Tag Archives: Jonathan Hickman

Thanos’ Black Order

Hello! With Avengers: Infinity War putting the Black Order onscreen, I thought I could help with a bit of an introduction on these characters. They’re very recent additions in the comics, introduced in Jonathan Hickman’s 2013 Infinity crossover event. They are the generals of Thanos, in the film seemingly fellow “children” of Thanos (like Gamora and Nebula). They’re quite powerful, and quite as mad as their Titan leader.

Corvus Glaive, the leader and Herald of Thanos. Proxima Midnight, his wife. Black Dwarf, the bruiser. Ebony Maw, the talker. And Supergiant, the omnipath. So here’s some info about them from Infinity.

On the one hand, I’m sad that they’re only adapting 4 of the characters – but the 5th, Supergiant, has incredible mental powers and the MCU is simply not prepared for that. In the comics, most of the telepaths are mutants. Just look at how devastating Kilgrave was. Also, they changed Black Dwarf’s name to Cull Obsidian (in the comics, another name for the Black Order). They’re named for stars, but it’s fine.

When the Black Order first arrive on Earth, they split up. Most of the Avengers are off in space fighting a war on a second front (sounds familiar…), so the Black Order hits where there are heroes left – the X-Men, attacked by Corvus Glaive and Supergiant, Atlantis & Namor attacked by Proxima Midnight, Wakanda attacked by Black Dwarf, and Doctor Strange taken over by Ebony Maw.

We see, in the trailers, two of these four playing out: Black Dwarf (Cull Obsidian) is easily visible attacking in Wakanda (he’s huge), and Ebony Maw definitely brings Doctor Strange low. Let’s take another look at both.

Here’s from a later fight… it takes a lot to bring Black Dwarf down. Granted, Black Panther and Shuri are able to beat him, but he’s a tough one. But he’s also just a simple bruiser. He is the one hardest pressed to get Thanos’ respect. This may all play out pretty similarly.

This is not from the core Infinity comics, but from New Avengers… Ebony Maw is the most frightening of them. Unlike Black Dwarf, who is all punches, Ebony Maw doesn’t throw a single punch. He’s ideas. Words. Lies. Secrets. Thanos puts up with him – because he gets results. Looks like this will play out similarly as well!

Corvus Glaive meanwhile we have seen very little of – but in the comics, he’s the one we see the most of. Thanos’ right-hand man. His Herald.

He has supreme confidence, and speaks from a place of supreme power – not his own, but his master’s. There’s more to it than that, though. So let’s look at he and Proxima Midnight together – both with their super-powerful weapons. Very comic book. We’ll see to what extent either of these weapons get translated into the film – might be a good idea for them to be downplayed.

Okay… Glaive that cuts atoms, check. Spear that holds within it the power and density of a star, check. The latter in particular sounds quite a bit like Mjolnir. However, we also see it thrown in a trailer – and Captain America catches it. So maybe it’s just a spear in the movie.

Oh, and reverting Hulk to Banner… huh. Who knows!

But there’s one more power in Corvus’… glaive… and that is that, as long as it is still whole, he regrows from it. So later in the comics, he’s back, because Proxima grabbed it up and brought it along here. Will we see anything like that in the film? There’s not a whole lot of time for him to die and come back. Maybe between this film and the next?

Alright, that has been a bit of an introduction to these characters. Powerful, effective, but all still fairly new and only so much to them – Infinity War is going to add quite a bit to their characterization. But it looks like it will also be borrowing from some of their establishing elements from early on here. I’ll be interested to see their similarities and differences!

Oh, and one more image, just for fun. Hope you enjoy Infinity War! And remember, #ThanosDemandsYourSilence!

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No More Fantastic Four?

I came across this news story via a Twitter Moment, the phrase “Fantastic Four writer” instantly triggering the thought of Jonathan Hickman – and being right, in this case!

Since as I’ve said I’ve pretty much stopped reading or keeping up with Marvel comics since the end of Secret Wars, I was surprised to find out that one of the comics that has not come back since then is Fantastic Four. The characters just aren’t there, there’s no title, all that. At this point, it’s been nearly 2 years. Thus the question – where are the Fantastic Four?

