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  1. #1
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Default What did you think of the Hickman Trilogy?

    Jonathan Hickman is currently writing his X-Men epic, but before all that, he essentially had a Hickman Trilogy with Fantastic Four, Avengers and Secret Wars. Here, looking back, this is where we will discuss that.

    Hickman's "trilogy" started with the Fantastic Four. This was where they finally came up with a reason for Reed Richards is Useless, where he meets alternate versions of himself, and learns that many of them are bad men. He tries to solve everything, forming the Future Foundation, and inducting Spider-Man into the Four after Johnny's "death", and building up the seeds that would carry over to Avengers and Secret Wars.

    One of the things that stood out is that Hickman started in Fantastic Four, and essentially carried that story through the rest. His run on Avengers was unique among other Avengers' writers, considering that it was the least typical story for the Avengers and more of a stealth continuation of his Fantastic Four run. He did things different from other writers. Rather than making IM, Cap and Thor the usual Avengers Trinity that everything else revolved around, they were essentially side characters in this story. He promoted characters that are usually not tied to the Avengers side in prominent roles, such as Starbrand (cosmic), Sunspot (X-Men), Shang-Chi (Heroes for Hire), among many other characters outside the Avengers but still prominent.

    Many outside elements were involved, such as those carrying over from Fantastic Four, with Doctor Doom being the overall villain, and the conflict between Black Panther and Namor with their respective nations also being important. The story freely used things like alternate history, cosmic, political intrigue, espionage, and epic scale battles, and more, at any moment. About midway through, it actually stops pretending to be an Avengers run and focuses on Reed Richards, leading up to Secret Wars.

    Secret Wars was fun, but also very hard to follow, and I think it didn't help that it was after Marvel did a bunch of other events making the impact less special. I also wish it had more impact than it did on the universe afterwards. I think the only tangible changes were Miles Morales, his supporting cast, and The Maker, transplanting to the main universe. That said, it was a great time, seeing Marvel go all out with the story and universe, and some great new stories were made out of it. That said, heaven help anyone who thinks they can just jump in on Marvel by reading this story.

    Overall, it was really good. I also think it helps he came in from an outside perspective, ie a fresh set of eyes. By his own admission, Hickman was mainly a fan of Marvel's X-Men, and was more of a DC guy if anything. He actually had only superficial knowledge of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers when he was assigned to them. This sounds like it would be bad, and in many cases it would be, but I think it helped him approach the properties from different angles than someone who's nostalgic for the old normally would.

    I was actually thinking about going back and reading all of it for fun later.

    What did you guys think?

  2. #2
    Genesis of A Nemesis KOSLOX's Avatar
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    Trilogy?

    1. Secret Warriors/SHIELD
    2. Ultimates/Ultimate Hawkeye
    3. Fantastic Four/FF
    4. Avengers/New Avengers

    There was a throughline in all of them.
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  3. #3
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Right, but that's the easiest way to refer to it by the three big points.

    Anyways, opinions on it?

  4. #4
    Genesis of A Nemesis KOSLOX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    Right, but that's the easiest way to refer to it by the three big points.

    Anyways, opinions on it?
    I've enjoyed all of Hickman's Marvel work and I think it's pretty telling that by centering the MU around his stories they've gotten IMO a better and more cohesive universe in general. It seems like the other writer's either enjoy or function a lot better playing in the sandboxes he's constructed.

    The only other recent writer that managed to do the same thing was Bendis, specifically in the Post Civil War to Dark Reign era.
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    DC Comics: The Green Lantern, Legion of Super-Heroes, Far Sector.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Reading it in the trade, it was all great fun, big ideas, and if you stick around careful understated humor.

    I think of the lot, NEW AVENGERS was the most consistent title on an issue-by-issue basis where Hickman really brought together his thematic interests and inclinations. The opening issue of Hickman's New Avengers set in Wakanda is one of my favorites, and the dialogue there is so good that Hickman kept recycling it, often to ridiculous levels ("Everything dies").


