A Conversation with a Non-Comic Book Reader about the Fantastic Three

 

“So what’s up with the Fantastic Three?”

“They killed the Human Torch.”

“Yeah, but what’s up with that?”

“Do you want the long answer?”

“That’s why I’m asking.”

“Okay.  You have to remember I’ve taken enough creative writing and drama courses that I come at this from the writer’s perspective.”

“I know.”

“Well, the Fantastic Four are a unit.  They’re not only a team, they’re a family.  As a team and a family, they have certain inter-personal dynamics.  For a writer, it’s interesting to ask, ‘How do those relationships change when you remove one member of team?’  It’s exciting to explore those changed dynamics.

“The first time they did this was in the ’60s.  The writer took Sue Storm off the team.  She was pregnant and she went on maternity leave, because that’s what you do when you’re pregnant.  She didn’t leave the family or the title, but she was replaced on the team by Crystal.  So you get to see how the team is different when the fourth member isn’t Reed’s wife or fiancée but a potential love interest for Johnny.  Eventually, Sue is done with her pregnancy leave and she comes back to the team and Crystal leaves again.

“The second time they did this was in the ‘80s.” 

“Who left this time?”

“The Thing.  He was tired of being over-shadowed by Reed. He’s not technically part of the family and he thought he could do better on his own.  He even had his own comic book at the time.  So they replaced him with She-Hulk.”

“Oh, I remember that.”

“Exactly.  So you get to see how the team is different without the Thing.  They’re maybe more of a superhero team but less of a family.

“The third time they did was in the ‘90s.  This time, they killed Reed Richards.”

“They killed Reed Richards?”

“Yes.  You know, the person used to just leave the team but that’s not good enough anymore.  Now they have to kill them.  So they killed Reed Richards and replaced him with Ant-Man.”

“Who’s Ant-Man?”

“That’s a whole ‘nother story.”

“Is he like Spider-Man but with the proportional strength of an ant?”

“Uh, no.  He’s more like an Aquaman for insects, except that he can also shrink down to their size.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, he was one of the founding members of the Avengers--”

“Really?”

“Yeah, Marvel didn’t have that many heroes yet.  But the Ant-Man who joined the Fantastic Four was actually the second Ant-Man.  He was also bit of scientist.  Reed had been both the team scientist and the team leader.  Now, you can hire a new scientist but that doesn’t necessarily make him the team leader.  Guess who became the team leader.”

“Who?”

“Sue Storm.”

“That makes sense.”

“Right.  So you get to see how the team is different when Sue is the leader instead of Reed.  You learn new things about Sue and see skills you didn’t know she had.  But eventually the writers explored that angle and, because this is comic books, they brought Reed back.

“So now it’s the Human Torch’s turn.  I actually wrote something a couple of years ago that this is a story they should tell.  Every other member of the team has had a significant absence.  It would be cool to see what the team is like without Johnny.  What is Sue like when she doesn’t have to worry about her younger brother?  What is Ben like when he can’t define himself by his rivalry with Johnny?”

“What happens to the team when the Human Torch isn’t the one rushing off into trouble?”

“Exactly.”  

“But he’ll be back in five years?”

“Of course.”  

Views: 447

Comment by ClarkKent_DC on February 4, 2011 at 9:51am
Five years? It'll probably be closer to five months ...
Comment by Luke Blanchard on February 4, 2011 at 9:55am
In the 70s Sue was replaced for a while by Medusa. In the 80s Sue and Reed were replaced for a bit by Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura) and Crystal.
Comment by Doc Beechler (mod-MD) on February 4, 2011 at 10:36am
If they brought back She-Hulk, I'd pick up the book again.  Well...if it was written by Dan Slott...
Comment by Chris Fluit on February 4, 2011 at 11:14am

In the 70s Sue was replaced for a while by Medusa. In the 80s Sue and Reed were replaced for a bit by Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura) and Crystal.

 

True.  And a couple of years ago, Reed and Sue were replaced by the Black Panther and Storm.  But I think you get the general idea.

Comment by Alan M. on February 4, 2011 at 11:27am
Five years? It'll probably be closer to five months ...

I'd say 13. Johnny dies in Fantastic Four #587. One more to 588, and then it relaunches as FF. Figure that runs just under a solid dozen, marking its year by re-taking up the numbering of Fantastic Four just in time for -- ta da! -- Fantastic Four #600!
Comment by Luke Blanchard on February 4, 2011 at 11:45am

Instead of replacing him, or doing without him, Marvel could bring Johnny back quickly in a changed form. I haven't seen anything tending to indicate that's the plan, but I think it's obviously the superior alternative, as the right idea could take the series in a satisfying way into a new period.

Comment by Doc Beechler (mod-MD) on February 4, 2011 at 1:53pm
Oh...those Dwayne McDuffie FF issues with Panther and Storm were much more than OK...I really, really liked his run.
Comment by Philip Portelli on February 4, 2011 at 5:25pm
I'd put $5 down on Fantastic Four #600!
Comment by Philip Portelli on February 4, 2011 at 7:07pm
Seriously, I'm hard-pressed to think of any major hero, Marvel or DC, who hasn't been legitimately dead, presumed dead, outright buried or considered lost at one point or another. I don't think Spider-Man has but I could be wrong. Amazingly, most of DC and Marvel's Silver Age rosters are still with us, except for Jean Grey (not the best example), the Wasp (declared mostly dead) and Captain Mar-Vell (who was just featured in Dead Avengers).
Comment by Rich Lane on February 4, 2011 at 8:08pm
Hickman is a writer with a lot of promise, though with rough edges.  I trust that the stories he does until Johnny's inevitable return will be worth the time.

Comment

You need to be a member of Captain Comics to add comments!

Join Captain Comics

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2019   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service