There’s been whirling theories about Marvel, their comics, and their movie rights. It’s been going on for a while – here’s a link to an article I wrote about that in 2014. If you look at the comics and merchandizing and things lately – or things like Guardians of the Galaxy getting a theme park ride at Disneyland – the focus has been on the Marvel Studios films. When properties like Spider-Man and the X-Men and all feel like they used to be the premier Marvel characters, and now all of a sudden we all know who the Guardians of the Galaxy are… something is happening.

I’ve pretty much argued before that what’s going on here is mainly business decisions. The interview with Hickman makes this seem the same – business business business. But he points out that we’re seeing something different between, say, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. It’s not just that Marvel lacks the rights to both and is keeping them down – it’s that Fox (which has the movie rights to both teams) hasn’t made a good Fantastic Four movie yet.

Fair enough. For another example, Marvel has been all over Deadpool related stuff, and they don’t have those film rights – and you take a character like Gwenpool and you’ve got a Spider-Man/Deadpool crossover character that nonetheless is getting attention from Marvel, despite the doubly complicated movie rights involved there.

No Fantastic Four because no good movie makes some sense. Again, you could come up with conspiracies – for instance, the thought that you don’t want to produce new ideas for Fox to try to run with in making yet another reboot. However, if they want to try to do another film, I would recommend going with an already established Fantastic Four – skip the origin story – and just do a story like “Solve Everything,” Hickman’s first storyline from his writing run. Have the kids in it. Have travel and exploration and science. You could do something different from standard superhero fare.

Which is also something of the point when it comes to the storytelling side of there being no Fantastic Four comic: what story do you tell with them?

Secret Wars ends with the Fantastic Four (and the kids and all) in an interesting place. They are in some ways the least affected by the events that ended the Marvel Universe; in other ways, they are the most burdened by it. The basic assumption at this point is that they are super busy doing interesting and important things. Honestly, the longer they keep them off the page, the more work they’re going to have to put into figuring out what cool or interesting thing they have been doing with their time.

Really, they’re ripe for imagination work, for interesting ideas and new things. They always have been. There’s a reason I think that they worked so well at the core of Hickman’s storyline. Reed at points functions as the voice of the author, explaining the problem and plot to us in no uncertain terms.

I argued before that the problem they seemed to be running into with the X-Men, more than anything, was that they were dealing with a fundamental societal problem without easy solutions, and if you do actually resolve it, you’re largely done – or at least, they’re no different from other superheroes. If mutants get equal rights, if they end up living in harmony with humans, you’re just done. However, if you show that no progress has ever been made and it’s all been for nothing, well, that’s kind of a stalemate as well.

The Marvel Universe reboot theoretically let them reset that whole tension, but it’s still there. It’s just quite simply harder to write X-Men stories as time goes on. However, it should be easier to write the Fantastic Four – you just need big ideas. You need vision. Or maybe, anthology style, a bunch of smaller or shorter ideas. And maybe they’re lacking that right now, and waiting on it. Maybe they have that, and are waiting for the right time – for a big crossover event or something.

Or maybe, maybe they’re just waiting for a good Fantastic Four movie. Or for the rights to revert back to them. I don’t know, but it’s interesting to get Hickman’s perspective on it!

Confirmed: The Black Company!

It’s been Disney’s D23 fan festival the last few days it seems, but today it was big Avengers: Infinity War news! For one thing, the film has finished filming (although surely there will be some re-shoots, which will be publicized because that just seems to be how movie news works these days). For another… some things have been confirmed!

“A bearded Captain America! Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers has facial hair in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR!” -https://www.facebook.com/MarvelCinematicUniverse/

Okay, bigger news than that.

Specifically, more about Thanos, the big bad that we have been waiting since at least 2012 and Avengers and definitely since Guardians of the Galaxy to finally confront in a movie! Big news especially for Holly and I, having read Hickman’s Avengers.

The Black Order!

