Fantastic Four: Casualty

Jonathan Hickman discusses the death in Marvel’s first family!

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FANTASTIC FOUR #587 cover by Alan Davis

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR FANTASTIC FOUR #587

By Ben Morse

The tragic saga of “Three” has come to an end in the pages of FANTASTIC FOUR #587—and The Human Torch has fallen. John Storm sacrificed himself so that his niece and nephew as well as his best friend, The Thing, could escape the Negative Zone.

It’s a moment series writer Jonathan Hickman knew about a long time ago.

“Day one, word one,” he says of when he became aware of Johnny’s imminent demise. “When [Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing and FANTASTIC FOUR editor] Tom [Brevoort] asked me to pitch the book, and then later on when I gave him my detailed arc-by-arc, issue-by-issue breakdown, this was always there. I think if you go back and read all the [issues] I’ve done up to this point you can kind of see how it has led to this.”

Though members have come and gone for brief periods over the team’s 50 year history, the Fantastic Four has always reverted back to the family unit of Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben. With one of these four pillars now gone, Hickman promises inevitable change at the very core of the FF.

“Johnny was, in simplistic terms, the ‘id’ of the team,” he explains. “He represented the child-like, more innocent view of the world. He stood in direct contrast to the world ‘as it really is.’ Now, with him gone, and with everything underlined by Reed’s vision of ‘how the world should be,’ his demise both heightens the need for that future to come to pass as well as leaves it in doubt.”

With a history stretching back to 1961 and five decades among Marvel’s most popular and recognizable heroes, the Torch

FANTASTIC FOUR #587 variant cover by John Cassaday

leaves behind a significant legacy and an absence that will be felt by fans as well as the characters.

“Jack [Kirby] and Stan [Lee] created these characters; if I didn’t feel like I had a responsible story to tell—one told with great effort, craft and possessing a book-specific ‘moral’ center—I would have pitched this and, honestly, it wouldn’t have made it through the room during the creative retreats,” says Hickman.

“I thought [Johnny’s sacrifice] should be noble, self-sacrificing and most of all I thought it should be heroic,” he continues. “I think Johnny was most certainly all of those things.”

While The Human Torch may be gone, the journeys of Marvel’s First Family march ever forward, with Hickman and artist Steve Epting planning their adventures well into the future.

“The next issue of FANTASTIC FOUR, the last one, #558, follows the rest of the team through the month following Johnny’s death,” previews the writer. “Lots of things happen in that issue that not only cover how each of the family members are being affected, but also hints at the massive events right around the corner.

“This is not an ending.”

FANTASTIC FOUR #587 is available this week. For more on the future of the Fantastic Four, keep checking back on Marvel.com.

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      82 comments
      miloscio
      miloscio

      wonder how web-head is going to feel

      pie4me
      pie4me

      yay! johnny sucks.

      joe3473
      joe3473

      Maybe since Jonny Storm was a bit cavalier with his female interests, a child by him could surface? If said child had the same type of powers he had that would show just how different from the other "mutants" the Fantastic Four really are. Now that would be uplifting and disconcerning at the same time. What a story that could be!

      stararnold
      stararnold

      For years, I always felt that Johnny Storm wasn't fit to be a superhero because of his childish ways, but after reading this post, it seemed to me like he ain't all that bad and yes, his death is another sad moment in the saga of the Marvel Super-Heroes. May he rest in piece.Hopefully, Issue 587 of "Fantastic Four" doesn't end up another of those jump-the-shark comic issues, otherwise Marvel mind as well end FF permanently.

