clock menu more-arrow no yes
green skinned comic book warriors with speech bubble above their heads with “the final war begins now”

Filed under:

The comics to read this summer as the industry springs back

Marvel’s Empyre and DC’s Dark Nights: Death Metal are back on

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Spring of 2020 has been a strange time for most entertainment media, but it’s been especially strange for the American comics industry. In March, the biggest comic distributor announced its April 1 shut down, putting a halt on nearly all releases just before the kickoff of a busy summer season.

Webcomics, manga, most graphic novels, and even some digital first series chugged along relatively undisturbed, but that great hallmark of the American comics industry in all its joys and flaws — monthly issues sold at independent comic shops — disappeared for nearly two months.

Now, with DC Comics diversifying its distributor network, Diamond Comic Distributors shipping books for all its publishing partners again on May 20, and more comic shops than ever investing in mail order systems, curbside pickup, and online shopping, comics are making a comeback this summer.

Here are the ones you should keep an eye on.

Note: Keep in mind that DC Comics is now releasing comics on Tuesdays rather than Diamond’s traditional Wednesday!


Ant-Man’s horrified face is reflected in the face plate of insect villain Macrothrax, on the cover of Ant-Man #4, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Eduard Petrovich/Marvel Comics

May

Tuesday, May 12

  • Harley Quinn #72: DC’s popular Harley Quinn series returns for the first time since the shutdown

Wednesday, May 13

  • Ant-Man #4: Marvel Comics has unexpectedly announced that some of its existing series would switch to being released digitally, and they include some stuff that’s really been delighting our comics editor, like Zeb Wells and Dylan Burnett’s Ant-Man. The comics will still see print, but only in collected editions later this year.
  • Ghost-Spider #9: Seanan McGuire’s series about the adventures of the Gwen Stacy who is the spider-hero of her own parallel earth returns in digital only.

Characters toast on the cover of Ludocrats #1, Image Comics (2020). Image: Jeff Stokely/Image Comics

Wednesday, May 20

  • Ludocrats #1: A highly anticipated new series from The Wicked + The Divine and Die’s Kieron Gillen — as well as co-writer Jim Rossignol (Sir, You Are Being Hunted), artist Jeff Stokely (The Spire), and colorist and letterer of everything great these days, Tamra Bonvillain and Clayton Cowles — was due to hit shelves on the very first day of Diamond’s shutdown. Now, it can finally be seen!
  • Hawkeye: Freefall #5: Hawkeye: Freefall has been a nice little comedic mini-series at Marvel, and it will return in digital only.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer #14: Boom! Studios’ popular Buffy series, from Jordie Bellaire and Julian Lopez, returns from shutdown.

The Marauders square off against anti-mutant Russian soldiers on the cover of Marauders #10, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Russell Dauterman/Marvel Comics

Wednesday, May 27:

  • Marauders #10: The first post-shutdown Dawn of X book hits shelves.
  • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1: The breakout character of Marvel’s Darth Vader series restarts its numbering to reflect a new time period: Post-Empire Strikes Back, pre-Return of the Jedi.

Catwoman pulls her mask down over her face on the cover of Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1, DC Comics (2020). Image: Joelle Jones, Laura Allred/DC Comics

June

Tuesday, June 2

  • Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1: We’ll finally get to find out what that pregnant Catwoman panel was all about.
  • Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed: DC Comics’ schedule of YA graphic novels was undisturbed by comics’ coronavirus shutdown, and Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed looks to be a good bet. Writer Laurie Halse Anderson (a big deal in the YA book world) and artist Leila del Duca (co-creator of one of Polygon’s best comics of 2017) tell a teen Wonder Woman story on Themyscira.

Wednesday, June 3

  • X-Men Vol. 1: Been waiting for Marvel’s hottest current series to hit trade before you read it? Wait no longer.
  • We Served The People: My Mother’s Stories: This debut graphic novel by Emei Burell retells her mother’s stories of growing up in China during the Great Leap Forward. Coming from Boom! Studios, it’s a solid read about a bit of history this writer had never encountered before.

Claire holds a book, while flanked by other Adventureman characters on the cover of Adventureman #1, Image Comics (2020). Image: Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson/Image Comics

Tuesday, June 9

  • Batman #92: DC Comics’ blockbuster series from James Tynion IV and his artist team returns from shutdown.
  • The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1: Happy anniversary, Mr. J!
  • You Brought Me the Ocean: This YA graphic novel from DC gives queer YA writer Alex Sanchez and artist-behind-Blue Is the Warmest Color Julie Maroh a crack at crafting Aqualad’s coming out story. We’ll even have a preview for you later this week!

