So I have maintained for quite some time now that Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four run is, increasingly, one of the truly definitive runs on the title. To my mind it’s surpassed Walt Simonson’s run and John Byrne’s1 and is quietly creeping up on Waid/Ringo, which while a great run certainly had a few rough patches in it (like, for example, the middle bit).
I spoke about Hickman’s run on the title a while back when FF #1 came out that Hickman was delivering what ongoing superhero comics needed: the illusion of change. And his run on the title has certainly demonstrated his commitment to the “illusion” part, as with the apparent conclusion of a major storyline we have seen the return of the Human Torch following his supposed death23 and the upcoming issues tease the departure of Spider-Man from the team (which is of course perfectly reasonable). But, at the same time, he’s developed Franklin and Valeria further and added an enormous supporting cast – none of which changes the core tenets of the book, but which create enough surface difference to add novelty. And that should be appreciated.
But what I really love about Hickman’s Fantastic Four is that at first, people thought all of his Big Idea Comic Stories were just Morrison-lite, because these days anybody who puts actual ideas on the page is copying Grant Morrison or something like that. But unlike Morrison – who tends to use his freeflowing conduit of mad ideas as set dressing – Hickman has consistently used his Big Ideas as elements of his ongoing, overarcing plot rather than just discarding them as one-offs, culminating in his most recent story arc which features enemies that were barely present for a couple of panels twenty issues ago and features the culmination of plots from the very beginning of Hickman’s run.
And he writes a truly great Dr. Doom – Hickman’s Doom isn’t noble in a heroic way (which he shouldn’t be), but Hickman rightly notes that Doom’s pride makes him capable of great things at times (which should be the case).
In all seriousness, at this point I think I would rank Hickman’s work on the book above everybody who isn’t Stan and Jack. (I’m sure there will be those willing to contest this statement heartily. Have at it.)
- I have always felt that Byrne’s FF run is somewhat overrated, particularly because I don’t like his portrayal of Dr. Doom. Doom is not noble; Doom is a clever bastard. [↩]
- Spoilers: a valuable intellectual property and lynchpin of one of the most important superhero teams in comics was not killed off forever! [↩]
- Although you have to admire the fact that Hickman’s solution to “how not to kill him” was in fact to kill him repeatedly but keep bringing him back with Evil Science, which is a deliciously nasty way to go about it. [↩]