      BombasticBagMan
      BombasticBagMan

      I will first admit that I have never been the biggest fan of the Fantastic Four as a team. I love the Thing and th Human Torch but I've always felt that they've had some pretty weak stroy lines (at least as long as I've been a comics fan). The whole galactic crisis thing gets pretty boring for me if it doesn't involve a lot more characters. Reed has always annoyed me as a character and Sue is hit or miss. Her cool-factor all depends on how creative the writer at that time can be with her powers. She can be totally awesome or ridiculously useless. That being said, we ALL know that Torch will not stay dead for long. They will bring him back and depending on how much thought has been put into this (probably not much) it will either be totall awesome or unbearably painful. See here's the issue: too often does a Marvel writer get themself involved in a grandiose plot that often involves some huge culmination like the death of a major character. And just as often, there is not much thought given to the aftermath. Take for example the stories of Phoenix and the Spider-man clone saga. Phoenix began with the apparent death of Jean Grey. She returns and is this different entity that raises all these questions about her powers which of course leads to the Dark Phoenix and a long run of really awesome stories involving her etc etc (you all know the story). Now, I obviously don't know if that's how it was originally planned but given the writers on the books at that time and how long they were writing for, probably. Everything flowed very smoothly (for a time at least) and was a great read. Of course they've killed her and brought her back about 4598123 times since then but...not my point. Spider-Man clone saga was clearly written to be a one-off story when it was first released. Then in the 90's you get the return of the clone and all of the confusion over who was the real one. They changed their minds almost every issue, it felt like. It was clearly not something they planned to do and therefore it was just convoluted.Again, this is just my opinion. The clone saga could have been a well-thought out storyline that spanned 25 years and the Phoenix saga could have just been a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of thing; I don't really know. This is just what it seems. I say all this to get my point across that killing the Human Torch right now leaves a lot of mixed emotions out there. I personally like the idea. And I will like it even more if they bring him back right and build a story around his return that is something more than just "The Return of the Human Torch". It can be done. I have faith. And come on...you know he's coming back.

      MARVEEL
      MARVEEL

      I also agree that Marvel might of over-done the storyline up to the death. What is it with Marvel and killing off and bringing heroes and villians back lately. Although I liked Chaos Wars, why are we killing and bringing back, then killing them off again. TOOOOOOO MUCH LATELY

      bunkpickett
      bunkpickett

      I know I am not the first to post thiese sentiments, but i feel I want to weigh in. I disliked this issue, and much of hickman's run on the title. I have found it a bit pretensious in tone, maybe super-serious is a better description. The F.F. should be above the gimmicky tactic of specially bagged collectors issue with the "Death of a Major Character". Now, we all know Johnny will be back before too long, in one form or another. My problem was the truly unoriginal death scene. Ben attempts to sacrifice himself, but Johnny throws him to safety. How many times have we seen that same action played out, in movies, tv, and comics. Total Clown shoes effort! Then, the Wrath of Khan ending was totally uninspired. anyone remember that Byrne effort, where Johhny appeared to be dead in a racecar crash? Ben ran out onto the course and damaged his arms digging through the wreckage. Johhny was revealed to be alive in the next issue, but still, that issue had much more emotional impact and feeling. Hickman has some interesting ideas, but he has definitely not won me over with this run!

      TGL15
      TGL15

      Well, this actually isn't that surprising. From the moment I heard of this series, I suspected that Johnny was going to be the one to die. Either him or Ben. But seriously, can you imagine how much more heat (no pun intended) Marvel would've gotten if they'd killed Invisible Woman or, god forbid, Mister Fantastic???No way they'd do that.Still, if they wanted to kill someone in Marvel, they should've taken the chance and left Bucky dead. Goddammit, he annoys.

      Eduardo_Palomera
      Eduardo_Palomera

      LAME THE WAY YOU KILLED THE HUMAN TORCH, HE AND THE THING LEADED BY CHILDREN COME ON!!!! WHERE THEY MORONS??????? CHEAP SHOOT TO SELL COMICS. WELCOME TO THE MARVEL AGE OF DEAD HEROES!!!!!!!TILL TORCH IS BACK I WILL READ ONLY ARCHI COMICS THEY MAKE MORE SENSE.

      iceland
      iceland

      god i hope this isn´t permanent and also if they thought this would be a good idea then they were just @!-! high i mean when is it a good idea to break the hearts of millions of fans seriously!!

      DrakeRaven
      DrakeRaven

      THIS CANT BE!THERE HAS NEVER BEEN FANTASTIC THREE!!!!

      johnfez
      johnfez

      This is SICK AND WRONG. The old 60's comic would never do this.

