|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.