Tag Archives: jonathan hickman

Review: Secret Wars #6

secret_wars_vol_1_6_textlessSecret Wars #6 continues the series, with Valeria Richards sacrilegious quest for knowledge. I don’t recognize this as much as I would like to but Valeria has been a real stand out character in the past few years. Her overt child nature makes it easy to over look this, but when you think about it  must be a real burden to bear that kind of intellect at that age.  This is addressed in this issue where in a confrontation with the two Spider Men, she declines the opportunity to discover the source of Doom’s power. This was a powerful moment because the erudite Valeria has always been bold and unfazed in her exploration, this subtle shift and her recognition of the limits of her precociousness was a really nice touch.

There was another interesting scene where the two Reeds (616 and Ultimate version) discuss the logistics of the quest to take out Doom. The two Reeds differ significantly in their respectively in the philosophies, with Ultimate reed taking  a more realist approach and not being above killing. There’s a part that I loved where 616 reed ponders how ultimate Reed could be so callous to which Ultimate reed replies he doesn’t have the burden of a family to tie him down. Those who enjoy the nature vs nurture debate will have a lot mull over with this scene. One of my favourite aspects of alternate universe characters is the opportunity to explore aspects of a character that may not have arisen in their native dimensional upbringing. Ultimate seems to criticize 616 reeds’ ethical and compassionate as unfit for eh task at hand. His final jab  616 reed comes as he informs him about what Doom has done to  his family. This appears to put the fire under Reed to do what is required to stop Doom.

The emerging rebellion begins to boil over  as the prophet rallies the dissenting ranks. Admittedly I have not been following too much of the Secret Wars tie ins, but I suspect that there should be some connective tissue with what’s going on in these panels and some of those tie in issues. Sadly a lot of these tie ins failed to sustain my interest.

We get more insight into the mythos of Battleworld when Sue tells Franklin his bedtime story.  Sue tells of a modified fantastic four origin, where the Human Torch was sacrificed to become the sun of Battleworld. And The thing was made into the massive shield that keeps the dead away from the rest of Battleworld. It is a very touching story highlighting the heroism of both characters featured, however it raises some interesting questions. If Doom acquired for himself a degree of omnipotency, how was it that the circumstances were such that he needed these heroic sacrifices in the first place? To me it seems either strategic, or somewhat vindictive. Doom’s newfound power appears to be tempered by his villiany or perhaps some flaw that defines the limit of his power. The fact that Doom, has exploited or otherwise usurped each member of Reed’s family makes this a very personal attack on Reed and should make for a significant confrontation between the two in the end. This issue made me anticipate that encounter very much.

Story: Johnathan Hickman Art: Esad Ribic
Story 8 Art: 10 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Secret Wars #5

Secret Wars #5 CoverIssue five of Secret Wars, takes place immediately after the death of Sheriff Strange. Godking Doom does his best to explain away the circumstance of his death and reinforce the mythology of Battleword’s founding, however the irreversible consequences still reverberate and those within Doom’s circle of influence are beginning to ask questions most notably Valeria.  To me Valeria has always been an underrated character, mostly because of her youth despite her precocious intellect. We are treated to some of her cosmic sleuthing, as she and her science division investigate what really happened prior to Sheriff Strange’s death.

It has been some time since writer Jonathan Hickman‘s Fantastic Four run, and this issue made me remember Hickman’s brilliance on it. I may have mentioned this elsewhere but Hickman’s plotting is very intricate, whether or not you enjoy this may depend on personal preference and perhaps patience. During Hickman’s FF run I really enjoyed the long form writing, and foreshadowing, but since his Avengers run and beyond, I feel he’s been encroaching the limits of that. With all the intricate plotting and the timeline flash-forwards, it’s kind of hard as a reader to navigate the context. I did follow the recent New Avengers story, but even as one who followed as best as I could, the panel explaining the metaphysical backdrop (presumably a refresher/intro for new readers) was a bit confusing.