    What I like best and remember most of this run:
    -- Hickman's Reed Richards is frankly the best version of that character, and indeed it was the first time reading the Fantastic Four I actually cared more for the Richards (Reed, Sue, Franklin, Valeria) than Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. Which is not to say that Johnny and Ben didn't get great moments because they did, especially with "Three". Hickman's Reed and especially his obsession with wanting to "Solve Everything" ties together and explains everything about him going back to his rivalry with Doom, the flight with the rocket, his adventures, g this marriage, the Council of Reeds.
    -- Valeria Richards was a total delight and my favorite Richards, her entire bond with Doom and Reed was quite moving.
    -- Hickman's Namor and T'Challa danceoff is my (second) favorite comic rivalry (#1 is Doom and Reed) the way the two of them can't stand each other and T'Challa's repeated "I can't even with this guy" has this incredible depth and seriousness, as well as hilarious pettiness. Also moving moments like when they share a drink.
    -- The Avengers issues with Steve Rogers and him being teleported several futures to repeatedly challenge his idealism and his defense of it is great, you can sense that Hickman is both admiring and critical at the same time.
    -- That bit in Fantastic Four where after toppling Annihilus in the Negative Zone the Fantastic Four allow the N-Zone people to hold an election and they vote in Annihilus in a landslide.
    -- Time Runs Out on the whole.
    -- Namor whining about the Black Order to Doom over dinner at Latveria.
    -- The particular sense of growing hopeless despair which is somehow entertaining and captivating even if it shouldn't be.
    -- For reconstructing and confirming the mammoth importance of Jim Shooter's creations and his writing on SW'84.
    -- The Maker, who Hickman introduced in his Ultimates relaunched and who he successfully introduced as a 616 villain here. That scene between the Maker and 616 Reed in SW'2015 is great.
    -- Doom, "A throne was my birthright, I have now set myself higher than that". Like a Boss (or Like a God).
    -- The Doom-Reed fight at the end and the finale where Doom's face repairs and he finally has a moment of peace and smiles for legit. "Everything lives".

    I mean if you were to tell me that Hickman's entire trilogy would end with an unambiguously happy ending, and a reconstruction of the MU after the deconstruction he put everything through all without walking back any of his moves...I wouldn't have believed it.

    My one negative caveat is that on the whole Hickman's run felt very run-on and TPB-made. Like I can't remember off-hand many individual issues that stand out. I remember moments and scenes but not issues. It's also not very standalone yet it's so detailed, intricate and moving, that you kind of want to dig deep and read more. Like that's one area his X-Men is better at. HoX/PoX for instance works as a standalone story. And it has great single issues, especially HoX#2 (aka "The uncanny life of Moira X"). And his run on X-Men is very standalone focused, so he's developing.

    But yeah, Bendis was the writer of the 2000s, Hickman was the writer of the 2010s.

  6. #6
    Genesis of A Nemesis KOSLOX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Reading it in the trade, it was all great fun, big ideas, and if you stick around careful understated humor.

    I think of the lot, NEW AVENGERS was the most consistent title on an issue-by-issue basis where Hickman really brought together his thematic interests and inclinations. The opening issue of Hickman's New Avengers set in Wakanda is one of my favorites, and the dialogue there is so good that Hickman kept recycling it, often to ridiculous levels ("Everything dies").


