If you have been reading comics for any time at all, Jonathan Hickman is name you likely know. He has done tremendous amount of work over the years, from creator owned works like The Nightly News and Pax Romana to Marvel works, up to and including the recent universe re-set Secret Wars.
This week, Hickman releases a double sized first issue of a new creator owned series, The Black Monday Murders.
Hot New Comics: Black Monday Murders #1
In typical Hickman fashion, this first episode feels like the beginning of a massive set-up. One of the things that has proven to be true in much of his work is that Hickman establishes things that are paid off much, much later in a series; especially in his Marvel work, he laid groundwork for things that became vital parts of Secret Wars years earlier.
So any time you approach a new work by Hickman, do so knowing that he is setting up things that will be happen much later in the series.
In this first issue of Black Monday Murders, the world is set, as we re-visit the Black Monday of the stock market collapse in the 1920s, the start of what became the Great Depression. In doing so, we learn of a mysterious group that is at work in the market, even manipulating it. However, when the market goes south, we see that there must be a sacrifice, per some mystic agreement.
One of the other things that is true of most of Hickman’s works is that his work in graphics show up as well. He has an eye for design and in a couple of pages we see the history of this mysterious cabal, setting up stories that I guess will be unraveled over the course of the series, while also bringing us to present day.
In the present day part of the book, it feels like a trope of a forlorn under-appreciated cop, who also dabbles in magic, and recently made a kill that turned out to be of a very evil person, though no one at the time understood that. And, of course, the detective is drawn into another death related to the global markets and the story goes from there.
The story here is an interesting one and it revisits a couple themes that are prevalent in comics today. First, the idea of a global conspiracy isn’t a new one; Greg Rucka’s work in Lazarus establishes a dystopian future that is almost built on the same premise: a handful of families that run the world.
But there is something to the mysticism and magic that Hickman adds in this story; where Rucka has done the work of establishing why the world could become like this (as his letter pages and supplemental reading demonstrate), Hickman seems to want to draw the reader into the idea of magical forces and mystical covens being at work.
And it works in this first issue! As a reader, I do want to see more and know more about what is to come, both in the story set in the here and now and in the stories that are set in the past and just vaguely referenced in the graphical history pages.
If Hickman’s brand of long-form storytelling intrigues you, then this book feels like an excellent jumping on point; as with any Hickman book, the temptation will be to let more of it play out before jumping in but this issue and the work in seem to indicate that his storytelling may use some of the old style of long story while also recognizing the need for each issue to contain something as well.
I give The Black Monday Murders a 8.5 of out of 10 Nerds.