An addition to the comics only a few years old – first seen in the Infinity crossover event – the Black Order were Thanos’ generals. His vanguard. His heralds. He is a conqueror, and they bring the good word of Thanos to a world, before it ends.

Thanos believes in death, at least in the comics. Well, in Death. Personified. Loves her, in fact. And his followers fanatically follow that charge. From left to right, that picture is Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Thanos, the Ebony Maw, and the renamed Cull Obsidian (Black Dwarf in the comics). Each are enough of a super-villain to be a significant challenge to our heroes on their own.

Even just their inclusion in the film tells me that the first part of the film, at least, will be heavily focused on the construction of the Infinity Gauntlet itself. They’ll have to get their hands on each part of it, which we know are currently scattered around the galaxy (though a bit focused around Earth). There will be war with the Avengers, and it’s not going to go well for our heroes, I don’t imagine.

Here’s a link for closeups on the Black Order: https://www.facebook.com/MarvelCinematicUniverse/photos/a.255014641181782.86037.217181691631744/1890944090922154/?type=3&theater

Their role is changing a little bit in the film, and that’s fine. They’re going to be “children of Thanos” like Gamora and Nebula. But they’re still just so cool. Ebony Maw has some of the most interesting application – in the MCU, he is kind of the more powerful and villainous version of Loki or Black Widow. Cull Obsidian might hold his own against the Hulk – and there’s confirmation that the Hulkbuster will make a showing. Proximy Midnight has a weapon that focuses the mass of a star, so it’s incredibly dense and heavy and can pin any opponent. And Corvus Glaive? Well…

He’s probably my favorite. So very, very evil. The voice of Thanos. The herald. And basically unkillable, as long as his glaive stays intact.

I’m just loving this! If this ends up, in relation to the comics, similar to Infinity? This is gonna be good.

Audio

Hickman’s Avengers – Comparative Opinions Episode 49

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week, David finally gets to fully geek out about Jonathan Hickman’s run writing Avengers and New Avengers, as Holly finished reading it all! Spoilers abound as the two talk through the story from start to finish. If you don’t plan on ever reading it, hey, this might cover you! But really, you should read these.

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

Buy those Image Comics!

It’s Cyber Monday, and that means deals online for stuff. So much of it is appliances and electronics and what have you, from what Holly and I were seeing… but then, there’s some places where there are some great deals going on. One that we jumped on was the Image Comics sale on ComiXology (which ends today!).

Image Comics is more of a publishing house than the big two – DC and Marvel. The creators maintain the rights to their characters and stories, as you can read about on their Submissions page. Some great comics are published by Image, though the flagship right now might be Saga (it’s certainly the featured comic for the sale). Or as Jonathan Hickman put it,

https://twitter.com/JHickman/status/737680758832267264

In fact, my sales pitch is okay… but let’s look back at Hickman’s:

https://twitter.com/JHickman/status/734851942497853441

https://twitter.com/JHickman/status/734852197545091073

https://twitter.com/JHickman/status/734852434745556993

https://twitter.com/JHickman/status/734855995743186944

I was over scanning through his tweets wondering what he was up to (a series written and drawn by Hickman called Frontier being my answer), after his wonderful Marvel-universe-ending run from Fantastic Four through Secret Wars, all of which I’ve blogged on before

https://twitter.com/JHickman/status/703318313653239808

He’s currently all about his Image comics, with East of West being my favorite of those (and prophetic for our times). Picked up what I was missing there in the sale, as well as the whole of Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction (author of Hawkeye) and some other stuff. Expect some comics blogging here soon!

As to Hickman’s point about creators not wanting to do their most creative work with DC or Marvel… it does make sense. And it also actually makes some sense thinking back to Hickman’s work on Avengers: he introduced new versions of a number of pre-existing characters, like Starbrand, Hyperion, Captain Universe, Smasher… There are ways to be creative while not creating much new IP.

https://twitter.com/JHickman/status/733844134088343552

So if you’re looking for something new in comics, if you’re looking for a story that’s not superheroes, or something unexpected, or something in a favorite genre, or something else by that writer you liked or that artist you liked… go check out the Image Comics sale!