Four No More

Jonathan Hickman brings the Fabulous Foursome's world crashing down in "Three!"

Share:

Comments:

By Chris Arrant with Jim Beard

After months of world-building with the Fantastic Four and their extended family, the story-arc beginning with issue #583 on September 22 promises to be the last for one of the four.

Yesterday, Marvel confirmed this via a press conference about the upcoming FANTASTIC FOUR story-arc "3" with series writer Jonathan Hickman and Vice-President Executive Editor Tom Brevoort.

Fantastic Four #583 cover by Alan Davis
"'3' is definitely where it all hits the fan," said Brevoort. "It's the worst week in the lives of the Fantastic Four, where all these houses of cards that have been stacked up begin to fall on the individual characters. At the end of the day where there was four, there will now only be three."

Who will live, and who will die?

"Without saying too much or getting ahead of the next month or the month after, it'll be very difficult to publish FANTASTIC FOUR with only three characters," said Brevoort. "You can interpret that a bunch of ways, but every single way you interpret it will be correct. Over the next year, the transmogrification these characters will go through will shock, surprise, startle and probably outrage--and invite a certain amount of shirt-tearing."

In an email interview earlier this week, Hickman talked about how the loss of a team member is even more important in the Fantastic Four given they're a real family. When asked how a family can deal with it, Hickman was very poignant.

"The same way any family handles the death of a loved one. Some get angry, some need solace...some get busy doing other things," the writer explained. "We'll see who does what and why."

Fantastic Four #583 preview art by Steve Epting

Comics readers are well versed on the heightened expectations of big surprises such as this one only to be let down, but according to Hickman he's out to prove them wrong.

"I think any cynicism is perfectly acceptable," said the writer. "Comics have done a lot of things for shock value, but I would have never made a proposal to do this if I didn't have a story to tell that was meaningful, important and possible to still be escapism. So it certainly is going to happen, and it's certainly going to have ramifications and changes things for the betterment of the book. I think what we're doing with the book is relevant to the kind of stories people are telling today."

Hickman came on to write FANTASTIC FOUR last year just following the 16-issue arc of two of the industry's top creators, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. When Brevoort initially asked Hickman to prepare a pitch for the book, the writer came back with an elaborate story spanning several years and different universes; for example, the first story arc had not one but several Infinity Gauntlets.

"When I first came onto the book, I laid out an extensive plan for the series and this coming arc was the midpoint of that," said writer Jonathan Hickman, who is known for intricate and deliberate storytelling. "Everything is building to what's coming next. We're not doing this for no rhyme or reason and we're not doing it for shock value. This larger story has a beginning, middle and an end and everything going on works to that purpose."

Fantastic Four #583 preview art by Steve Epting

Over the course of his first twelve issues, Hickman has gone on to cover virtually all corners of the globe while also instigating the creation of the Future Foundation, a group of the brightest young minds in the Marvel Universe. While the book has been literally all over the place, "3" promises to start bringing those elements together. Brevoort points to an early moment in the series that acts as a key to the big picture.

"The key to it all, while it has been focused on or discovered by readers, is that speech Reed made in FANTASTIC FOUR #579," explained Brevoort, referring to Reed's talk with a collection of academics and scientists that led to the creation of the Future Foundation. "That's the statement of purpose as to where the book is going over the good portion of the next two years. This is the road map to everywhere we're going if you look at it in the right light."

That road map includes a new passenger getting onboard with the beginning of "3" in next month's FANTASTIC FOUR #583, artist Steve Epting. Epting comes to this book after a career-defining stint on CAPTAIN AMERICA and THE MARVELS PROJECT with writer Ed Brubaker, and while some typecast the artist into that noirish war role he took on for those two books, long-time readers know a different story.

"Steve is very excited to be working on the book," Hickman said. "The thing about Steve is--well, we use the term 'world class'. Steve is world class, and can draw virtually anything I throw at him. He happened to be drawing CAPTAIN AMERICA for the past couple years and has become identified with those set of toys, but in FANTASTIC FOUR he brings a sense of scope and scale which the book needs. I think his work is incredible."