Wednesday, June 10

  • Adventureman #1: Matt Fraction’s latest series — with artists Terry and Rachel Dodson — follows a mother and son who seem to be the only people who remember classic pulp hero character Adventureman, “but from that memory burns the spark of resurrection!” promises the book’s official summary. “Where his story ended ... her story begins!”
  • Miles Morales: Spider-Man #17: Just as the comics industry was shutting down, Marvel was launching a new status quo for all of its teen heroes with Outlawed. Miles Morales’ return to publication is the event’s first tie-in book.
  • New Mutants #10: Another Dawn of X book hits stands.
  • Undiscovered Country #6: Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Daniele Orlandini’s book about a post-apocalyptic America that quarantined itself from the rest of the world because of a deadly virus is probably going to ring a little strange when it comes back.
  • Something is Killing the Children Vol. 1: James Tynion IV may be making waves on Batman, but there’s something else the writer does very well: queer teens and horror. Grab the first arc of his latest, with artist Werther Dell’edera, from Boom! Studios.

A crowned Wonder Woman splays spectral white wings, Batman brandishes a scythe, and Superman gets his own post apocalyptic look in promo art for Dark Nights: Death Metal, DC Comics Image: Greg Capullo/DC Comics

Tuesday, June 16

Wednesday, June 17

  • A Man Among Ye #1: An Image comics series about pirate queens Anne Bonny and Mary Read? I’m here for it.
  • Once & Future #8: Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora’s Once & Future is a fun story with some really incredible art, and I’m glad it’s continuing for another arc at Boom!.

Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers brandish their weapons on the cover of Empyre: Avengers #0, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Jim Cheung/Marvel Comics

Tuesday, June 23:

  • Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1: Happy Anniversary, GL!

Wednesday, June 24:

  • Empyre #0: Avengers: Marvel’s 2020 summer event — an all out war with the Kree and Skrulls on one side and the Avengers and Fantastic Four on the other — finally starts to hit shelves in June, nearly two months after it was originally scheduled.
  • Captain America: Marvels Snapshots #1: The Marvels Snapshots line is grabbing expert creators for standalone stories exploring the heart of their favorite characters. This one promises to be a Kirby-inspired take from the always topical Mark Russell and long-time Marvel artist Ramon Perez.
  • Immortal Hulk #34: Immortal Hulk smashes back into stands after far too long.
  • Die #11: Same with Die.
  • Sex Criminals #29: Fraction and Zdarsky’s opus continues as it winds its way to final issue #69. Nice.

Superman, Wondergirl, Swamp Thing, John Constantine, and Batman square off against a zombie horde on the cover of DCeased: Dead Planet #1, DC Comics (2020). Image: David Finch/DC Comics

Tuesday, June 30:


The Joker sits in a movie theater and smiles at the reader through a shattered half of Batman’s mask, on the cover of Batman #93, DC Comics (2020). Image: Tony S. Daniel/DC Comics

July

  • Batman: The Joker War: DC has confirmed to Polygon that crossover event Batman: The Joker War will kick off sometime in mid-to-late July, with Batman #95, though a date has yet to be set in stone.

Wednesday, July 8:


A spaceship takes off from the surface of a planet, told over a rigid grid of square panels, on the cover of Hedra, Image Comics (2020). Image: Jesse Lonergan/Image Comics

Wednesday, July 29:

  • Hedra: Polygon got an early look at this one-shot sci-fi parable from artist Jesse Lonergan and Image Comics, and it was a lovely little oasis of art and design. We’ll have a preview for you later this week!

William Shakespeare gestures with his quill in front of a mirror, in the background stand denizens of the Dreaming and the Dreamlord himself, on the cover of The Dreaming: Waking Hours #1, DC Comics (2020). Image: DC Comics

August

The Dreaming: Waking Hours #1: DC Comics has confirmed to Polygon that The Dreaming: Waking Hours, the next incarnation of the recently concluded Sandman Universe series, will kick off sometime in August. The new story comes from writer G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman) and artist Nick Robles, who will be introducing at least one new character to the Sandman Universe, Ruin, and bringing back an old one: William Shakespeare.

Tuesday, August 11

  • Green Lantern Earth One Vol. 2: The second installment of Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s alternate-universe Green Lantern epic hits shelves.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.