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Friday, July 19, 2019 

Jonathan Hickman says comics shouldn't mimic the movies

Hickman, who's been a comics writer for at least a decade, gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly (via Newsarama) about his X-Men relaunches, and if there's anything agreeable he told them, it's the following items:
“You don’t want to do archaeology or nostalgia tropes,” Hickman tells EW ahead of his three programs at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. “My job is to do new stuff with it, and launch us into a newer age of X-Men.”
Depending how you view this, of course I can concur it does little good to go the nostalgia route and launch the X-Men into yet another cliched battle with Magneto, Juggernaut or the Hellfire Club. What they could conceive is non-costumed foes - single or army - to serve as adversaries. And of course they can be armed with formidable sci-fi weapons, even as they may not bear the same dress as the costumed crooks do. Superhero comics shouldn't rely too much on the most obvious supervillains for challenges.
“I have some general philosophies on what kind of work you should do at Marvel, that I try and adhere to. I think the stories should be big,” Hickman says. “Any time you can mine your continuity and the existing continuity of the company in a way that evokes a response from audience and not confusion, that’s powerful, and you’re crazy not to utilize it when you’re writing these books. The cardinal rule beyond that is at the end of the day, after you’ve torn up the playroom and scattered all the toys, you put everything all back on the shelf. Don’t be an a—hole and leave a mess.”

He adds, “You want to tell stories that matter, but the way you write things that matter in Marvel is that you’re not destructive, you’re additive. Yes, I may do things where I destroy the entire Marvel Universe, but I always put it back together, and in putting it together you add to it in a way that puts the characters in an interesting place and you haven’t ruined anybody else’s job.”
Yeah, I can get behind this. It also goes for the DCU, and if he ever does assignments for them, he'd better make sure he doesn't make the same mistakes Dan DiDio and Tom King made most recently with Heroes in Crisis. On which note, if Scott Lobdell compounds those mistakes in his upcoming Flash Forward (which should be boycotted regardless), then he certainly can't be regarded as a good writer, and he'll establish himself as the opposite of Hickman, who said at the end of the interview:
“I think one of the big mistakes that some people make at Marvel Comics is that we are reactive to what they’re doing in the Marvel films,” Hickman says. “We should not be taking our creative cues from the direction they’re taking things in the movies. That kind of defeats the point. They have a billion dollars to play with, and we don’t. You can’t compete in that matter, and you shouldn’t. My argument has been [that] I should always be way out in front of that stuff. All of that stuff is being drawn from source material. It goes back to, are you being destructive or are you being additive? If you’re being additive and you’re on the big books, it’s inevitable that some of that stuff is going to get used. When Marvel films gets around to the X-Men and we’ve done interesting stuff and they want to use it, that’s awesome. If they don’t, then they don’t. One makes your job expendable, the other one makes you priceless. I like having value to my work.”
This is correct too. Shortly after the first X-Men movie, they mandated the costumes must resemble the black leather jackets worn there, which didn't even look like the blue-yellow outfits the first 5 X-Men wore in 1963, and the New Mutants sometimes wore when they premiered in the early 80s. This remained for about 2 and a half years, until Grant Morrison left the series he wrote. Even before that, when Chris Claremont briefly returned, they may have made some changes that were just totally sloppy. Since then, quite a few more stories came down the pike where certain elements were twisted to resemble the films more than the original comics, and even worse elements taking the characters away from their roots, like Kieron Gillen's retcon of Iron Man's origins.

Still, wasn't Hickman one of the architects of recent crossovers like the newer Secret Wars? If so, then he's going to have to also admit that's not a healthy route to take if you want to conceive storylines with long lasting impact. The way to do that is to write a book self-contained that doesn't have to rely heavily on what goes on in another, and definitely not a company wide crossover event. And, you shouldn't rely on relaunching from new Numero Unos for a million new volumes, another mistake they're making. If Hickman hasn't learned that lesson, his argument here won't hold up.

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Depends on whether or not Hickman can actually make a hit this time, or whether it'll be a miss like everything else he's done.

Comics copying the movies isn't just a post-2000 concept, look at the landscape for Gotham City after that 1989 Batman film.

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