    What I like best and remember most of this run:
    -- Hickman's Reed Richards is frankly the best version of that character, and indeed it was the first time reading the Fantastic Four I actually cared more for the Richards (Reed, Sue, Franklin, Valeria) than Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. Which is not to say that Johnny and Ben didn't get great moments because they did, especially with "Three". Hickman's Reed and especially his obsession with wanting to "Solve Everything" ties together and explains everything about him going back to his rivalry with Doom, the flight with the rocket, his adventures, g this marriage, the Council of Reeds.
    -- Valeria Richards was a total delight and my favorite Richards, her entire bond with Doom and Reed was quite moving.
    -- Hickman's Namor and T'Challa danceoff is my (second) favorite comic rivalry (#1 is Doom and Reed) the way the two of them can't stand each other and T'Challa's repeated "I can't even with this guy" has this incredible depth and seriousness, as well as hilarious pettiness. Also moving moments like when they share a drink.
    -- The Avengers issues with Steve Rogers and him being teleported several futures to repeatedly challenge his idealism and his defense of it is great, you can sense that Hickman is both admiring and critical at the same time.
    -- That bit in Fantastic Four where after toppling Annihilus in the Negative Zone the Fantastic Four allow the N-Zone people to hold an election and they vote in Annihilus in a landslide.
    -- Time Runs Out on the whole.
    -- Namor whining about the Black Order to Doom over dinner at Latveria.
    -- The particular sense of growing hopeless despair which is somehow entertaining and captivating even if it shouldn't be.
    -- For reconstructing and confirming the mammoth importance of Jim Shooter's creations and his writing on SW'84.
    -- The Maker, who Hickman introduced in his Ultimates relaunched and who he successfully introduced as a 616 villain here. That scene between the Maker and 616 Reed in SW'2015 is great.
    -- Doom, "A throne was my birthright, I have now set myself higher than that". Like a Boss (or Like a God).
    -- The Doom-Reed fight at the end and the finale where Doom's face repairs and he finally has a moment of peace and smiles for legit. "Everything lives".

    I mean if you were to tell me that Hickman's entire trilogy would end with an unambiguously happy ending, and a reconstruction of the MU after the deconstruction he put everything through all without walking back any of his moves...I wouldn't have believed it.

    My one negative caveat is that on the whole Hickman's run felt very run-on and TPB-made. Like I can't remember off-hand many individual issues that stand out. I remember moments and scenes but not issues. It's also not very standalone yet it's so detailed, intricate and moving, that you kind of want to dig deep and read more. Like that's one area his X-Men is better at. HoX/PoX for instance works as a standalone story. And it has great single issues, especially HoX#2 (aka "The uncanny life of Moira X"). And his run on X-Men is very standalone focused, so he's developing.

    But yeah, Bendis was the writer of the 2000s, Hickman was the writer of the 2010s.
    I really wanted Marvel to do a Mini-Marvels version of Spy******Spy style backups with BP and Namor during the whole Hickman NA era.
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    DC Comics: The Green Lantern, Legion of Super-Heroes, Far Sector.

  7. #7
    "Comic Book Reviewer" InformationGeek's Avatar
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    I never read his Fantastic Four run. Someday I will but not now.

    It's no surprise to anyone, but I absolutely despise his Avengers and New Avengers run. It's in my Bottom 10 Worst Comics I ever read. It was the first Avengers comic I read and honestly, it felt like Hickman never really cared to write an Avengers story. It was about anything else but the Avengers. While he certainly put thought into what he wanted to do and where to go, the storylines were just not that compelling. The characterization felt barely there and it didn't help that characters he did put effort into really went no where. A lot of his stuff went nowhere in the end thinking about it and he even admitted that he never really got to do everything he wanted to in an interview in the past, which does explain some things.

    The rotating cast of artists, even if they were usually good elsewhere, turned in some rather middle of the road to down right ugly art. I don't know what was going on, but Deodato and Yu produced some of their worst stuff here, especially when it came to drawing female characters. My god, the barbie doll frames, ass shots, and more were so distracting.

    The pacing was glacial and not engaging, some of the worst write for the trade paperback I've seen since Bendis. The dialogue was so tedious and dry, while also leaning heavy into purple prose at times. Infinity was awful due to its horrible pacing and horribly abrupt resolutions. Smasher, the only character I kind of liked, got a great backstory... but was then just made some guy's love interest, popped out a baby, and really did nothing of consequence (Hickman did her dirty). New Avengers felt like ass pull after ass pull, so artificial in how the conflicts could never work out correctly and how things must turn out a way that I could never find it believable. Also, I hated every character in that.