Eagle eyed readers and fans of Hickman’s other series will appreciate some notable characters. For example Nostradamus and Dr Tesla make appearances. This was a real treat for me as I was (and still am) a die hard fan of Hickman’s SHIELD series, which if you haven’t already, you need to stop everything and go check it out. The tone of Hickman’s SHIELD is an intricate Dan Brown-esque journey that dives deep into the mythos of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the larger Marvel Universe by extension. The inclusions of these characters is appropriate in this respect as Secret Wars shares much of the motifs of the series.

There’s an underlying theme of knowledge seeking vs heresy, in this issue that really fleshes out the mythos and intrigue of Secret Wars. Again I am reminded other idyllic utopias showcased in the Marvel U that crumbled so quickly with a small inquiry into the truth of matters. Although at times convoluted and a bit dense narrative wise you can really tell that secret wars has been a labor of love for Hickman. I can’t help but respect that, and personally it fuels my own interest as well. The house of cards is slowly beginning to crumble and I am anxiously awaiting to see how this chapter ends, and shapes the future of the new Marvel Universe we have gotten glimpses of already.

Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Esad Ribic
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation Buy

The New Marvel Universe. Born Out of Africa and Afrofuturism.

SecretWars_009I’m going to warn you, this post has spoilers. If you haven’t read Secret Wars #9, you might want to do that first.

You sure you don’t care about spoilers?

This is your last warning.

Secret Wars #9 hit shelves this week wrapping up Marvel‘s world shaping event as Mr. Fantastic and Doctor Doom battled it out over the fate of existence. Many have focused on Miles Morales’ introduction in to the Marvel 616 (or Marvel Prime, whatever you want to call it). Or they were focused on the future of the Fantastic Four. Maybe they were focused on Doctor Doom’s face?

While all of those things were interesting, I was more focused on the statement writer Jonathan Hickman made, whether on purpose or unintentionally, as to the cradle of humankind (really the whole Marvel 616 Universe) and its future. Hickman anchored both on the shoulders of a man from Africa, the leader of Wakanda, T’Challa, the Black Panther.

The idea of humankind being birthed, evolving out of Africa, is a relatively new one, tracing back to just 1924, less than 100 years ago. In 1871 Charles Darwin said it was “probable” that Africa was the cradle of humans due to the presence of chimpanzees and gorillas, but he also said there was an extinct ape in Europe, which created some doubt. “Speculation was useless.” In the early 20th Century it was thought that humans evolved somewhere in Europe or Asia. It was a fossil discover in 1924 that changed things, and even then that was disputed for some time. What we take for granted as a given today, is something relatively new.

Secret_Wars_#9_Black_Panther_Infinity_GemIn Secret Wars, Doctor Doom has taken god like power and remade existence in his image creating a tough new reality called Battleworld. The miniseries builds up as the remaining heroes rally to stop Doom. Part of that plan is the Black Panther’s wielding of the Infinity Gauntlet and its gems which have the power over strength and durability, time, teleportation, manipulating one’s soul, alters all of reality, and gives psionic/psychic abilities. Doom initially battles Black Panther and Namor, as Reed Richards gets to the heart of Doom’s power, the Molecule Man. Eventually Doom is distracted, fighting Reed Richards, and as the Molecule Man tears the universe apart, T’Challa uses the Reality Gem to create a new reality, a new Marvel Universe. In his actions he brings Miles Morales to this new world, saves “orphans” such as the Squadron Supreme members, places his nemesis Namor back on the throne of Atlantis, and even heals Doom’s face. The world was remade, and remade better, due to the will and wisdom of an African man.

Secret_Wars_#9_Black_Panther_It_WorkedIf there’s any doubt that T’Challa is responsible for the new Marvel Universe, one just needs to read that first panel after he clenches his fist. His words, “it worked,” with the Infinity Gem no longer present, burnt away from its use indicates what has happened, and he’s responsible.

