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I really enjoy Jonathan Hickman’s work when he’s involved in an intricate story. I loved his work on Fantastic Four’s “Solve Everything” mega arc and the subsequent story in FF and Fantastic Four involving the Reed Council and Celestials. However, his one-off issues since then have been a little disappointing to me. As I commented before, he seems to do a lot better when he has a huge story to work on than when he has to tell a story in 20 pages. With three months left until Hickman moves on to the Avengers titles we got the two-part story Wakandan story that ends in this issue. I was pretty happy with how it went.
Across my different writing outlets on the net I’ve discussed the interesting implications of Marvel comics taking place in the real world on a stronger basis than DC comics. While most of the action takes place in the US and involves Manhattan constantly getting trashed and rebuilt (seriously, comic book NYC probably wouldn’t have flinched at the 9/11 attacks), when it comes to foreign countries – they’re all fictitious. So we get the strange combo in this arc of the fictitious Wakanda combined with Egyptian mythology gods.
The issue plays to Hickman’s strengths, he gets to explore worlds larger than our own as Black Panther and Mister Fantastic venture into the land of the Dead while Sue, T’challa’s sister, and Ororo fight Anubis. The fight scenes work well and the scene between T’challa and Reed reaffirms their canonically strong friendship.
This issue also finally dates the years-long arc that Hickman has been working on. Everything takes place before Avengers vs X-Men as this issue has a scene in which the events of Avengers vs X-Men Round 8 are said to take place in the future. The specific words that are spoken could interestingly lead to either Fantastic Four becoming involved in the events of Avengers vs X-Men before Hickman’s tenure is up – and he IS one of the AvX writers – or it could lead to whatever Marvel has planned post-AvX with their NOW! initiative.
While this isn’t really a great issue to get this week if you haven’t been collecting Fantastic Four – it does potentially point to Hickman setting things up for the next writer. And, with the NOW! initiative, Marvel wants to have tighter cohesion among their different titles, so I wouldn’t say that it’s a bad time to jump on with Hickman only having about 3 issues left. Just know that whoever takes the reigns next is probably not going to have the same style so it’s up to you if you want to wait and see.