Comics You Should be Reading – Jonathan Hickman

24May10

Who published Jonathan Hickman, you ask?  Ok you got me.  Jonathan Hickman is a creator.  A freaking awesome one.  How many creators can you say both have extraordinary self-published work on the market and write the best book Marvel is putting out right now?  That’s right.  Exactly one.  Jonathan Hickman.  I thought about doing a post about one of Hickman’s books, but the guy is so good, you should be reading it all.

The beauty of Hickman’s work is that he excels at the high concept.  His work so far is often easily distilled down to just a couple sentences that contain a million possibilities.  The excellence is in his ability to deliver on them.  Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Cover to the Nightly News TPB

The first Hickman book I read was The Nightly News.  The book opens with a protest of a WTO meeting at the UN.  The book cuts to a few snipers who are observing the crowd.  Soon enough, one of the protesters are shot, and chaos ensues.  The snipers communicate to each other…12 minutes until local law enforcement arrives.  18 until local media arrives.  36 until SWAT arrives.  When the reporters arrive, the snipers open fire and journalists are dropping like flies.  Thus begins The War on the Mass Media.  Did I mention this is in the first six pages?

Nightly News is a fantastic read.  If you enjoy Fight Club, this book is right up your alley.  It’s a unique take on the effect that our mass media has on people’s lives, whether intentionally or not.  The art style Hickman employs is more abstract than normal, but conveys a great deal of information in a very small place.

Cover to Transhuman TPB

Up next is Transhuman.  It is the story of two corporations in the far future, fighting over the fate of the human race.  One believes that the way to advance the human race is through genetic modification.  The other is advancing the cause of cybernetics.  Corporate war breaks out, and the winner is…well, you’ll have to read it to find out, won’t you?

Transhuman is to Jonathan Hickman as Cars is to Pixar.  It’s probably his weakest book, but it is still better than 95% of the stuff on the shelves.  Well worth reading in my opinion, but it wouldn’t be the first book I recommend on this list.  Just make sure when you read it you don’t put it down until you finish it.

Cover to Pax Romana TPB

500 years from now, the Catholic church has a super secret science division, unknown to the rest of mankind.  They have discovered time travel.  Now, the church is sending back a group of 5,000 mercenaries and missionaries to the time of Ancient Rome to alter the course of human history.  How much so?  When the Huns invade Rome, they protagonists simply nuke them.  Efficient solution to the problem, don’t you think?

Pax Romana is awesome.  It’s art is more in the Nightly News mold, and it is jam packed with great ideas and characters.  While Nightly News is my favorite, this is likely Hickman’s best work to date.  Don’t miss it.

Did I say something about the best book Marvel is putting out right now?

Cover to Secret Warriors #1

You don’t have to be reading any other Marvel books to dig Secret Warriors.  It’s about Nick Fury trying to unravel a huge conspiracy in the Marvel universe, and it is a great read.  Ignore the Brian Bendis credit on the first volume, this book is Jonathan Hickman all the way through.  (Not that Bendis is bad, but it is pretty apparent to me that his name was put on the early issues to help move some more books.)

However, Secret Warriors could quickly be supplanted as Marvel’s best book if Hickman’s newest series is as good as the first issue:

Cover to S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

SHIELD is about the secret history of the Marvel universe, and how many times the Earth has been saved by the SHIELD throughout time.  How, exactly, might you ask?  Take a look at this:

That’s Imhotep, fighting the Brood!  And take a peek behind him…what is Apocalypse and an ancient Moon Knight doing there?  I won’t even post my favorite page from the book, that involves Galileo and Galactus.

Hickman is one of the best young writers on the market.  Do yourself a favor and look into his work, you won’t regret it.

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