever since last June. And now that the event has almost arrived, it looks to be that perfect balance of interesting character interaction and Rule of Cool that makes the best superhero crossovers. The blind hero Daredevil gaining the all-seeing powers of Heimdall? Well, that sounds pretty badass — and like it’ll give Matt Murdock a lot to think about.
And in the meantime, how about Captain America riding a pegasus? Or the Punisher aiming a massive bazooka down the throat of a Frost Giant? That’s here, too.
War of the Realms kicks off a six-issue miniseries with War of the Realms #1, and continues in slew of tie-in books.
Kicking off with Action Comics #1011 on May 22
The DC Universe is chockablock with covert spy and terrorist networks on all sides of the alignment chart. From ARGUS to Cadmus, Checkmate to Spyral, the DEO to the Kobra Cult, superheroes are practically tripping over the things. That’s all set to change this spring, when, spinning out of Brian Michael Bendis’ Action Comics, Leviathan rises as the one evil espionage group to rule them all.
There isn’t much we know about the story of Leviathan Rising just yet, but there’s another very good reason to be interested: The talent that DC has brought in for new ongoing series spinning out of the event.
The first is a Lois Lane series from none other than Greg Rucka (Wonder Woman) and Mike Perkins (Iron Fist). This marks Rucka’s first return to a DC book since he finished his DC Rebirth run on Wonder Woman. The second unites Matt Fraction (Hawkeye) and Steve Lieber (Whiteout) for Jimmy Olsen, the first time in a long time that Superman’s Pal has had his own comic (and the first time that Fraction has written a comic for DC, after a long and lauded career at Marvel and on creator-owned projects).
Leviathan will rise in May in Action Comics #1011 and the 80-page Superman: Leviathan Rising Special #1. Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane will follow in June.
Written by Kyle Starks with art by Erica Henderson; launching March 13
For The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, artist Erica Henderson teamed up with writer Ryan North to turn the once-a-joke Marvel Comics character into a hero worthy of leading a cartoon series and an upcoming live-action TV show. When Henderson left the series in spring of 2018 (she’s still doing the covers), her finale issue made our list of the best comics of the year. Now we finally get to see the fruit of that move.
Henderson’s new creator-owned title Assassin Nation (no relation to the 2018 movie, Assassination Nation), is a collaboration with writer Kyle Starks at Image Comics.
“The World’s Former Greatest Hitman hires the 20 best assassins in the world to be his bodyguards,” reads the official summary. “These mean-as-hell hired guns and murderers must work together to keep the new crime boss safe while attempting to solve the mystery of who’s trying to off him. With the same laugh-until-you-cry spirit of action-comedies like Hot Fuzz, Tropic Thunder, and Deadpool, Assassin Nation is the bombastic, side-splitting murder-fest you’ve been waiting for.”
Whatever the book is about, it seems like a great chance for Erica Henderson to put her expert eye for fashion and character design to work on a group of 20 international assassins, and I want to put that in front of my eyeballs.
Spider-Man: Life Story
Written by Chip Zdarsky with art from Zdarsky and Mark Bagley; launching March 20
Spider-Man: Life Story has a compelling hook: What if the 50-something-year history of Spider-Man was a contiguous story in which Peter Parker aged in real time and the events of his life intertwined directly with the historical mood of the decades in which they were written?
The three, released covers of Life Story drive home that idea in striking design. In the first, Spidey swings from the skid of a Vietnam-era army helicopter. In the third, half a dozen Russian missiles hang suspended from webbing above a Symbiote-suited Peter Parker.
The impossible to categorize Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals, Jughead, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man) will write and draw covers for Life Story. Mark Bagley, a long-time Spider-Man artist who has crafted some of the best regarded Spider-Man stories of the last thirty years, including Venom: Lethal Protector and Ultimate Spider-Man, will draw Interiors of the six-issue miniseries.
“This is an idea I’ve had since I first started working for Marvel,” Zdarsky said in Marvel’s announcement of Spider-Man: Life Story. “Something that explores the characters and the Marvel universe on a deeper level, where time changes both the characters and the world. Being able to span decades with one of the most iconic Spider-Man artists ever, Mark Bagley, is surreal.”
With that creative team, Spider-Man: Life Story is guaranteed to be funny, smart, touching and look amazing.
Written by G. Willow Wilson, drawn by Christian Ward; launching March 20
It’s inarguable that G. Willow Wilson is synonymous with Kamala “Ms. Marvel” Khan, the Marvel superhero she created and has shepherded in Ms. Marvel for half a decade. But 2019 marks new territory for the writer as she leaves Ms. Marvel, and fans would do well to keep an eye out.
Wilson’s new creator-owned series, Invisible Kingdom, is a collaboration between her and artist Christian Ward, whose trippy scenery and psychedelic colors have already lent themselves to cosmic adventure titles as lauded as ODY-C and Black Bolt. Their new book, published by Dark Horse Comics, is a space opera, following the crew of an interstellar freighter who essentially work for space-Amazon-dot-com and the newest initiate of a mysterious religious order as they stumble across the same far-reaching conspiracy.
Polygon got an early look at Invisible Kingdom #1, and found the series packed with humor, intrigue, and inventive aliens. We’re looking forward to reading even more.
Written by Danielle Paige, drawn by Stephen Byrne; launching April 2
A year ago, DC Comics announced plans for two new imprints, DC Ink and DC Zoom, that would pair best-selling YA novelists with experienced comics artists, to begin a diverse line of out-of-continuity graphic novels aimed at younger readers. Those titles finally hit shelves this spring.
The first from DC Ink, targeting the 13-and-up age range, is Mera: Tidebreaker, written by Danielle Paige(the Dorothy Must Die series) and drawn by Stephen Byrne (Serenity, Green Arrow). The title refers to Mera of Xebel, long-time love interest of the DC superhero Aquaman, but also a powerful superhero and member of the Justice League in her own right — these days you might know her from her appearances in Justice League and Aquaman, where she was played by Amber Heard.
Tidebreaker offers a modern spin on Mera’s canonical origin story, in which she defected from her people when she realized Aquaman wasn’t the villain she’d always been told he was. In Paige and Byrne’s graphic novel, Atlantis is a foreign occupation oppressing the culture and government of its neighbor Xebel, and princess Mera meets Arthur Curry for the first time when she attempts to assassinate him for the Xebellian rebels.
Batman: Last Knight on Earth
Written by Scott Snyder, drawn by Greg Capullo; launching May 29
For years, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo teased a Batman story that sounds wild, even for the standards of the guys who created Dark Nights Metal: Batman, walking through an apocalyptic desert, his only companion the talking severed head of the Joker.
Snyder has a maxim that he’s told the Batman writers who have come after him, which he may have borrowed from Grant Morrison, the Batman writer who came before him: “If you show a character’s birth and a character’s death, you own a version of that character.”
Batman: Last Knight on Earth looks to be the grand end cap on Snyder and Capullo’s instantly iconic 2011-2016 run on the character. Very little is known about the series at this point, but given the creative team’s place in the history of Batman comics, the significance of the story’s purpose — and the positively surreal plot hook — this is a series to watch.