    And sure, people can scream about dem themes and meanings, but if I can't like the characters, can't find the plot by itself compelling, and find the artwork grating at times, why should I care about the messages here? It's like 2019's Black Christmas movie. You have the themes, but you got nothing else to offer that's good!


    Oh, and Secret Wars? It was better than Infinity, but like the rest of Avengers, I could not remotely stand the artwork of this comic and I just did not find the story all that interesting.


    Trying to read his independent stuff, I just gotta admit Hickman just has no appeal to me whatever. But his Avengers is just some of the absolute worst trash I ever read. Maybe it would've appealed to me more if I had read tons of other Avengers comics before hand, like with Mark Waid's Daredevil or Matt Fraction's Hawkeye (though I really doubt that with Hawkeye since I hate the character writing of that), but as it stands, I hate Hickman's Avengers and New Avengers while just acknowledge Secret Wars was a thing at some point.

  8. #8
    Genesis of A Nemesis KOSLOX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InformationGeek View Post
    I never read his Fantastic Four run. Someday I will but not now.

    It's no surprise to anyone, but I absolutely despise his Avengers and New Avengers run. It's in my Bottom 10 Worst Comics I ever read. It was the first Avengers comic I read and honestly, it felt like Hickman never really cared to write an Avengers story. It was about anything else but the Avengers. While he certainly put thought into what he wanted to do and where to go, the storylines were just not that compelling. The characterization felt barely there and it didn't help that characters he did put effort into really went no where. A lot of his stuff went nowhere in the end thinking about it and he even admitted that he never really got to do everything he wanted to in an interview in the past, which does explain some things.

    The rotating cast of artists, even if they were usually good elsewhere, turned in some rather middle of the road to down right ugly art. I don't know what was going on, but Deodato and Yu produced some of their worst stuff here, especially when it came to drawing female characters. My god, the barbie doll frames, ass shots, and more were so distracting.

    The pacing was glacial and not engaging, some of the worst write for the trade paperback I've seen since Bendis. The dialogue was so tedious and dry, while also leaning heavy into purple prose at times. Infinity was awful due to its horrible pacing and horribly abrupt resolutions. Smasher, the only character I kind of liked, got a great backstory... but was then just made some guy's love interest, popped out a baby, and really did nothing of consequence (Hickman did her dirty). New Avengers felt like ass pull after ass pull, so artificial in how the conflicts could never work out correctly and how things must turn out a way that I could never find it believable. Also, I hated every character in that.

    And sure, people can scream about dem themes and meanings, but if I can't like the characters, can't find the plot by itself compelling, and find the artwork grating at times, why should I care about the messages here? It's like 2019's Black Christmas movie. You have the themes, but you got nothing else to offer that's good!


    Oh, and Secret Wars? It was better than Infinity, but like the rest of Avengers, I could not remotely stand the artwork of this comic and I just did not find the story all that interesting.


    Trying to read his independent stuff, I just gotta admit Hickman just has no appeal to me whatever. But his Avengers is just some of the absolute worst trash I ever read. Maybe it would've appealed to me more if I had read tons of other Avengers comics before hand, like with Mark Waid's Daredevil or Matt Fraction's Hawkeye (though I really doubt that with Hawkeye since I hate the character writing of that), but as it stands, I hate Hickman's Avengers and New Avengers while just acknowledge Secret Wars was a thing at some point.
    I disagree, but I get it.

    This is basically my experience with like 90% of the X-Men stuff I've read. A lot of people LOVE the X-Men, but as a concept and in their execution they are generally a really hard sell for me.
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    Marvel Comics: Black Panther, Captain America, X-Men, New Mutants.
    DC Comics: The Green Lantern, Legion of Super-Heroes, Far Sector.

