It has been known for a while but now it's 100 percent: the Fantastic Four are getting benched, at least when it comes to Marvel's comics.
The conclusion of Marvel's long-delayed Secret Wars event is to blame. If you don't want spoilers for Secret Wars #9, best turn back now.
After a climactic showdown between Reed Richards and Dr. Doom, Richards and his family, including Sue and their two children Franklin and Valeria, are outside of reality. Richards takes it upon himself to recreate the universe destroyed by the events leading up to Secret Wars. He tells his family "No more superheroes for a while, just science. And no more Mister Fantastic. Just dad. That doesn't sound too bad, does it?"
While members of the Fantastic Four will still be seen in other Marvel comics (for example, The Thing has joined the Guardians of the Galaxy), the comic giant says not to expect a new Fantastic Four book anytime soon thanks to Richard and Sue being absent.
It has long been rumored that Marvel sought to shelve the Fantastic Four due to the fact that Fox owned the film right's to the characters, but in a new interview with CBR, Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort says that is far from the case.
"It's a shelf in that the Fantastic Four as a unit are now split up. Ben and Johnny are in "Guardians," "Inhumans" and "Uncanny Avengers," and there isn't a "Fantastic Four" title," Brevoort says. "None of these characters are dead, though. Therefore, the future will inevitably and invariably get to a point where we'll see more of Reed, Sue, Franklin, Val, Dragon Man and the Future Foundation. We will get to that point. I don't know that we'll get to it quickly. Maybe we will. Maybe we won't. Hopefully we'll get to it when you least expect it so their reappearance on the Marvel stage can have some resonance to it."
Secret Wars writer Jonathan Hickman also chimes in on the idea that Marvel would do away with such classic character's solely because of movie rights.
"I think at the end of the day, the idea of one of the best franchises that Marvel has never appearing again is ridiculous," Hickman says. "Why would you not want more of that at some point?"
Brevoort says in the interview that while it wasn't their original intention to make Secret Wars the "final Fantastic Four" story, that's what ending up happening, in part because interest in Fantastic Four has waned in recent years.
""Fantastic Four" has been one of those books that, for a number of years, has been effectively taken for granted," he says. "It's been considered stodgy, or old school, or some people see it as a thing that's there and people are comfortable because it's there, but they're not particularly passionate about it.
"So we're not going to have that book for a while. We didn't have a Thor book for a while. We did "Avengers Disassembled" and Thor went away. For a couple of years, there was absolutely no Thor book, and when Thor came back, it was a huge book. It continues to be a huge book to this day. I think that absence was part of what made people cherish its return, and then it was just having great talent to execute that return. If the same sort of thing happens with Fantastic Four that would not be the worst thing in the world."
While the Fantastic Four might be absent for the near future, this is comics we are talking about. Characters come and go, die and resurrect, constantly. It's only a matter of time before Reed Richards and Sue Storm return from their interdimensional, galaxy-building adventure, and when they do, more than a few Marvel fans will be happy to see them. Just don't expect to see them anytime soon.