T’Challa could have cast away the Squadron Supreme, punished Namor, left Doom to rot, or forgotten about Miles, one of the few high-profile African-American superheroes in the Marvel universe. Instead he shows compassion and a fatherly touch befitting his noble position and wise ruling.

T’Challa also clearly knows of Doom’s Battleworld, so this new world was formed around him, he’s the center of this new universe. While he was using the gem, this is the world he shapes and wants to start from, this is his vision for the present and future. It’s not just the present Marvel Universe that Hickman and T’Challa gives us. Hickman takes it one step further. He gives us the future and the possibility that the future of the Marvel universe is built upon Afrofuturism.

Afrofuturism is “a literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of color, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past.”

Secret_Wars_#9_AfrofuturismIt’s not just interesting to me that T’Challa, an African ruler births humankind (really the whole universe) by shaping reality with the gem, but it’s also his positioning of Wakanda as the center of our future as a civilization. As he says in the panel on the right, “Great societies are crumbling around us. And the old men who run them are out of ideas. So all eyes turn to you our children… to build us something better.”

It’s clear Marvel is centering the character more with a new high profile comic and an upcoming movie with one of the hottest directors in Hollywood. This also comes after Marvel has stumbled a bit, especially when it comes to inclusion of African-Americans with their All-New, All-Different Marvel launch that has been overwhelmingly male and white when it comes to creators, was accused of cultural appropriation, and according to data may lag in African-American fans.

Secret_Wars_#9_Alpha_FlightIn the few months since the launch of All-New, All-Different Marvel, we’ve seen subtlety that Wakanda plays a major role now in the Marvel Universe. In The Ultimates it was clear there was something big going on, but we’re never really explained exactly what.

It’s laid out clear in Secret Wars #9 that humankind’s future is being built on Wakandan technology. That the new space operation, Alpha Flight, is Wakanda’s project. That it’s Wakandan science fueling it all, especially our expansion in space. Step by step.

Technology is addressed, diaspora is addressed, and done so through science fiction and magical realism. It even addresses Wakanda’s past briefly. In Marvel’s past, it was Tony Stark, and Stark Industries/Enterprises that drove the world’s future, fueling every day technology up to the funding of the Avengers. Now we have a new focus, a new history, a new leader to guide the Marvel Universe, and he’s African. The shift is undeniable, and a bold start for 2016.

Here’s hoping the company sees the groundwork laid out by Hickman, and like T’Challa, uses wisdom to build a brighter future.

Review: Secret Wars #9

SecretWars_009Battleworld teeters on the brink. What will become of this strange patchwork planet? Who lives? Who dies?

Much delayed, and somewhat tarnished with mess up plans, Secret Wars #9 finally hits shelves. Even with that slight tarnish, and the delay, this issue is easily the best finale to a Marvel event in quite some time, and would have been an amazing beginning to a new Marvel Universe.

Written by Jonathan Hickman, with art by Esad Ribic, this oversized issue does a fantastic job at taking a lot of those puzzle pieces we’ve been pondering since the launch of All-New, All-Different Marvel, and making it clear how they fit together.

How did the Marvel Universe get reborn? Why did Miles Morales survive, and what’s happened to his parents? What about the Fantastic Four? How did Doom get transformed? It’s all answered here.

Most of it is exciting, since it’s things we don’t know, and haven’t been spoiled. And even having Doom’s status spoiled, there’s still a subtle aspect to it that still makes it a nice payoff. The battles feel epic, though very scaled down, and Hickman builds to the eventual explosion and rebirth in a controlled way that’s masterful.

Genesis is the word Marvel uses, and there’s something about that genesis, and who’s behind it, that I find fascinating in many ways. It’s something that has me really focused on a particular character’s role and it’s historical implications. Whether that’s on purpose by Hickman or not, I don’t know, but it’s something to discuss.

Esad Ribic’s art is amazing as expected. There’s some jaw dropping visuals here, and the use of white and emptiness is solid. The story was good, the art is more amazing.

