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    Tuesday, August 6, 2019

    Latest Blog Droppings Thanks to the Uncanny Daryll B: Jonathan Hickman's New X-Men Canon

    After the last AfroNerd Radio show where we delved into Jonathan Hickman taking over X-Men with his House of X and Powers of X books, I thought it would be cool to share this bio blog I did of him for Comic Book Underground close to a year ago. Credit to Brandon Rucker for the support and chance to do this. AfroNerd Supporters, I hope you enjoy and find something new here.

    Since 2006, the world of comics has had a literal supernova come on the scene and turn things upside down. With a count of 20 properties and no less than 250+ individual issues written, Jonathan Hickman is nothing short of the workman superstar for comic book fans. He has an extensive resume for Image and Marvel Comics. I can go through most of these but I am going to rely on his works that I have had a deep personal experience with. Let's start with Image Comics...
    Jonathan Hickman first broke on the scene with The Nightly News in 2006–2007 which looked at modern news reporting in the current age. Well, modern newscasting in a weird comic book universe that is. He first gave readers a glimpse of his world building abilities here with a gritty, hand drawn outing (only 6 issues) that had surprises and an amazing amount of depth. The makings of a future superstar to me actually came through on the next work of his that I picked up years later.​
    Sure, he had written Popgun, Pax Romana, Transhuman, Red Mass for Mars, & Comic Book Tattoo in the 4 years before (I did say he wrote a lot right?) I picked up Hickman's next major work that struck a chord with me: The Red Wing with art by Nick Pitarra in 2011. Imagine mixing the movie Independence Day with the DC property Blackhawks as Earth (or an Earthlike planet) in the future has teams of jet fighters heading off an invasion from another time. This four issue limited series proved in a short time that Hickman could layer his storytelling on a universal scale. This effect would come into greater focus with his best known Image, non-Marvel work. No, not Secret but The Manhattan Projects with Nick Pitarra in 2012.​
    The Manhattan Projects is the story of the infamous think tank that created the Atomic Bomb during World War II. However, on this Alternate Earth, the think tank consisting of Joseph Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, Harry Daghlian & Albert Einstein doesn't break up and continues, in secret, making scientific strides for good and ill. Lasting through the decades, bending and twisting historic events and figures through plots of government, international policy, aliens, robotics, human experimentation, among everything else. When I said there is a lot going on in Hickman's mind, it wasn't hyperbole because while he had these balls in the air for Image Comics, Marvel came calling for him...​
    Jonathan Hickman did stories for Marvel that were serialized in Legion of Monsters and Astonishing Tales in 2007 & 2009 but it was in the midst of Tales that Marvel offered him his first real impact work with the company: Secret Warriors. Shepherded in the beginning by Brian Michael Bendis and with art by talented artists Stefano Caselli, Ed McGuinness, Alessandro Vitti, among others, Hickman told a tale of Nick Fury and a green, rookie force of superpowered agents trying to weed out a major Hydra infiltration within SHIELD. The series is notable for three major reasons: 1) storylines used here have been used in the live action Agents of SHIELD series. Most notably Agent Daisy Johnson, a.k.a Skye, a.k.a Quake; 2) Hickman deftly used connections to every corner of the Marvel Universe set up by Bendis and used them to feed his stories. On this team you had ties to the mystic, Gods, mutants, inhumans along with hardcore spy stuff!; 3) He spun out of this roots that led to his other Marvel projects including a later "origin story" in S.H.I.E.L.D. and the next project I'm about to tackle of his, Fantastic Four. ​
    The run that put Hickman on the radar of most Marvel Fans, his Fantastic Four "residency" did several things that helped shape the Marvel Universe for years to come. First, he formed the omni-universal Council of Reeds, which for years was the domain of more evil elements (see Kang) but affected our Reed's decision making from that point on but also led to him creating the Future Foundation as a balance. The Future Foundation was Reed and Susan's gift to the future, a learning habitat for the gifted kids of the Marvel Universe under the Four's watch. It became a second series in its own right.​
    Second, Hickman, for better or worse, reintegrated parts of Marvel Cosmic back to the "main" Marvel Universe through this run. As a result, Annihilus, The Negative Zone, Inhumans, Kree, among others were now back in play and that led to the "death" of the Human Torch. Yes. You read that right. This death, led to other heroes, most notably Spider-Man, becoming involved once again with the Fantastic "Three" and the Future Foundation thus expanding Hickman's ties through the FF to the rest of the Marvel Universe (see T'Challa becoming Lord of the Dead, Black Bolt establishing a New Atillian on Earth & Valeria's renewed ties with Doom).​
    So once again, Hickman has all of these plots rolling with Fantastic Four, he goes and takes a sojourn into the Marvel Ultimate Universe. Deciding to "rehab" the Ultimates in his style, Hickman writes Ultimate Comics: Thor, Ultimate Comics: Ultimates, Ultimate Comics: Fallout & Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye over 2010-2012 which helped fans forget the disaster of Ultimates 3 (the less said about that one the better. Trust me on this one readers) and essentially laid the groundwork for future storylines of his because impressed with his work here Marvel decided to give him the plum job of the line.​
    Brian Michael Bendis was moving on from Avengers and who better to take his place than the world building Jonathan Hickman? Hickman takes over both Avengers & The New Avengers in 2011 (even ADDING another Avengers book Avengers World in 2013 to mix to boot!) with a cavalcade of star artists and integrated some of the high Marvel Cosmic plotting that was involved in both his Fantastic Four & Ultimates runs while moving Bendis' own Illuminati story to a "logical" conclusion within the mega stories/events Infinity & Time Runs Out. The previous detailing an intergalactic war vs higher beings while Thanos and his Black Order attack Earth on a personal objective (sound familiar Marvel Cinematic Universe fans?). The latter, which had been hinted throughout all of Hickman's Marvel runs, shows 616's heroes fighting a losing battle against a multi-universal entropy as universes are crashing together, annihilating each other. ​
    This was essentially a 7 year (yes, you read that right) build to Hickman's Marvel (for now) Finale: 2015-16's Secret Wars with Esad Ribic on art. All the universes are fragically united under a surprising savior with an even more surprising police force overseeing each region. Different eras and storylines, loved and hated by Marvel Fans, mashed up and coexisting all under Hickman's direction making this by far his largest project to date. It served as a wrap up to not only his Avengers run but ended up being a fitting goodbye to his Fantastic Four run too.​
    SOOOO what is Jonathan Hickman doing today? Well the master storyteller went back over to Image and has two books currently ongoing. The first is one he started in 2013, the critically acclaimed East of West, an alternate, dystopian history of the United States from the Civil War on where The US is essentially 7 different countries united by the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. Yes. Once again, you read that right. The other, The Black Monday Murders, is a weird who done it in the style of The Nightly News, which got Hickman started down this rabbit hole. ​
    There you have it! An abbreviated look at comic writing wunderkind Jonathan Hickman. Thanks for reading along this journey and I wholeheartedly recommend trying out his stuff for a literary good time. Until Next Time, Keep Fantasizing!
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    Item Reviewed: Latest Blog Droppings Thanks to the Uncanny Daryll B: Jonathan Hickman's New X-Men Canon Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: afronerd
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