Fantastic Four: Three

Jonathan Hickman welcomes artist Steve Epting to FANTASTIC FOUR in time for one of the family’s most fearsome fights



FANTASTIC FOUR black and white preview art by Steve Epting
By Jim Beard

Four minus one equals three-a simple equation yet one that delivers frightful and unspeakable complications for Marvel's first family of super heroes, the Fantastic Four.

This September, in FANTASTIC FOUR #583-587, Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting bring the War of Four Cities down around the ears of Marvel's world-famous team and pair their ranks down a trio.

"Anyone that's ever lost a family member can tell you that surviving [and] moving on is a process," says Hickman of the Four losing one of their own. "So the Fantastic Four will do that in the same manner we all do: some will get angry, some will grieve, some will want to get even. And all of this grows out of events in one of the four cities."

Hickman's been slowly revealing details of said cities in recent issues of FANTASTIC FOUR, building events that reach an undeniable boiling point this September. The War of Four Cities will spread like wildfire, encompassing many factions and creating untold sides to the conflict.

"The war is not remotely binary so there's not a single side to choose, and the war is also going on amidst many other huge goings on," he explains. "We've got the return of Doom, Galactus and the Council of Reed as well, and, for now, the war is going to stay confined to the Four's little corner of the Marvel Universe.

"I wouldn't plan on it staying that way though."

In 1962, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby dubbed FANTASTIC FOUR "The World's

FANTASTIC FOUR promo art by Steve Epting
Greatest Comic Magazine," seeing its promise and potential for action, adventure and pathos. Hickman plans to reaffirm and strengthen that title with one simple move:

"We hired Steve Epting to draw the book," he notes.

"Pages by Steve are starting to come in hot and heavy now, and, in my opinion, they are just stunning. Is it a departure from his recent work? Sure, but it's still unquestionably, pure, concentrated, Epting artwork and we're lucky to have him."

For his part, Epting, already acclaimed for his work on CAPTAIN AMERICA, views FANTASTIC FOUR as an opportunity for exploration and experimentation. Considering the characters and their mission, that's entirely fitting.

"When starting a new series with characters I've never drawn before, I find the first several issues are sort of experimental in terms of finding what works and what doesn't for the characters," the artist points out. "I don't necessarily go into it trying to 'make them my own,' though every artist does that to a certain degree simply because we all have differences in our styles and the storytelling decisions we make, but I really just want to portray each of the cast members in a way that's consistent with his or her character and in the process enhance the story being told."

FANTASTIC FOUR black and white preview art by Steve Epting
Epting, like Hickman, looks forward to strengthening FANTASTIC FOUR's foundation as Marvel's origin point for their Universe and ensuring it worthy of its hyperbolic cover tag.

"Nothing I'll do on my own will accomplish that, but working with the team we have and knowing what Jonathan has planned, I'll draw it to the best of my ability and do everything I can to live up to it," he vows. "That's what the Fantastic Four is and should be the World's Greatest Comic Magazine!"


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      shartigan519 that's something you don't see every day. Major comic book publisher killing off major character. Oh wait, yeah, you do. Must be the new recipe for storytelling. "Hey! I Knoooow. Let's KILL off an established, well-loved character to create marketing buzz. We can do a couple year-long story arc that sets up the character's return and time it with a new movie!" I get it. Comics = business. I just wish there were a more original formula. When Marvel 'killed' Cap, I was livid. What's so original? DC beat Marvel to the morgue on a few big heroes the least which was Superman. So, Cap get killed but not really. And now he's a super-soldier while his old pal Bucky is now Cap and carries a gun to appease the younger crowd. Daredevil gets possessed and leaves Hell's Kitchen in NYC to Black Panther who loses his kingdom and leaves his wife Storm behind. There's a green Hulk, a red Hulk and who knows how many more...making our green Hulk oh so original. And now one of the FF is being killed and callously the team goes on with a big 3 on their chests? Either something is wrong here...or I've outlasted my usefulness as a fan of comics. I'm no longer the target demographic despite the fact that I have been a Marvel fan for 30+ years and have discretionary income and I subscribe...Make Mine Marvel?I don't know anymore...bu I do love the Marvel Universe with all of its great characters and wonderful mythology. I just hate seeing it constantly dismantled. Conflict is essential. But this killing spree is boring.


      Pare, you mean pare as in to trim or cut not pair as in to match TWO alike things. I wouldn't have gotten so persnickety but to use a number word that means two (pair) in the same sentence (within words in fact!) as another number word that means three is poor form for any writer. While we are at it shame on your editor for letting that slip by!