I’m sure folks will love or hate this comic. But, it does a fantastic job at wrapping things up, and sets a lot of characters on to their next adventures. It also wraps up Hickman’s impressive run that began so long ago with some huge ideas. This is the culmination of that, and Hickman gives us a Fantastic Four that feels like Marvel’s First Family. I’m excited to see what’s next for them.

The issue was delayed, but it’s worth the wait. Hickman brings together years of ideas and stories, and launches into many decades more to come.

Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Esad Ribic
Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

The Final Battle Begins in Secret Wars #8!

It’s the story that has the world talking. The biggest Marvel event of all time. And it’s rocketing toward it’s cataclysmic conclusion. Marvel is pleased to present Alex Ross’ stunning cover to Secret Wars #8 – the epic, penultimate issue of the blockbuster event! Creators Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic march toward the end of their grand saga as the final battle against God Doom rages on! Battleworld teeters on the brink. The Shield has fallen. Armies march on Doomstadt. As Battleworld gives way to a new Marvel Universe…no one will come out the other side unscathed, if they come out at all. Who lives? Who dies? Find out when the penultimate chapter comes to comic shops!

SECRET WARS #8 (AUG150653)
Cover by ALEX ROSS
FOC – 11/09/15, On-Sale – 12/09/15


NYCC 2015: IDW Announces Transformers: All Hail Optimus

Coming in February, Transformers #50 will see Optimus Prime will declare Earth to be a part of Cybertron’s Council of Worlds—and the Decepticons and the people of Earth won’t take it lying down! The story starts here, but the repercussions will last forever. Transformers fan-favorites John Barber and Andrew Griffith continue their acclaimed run, with celebratory covers by Jonathan HickmanMike ChoiAndrew GriffithCasey W. Coller and a retailer incentive cover by Alex Milne.

Transformers All Hail Optimus

Secret Wars #9, the Event Just Got Bigger

It’s the story that has the whole world on the edge of its seat. The biggest Marvel event of all time. The story that destroyed the Marvel Universe. And if you thought it couldn’t get bigger – you thought wrong. Marvel has announced the expansion of the much delayed blockbuster Secret Wars event with Secret Wars #9 – coming to comic shops later this year!

Chartbusting creators Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic will extend their stay on Battleworld for one more epic issue. Allowing their cataclysmic story to wrap up as intended, this additional issue will bring Secret Wars to its explosive conclusion. Paving the way for the future, be there for the genesis of the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe.

Like the original Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, some of those puzzle pieces will hit the Marvel Universe before the event concludes. But if you want to see how they all fit together, you don’t want to miss these last few issues.

Battleworld teeters on the brink. What will become of this strange patchwork planet? Who lives? Who dies? One thing is for certain – nobody will come back from Battleworld the same after SECRET WARS #9 this December!

Cover by ALEX ROSS
On Sale in December!


Review: Secret Wars #5

Secret Wars #5 CoverOwen Reece died for our sins.

The first issue of the second half of Marvel’s world changing event and it’s…. a recap issue? Yeah, Secret Wars #5 pretty much goes over a lot of the information we already know, making it a good starting point for folks who don’t want to read the first four issues.

The issue isn’t a complete recap (though most of it is), it does give us more information about Doom, Molecule Man, and Dr. Strange’s battle with the Beyonders that got us to the point we’re at. We also get to see a little bit of a crack in Doom’s God-like control, he shows a bit of doubt through it, and also some perspective as to why he stepped in. There’s a feeling like the world’s weight is on his shoulders, and he’s feeling it.

Writer Jonathan Hickman has basically given us a recap issue, with a bit of new perspective, which is really interesting.

Artist Esad Ribic continues his beautiful art. I’ve always loved Ribic’s work, no matter the quality of the story itself, it’s art you can stare at for ours. Easily one of the top artists out there, and it’s fantastic Marvel is going with top notch talent like his for the main story.