Editor Tom Brevoort, who has worked with Epting on numerous occasions, also threw his support behind the artist.

Fantastic Four #583 preview art by Steve Epting

"People forget that fifteen years ago, Steve Epting was the artist on AVENGERS. They forget that seven years ago he was the artist on El Cazador; if you have a pirate book, Steve is your man. What I'm getting at is that Steve has drawn a variety of books--in the '90s he was the X-FACTOR guy--and can handle it all. Steve is completely at home with FANTASTIC FOUR; it allows him to exercise different muscles. Not so much Nazis, tanks or German battlefields as in CAPTAIN AMERICA, but the same strength of storytelling--from composition, power, energy and realism--and Steve brings that to every series he works on.

"When I look at the pages myself, what I see since I'm old," Brevoort chuckles," is that it has a real John Buscema flavor to it. It harkens back to the way John drew FANTASTIC FOUR, which seemed like a decade-long run becoming in many ways the quintessential looking FANTASTIC FOUR. Steve has that too, and I think it's absolutely absurd to think what Hickman is asking for is beyond Steve's ability to interpret."

As FANTASTIC FOUR enters the next stage in Hickman's master plan, readers can expect to see Marvel's first family rejoin the extended family of the Marvel U. both inside the book and out.

"That's kind of where we're headed with FANTASTIC FOUR; to make it more relevant inside the Marvel Universe," said Hickman. "I certainly think that coming out of "3" the series will be much more integrated into the 616 [universe]. You're going to see the Fantastic Four have great universe-wide missions and those conflicts will have ramifications on that scale."

Fantastic Four #583 preview art by Steve Epting
According to promises and expectations set in the lead-up to the "3" story-arc, the absence of one of the four members can surely be felt not only inside the Baxter Building but across the landscape. While each member has starred in FANTASTIC FOUR from day one, they've also guest-starred in other books and even joined other teams--such as the Thing's involvement in the NEW AVENGERS series.

"It's difficult to get too far into this, but clearly every member of the Fantastic Four has connections and relationships that spread out to other titles and series in the Marvel U.," said Brevoort. "As we kick over the dominos at the end of '3,' whichever cast member is no longer there will definitely be felt in other titles. For instance, the Thing is also a member of New Avengers, so after '3' either the Thing won't be there, or the Thing will be in a different mindset--or perhaps not even a member of the FF at all.

"You are going to see great connectivity here and elsewhere. We've planted seeds in the so-called Hickman-verse," Brevoort said, referring to the other titles Hickman writes, SECRET WARRIORS and S.H.I.E.L.D. "It's going to get larger as the year goes on. Events in this series will have an impact on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, the Hulk books, the Avengers books and even the X-Men. In essence, while the FF have never been separate from the larger universe, the title and characters will be directly engaged now more than ever."

But there's nowhere that the events of "3" will be felt more than the series itself. At the end of the press conference, when asked if there will even be a book called FANTASTIC FOUR put out by Marvel in one year's time, editor Tom Brevoort put it bluntly.

"No, there will not."

 

To find a comic shop near you, call 1-888-comicbook or visit www.comicshoplocator.com

Not a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited yet? Join now!

Download SPIDER-WOMAN and ASTONISHING X-MEN Motion Comics now on iTunes! For more information on motion comics, visit the Marvel Motion Comics hub!

Download episodes of "X-Men: Evolution", "Wolverine and the X-Men", "Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes" and "The Super Hero Squad Show" now on iTunes!

Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes!