  9. #9
    Kinky Lil' Canine Snoop Dogg's Avatar
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    Fantastic Four great.
    Secret Warriors good.
    SHIELD great.
    Avengers is a mess that is sometimes good.
    New Avengers great.
    Infinity good, the climax is great.
    Time Runs Out great.
    Secret Wars great.

  10. #10
    Latverian ambassador Iron Maiden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Reading it in the trade, it was all great fun, big ideas, and if you stick around careful understated humor.

    I think of the lot, NEW AVENGERS was the most consistent title on an issue-by-issue basis where Hickman really brought together his thematic interests and inclinations. The opening issue of Hickman's New Avengers set in Wakanda is one of my favorites, and the dialogue there is so good that Hickman kept recycling it, often to ridiculous levels ("Everything dies").


    What I like best and remember most of this run:
    -- Hickman's Reed Richards is frankly the best version of that character, and indeed it was the first time reading the Fantastic Four I actually cared more for the Richards (Reed, Sue, Franklin, Valeria) than Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. Which is not to say that Johnny and Ben didn't get great moments because they did, especially with "Three". Hickman's Reed and especially his obsession with wanting to "Solve Everything" ties together and explains everything about him going back to his rivalry with Doom, the flight with the rocket, his adventures, g this marriage, the Council of Reeds.
    -- Valeria Richards was a total delight and my favorite Richards, her entire bond with Doom and Reed was quite moving.
    -- Hickman's Namor and T'Challa danceoff is my (second) favorite comic rivalry (#1 is Doom and Reed) the way the two of them can't stand each other and T'Challa's repeated "I can't even with this guy" has this incredible depth and seriousness, as well as hilarious pettiness. Also moving moments like when they share a drink.
    -- The Avengers issues with Steve Rogers and him being teleported several futures to repeatedly challenge his idealism and his defense of it is great, you can sense that Hickman is both admiring and critical at the same time.
    -- That bit in Fantastic Four where after toppling Annihilus in the Negative Zone the Fantastic Four allow the N-Zone people to hold an election and they vote in Annihilus in a landslide.
    -- Time Runs Out on the whole.
    -- Namor whining about the Black Order to Doom over dinner at Latveria.
    -- The particular sense of growing hopeless despair which is somehow entertaining and captivating even if it shouldn't be.
    -- For reconstructing and confirming the mammoth importance of Jim Shooter's creations and his writing on SW'84.
    -- The Maker, who Hickman introduced in his Ultimates relaunched and who he successfully introduced as a 616 villain here. That scene between the Maker and 616 Reed in SW'2015 is great.
    -- Doom, "A throne was my birthright, I have now set myself higher than that". Like a Boss (or Like a God).
    -- The Doom-Reed fight at the end and the finale where Doom's face repairs and he finally has a moment of peace and smiles for legit. "Everything lives".

    I mean if you were to tell me that Hickman's entire trilogy would end with an unambiguously happy ending, and a reconstruction of the MU after the deconstruction he put everything through all without walking back any of his moves...I wouldn't have believed it.

    My one negative caveat is that on the whole Hickman's run felt very run-on and TPB-made. Like I can't remember off-hand many individual issues that stand out. I remember moments and scenes but not issues. It's also not very standalone yet it's so detailed, intricate and moving, that you kind of want to dig deep and read more. Like that's one area his X-Men is better at. HoX/PoX for instance works as a standalone story. And it has great single issues, especially HoX#2 (aka "The uncanny life of Moira X"). And his run on X-Men is very standalone focused, so he's developing.

    But yeah, Bendis was the writer of the 2000s, Hickman was the writer of the 2010s.
    I just noticed that there was another thread about this same topic. Looks like we are in agreement on quite a lot but you have given a far more detailed assessment. I think it's almost a cliche at this point to say that this was really Hickman's love letter to his new found appreciation of the Fantastic Four. He had always said he read more of the X-Men and had to go buy one of those Gitcorp DVDs that have over 500 issues of the FF. I have one of those two but it was the earlier one that doesn't include the Silver Surfer series as a bonus. But most of all, he gave Doom a great ending and gratefully Bendis did follow up on it with Infamous Iron Man. We won't mention Slott on that point.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Maiden View Post
    I just noticed that there was another thread about this same topic. Looks like we are in agreement on quite a lot but you have given a far more detailed assessment.
    Aw, shucks. You are too modest.

