The end of summer may be upon us and, as sad as we may be about cold weather and school returning to session, there is good news awaiting all the comic book loving geeks out there — major crossover events have kicked off in both the DC and Marvel Universes.

Now the concept of the major label event has been going on for decades at this point, and the ploy is always pretty simple — rope readers in for a core six or seven issue main series, force them to buy a slew of off-shoot issues to keep up with the story, eventually kill a major character (who will be brought back to life soon enough) and then lead that major event into the next major event.

It's a cheap tactic that comic book publishers have been at for years, but these are almost always the biggest and best stories with the most character impact so we are forced to pay attention and more often than not we get some amazing writing and spectacular art to help along with the ride.

Let's break down the three major events going on at DC and Marvel, with a little back story on each and then hopefully send you to your local comic book store excited to check out at least one, if not all, of these event titles.

First up we have DC's major foray that spans their entire universe of books — Forever Evil, headed up by DC creative chief Geoff Johns, will take precedence over every other title over the course of the next few months.

The story starts with the three factions of the Justice League (The Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark) all battling each other after a series of mishaps puts them on opposing sides, instead of fighting the villains of the world. As it turns out, this entire exercise of turning the Justice League factions against one another was part of a bigger plot from a group called The Crime Syndicate of America (CSA).

The CSA is from an alternate world called Earth-3 and on this version of Earth, the good guys are all bad. The leader is Ultraman — he's basically Superman, except the really, really evil version. He's joined by Superwoman (Wonder Woman), Owlman (Batman) and a host of other alternate heroes that are not nice at all. They show up on our version of Earth to take over after their home world is left in a state of decay.

The CSA has managed to dispose of the Justice League, and now stand unopposed to take over the Earth — except for the other powerful force that exists on this planet — the villains. Yep, Lex Luthor will be joined by other famous faces from the rogues gallery in the universe to help put a stop to the CSA in an epic battle that will span the entire planet and beyond.

Next up in the big event market is Marvel's Infinity series.

More than 250,000 copies of the first issue sold out, making Infinity the biggest event of the summer by shear numbers alone. Marvel is tagging this one as a universe wide event, but in reality it's only The Avengers taking center stage with a few outer space heroes getting in on the action.

There are several story lines colliding in writer Jonathan Hickman's books: Avengers and New Avengers, but Infinity as a whole is a fairly self-contained title, which is a rare treat in the big event business these days. It certainly doesn't hurt to pick up Hickman's other two main Avengers' titles, but the story is understandable enough just from Infinity to get by.

Earth is in danger (isn't it always?) and The Avengers have to leave the planet to stop an ancient race of aliens, known as The Builders, from coming to the planet and wiping out life as we know it. The Builders are scavengers that go from system to system seeking out the most highly evolved civilizations, and if what they find on each world doesn't fit their criteria, life is wiped out and they start over fresh. The Avengers are on a collision course with The Builders to stop them from coming to Earth.

While the Avengers are gone, cosmic bad boy Thanos notices the Earth is left unguarded. For those unfamiliar, Thanos is one of Marvel's biggest and most ruthless villains, and if you saw The Avengers in theaters he was the puppet master pulling Loki's strings throughout the entire film. Well, Thanos is always hell bent on destruction, devastation and a good old fashioned takeover. With the Avengers gone out into the deepest reaches of the universe, the Earth is easy pickings for the Mad Titan.

The third and final event taking place this summer is the X-Men feature: Battle of The Atom. Just like The Avengers taking a page from the movies, this latest mutant series seems to be a great preview to next year's major Marvel film X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The story goes like this — a few years back almost all mutants were blinked off the face of the Earth by a very powerful mutant named The Scarlet Witch (she will appear in The Avengers 2 for those curious). Years later, after the few survivors tried to battle back from the brink of extinction, the exact opposite happened when a new mutant, named Hope, helped reignite the mutant gene and thousands upon thousands of mutants started popping up all over the world.

The new mutant race caused a rift between Cyclops and Wolverine, who had two different ideas about how their people should continue on Earth. Cyclops believed mutants had to be trained and taught to be warriors to defend themselves from the human aggressors that may seek to destroy them once again. Wolverine was on the other side with the thought that these new mutants should be raised in a safe-teaching environment like the one Charles Xavier ran for many years.

Cyclops is now sort of an outlaw leader of the mutant race while Wolverine has become the de facto head of the entire group of X-Men. This break in the X-Men forces Beast to travel back in time to the moment when the X-Men were first formed and gather that group of young mutants (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel and Iceman) and bring them back to the present hoping to shock Cyclops into realizing how far he'd fallen from the days when he first started learning under Professor X.

The plan doesn't work. To make things even worse, a group of futuristic X-Men also appear out of nowhere warning everyone of a dystopian future that awaits them where Sentinels (mutant killing robots) are out to destroy anyone and everyone that get in their way, including humans and mutants alike, as these gigantic machines have now taken over the Earth. The future X-Men travel to the past to stop the event that will cause all of this to happen.

This is a time-spanning event where X-Men from years past, present and the future all have to bind together to stop this hellish Sentinel run world from becoming reality.

X-Men: Battle of the Atom only has two stand-alone issues with that title, while the rest of the series will span four other X-Men titles in the Marvel Universe (X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, The All New X-Men, and Wolverine and the X-Men). The good part is each issue is playing into the major story arc so there's no need to worry too much about the back story or characters that will be involved in this event.

All told, there are three major stories taking place this summer worth checking out. If you pick up only one, the main recommendation would be Marvel's Infinity series. Jonathan Hickman has quickly become one of the best writers in all of comic books, and his work on The Avengers titles has been nothing short of spell binding. Infinity also promises to be the biggest of all the event titles and with the popularity of The Avengers right now, not to mention all the film tie-ins that will be coming over the next two years, this is a book you just have to read.


Damon Martin is a professional nerd/journalist and the owner and editor of