This column once looked slightly different early on Thursday, at least until a late breaking bit of news hit my inbox. And then, it could only start one way.
1. Hickman and Checchetto, Tying the Knot
Publicly, privately, constantly, it’s apparent that as A-list of a job as it is, writing Spider-Man — or, more specifically, Amazing Spider-Man — is a gig laden with red flags in the eyes of creators. There are a number of reasons for that. The biggest, though, is the combination of the passion Spider-Man fans have and the fact that Marvel has made it abundantly clear it has no plans on reversing course on the 2007 story One More Day, in which Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson were famously separated in a deal with Mephisto to save Aunt May’s life. Who’s dead may not stay that way, but divorced is an entirely different story, much — much — to the chagrin of Spider-Man fans. They want them back together, and with a desperation behind it.
Fast forward to August 30th of this year, when Popverse published a piece where writer Jonathan Hickman said the following, “I’m working on another book for Marvel right now that I swore I would never work on, and the sole reason why I’m doing it is that there was a way into it that I had never considered before, I found it, and now I’m having the time of my life working on it.” I had a guess as to what that was (I was wrong), but looking at it through the prism of what we now know — that it is Hickman and artist Marco Checchetto’s Ultimate Spider-Man and it will feature an already married Peter and MJ, with kids even, as Parker becomes Spider-Man for the first time in his 30s at a time he’s already a husband and a father — it should have been obvious. They gave us all the clues!
Needless to say, Spider-Man fans are thrilled. While many are touting Hickman’s bravery as they thumb their noses at Marvel editorial, it’s not like Hickman did this in a vacuum and that Ultimate editor Wil Moss was unaware of the idea. More than that, I bet the publisher is pumped about this solution. It gives them the chance to have their cake and eat it too, as they can maintain their line that the marriage isn’t coming back in main continuity while Hickman and Checchetto get to tell a story we’ve never seen before with a flavor fans have been frothing at the mouth for over the past 16 years. It’s a little funny that the this new Ultimate universe — a concept originally designed for accessibility — is kicked off by a book starring a middle-aged man, which feels sort of like a tacit admission by Marvel that they know who their audience really is for this. But it’s an incredible solution, one that could and should be something that feels new, all built from a concept we’re rather familiar with. More than that, based on the response, it seems to have delivered joy for a significant number of disgruntled fans at once.
Now, this doesn’t mean they’ll be thrilled forever. Hickman has put himself in the lion’s den, and he’s nothing if not unconventional. He will likely challenge their love. But if there’s anyone made of stern enough stuff to handle Spidey fans, it’s him. And Checchetto loves Spider-Man and fits this book like a tee. They should be in a good position to make this work for as long as they can take it. And if they decide they want to go out, well, as I said on Twitter, Jonathan Hickman has the chance to do the funniest thing. (They wouldn’t do that) (Okay, they probably wouldn’t do that) I was already intrigued by this book. Consider my intrigue amplified to the absolute max now. This should be fun!
2. On The One Hand, There’s The Six Fingers
On Thursday, ScreenRant announced a new Image miniseries called The One Hand from writer Ram V, artist Laurence Campbell, colorist Lee Loughridge, letterer Aditya Bidikar, and designer Tom Muller. Also on Thursday, IGN announced a new Image miniseries called The Six Fingers from writer Dan Watters, artist Sumit Kumar, colorist Lee Loughridge, letterer Aditya Bidikar, and designer Tom Muller. Wait…The One Hand…and The Six Fingers…and both of those books share a colorist, letterer, and designer? That seems connected, almost.
It isn’t an almost!
From the connected covers to the solicits that start like variations of one another and then reveal that they’re telling flip-sides of the same story — it’s the hunter and the hunted, with the real killer likely somewhere in-between! — it’s abundantly clear that these are two halves of a whole. It helps, of course, that Ram has been alluding to this one for a while in his newsletter, but it’s an incredible, inventive idea that sounds cool as hell. Sci-fi noir from this squad is an easy sell, but taking a connected approach to a pair of minis and piecing the whole mystery together from each side is even saucier. Plus: Laurence Campbell is terribly underrated and deserves much more love, so hopefully this gets him that.
These two titles that are one superstory launch in February. I will be reading, because this sounds like exactly my kind of thing.