    I tend to go off-and-on about the Fantastic Four. I have never disliked them, but I rarely loved them, or felt they were all that great. Especially Reed and Sue. But Hickman's Reed was the first time I felt the 616 character worked. That's my platonic Reed, more than Stan Lee's or anyone before or after.

    And Hickman's Doom is up there. Rabum Alal the Great Destroyer...another word for destruction is of course Doom. So it was right under everyone's nose. The build up to the reveal of Alal, even reading it in TPB was thrilling.

    I think it's almost a cliche at this point to say that this was really Hickman's love letter to his new found appreciation of the Fantastic Four. He had always said he read more of the X-Men and had to go buy one of those Gitcorp DVDs that have over 500 issues of the FF. I have one of those two but it was the earlier one that doesn't include the Silver Surfer series as a bonus.
    Yeah, Hickman on Fantastic Four is a terrific example of a run by a guy who didn't start out as a fan. He brought a real outsider's perspective on the First Family and took the Fantastic Four out of the rut of '50s and '60s nostalgia. Hickman did his homework but because he was just exposed and had to do a deep dive he brought out essential elements, and he managed to satisfy traditionalists and newcomers at the same time. Reading it, I felt that 616 FF could be in the 21st Century whereas I hardly felt the FF before, even Waid's run belonged in the late 20th Century the way Spider-Man and X-Men did. I mean Mark Waid is an example of a writer whose reverence and love for the material or a certain vision of it often gets in the way of good storytelling. Like his Superman Birthright is a good example, it's not bad it's just that it's too reverent.

    We won't mention Slott on that point.
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  12. #12
    Spectacular Member oldschoolfan's Avatar
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    Hickman was the one writer who really understood Thor, what he was about and how to write him. Hickman wrote three great Thor moments in my memory:

    1. The fight with Thanos in Infinity
    2. The negotiation with the Builders in Infinity
    3. The fight with all of the Beyonders in, I believe, New Avengers.

    I really enjoyed every part of Infinity, Secret Wars sort of devolved into an FF story.....but it wasn't bad, it just started out as an Avengers story.

    I would like to see if Hickman can do a years worth of stories without them blowing up into a "Magnum Opus" type of development......but that's kind of silly because he writes those big stories so well.


    Oh yeah.....EAST OF WEST rocked!
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  13. #13
    Latverian ambassador Iron Maiden's Avatar
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    I should check that out. I have the two tpb's of the Black Monday Murders that I have to jump into also.

  14. #14
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Maiden View Post
    I should check that out. I have the two tpb's of the Black Monday Murders that I have to jump into also.
    Black Monday Murders is pretty interesting and dense, as a read. It's pretty interesting in that it centers heavily on a female character and if there's one criticism one can make of Hickman's "trilogy" is that there aren't many women at the center of things. The Black Swan I guess is the closest. Like in his run on Fantastic Four, I definitely felt that Susan and Valeria, as much as I liked them there, served to illustrate the depth in Reed and Doom rather than as full characters themselves.

    The X-Men run is an improvement there, which makes sense since no team and no title in the Marvel Universe had for so long allowed female characters to be at the center of things. I mean Storm for instance, is Marvel's biggest female character in comics in terms of appearances.

    X-Men #4 is also quite connected to BMM.

  15. #15
    Incredible Member your_name_here's Avatar
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    I thought it was great. A small part of me wishes all this HoX and X-Men fun came before Secret Wars, so it really was a culmination of EVERYTHING.
    Thor was written fantastically, and there were some great moments throughout.
    Doom was written arguably the best I’ve seen.

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