Marvel Comics is relaunching the X-Men - and they've hired Jonathan Hickman, the mind behind Infinity and Secret Wars, to take charge of the franchise. There have been rumors for months that legendary comic book writer was returning to Marvel Comics, and his name had frequently been associated with the X-Men franchise.
Two weeks ago, Marvel published a curious teaser that clearly hinted at major developments for the X-Men. Every comic included a one-page advert reading an ominous message: "When two aggressive species share the same environment, evolution demands adaptation or dominance." The mention of evolution clearly signposted changes for the X-Men franchise. Last week, Marvel published another teaser in the same format, this time with just one word: "Hickman." It wasn't hard to put the pieces together and deduce that Jonathan Hickman was back at Marvel, and was indeed taking charge of the X-Men.
That's now been officially confirmed. Speaking at Marvel's Next Best Thing panel at C2E2, Editor in Chief C.B. Cebulski confirmed what he called "one of the worst kept secrets of the past two weeks." Marvel followed the announcement with an official press release, revealing that Hickman would be working with artists Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva on two X-Men miniseries. Entitled House of X and Powers of X, these two books will launch in July, with a new issue released every week. Marvel teased that they consider this to be an X-Men milestone equivalent to Giant-Size X-Men, 1991's X-Men #1, the "Age of Apocalypse" event, or Grant Morrison's New X-Men. They also released an official teaser image, and Cebulski said this about the relaunch:
"We are excited to have Jon back with the Marvel family, and we could not have asked for a better creative team to help usher the X-Men into a whole new era. While we can’t reveal too much about the story just yet, these new stories will redefine the X-Men and their place in the Marvel Universe. This is a historic moment both new and passionate fans won’t want to miss."
It's certainly an interesting teaser, featuring countless different X-Men characters clad in costumes from completely different eras and even a couple of alternate realities. The image hints at the breadth of the story Hickman will be telling, which frankly shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's followed his career. Hickman is renowned for putting together meticulously-crafted ongoing narratives that build to a head over the course of years. In 2012, he took charge of the Avengers franchise, and guided them through a three-year arc that culminated in the Secret Wars event. It's reasonable to assume that he's returned to Marvel to do something similar with the X-Men.
The announcement is perfectly timed. Hickman's Avengers run redefined the franchise, and - along with Jim Starlin's Infinity Gauntlet miniseries - served as inspiration for Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War. The completion of the Disney/Fox acquisition means that the film rights for the X-Men and the Fantastic Four have returned to Marvel Studios, and it's surely only a matter of time before mutants make their MCU debut. It's highly likely that Marvel Studios will be watching Hickman's X-Men stories carefully, looking to see if he could once again introduce concepts and ideas that are perfectly suited to the big screen.