This issue is a nice catch-up for those late to the story, with some new details for those who have been keeping up too. It’s a read because of that. Still, this is Marvel’s strongest event in a long time, and it’ll be interesting to see how they wrap it up with just three issues to go.

Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Esad Ribic
Story: Art: Overall: Recommendation: Read

Review: Secret Wars #4

Secret Wars 4The fourth installment of Secret Wars core story begins with a narrative by Sheriff Strange, informing the reader as well as the salvaged heroes and villains about the metaphysical nature of Battleworld. Sheriff Strange hints that Battleworld’s existence was born from uncertainty and as such it is a place of challenge and constant contest as “survival is its first and highest purpose” This identification of Battleworld had me wondering if the reality could have taken on other metaphysical properties if someone else had taken the power that Doom has usurped.  Doom has always taken measure of himself by challenging insurmountable odds, as well as cosmic magnitudes of power.  It is definitely telling that Battleworld appears to operate under that same ethos as well.

Upon further reflection, Battleworld follows in a long line of idyllic artificial realities/constructs gone awry. While reading issue four I couldn’t help but be reminded of 2005’s House of M, 2011’s Age of X, and in a sense Scott Summer’s Utopia. All established to solve some pressing conflict/circumstance.  All of these temporary solutions were fragile and suffered an early demise.  What Battleworld shares intimately with Age of X is that both of these realities reflect or project the inherent flaws of their respective creators. (David Haller aka Legion in the latter case) Perhaps this will be the key to Doom’s defeat.

In a previous review I pondered at the upper limits of Doom’s newfound Godhood. His apparent boredom and hesitation continues in this issue until he witnesses the arrival of his long-time nemesis Reed Richards. Doom’s disinterest melts away at this point and he joins the fray with a very spectacular entrance. Questions regarding Doom’s abilities are answered as he takes on a phoenix imbued Scott Summers and seemingly kills him. (but as we know with a Phoenix this is usually a Sisyphean task)  At this critical juncture Sheriff Strange makes a decisive play that answers any questions regarding his allegiance, but this has a fatal consequence for him.

I really loved this issue, call it morbid fascination, but for some reason I really enjoy watching yet another idyllic construct unravel, and I just find the inner psychology of Doom so fascinating. With each progressive issue he comes off as more rattled and insecure. We do not see him this way often. With the literal weight of the world on his shoulders and for all his power it is so interesting that one mortal (Reed Richards) can worry him so greatly. At this point I am not so burdened by the impending cosmic reset. When you think about it, paradigmatic shifts in the landscape are a staple Marvel’s event cycle as each event is bookended by them. What’s laudable about Secret Wars and Battleworld is that these changes are more ambitious affecting an entire universe rather than a political status quo, or a specific population. In this sense the arrival of Battleworld and the coming universe in its aftermath are a mix of traditional and uncharted territory, I can respect that.

Esad Ribic‘s art continues to dazzle me.  The panel where Doom goes to his watch room to observe the battle of our interloping heroes/villains were just breathtaking. I have been a critic of Ribic’s art in the past but this issue made me feel as though I am seeing his art in its full splendour for the first time. I wish he always drew this way.  After a cautious and curious exploration of this event, I can say I am really hooked….impatiently awaiting the next issue.

Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Esad Ribic
Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy!

Secret Wars Too #1 Takes You Beyond The Biggest Comic Event of the Year!

Give Secret Wars a grand sendoff as some of the hottest names in the comics industry bid adieu to Battleworld later this year! Today, Marvel has revealed Secret Wars Too #1, an oversized one-shot of epic proportions coming to comic shops and digital devices in November! Secret Wars scribe Jonathan Hickman himself unites with the likes of Sergio Aragones, Ryan Browne, Al Ewing, Rob Guillory, Kate Leth, Eric Powell, Declan Shalvey, Kyle Starks, Ramon Villalobos and Brittney Williams to bring you a 40 page epilogue to the biggest comic event of the year. Prepare for a side of Secret Wars you’ve never seen before!

On Sale in November!


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