So now we know which member of the Fantastic Four bites the dust this week. I think this has to be one of the best kept secrets in comics for quite some time, certainly unlike the true identity of Monarch back in ’92, for example.
Now, I do not wish to disparage the story in any way, shape or form. The build up to this moment written by Jonathan Hickman has been skilfully executed. The story commenced in bite size chunks until the overall narrative came clear recently. There are some beautiful moments in this month’s Fantastic Four, billed as the last issue, that capture many of the dynamics of the team and family that we all know and love. I remember the heady days when this was emblazoned with the logo ‘The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine’, and never has that been truer than today.
Still, it is a shame that Marvel and the Associated Press could not keep their mouths shut until the issue hit the stands, revealing the identity of the casualty mere hours before the release. Just thirteen issues away from the majestic #600, and they plan to start with a new first issue? I think I can smell publicity, sorry, a mystery, I mean a mystery. Honest.
SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know who dies, stop reading now.
All four core members are in dire peril. Sue has been lined up as a sacrifice at Atlantean peace negotiations. Reed is attempting to save the population of Nu-World before Galactus destroys it. (The World Devourer is that angry, he’s not even stopping for a snack first!) Johnny and a powerless Benjamin J Grimm are facing a new Annihilation Wave threatening to emerge from the headquarters portal to the Negative Zone.
However, do we really think that Johnny is going to stay dead? We haven’t seen a body for starters. At the end of Secret Invasion, Johnny’s ex-girlfriend (and still his wife I believe), the Skrull Lyja chose to remain in the Zone to forge a new destiny for herself. What do you think the chances are she is in that Annihilation Wave?
When I first discovered comics at the age of nine, Johnny was my hero. Hell, I wanted to be him when I grew up! He better have access to that revolving door that is so popular with the mutants.
All criticisms aside, I cannot recommend this enough, as the status quo of Marvel’s first family is upset, at least temporarily.