As they enter the fall season Marvel looks to be setting the stage for how their universe will look in the post-Empyre events. We see that throughout Marvel’s September solicitations as Empyre’s ending will be clearly shaking up a lot of things, especially when it comes to their cosmic-related comic books. But as Empyre’s ending ripples throughout the Marvel Universe there will not be anytime to rest. Specifically, for the X-Men, they are going from being involved in the events of Empyre to go right into whatever the X of Swords event will be. That along with major storylines for Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and so many other characters make September a big month for the foundation of the rest of Marvel’s 2020. Let us take a look at all we can expect from the House of Ideas after Marvel released their September 2020 solicitations.
EMPYRE ENDING IMPACT ON THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
While it was delayed to take place past the summer Marvel is not wasting any time with the conclusion of its Empyre event. We will be seeing the big event come to an end in early September with several titles dealing with the aftermath of Empyre. What’s interesting about the aftermath we are seeing being spotlighted in September is that it doesn’t look like Empyre will effect all the titles. Instead there will be a select few titles in the coming months that will be directly dealing with Empyre’s aftermath.
For example, outside of the Empyre: Aftermath Avengers #1 one-shot the comics that will most deal with the ramifications from Empyre are the Captain Marvel and Fantastic Four comics. That makes sense given these two titles are closely tied to both the Skrulls and Kree even before the events of Empyre. This also seems to indicate that we will likely only see the cosmic-related titles like Captain Marvel, Fantastic Four, and Guardians of the Galaxy dealing with the fallout of Marvel’s latest event. That could change when we get the solicitations for October but it does seem like all of Marvel’s Earth based titles are going to be busy with other major storylines for the rest of 2020.
Based on the cover for Empyre #6 it also looks like Human Torch will be at the center of how the event will be ending. Adding in the fact that Iceman seems to be joining the Fantastic Four with the 24th issue all indications are that something is going to happen to Johnny Storm. It would definitely shake up the Fantastic Four if one of their members has to deal with direct ramifications from the events of Empyre.
X-MEN’S X OF SWORDS EVENT BEGINS
September kicks off the first big crossover X-Men event during the Dawn of X era for the franchise. Following the footsteps of its predecessors, the X of Swords crossover event will not only involve every X-Men comic book currently being published but be a total of 22 chapters plus two prelude chapters. That’s a total of 24 comics over the span of three months, with September only having four of those titles as you can see from the following X of Swords Checklist. That is not counting other X-Men comics like X-Force #12 that will likely help build up the X of Sword crossover and other tie-ins Marvel will likely announce later.
As big of a dent to the comic book budget that X of Swords will be there are a lot of reasons to be excited for the X-Men crossover event. One of those reasons is that X of Swords will likely be acting as the payoff to all the storylines that the X-Men comics have been individually building up during the first year of the Dawn of X era. Even though there are several writers working on X-Men comics we’ve seen how Jonathan Hickman and all the creative teams have worked closely to make the franchise as cohesive as possible. How connective these comics have been over the last year will be showcased with how all 24 chapters will be able to work together to tell one big story.
Based on the covers alone it does look like Apocalypse will be one of the major stars of X of Swords. If that means he will be one of the ten chosen sword wielders mention in the title or serve some other role, Apocalypse will clearly be a driving force in the series. What that means for the crossover and the X-Men franchise moving forward will be very interesting to see.
IRON MAN GETS A FRESH START
Marvel tried to add another big name to the latest run on Iron Man with Dan Slott but it looks like it did not turn in the results they or Slott wanted. But now rather than continuing what Slott and other recent writers have done with the Iron Man character Marvel has decided to go back to basics for Tony Stark. While not a full reboot of the character, the Iron Man #1 solicitation indicates that Tony Stark will be taking a step back to figure out his business and superhero life direction should be.
To accomplish that Marvel has tapped creator of the Halt and Catch Fire TV series and current Doctor Doom writer, Christopher Cantwell, to write the new Iron Man series. I’m not familiar with Cantwell’s work but Marvel seems to have enough confidence in his abilities to take on a series that they keep trying to make one of their flagships. But a reboot of the Iron Man and Tony Stark character is very much needed after the mess Marvel has created with his history, as we pointed out last month.
Iron Man has had incredible success in the mainstream with how the character was front and center in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and in all their cartoons. The same mainstream success hasn’t translated to the comics no matter how hard Marvel has tried. The Iron Man comics have just not reached the level of Spider-Man or X-Men. But maybe Cantwell can turn things around and create an Iron Man comic that can possibly find the critical and sales success Immortal Hulk has been. At least that is the hope.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #850 UNITES SPIDER-FAMILY
The march to Amazing Spider-Man #850 will end in September. While Amazing Spider-Man will be reaching that major milestone it won’t be the fun adventure Peter Parker may have preferred. Instead, reaching the milestone of Amazing Spider-Man #850 means that Peter Parker will be facing off against two of his biggest current villains: Kindred and Norman Osborn.
