If you pay attention to comics at all, today is a day that Marvel has been hyping up for a very long time. Fantastic Four, the first Marvel Comic and the first creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, hasn’t really been selling that well over the last few years. The book’s corny and cheesy tone just doesn’t seem to resonate with people these days, which is why no one except fans of the book liked either of the movies. Both of the live action Fantastic Four movies are actually the most true to the tone of their source material, as long as you ignore the Galactus Cloud.
So how do you drum up interest in a comic to increase sales? By killing off one of the main characters. And that’s exactly what Marvel did this week in Fantastic Four #587. And the next issue, #588, will be the final issue of the series that launched in 1961 and would’ve celebrated its 50th Anniversary this November. The series will be relaunched with a book titled “FF” with Spider-Man one of the new team members. This is fine, as Spidey has been an on again, off again, member of the Fantastic Four for quite a while. He, Ghost Rider, Hulk, and Wolverine made up the “New Fantastic Four” in the 90s, and they even revived that team recently.
So which member of the team bites the dust? It’s not the Thing as that would be meaningless. It’s not Sue as Marvel did kill her and bring her back pretty recently. And it isn’t Reed as that is the one that would make the most sense and have the most lasting impact on the Marvel Universe.
No, Marvel kills off the Human Torch; Johnny Storm.
It’s pretty disappointing as they could’ve had some balls and kill off Reed. Then Sue could go off with Namor and Johnny and Ben could lead the new team. Imagine how awesome a Fantastic Four book could be with the team consisting of Johnny, Ben, Spidey…and Deadpool. It would be the single most awesome and hilarious comic book and easily help Marvel in what will be a tough fight against $2.99 DC books this year.
Johnny’s death isn’t really meaningless, but it is your clichÃ©d comic book death where the hero sacrifices himself to save the rest of the team. Only Ben is there when he dies, which is very fitting due to their friendship. And if you’re a longtime reader of FF there’s one panel where their hands are trying to touch through a forcefield that’s almost moving. Sort of like when Lois is holding Superman’s dead body in the rubble.
As someone who has read Fantastic Four almost as long as I’ve been collecting comics (and I even used to own a VHS copy of the Roger Corman Fantastic Four movie), I just wish Marvel actually went out on a limb and really shook up not only the series but the Marvel Universe as well. They should have killed Reed. Johnny’s death isn’t going to resonate much outside of the book, and any attempt to do a mourning issue where the rest of the Marvel Universe goes to a Human Torch funeral will just feel manufactured and fake.
Things like this is why I am almost exclusively a DC Comics guy now.