Could Jonathan Hickman be bringing his innovative and sometimes "evil" take on the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards front and center in Secret Wars and the Marvel U as a whole thereafter? In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hickman describes plans for the upcoming Secret Wars as a “culmination of everything” he’s written at Marvel - with a new Secret Wars #3 cover and talk that could be interpreted as hints toward the undefined future of the Fantastic Four.
“[Secret Wars] is certainly a self-contained thing. Saying that,” Hickman says,” if you read Secret Wars and you’ve been reading not just Avengers but Fantastic Four and SHIELD and all the other stuff I’ve done, there’s so much stuff in there, payoff-wise, if you’ve been reading those books, that it’s kind of scary. It’s definitely the culmination of everything I’ve done at Marvel.”
Secret Wars has been a mystery for readers, but Hickman reveals that was a misdirection on his and Marvel's part to cover up something else.
"The Avengers books, we kind of billed it as a mystery—what’s behind all of this stuff, what’s causing all of the incursions? Which is a total lie, because it’s not a mystery, it’s a horror story," Hickman reveals. "And we just didn’t tell anybody, so everybody is waiting for this kind of, 'Ta da, whodunit' kind of stuff at the end and that’s not what the story is."
Hickman’s short-lived run on Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates is brought up in the Q&A, and factoring that in with the new Secret Wars #3 cover by Alex Ross that debuted with the interview, it could lead to some interesting speculation.
The cover image features the classic Reed Richards juxtaposed with the black-clad Reed from the Ultimate Universe, the latter the main villain of Hickman's Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates – coincidentally (?) illustrated by Hickman’s Secret Wars artist Esad Ribic. Since the post-Secret Wars all-new Marvel Universe is wide open and Marvel hasn't defined a role for the Fantastic Four after the pending cancellation of their current series, is it possible Marvel would consider replacing the heroic FF with evil counterparts in the new Marvel U? Hickman doesn’t mention anything else to support the notion directly, but hints at some other things that raise questions.
Hickman says that key argument leading into Secret Wars from Avengers and New Avengers came from the rhetorical question “what do heroes do when they can’t win?” which led Hickman to write “some” of the heroes becoming "villains" while others “rediscover” who they are.
When asked what the theme of Secret Wars is, Hickman describes it as a memorial to the Marvel U.
“Secret Wars is a book about the Marvel Universe as an incredibly varied and fascinating place, and even out of the ashes of the destruction of it, the thing that takes its place,” the writer says. “You know how very important people die, and they make a statue? Secret Wars is the big statue of the Marvel Universe, and there’s all this stuff going on around it. That’s a terrible analogy, but it’s all I’ve got today.”
Hickman confirms previous reports that he’s “tired” and taking a hiatus from Marvel after Secret Wars, but says the door is open for him to return later.
“I’m positive that I will continue to do stuff for Marvel, I’m just not going to do stuff in the six months that follow Secret Wars,” says the writer. “I don’t have a book I’m going to work on, I don’t have a pitch sitting on some editor’s desk. I’m trying not to even think about it.“
Hickman makes it a point to commend Marvel as well as its chief competitor DC. Hickman’s never done work with DC before, but has spoken in the past about interest in some of their characters including the Legion of Super-Heroes.