I must admit, I’m kinda man-crushing Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Fantastic Four. While comicdom at large is still hung up on the death/no-death of member, Johnny Storm (The Human Torch), Hickman had me from the word go, after I randomly picked up a copy of FF #572. It was his portrayal of Reed Richards that did it – I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of the often brilliantly aloof scientist, family man and team leader; the lack of cohesion of his two worlds (as a man of science and husband/father) always betrayed how smart Reed is truly supposed to be. But Hickman found a unique voice for that – Reed doesn’t accidentally forsake his family in pursuit of his work, he actually does it on purpose – not out of some strange disdain, but out of something as common as Spider-man: With great power comes greater responsibility. And even better, this rendition of Reed, as a near carryover from the run before, finds a way to make time for his family as well – in fact, it become a potential story beat just how much Reed is going to have to sacrifice in the name of the greater good.
Almost arrogantly, I confess I feel a resonance with Reed, a man blessed/cursed with so much insight that he can imagine a prolific future AND the means to achieve it. Here’s a man, albeit a fictional one, who can stand toe-to-toe with the fragile and cosmic alike, finding beauty, strength and merit within it all – that’s the kind of man I aim to be, both as a creator and a father. In fact, it was Reed’s speech to the attendees of the Singularity Convention in issue #579 that solidified my plan to leave my cushy job as a State employee for the wonderfully sporadic, if not tumultuous life of a self-publisher: "Because there is the a fire called discovery burning within me...and I won't go back in the cave for anyone."
I think there’s another superhero-scientist that Hickman could breathe new life into: Dr. Ray Palmer, DC’s The Atom! Despite having a long history in the DCU, The Atom hasn’t quite gained the notoriety of other heroes who’ve the same longevity or affiliations. He’s been relegated to near B-List, if not C-List levels and needs the hearty revive that plagued the Fantastic Four for YEARS! As Hickman has already shown, he can handle the jargon of scientific ideas, both complex and astonishing – and with The Atom, the infinite world of the infinitesimal is just as rife with potential threats and adventures as the known universe. And considering the recent emotional upheaval in Ray’s life (The last few years has seen his ex-wife turn a murderer and his induction into the Green Lantern mythos as a member of the enigmatic Indigo Tribe), I’m more than confident that Hickman can find a comfortable medium, shuffling back and forth between the different facades for some of the best story beats in the character’s history.