I recently wrote about Fantastic Four
's imminent cancellation and the rumoured reasoning behind it. The rumour (and that's all it is to be fair, a rumour) is that Marvel CEO and largest Disney shareholder
Isaac Perlmutter is annoyed about the Fantastic Four film currently being developed by Fox
and as a result Fantastic Four
imagery has been taken down at Marvel’s offices, artists have been banned from drawing Fantastic Four
sketch cards, and the Fantastic Four
comic is being cancelled. I’m a massive fan of these characters and frankly, this all making me pretty nervous.
The book is currently being written by James Robinson and he’s doing a great job. He’s also promised not to leave a "bad taste"
in the mouths of fans when the book finishes, which is comforting to hear.
But here’s where it gets complicated.
Before I write anything else, here’s an apology. I’m about to exhibit a type of comics fan behaviour that I usually complain about when I see other fans doing it. I’m about to guess what’s going to happen in an upcoming comics storyline and then complain about it based on what is only pure guesswork on my part. Sorry, I’m a massive hypocrite.
Marvel have recently been running some kind of gigantic storyline throughout their Avengers books that’s being orchestrated by former Fantastic Four writer Jonathan Hickman. There’s also a big Marvel event going on at the moment that’s connected to Hickman’s story (I think) called Axis. From what I can understand, some of Hickman’s books have jumped forward in time 8 months and we’re not going to know how the characters got to the status quo shown in these ‘8 Months later books’ until after Axis. Feel free to correct me if I’ve got any of this wrong, I haven’t been buying any of these comics and I only know what I’ve been able to piece together from online interviews and articles. I have no doubt that these comics have been good (Hickman’s a great writer and so is Axis writer Rick Remender) but they don’t particularly interest me and y’know, you can’t buy every comic. In a recent issue of Hickman’s Avengers Sue Richards is shown, 8 months later, in a SHIELD uniform looking for her husband, who is apparently in hiding with the rest of the Illuminati, a group of Marvel geniuses who meddle with stuff behind the scenes.
My worry is that Marvel are going to appease Perlmutter by relaunching Fantastic Four as something that only vaguely resembles it’s traditional set up in order to differentiate it from Fox’s upcoming film. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fantastic Four has been through status quo changes before, and usually it’s resulted in good stories. But based on what I’ve seen from this ‘8 Months Later’ stuff I’m worried that the team will become some kind of SHIELD task force, led by Sue and comprised of new members, with a mission to hunt down Reed Richards. And while that book might not be a bad book, especially if it’s got the right creative team, it’s not a Fantastic Four book that I have any interest in reading. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of spy comics and SHIELD gets on my nerves, Also, while the book has experienced change before it’s always remained essentially a book about a family unit experiencing soap opera, superhero action, and mind boggling super-science, and that’s what I read the book for. Sue leading a load of spies after her estranged husband would be so far away from this as to make it a completely different book. It would be Fantastic Four in name only.
Fantastic Four hasn’t been a strong seller for years, despite some great stories from some top notch creators. Maybe the title needs a drastic change. Maybe all these rumours are bollocks and everything will go back to normal. Maybe everything will change but it’ll be great and I’ll love it. I suppose the only thing to do is to wait and see, and if my fears all come true then I just won’t buy it. It’d be a shame though because I really, really, really like Fantastic Four.
I am well aware that I’m being a stereotypical, entitled fanboy, moaning about change that hasn’t even happened yet. Normally I’d just shrug and remember that this is comics and everything returns to the staus quo eventually. But the Perlmutter rumours have made me nervous. As far as I know, a bad deal with a movie company and a billionaire’s spite are unprecedented reasons for a comic’s cancellation. If the rumours are true, everything’s different this time.
I can’t help but wonder if this time we really are seeing the end of the Fantastic Four.