MORE IN Comics See All

Comments

20 comments
hulkvsasia
hulkvsasia

Calm down people. How long will the character be dead anyway? 1 year? 2 years tops? Just hold on. Its Marvel. Noone will be gone long.

baurushan
baurushan

This is just stupid. already in Spider-man, Peter Parker sacrificed his marriage to Mephisto, In November 2010, Daredevil is going to be replaced by either Nova, Gambit, Black Panther, Falcon or Kraven which means that he is likely to be killed off and now they are going to kill off one of the FF. If they kill off Human Torch or Invisible Woman then my favourite comic studio is dead cos now over the years, Marvel is just getting stupid, dumb and arrogant. They ruined my one of my top three superheroes in just one year cos these new guys come and change the continuity as it goes along.

Daken01
Daken01

change is inevitable. but i hope they stick to the change and keep on movin forward--meanin, if someone's gonna die or leave, he or she better not be comin back, esp. if the comeback would be used to undo what has been done.

o-liv
o-liv

i bet that none of the four die but some other character does and one of the four dies but if oneo of them does die then i give them atleast a year or two until they magicaly come back to life or from sum other universe or somethings

wildasparagus
wildasparagus

no 'Fantastic Four' title ? then it'll be a ' Fantastic Force' one, my left hand on it... ( Marvel, and comics in general, tend to compensate a loss by outnumbering... )

monsterhunter
monsterhunter

Ok, yep fine, a member of the fantastic four is going to die, it's sad, but it happens. I say let Deadpool become the new member of FF to make up the numbers.

jaker12345
jaker12345

Reed Stinks and he is to old ..... he's dead and gone

Arsenal5
Arsenal5

This is just silly. It is not like they have not done this before. They have even used the line "Four No More" several times. From my perspective it is not even that big a deal and will likely follow the same formula of the group getting in some form of catastrophy without their missing member and eventually will replace that member for a time untill he/she miracurasly comes back from the dead. I am glad I stoped reading FF years ago if they are choosing to go back to this overused consept again.

FredII
FredII

At the end of the day it's probably Reed. The Torch is due being the only one so far to not die, but really, it's hard to say that his death would ripple out in the M.U. He has a relationship with Spiderman, but nohting of the Freindships that Reed, Ben, and Sue have with the other MU characters. Killing Reed obviously will have a ripple effect in the MU, as there simply won't be abother Reed level intelect to take his place. Sure Stark and Pym will step up, but they both know, even Doom knows, they aren't at Reed's level. With Reed gone, there will be a real fear to wash over the MU as they realize their ace in the hole is now gone, and what to do next?

Stryfe609
Stryfe609

I hope it's the Human Torch!

Agent223
Agent223

I am quite sorry to hear that The Fantastic Four is No More... But if they need one more hero to complete this, it would have to be Spider-Man, one of the best friends of the Four, i now mean three...

dan15courtney
dan15courtney

this sucks but u can see why the do it look at what it did for captain america and batman and u know they wont be dead for long this is marvel

cyclopsjx
cyclopsjx

Nah, Ben died in the Waid/Wieringo run some years back. Reed led the charge into Heaven and had a chat Jack "God" Kirby to allow Ben to come back to life. Killing him again would be far too soon. And Reed died in the 1990s, so it probably won't be him. Human Torch, I think, is the only one who's actually due a demise. The others have already kicked the bucket a time or two.

travisbann
travisbann

I hope it's Thing. I love the character but it would make such a huge impact on the whole Marvel universe. Who can't see him going down in an epic battle. It can't be Reed he's the go to guy when you need a Deus Ex Machina device. If Johnny it would be great to replace him it's long over due.

zacUpquark
zacUpquark

They've been maneuvering to drop the 4 for some time. We lost Marvel Knights (my favorite) then Marverl Adventures 4 then Ultimates 4, soon the Fantastic Four itself. That'll be it for me and Marvel ...

TheMtVernonKid
TheMtVernonKid

I may speak for every FF4 fan out there and say stop this!!! Scrap this idea.

Zaxlon
Zaxlon

NOOOOOO!!!! Please don't do it! please, please please, please don't kill a member of the Fantastic Four! it's not the Fantastic Four with only 3! please please please!