Top Ten Best Connections and Symmetries in Jonathan Hickman's Marvel Work // TEN to SEVEN
Cover art by Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina, from Secret Wars #9
Update: A previous version incorrectly identified the Galactus resurrected by Future Franklin as a different iteration of the World Devourer. It has been corrected to properly reflect this. Thanks to John Sanchez for catching the error.
Few runs have defined the Fantastic Four in the modern era more than Jonathan Hickman’s 4 year run on the title. Breaking the team down to their core and building them back up again while simultaneously pushing the boundaries for long form narrative, his span on the title, which spawned a sister title, FF, has taken on a cult status, along with his work on Secret Warriors, S.H.I.E.L.D, Ultimates, Avengers, and New Avengers, as well as the blockbuster event, Secret Wars. Now, with the Fantastic Four set to return in the pages of the newly relaunched Fantastic Four title, we look back at the ten wildest connections and symmetries tied to Hickman’s Marvel super-story, which is inexorably linked to Marvel’s “First Family.”
Honorable Mention 1 - What happens to the Immortal City, from Hickman’s century-spanning S.H.I.E.L.D. series, after the core cast leaves in 1960? Hickman “revisits” the location 3 different times: first, in Secret Warriors #25, as Leonardo da Vinci, who stays behind, shapes S.H.I.E.L.D. into what it’s traditionally known to be; second, in FF #14, which shows Nathaniel Richards planning with his granddaughter, Valeria, in the ruins of the Brotherhood’s inner sanctum; and third, in New Avengers #25, part of Time Runs Out, where the ruins of the city serve as a hideout for the fugitive Illuminati, hunted by Steve Rogers’ S.H.I.E.L.D.
Honorable Mention 2 - The Life-Model Decoy, or LMD, has been a staple of S.H.I.E.L.D. stories since the first Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. story in Strange Tales #135, but Hickman twice expands the history of these person-replacing devices. The first is in Secret Warriors #26, when Nick and Jake Fury discover the first LMD, which replaces Jake and becomes the villain, Scorpio. A few months later, however, in S.H.I.E.L.D. volume 2 #2, Hickman went even deeper with that twist: that LMD was originally created to live out the last decades of Leonardo da Vinci’s life, built by the man himself to to cover his exit from the timestream.
#10 - “All Hope Lies In Doom”
The first future traveler of Hickman’s Fantastic Four is Franklin Richards, who came back with a message for his little sister, the core of which was “All Hope Lies In Doom.” Valeria, and readers, assume that this is related to the central conflict ahead, being the intrusion by the Council of Reeds and the Mad Celestials. However, when viewed as the first part of the story that culminates in Secret Wars, this statement means much more, since it is Doom who steals the Beyonders' power and creates Battleworld, containing the last vestiges of life in the Multiverse.
#9 - Richards and Tesla
Nathaniel “Father of Reed” Richards, along with Howard “Father of Tony” Stark, was a Brother of the Shield, serving Master Isaac Newton in the 1950s. In a battle with Nikola Tesla, who had been reborn as the Night Machine, Howard damaged their rival’s power source, and Nathaniel attempted to use his mysterious, heretofore-unknown powers to stop it from melting down. However, his powers react to Tesla in a surprising way, creating a resonant event across the Multiverse that propels Richards, Stark and Tesla, along with the mysterious Bird-Woman, Mina, into a distant future (more on that later). In Fantastic Four, Nathaniel recounts this story to his son--with an unexpected turn. Nathaniel’s account of what happens after his encounter with Tesla features a vastly different series of events, involving all his alternate selves and Immortus, the final form of time-traveling menace Kang the Conqueror, who forces the Nathaniels to battle it out to until there is only one remaining, which in no way relates to anything seen in S.H.I.E.L.D. While an interesting connection in the surface, the mystery of these different series of events has only gotten stranger, especially given the twist ending of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Hickman and Weaver #6.
#8 - “To Me...My Galactus!”
At the climax of the major plotline of Hickman’s Fantastic Four, Adult Franklin Richards returns from the future to battle the Mad Celestials. Having added the power of his younger self’s pocket universe to his own, he uses it to revive Galactus, who had been killed by the Mad Celestials--as his Herald! Nathaniel explains that, while Galactus has had many heralds, Franklin only had one, the world devourer himself. Later, on Battleworld, it’s shown that the young Franklin on that world has a lobotomized Galactus of his own, a fun throwback to a fan-favorite moment.
#7 - “Black Panther of the Dead”
In one of the final issues of Hickman’s Fantastic Four, #608, the Future Foundation visits Wakanda, and Reed and the depowered T’Challa explore the Wakandan city, Necropolis, the “City of the Dead,” a sacred burial shrine for deceased Black Panthers. There, the goddess Bast grants T’Challa the power of the “King of the Dead,” which grants him the strength of all the Black Panthers of history, as well as the their guidance...and one more hidden ability. In the third act of Secret Wars, T’Challa reveals that the title means more than just access to the power of past Black Panthers; it also gives literal power over the walking dead, which comes in handy, since Battleworld his inhabited by an army of Marvel Zombies! The superpowered undead follows T’Challa’s every command, and aid him in taking the fight to God Doom. Hickman revealed in interviews that this was always the true purpose of granting T’Challa that title and power, meaning that turn was planned almost three and half years before it was revealed.
Check out the rest of the countdown here.