      Arsenal5
      Arsenal5

      I am sorry but I'm not impressed. THIS HAS BEEN DONE. For crying out load Reed has been "dead" at least twice by my reconing in the 90's and the early 2000's. Wasn't there also a year or 2 ago something about Sue dieing? Members of the team have quit or left and been replaced temporarily at least a Dozen times. It doesn't matter this stories impact because the writers are not going to keep it permanent.

      Drew_Engman
      Drew_Engman

      It all seems too predictable. We've all been here done this before with the FF, in other ways. "What If?," Alternate timelines, Earth X Paradise X Universe X, and at least a half dozen other comics have told (almost) this story before. A beloved character dying? C'mon, guys: really? That's the best you've got?

      stormvo
      stormvo

      Thank God it wasn't Sue Storm we need all the women in Marvel we can get. Johnny Storm was the character we didn't really need. Still wish Reed would have died though it would have been more interesting. I see a What If? in the near future.

      cgrass5150
      cgrass5150

      I've been a diehard F.F. fan since 1975 and have to admit that Hickman deserves credit for breathing some life back into this title and creating a buzz. However, I feel Johnny's death was unoriginal, underwhelming, and unnecessary. First, Hickman serves up an overwhelmingly inexcusable dose of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" as Johnny gets his wings. C'mon man...where's the originality? Second, Johnny's death is not a crushing blow to the Marvel-U. Honestly, Johnny has never been a high-profile hero which makes his death kinda' meh. At the most his demise makes the F.F. and the Marvel-U a lot less fun which stinks because comics, as I recall, are supposed to be escapist fun. Third, Hickman shamefully "sold-out." Killing a mainstay character is simply a marketing ploy to "tweak" sales of a poorly selling title. Fact is, the F.F. is not and has not been a top selling title for Marvel in years because of dull, convoluted stories and mediocre art. Frankly, the F.F. lost their luster and credibility because they became boring and outdated thanks to top-heavy stories devoid of suspense, action, and adventure. For years there's been way too much emphasis on Reed and Sue (of all people), Val and Franklin, sci-fi technical mumbo jumbo problems and solutions, and the cutesy family dynamic. Ben and Johnny (the most interesting 2 of the 4) contribute absolutely nothing to the tile and have basically become "wallpaper." The beauty of the Kirby/Lee run and what followed in the 70's and 80's was that every member of the F.F. was always woven into a story and ultimately contributed to the final resolution of a problem which many times required a good ol' fashioned $@&* kicking. Nowadays the F.F. bores their villains (and readers) into submission. Solution to the F.F. dilemma: 1) Bring back Johnny soon. 2) Power/strength upgrades for every member so they can compete and once again go toe-to-toe with Marvel's biggest and baddest and regain the respect they once had. Wanna' blow people away? Have Ben take down Hulk or have the F.F. duke it out convincingly with the Avengers or X-Men. 3) Give something tangible and relevant for Ben and Johnny to do and let's see the team cut loose for a change. 4) Ditch the kids and their freaky pals. Obnoxious little kids solving Universe devastating problems is...well....obnoxious. Leave the fighting and problem solving to the F.F.. 5) Make the F.F. edgy, adventurous, and above all else...ACTION-PACKED! Christ...it's been ages since Ben took somebody out with his best Sunday punch.

      Valoron
      Valoron

      This is the Marvel Universe we're dealing with here anyway. I'm sure after a year or two of seeing Sue suffering over Johnny's loss, Reed will just build a Universe hopping device and pull a Johnny from Earth-(pick a number from a hat)and be all "Here Sue, here's a Johnny. You can stop now I have Universe saving work to do.\

      boucaud1
      boucaud1

      ....i think they've made a big mistake killing off The Human Torch...or are they?,methinks it could be a Captain America/Superman scenario,lets hope so cause it just does'nt make any sense,i actually thought it would be Sue to be snuffed out,that's why i think he'll re-emerge sometime again....we await an explaination if this is not the case in the meantime. Peace. Wayne. www.playvybz.com radio www.mixcloud.com/blackin3d podcasts

      Zajdalen
      Zajdalen

      Ifor one think that Johnny was the only logic member to kill. Come on Reed is always needed by everyone in Marvel Universe. Ben had great stories lately (reunion with Alicia). And Sue.....ok you got me there because I just didn't want to see Franklin and Valeria without their mom. But I can just feel that a loss of Johnny will bring some very interesting moments into the book. I'll totally keep reading.

