X of Swords, the inaugural Jonathan Hickman-era X-Men event, is coming soon, and people are excited. A story fronted by Hickman and Tini Howard! Interconnectivity! SWORDS! What’s not to like? Unfortunately, we discovered something for people to dislike, as this crossover was recently revealed to be 24 chapters long. 1 This was met with a fairly mixed response. Some are excited about a big, gigantic story in the vein of Messiah Complex or Second Coming, and others are unenthusiastic about the idea of buying 24 comics from nine titles and several connected one-shots that range in price from $3.99 to $6.99. It would be understandably polarizing if the world was in a usual state, but we are hardly there right now. When you pair the largesse of the X-Office with a pandemic and resulting economic crisis, well…it’s even more so.
When I wrote about this revelation in my weekly column, Comics Disassembled, I made an atypically cavalier assertion when I said the following:
This type of decision making is considered to be a “rising tide lifts all ships” move, but I believe it makes it harder for lines to thrive, as I feel like these stories are jumping off points as much as they are jumping on ones.
After I published that, klaxons went off in my brain as I realized how against my broader approach to the world this suggestion was. “Is that true?” my brain wondered to itself. “Do we have evidence that an event or crossover can negatively impact individual titles by forcing them into larger, connected stories?” I had no idea. That was a problem for me, as not knowing things is generally my enemy. 2 The good news is a solution was reasonably easy to find. All it took was a whole lot of exploration of data, selecting a broad set of events and crossovers from recent history to figure out how titles that tie in are affected. So I did just that, in hopes of answering whether or not this interconnectivity helps or harms individual books. I ended up finding out a whole lot of other things in the process, which we’ll be examining beat by beat today.
So you know what that means everyone: it’s time for a chart party!