Earlier today we posted an interview with writer Jonathan Hickman where he revealed several things about his Marvel work, most notably that he was leaving Fantastic Four later this year. After processing this bit of news, along with the fact that he’s transitioning off of Ultimate Comics The Ultimates, as reported a couple of weeks ago, the curious side of me got thinking…again.
You might recall a few weeks ago when I speculated where Brian Michael Bendis would be going after his run on Avengers comes to an end. Since that bit of speculation was published, rumors of Bendis’ impending takeover of Marvel’s mutants emerged, and so while it hasn’t been confirmed yet, the odds are certainly looking to be in the favor of the X-Men. So why not try our luck again today?
With Bendis’ move off of Avengers and now Hickman’s move off of Fantastic Four, all seeming to be around the same time, it’s starting to become apparent that the summer event of Avengers Vs. X-Men may have big changes coming to the Marvel Universe, both within the stories and with the creators behind them.
Before we get to the speculation, let’d get the disclaimers out of the way: I’m speculating the possible Marvel Comics titles that Hickman will be writing. We know about his new series of creator owned work at Image Comics, but for the purposes of this, we’re focusing on his Marvel work.
In terms of what is driving the thinking behind the speculation here, the main bit of motivation on Hickman’s part came to us in the form of a quote from the press conference about Ultimate Comics The Ultimates:
”I got a job offer that I couldn’t refuse, so I’m taking it.”
So whatever book that would force Hickman to leave the Ultimates, and now Fantastic Four has got to be of a level to be the kind of thing that he can’t refuse. After making his mark on Fantastic Four by killing off the Human Torch, relaunching Fantastic Four as FF, rebranding the entire team with new costumes and ultimately bringing the Human Torch back and telling a story with an enormous scale, it’s pretty clear that my gut feeling that Hickman’s time on Fantastic Four would be coming to an end, so he’s going to be looking for something with the potential to top what he’s done on Fantastic Four. Now combining this info with the type of work we’ve come to expect from Jonathan Hickman, I think we’ve got some pretty good options about what may be next.
Let’s get started with the comic shop talk-esque speculation about what title Hickman may be writing next, along with the odds of it happening and an explanation…
Marvel Boy / The Protector – Odds: 48 to 1
It’s pretty clear that one of the influences and possible contemporaries of Jonathan Hickman is Grant Morrison. Both writers have given us extremely cerebral and well thought out stories. Now, I don’t know if Hickman is a fan of Morrison, but let’s assume for a moment that he is, and Marvel presented the idea of picking up the ball for Noh-Varr and running with it? It might just be the kind of job that’s far too tempting to refuse, wouldn’t it be? Factor in the recent presence/re-establishment of the Kree in the pages of Fantastic Four and the fact that Noh-Varr, currently going by “The Protector” (I had to look that up to remember his new codename), is being woefully underused in the pages of Avengers, and you have the recipe for another title, like S.H.I.E.L.D., where Hickman can continue to utilize his out-there sensibilities and create something self contained and special.
The Amazing Spider-Man – Odds: 30 to 1
Now I know this one is pretty out there, but that’s the whole point of speculating, right? How could Hickman be taking over the reigns on The Amazing Spider-Man? Well, if you look at it from the right angle, it becomes more plausible. First off, he’s been writing Spider-Man in the pages of Fantastic Four and FF since the Human Torch “died” and left instructions for Spider-Man to take his place. In that time, we’ve seem glimpses of how Hickman would writer Spider-Man which has established the fact that Hickman could write Spider-Man, and write him well. Meanwhile, over on The Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott has done an admirable job of writing Spidey stories, but after the huge Spider-Island event and the upcoming Ends of the Earth storyline, one has to wonder if we’re not nearing the end of Slott’s reign on the book later this year? If we are, then it becomes possible that Hickman could surprise everyone. What’s bigger than Fantastic Four, Marvel’s first family? The icon of Marvel Comics: Spider-Man. That would be hard to refuse.
The Silver Surfer – Odds: 15 to 1
Trapped amongst the group of characters that seem to be unable to maintain an ongoing title, The Silver Surfer really looks like the type of character that Hickman could have a career defining run on. It’s been years since The Silver Surfer has had a successful ongoing series, and yet he’s considered to be one of Marvel’s greatest characters. After years of writing Fantastic Four, Hickman has had brushes with the world of the Surfer, by writing Galactus numerous times, and most recently expanding the stage to be more cosmic, including the Kree, Inhumans, Annihlus and even the Celestials. Given the wild imagination of Hickman and the type of stories we’ve seen from him, both at Marvel and Image Comics, how much would you want to see him let loose in space with a shiny guy on a surfboard?
Iron Man – Odds: 7 to 2
Here’s another case, similar to Spider-Man, where if you lay out the pieces in the right way, it becomes a very viable candidate. On the Iron Man side, Matt Fraction has been on the title for years now. He’s won awards and even has an omnibus of his work on the title. It wouldn’t be terribly surprising if he was in the midst of winding down on the series. So who would be better than Hickman to follow Fraction’s uber-successful run? In looking at Hickman, the futurist type of thinking that’s involved with writing Tony Stark is certainly up Hickman’s alley. Given his personal interest in design and technology, the possibilities of what Hickman could do on Iron Man are endless. But as you look at this deeper, you see an even deeper connection between Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D., Hickman’s grand story about the hidden history of the Marvel Universe, which featured none other than Howard Stark, Iron Man’s father. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the threads introduced in the pages of S.H.I.E.L.D. get picked up in Iron Man and brought to a modern conflict? Additionally, with the success of the Robert Downey Jr. movies, a ton of attention is paid to Iron Man. Seems like given the offer to write the most successful character in Marvel’s movies stable would be hard to turn down.
The Avengers – Odds: 2 to 1
Now it may seem a little too convenient for us to find out that Bendis was leaving the Avengers books, and now we find out that Hickman is leaving Fantastic Four, to simply say that Hickman is taking over as the writer of Avengers. But if you put that aside and look at it, the clues make a pretty compelling case. First off, you have to consider what Hickman said about this new opportunity, “I got a job offer that I couldn’t refuse.” While some of the titles above would be very tempting, given the state of the world, with past sales performance and the upcoming movie release, it’s pretty safe to say that Avengers is the main stage at Marvel. A team book featuring it’s most visible characters and with the movies’ inevitable success, Avengers becomes a gig that would difficult to turn down.
Additionally, it’s not as if Hickman doesn’t have a bit of experience with these characters. We’ve gotten a taste of his approach in the pages of Ultimate Comics The Ultimates, which is essentially the Ultimate version of the Avengers. Given how excited Hickman was to take on that title, after finally getting to write it, what would cause him to leave the title so quickly? Perhaps the opportunity to write the ACTUAL Avengers? Work in the fact that we saw Hickman write the Avengers (and a whole ton of heroes) in the pages of Fantastic Four recently, and he’s one of the writers of the big event of 2012, Avengers Vs. X-Men, and suddenly you realize that Hickman has had quite a bit of experience with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Could it be his time to step even further into the Marvel limelight, push the limits of his imagination and plot the adventures of the Avengers for a long, career defining run?
So, there it is. If you’re into betting and speculating, please participate below in the comments to agree with or argue against any of the titles I’ve suggested, or feel free to point out a title I may not have mentioned. If anything, the winds of change appear to be blowing at Marvel…