      marvleman1470
      marvleman1470

      why in the world kill him he was the most interesting charcter in ff there is no point in reading it now. You should have killed Reed.Because he's a nerd and has the most uncool power in the whole marvel universe

      Enchanted
      Enchanted

      awwww I loved him I bought it today I'm scared to open it

      degen2912
      degen2912

      What is going on with longtime characters being killed off? First Cap, then Wasp, Hercules, Spiderman (Ok Ultimate version) and now Johnny Storm. Seems like we seeing the darker side of Disney here, so whens Mickey or Donald biting the bullet??

      jjkt
      jjkt

      U SHOULD HAVE KILLED INVISIBLE WOMAN

      Dimples
      Dimples

      I personally think Marvel dropped the ball. First for those who have been reading the book since or before Hickman took over as writer have been cheated. Cheated because the big push was a FF member will die. So instead of providing those long time readers the chance of discovering the last few pages on their own, they find out by reading the paper or on a tv show. Why because Marvel needs to publicize this "event" for a bigger sales margin. They could have waited a week for real comic fans to discover the ending on their own. After all there is a second printing next week with the death on the cover. I feel cheated by marvel as long time fan of this universe (20+ years) and I truly am considering dropping Marvel titles all together do to price increases and now this. thank you Marvel you gave me a reason to jump ship.

      mark-dahl
      mark-dahl member

      I was an avid collector for 25 years. After they killed Cap I lasted one more month and then lost interest. Killing characters that we've grown up loving only to have them come back in some silly way is totally trite and offensive to the longtime reader. I couldn't agree more with jerrycamp68 below. You might double or even triple your sales for then next few issues, but you'll lose a ton of longtime fans that just might not come back.

      rosdell
      rosdell

      this totally sucks. i love torch.

      lalston
      lalston

      Puh-leeze, this wasn't even a real "death" scene. We just see Johnny getting swarmed by enemies. Anyway, what happened to his infamous nova flame that reduces everything to ash for miles around? Does it not work in that world?

      jerrycamp68
      jerrycamp68

      Back to killing major characters? Did we learn nothing from killing Xavier, Rogers, Lensher, Howlett, Parker, or Rasputin? Okay, so a little bump in sales...with much gnashing of teeth from the fanbase...is the bump really worth alienating so many fans? Johnny was the only character to hold interest for the younger fan, unless Sue starts wearing that ridiculous cutout '4', again and actively seeks a side of Namor while Reed's playing in the lab.

      nabicus
      nabicus

      ..... I guess now wouldn't be a good time for the Inhuman Crystal to reveal that her daughter (Luna) is actually Mr. Storm's child......those sneaky Inhumans....

      mcterrel
      mcterrel

      Stop with the 'death' storylines, you're just embarrassing yourselves now. And that's from a lifelong Marvel fanboy (Excelsior!). It's just tired and like waving a flag you have absolutely no fresh ideas...from the House of Ideas. sigh.

      Startrek19
      Startrek19

      WOW!!! Holy Crap! this is BIG, I mean way big! Johnny was one of my favorite characters! Even when I was 3.

      Dexxxtroyer
      Dexxxtroyer

      It's only fitting. They did put CHRIS EVANS as CAPT. AMERICA so I guess it's no surprise here also. Hehehe.

      carlton999
      carlton999

      Johnny was the only reason I read the book. guess I can cross F4 off my list now.

      spidrmarvl11
      spidrmarvl11

      Let's see... some years ago they killed off Reed Richards, brought him back, killed off Capt. America 4 times, brought Steve Rogers back, Hercules, same thing, now it's Torch's turn? This is nothing new nor exciting from Marvel's current writers (except in the Ultimates, most or all key characters are getting axed) just to keep getting readers to buy the brand's comics. Especially purchased by Disney (still a headache). Do I wish Stan Lee to get his old exec job back w/ Marvel Comics? YES I DO!!!!!!!! STAN PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND SUPERHERO CRIME FIGHTING, GET YOUR OLD JOB BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!

