Top Ten Best Connections and Symmetries in Jonathan Hickman's Marvel Work // SIX to ONE
Cover image by Jamie McKelvie, Civil War 2: Kingpin #1 Black Panther Variant
For entries Ten to Seven, click here.
#6 - "There Was Nothing...Followed By Everything"
After leaving Fantastic Four and FF, Jonathan Hickman launched new volumes of Avengers and New Avengers, in stories that, at first, seemed unrelated. Avengers focused on Steve Rogers and Tony Stark assembling the most powerful and vast team of Avengers ever seen in order to deal with any threat that might come their way, while New Avengers focused on the superhero “Illuminati” as they dealt with a singular multiversal crisis. The two titles, however, were inexorably tied, with only subtle hints of their true connectivity at first. One of those involved the opening pages of Avengers #1, a retelling of the origins of the universe that would be echoed throughout this Avengers volume. In New Avengers #5, this sequence is given a dark reflection as the opening of Black Swan’s story of her own origin, as a way of describing the ending of everything. This sequence was further referenced in two other Hickman series: first, in Secret Wars #2, describing the origin of Battleworld; and then in the newly-released S.H.I.E.L.D. by Hickman and Weaver #6, in describing the Star Child resetting the conflict between the Brotherhood and its former Master.
#5 - At The End Of Time
After the strange reaction between Nathaniel Richards’ mysterious time powers and the Night Machine’s power source, Richards and Tesla (the Night Machine), along with Howard Stark and the enigmatic Mina, are thrown 6000 years into the future to a world seemingly devoid of life. There, they find Egyptian-esque ruins built, apparently, to honor Immortus, the man Kang the Conqueror will become. There is even a sphinx bearing his visage. Putting their differences aside, the quartet are able to travel back to their own present, but the method of transport alters one of the pyramids. Much later, in Avengers #34, Steve Rogers is sent skipping forward in time by the Time Gem, which is in the process of shattering due to the events of New Avengers #3. In his final jump forward, he finds himself in the exact ruins from S.H.I.E.L.D, even bearing the mark of the previous visitors’ exit.
#4 - "In Latveria, The Flowers..."
It’s rare that a title page will give anything truly meaningful to a story, other than a rundown of the cast and a recap. However, the titles of two Hickman-written issues create one of the coolest synergies across any comic creators’ oeuvre. Fantastic Four #583, the issue that commences the “Three” storyline that ended with the apparent death of Johnny Storm, is titled “In Latveria, the Flowers Bloom in Winter.” The issue signifies the first appearance of 616 Doom in Hickman’s story, and certainly adds a degree of gravitas to it. F4 #583 also is the first to introduce the true conflict of Hickman’s run, when the four Reeds from the Council are driven into Earth-616 by the Mad Celestials. Their attempt at escaping the universe define much of the rest of the run, so this can be viewed as the issue where the true narrative begins. Almost 5 years later, the final issue of New Avengers, #33, was released. Its title: “In Laterveria, the Flowers Die in Summer.” The issue pulls back the curtain on how Doom became Rabum Alal and caused the Incursion crisis as an after effect of his efforts to thwart the Beyonders. It marks the end, in many ways, to the story, but the title goes further, marking it the symmetrical “beginning of the end” of Hickman’s mega-epic, leading directly into the events of Secret Wars, while also proving that it was always one big story.
#3 - The Left Hand of God
Jonathan Hickman implies through his run that Doom is left handed, indicating it through subtle hints. The first doesn’t directly involve Doom at all, but instead the Reed of Earth-98570. This Reed is one of the three shown from the Council of Reeds possessing an Infinity Gauntlet. He is the only to wear his Gauntlet on his left hand. He is also the only one to have implanted brain tissue from his world’s Victor Von Doom into his own brain, a fact he mentions openly in Fantastic Four #571, but is further detailed in Fantastic Four #605.1, which shows his own strange and unsettling origin. This Reed is killed in Fantastic Four #572, but his gauntlet is found by Doom in FF #16, after he is abandoned in the ruins of the Council. Placing the 98570 Gauntlet on his left hand and one of the other two on his right, he feels powerful...but Infinity Gauntlets don’t work outside their home universe, so he finds the universe one of them comes from--the one on his left hand--and travels to Earth-98570, an empty universe destroyed by that Reed with that very Gauntlet. Lastly, in Secret Wars, Hickman inverts the favored “Right Hand of God,” with God Doom putting his favored--Susan, his wife--on his left, and doling out merciless punishment with the right.
#2 - “Welcome to Tomorrow”
When Reed Richards grows tired of the direction of the intellectual community, he shapes a new one, the Future Foundation, a collection of young prodigies with an eye toward the future, as seen in Fantastic Four #579. The Reed Richards of Earth-1610, the Ultimate Universe, has a different plan in mind after he fails in his first foray as a villain. Collecting the greatest minds of his world, he uses them to create the “Children of Tomorrow,” a ruthless evolution of mankind, in the landmark Ultimate Fallout #4 (also the first appearance of Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man). Both men, however, give eerily similar speeches to their respective recruits, illustrating, in chilling fashion, how the two men are near-perfect reflections of each other. Hickman’s plans for Ultimate Reed, who he turned into the menacing Maker, were scuttled when he was taken off the Ultimates and given the flagship Avengers, but Hickman would revisit the Maker in Time Runs Out and Secret Wars.
#1 - “After The Last War, When All Reality Has Collapsed Into A Single Timestream…”
Franklin isn’t the only Richards kid who paid a visit to their past in the early part of Hickman’s Fantastic Four run. Valeria visits her mother for tea in a clear attempt to give her mother some assurance about the trials ahead. During it, she says something that is a clear hint to Hickman’s grand plans for the Marvel Multiverse, his Secret Wars. This line is planted like a flag, almost meaningless at the time, but an obvious hint in hindsight. It creates a clear link to the multiversal stakes of the Incursion crisis and the plans of the Beyonders, while being vague enough to give Hickman room to let the concept evolve as it neared reality.