Having followed Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run from the beginning one of the immediate things that caught my eye in September’s solicitations was the status quo for Norman Osborn. The Amazing Spider-Man: Sins of Norman Osborn points to the villain going from one of the locked up patients to being chief administrator. That must be tied to whatever plans Kindred has been up to as the last time we saw Norman Osborn the two had a very “interesting” meeting in Amazing Spider-Man #31. Also using “Sins” as part of the title does seem to indicate that Spencer may be bringing even more past continuity tied to Norman Osborn than first indicated, with the teased history being some of my least favorite in comics.
As for Spider-Man himself, the return of Norman Osborn as Green Goblin and Kindred advancing his plot means that Peter won’t be able to handle things on his own. Finally, after all the build up over the years, Peter seems to be taking the initiative of uniting the Spider-Man Family and creating the Order of the Web team with Miles Morales, Spider-Woman, Ghost-Spider, Spider-Girl and Madame Web. Outside of the Spider-Verse stories we haven’t seen the Spider-Man Family fight as a united force. So this is very exciting and can create a lot of potentially fascinating stories that could spinoff for the entire Spider-Man family together.
KYLE HIGGINS BRINGS BACK ULTRAMAN
I’ll be honest in that I’m not familiar with Ultraman. I know the name but have never read anything about the character. Now with that said, the thing that caught my eye for The Rise of Ultraman series is that it will be co-written by Kyle Higgins and Mat Groom. Kyle Higgins name in particular is major selling point for me. Higgins has a library of excellent work with his run on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers being one of the best modern day comic book runs. His work on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers makes me confident that he can create something special with The Rise of Ultraman that could lead to bigger things down the line.
BLACK WIDOW BEGINS SOLO ADVENTURE
Like many comic books during the shutdown Kelly Thompson’s Black Widow series’ debut was delayed. Even with Marvel returning to their normal publishing schedule by July 2020 one of the comics absent from recent solicitations was Thompson’s Black Widow. But it looks like Marvel is ready to put Black Widown’s latest ongoing series back on a monthly schedule.
With the current plans of the Black Widow MCU movie scheduled release being in November Marvel likely wants to get ahead of that. Having a Black Widow ongoing series will be good promotional material that both Marvel and comic book shops can push in November. Tapping Thompson, who continues to be a rising talent at Marvel with her work on Jessica Jones, Captain Marvel and Deadpool, is a strong choice. There is a lot of potential with Natasha Romanoff’s character after how Jodi Houser was able to give her a fresh start with the recent Web of Black Widow series.
IMMORTAL SHE-HULK RISES OUT OF EMPYRE
Following the success of the Immortal Hulk series Marvel looks to bring in She-Hulk into the work Al Ewing has done thus far. Tapping Ewing to also write the Immortal She-Hulk one-shot is a smart choice. It will make the tie to the Immortal Hulk series much more natural. Even if it is a one-shot, Immortal She-Hulk could potentially build a road to Jennifer Walters being more part of her cousin’s life.
One thing that at least stands out from the Immortal She-Hulk cover is that the character is being toned down a bit in terms of her design. Over in the Avengers we’ve seen She-Hulk have a physique that is identical to Bruce Banner’s Hulk. Now it looks like whatever She-Hulk went through during Empyre that she going to be having more of a form that easily identifies her from her cousin while still having a heavily muscular physique.
SPOTLIGHT SHINES ON SHANG-CHI
Like Black Widow, Shang-Chi’s mini-series got delayed after the comic book industry returned from its shutdown. But now in September it looks like Marvel has placed Shang-Chi back on their publishing schedule. While it is a mini-series, this Shang-Chi series has a lot of potential to give us a look into what Marvel has planned for the character as Marvel Studios is working on a live-action MCU movie for the character.
Tapping Gene Luen Yang for this Shang-Chi mini-series is an excellent choice. Yang has a library of great work that include Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman Smashes The Klan. And Shang-Chi is one of the characters Marvel has with a lot of untapped potential. Especially in the modern era, Shang-Chi has largely been a supporting character in the Marvel Universe. This mini-series is a chance for Shang-Chi to break out a solo hero once again and Yang can do just that.
IRON PATRIOT AND RED SKULL RETURN IN CAPTAIN AMERICA
Iron Patriot is such a fascinating character for the mere fact that Marvel continues to try to make that name a big deal every few years since originally introduced by Norman Osborn. Now Marvel is taking another crack at the character as we see someone in the Iron Patriot armor on the cover of Captain America #23. While the solicitation for Captain America #23 does not tell us who is wearing the Iron Patriot armor there are two likely candidates. Those candidates are Sharon and Peggy Carter. Depending on which one is still around given recent Captain America issues teased only Sharon or Peggy being around in the future, than the remaining Carter could be adopting the Iron Patriot identity to continue to help Steve Rogers.
The other big development in Captain America #23 solicitation is the tease that Red Skull will be returning. There is no other villain that can identify themselves as Captain America’s number one foe. With how things have gone during Ta-Nehisi Coates run thus far the stage is certainly set for a major Red Skull story to be built moving forward. The villain can certainly take advantage of all the things that have not only happened in Captain America but also in many other Marvel comics.
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