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The 6 biggest superhero shake-ups coming to comics this fall

The X-Men have swords now

Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

The multiverses of Marvel and DC Comics are constantly shifting. If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of the newest normal, you’ve got to know where those changes are coming from.

Here’s a look at the hottest happenings from heppest heroes out there, all coming this fall. You’ve got Batman, the Avengers, Rorschach, Jack Kirby, and lots and lots and lots of swords.

You heard me. Swords.

X of Swords

Magik, Wolverine, and Captain Britain wield swords against their enemies on the cover of X of Swords: Destruction #1, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Pepe Larraz/Marvel Comics

Sep. 16-Nov. 28

The X-Men all have swords now. That’s it, that’s the whole event.

I joke, but there’s not a lot we know about X of Swords, the first crossover event of Jonathan Hickman’s Dawn of X era. It’s probably got something to do with Apocalypse and the ancient history of Krakoa, but even the official issue summaries are cryptic as heck.

A story where all the X-Men get swords and fight bad guys certainly sounds fun, but there’s good reason to think this could be the blockbuster comics crossover 2020 has been waiting for. After all, this is from many of the same people who brought us 2019’s House of X/Powers of X. Until HoX/PoX, I hadn’t seen the comics community so united in rapt attention since the time Ryan North got stuck in a hole.

Joker War and Empyre aftermath at DC and Marvel

The Avengers and the Fantastic four square off against their foes on the cover of Empyre Handbook #1, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Ron Lim, Israel Silva/Marvel Comics

September and October

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive shake-ups in the American comics market, from store closures and delays, to publishing pauses — it even broke the Diamond Monopoly. But COVID-19 hasn’t had much of an effect on the fictional side of DC and Marvel, except when it comes to timing. After lengthy delays, we’re still waiting for resolution on some of the events in our spring preview.

DC is still hinting at a big change in the Batman status quo — maybe even with a very shiny new costume — as the Joker War concludes at the end of September and new villains like Punchline, Clownhunter, and Ghost-Maker take center stage. At Marvel, the events of the Empyre crossover are just coming to a close, with big, but not surprising, changes for the state of Marvel’s cosmic characters.

Look for the resolution on these stories in your favorite Gotham City-set books, as well as Marvel titles like Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Fantastic Four.


Ikaris of the Eternals swoops triumphantly through space on the cover of Eternals #1, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Esad Ribić/Marvel Comics

Nov. 11

Who are the Eternals? Well, they’re immortal superbeings who inspired mythological stories around the world and live secretly among us. They also have a movie coming up, if you haven’t heard.

The Eternals are perhaps the most high-concept idea in Marvel Comics that’s never really gotten off the ground. But if there’s anybody in comics right now who stands a chance of making the Eternals mean something, it’s writer Kieron Gillen.

Whenever Gillen takes a swing at a big mythological concept — like in The Wicked + The Divine and Die, both of which gave a personal edge to a very high concept idea — it’s worth keeping an eye on. Now, he’s teaming up with superstar artist Esad Ribić (Secret War, Thor) for Eternals, and that’s worth keeping two eyes on.


Nov. 20

Tom King (Mister Miracle, Batman) and Jorge Fornés (Batman) reunite for another story about a growly guy who likes to punch criminals and starred memorably in an Alan Moore story. But this time it’s Rorschach, not Batman, in a story set after the events of Watchmen.

We’re never going to reach a point where a new Watchmen spinoff of any kind is non-controversial, but it’s undeniable that Watchmen sells. When Rorschach hits stands in November, people will buy it, and you can bet that people will talk about it.

The Other History of the DC Universe

Nov. 24

You can read all about it in our feature interview, but John Ridley (Justice League, Static Shock, 12 Years a Slave) and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli (Hellblazer, Darth Vader) are finally bringing their long-awaited The Other History of the DC Universe to print. The book — somewhere between an illustrated novel and a graphic novel — will examine the biggest events in the DC Universe from the perspective of Black, Asian, queer, and female superheroes.

“If you’re a character of color,” Ridley says in our interview, “and you’re faced with bias, and you’re faced with intolerance, and you see an individual who is literally an alien but because of his forward facing facade, his visage — his passport is stamped.”

The book will kick off with a focus on Black Lightning, and expand to include characters like Katana, Renee Montoya, and Mal Duncan, who you probably haven’t even heard of. (I know I hadn’t.)

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