      drh75
      drh75

      He'll be back. This is Marvel, after all. Death is more like a vacation. Just ask Steve Rogers and about half of the X-Men.

      ryehean
      ryehean

      I really hate it when they kill heroes. killing heroes like this shows me a complete lack of creativity. The death of the human torch (like superman, robin, and Captain America) is only a stunt to sell more books. Instead, how about being more creative and explore his powers like Emma Frost did to Ice Man.

      idredman
      idredman

      not johnny ,he's the only thing that is ceeping the FF from faling ,him and the thing ,well sue can start her own porn site and sleep with namor so that we forget that johnny even existed ,i will . by the way .R.I.P Johnny storm / The Human Torch ...but i'm pretty sure that he's gonna live again ,i mean they all do ,deadpool died ,magneto died ,cable ,wolverine ,captain America ,dr.doom ,they all died and came back so don't worry .

      Clawblade1
      Clawblade1

      This looks very luring just simply because it hits u with an unexpected twist tht knocks ur legs out frm under u. and as for the 3 symbol in place of the 4, that really has hit us fans right where it hurts and i kno this will definitley turn some heads and make us read the issues to come

      Spymonkey2000
      Spymonkey2000

      I also agree with shartigan519. I hate it when they kill heroes

      Spymonkey2000
      Spymonkey2000

      It looks like they didn't really show him actually dying, so i'm pretty sure he'll come back

      shartigan519
      shartigan519

      The FF was my very first comic book back in the late 60s when I was just a small boy and has remained my fav since. I am very disappointed in the comic book industry's preoccupation with killing characters. There's nothing original these days about it. It's a boring marketing ploy to build marketshare. I wish Marvel and DC would just steer clear of the killing of characters and focus on character development and penning great stories that keep the characters fresh and relevant.At this point, Captain American has been 'killed', now Johnny? Over at DC they're mopping up the mess bad writers have made killing off characters over the years in their "Blackest Night/Brightest Day".Please bring Johnny back and avoid the killing...

      zacUpquark
      zacUpquark

      The FF and I both made our debut in the summer of '61. They have been the core of my comic fandom since I was old enough to look for a book monthly, around the time Franklin was born. If the FF is no more ... that may be it for me and comics.

      igod
      igod

      Well i think they will bring him back with new powers ! or perhaps an evil human torch

      stickiboi69
      stickiboi69

      To me The Fantastic Four is the ultimate center of the Marvel Universe and killing of The Human Torch is a move that will majorly affect the story lines to come where ever Marvel goes with this. I have been reading FF now for years and when i first heard that one of them would die it shattered me. I am literally floored to see Johnny gone. But what destroys me inside is the iconic 4 symbol replaced with a disturbing 3 symbol. Not good at all. I just hope when they bring him back (which they obviously will) it will be something big to justify killing him off. The only good thing i can say is i'm glad it wasn't The Thing. That would have literally killed me.

      inlovewithcomics
      inlovewithcomics

      well, i'm supposing they're killing him off because they screwed themselves over by casting chris as johnny AND the new cap, but that doesnt make it any less hard to take. it was the sinfully wrong-looking 3 symbol that set me off.....i don't like it. at least instate frankie in johnny's place. And i will say this: i have ALWAYS hated the negative zone. it's nothing but EVIL.

      SpideyKid1998kk
      SpideyKid1998kk

      This was one of the best Fantastic four comic that i have read so far.This was really good Marvel GREAT JOB on this issue.But only thing i have is how long is he going to stay dead.Cuz Captain America stayed dead for 3 years so guess we will just wait and see.

      Timmer82
      Timmer82

      and the book is so juvenile anyway. ooh, ah..hey look, theres another alien octopus lookin thing we have to kill. how about getting some realism to this book. you want the kids to read that's fine, keep printing your super hero squad. older readers need something more real.

      Timmer82
      Timmer82

      HELLLO, would it be too much to have Reed die. Come on, the guy is annoying. He's been trying to "fix everything" since the end of the civil war,...how's that worked oout for him. and in every story somone has to remind Reed that humanity, life, people are NOT math equations. But, oh no, lets keep on reading and seeing Reed fail and fail and fail again.