Saturday, February 12, 2011
It’s Collaboratin’ Time: Spider-Man to Join the Fantastic Four!
Spider-Man didn’t get the kindest reception on Broadway, but in his Marvel Comics adventures he’s about to receive a much warmer welcome. The web slinger will become a member of the Fantastic Four – or, more precisely, join the surviving teammates of that superhero group to form a new team – whose exploits will be chronicled in a new series called FF, Marvel Entertainment said on Wednesday.
As fans and mourners know all too well, Johnny Storm (alias the Human Torch) of the Fantastic Four appeared to meet his demise in a battle with the minions of Annihilus, in issue No. 587 in January. In issue 588 this month, Storm’s teammates Ben Grimm (a k a the Thing) and Reed and Susan Richards (Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman) will reflect on their loss with some help from Spider-Man, and then the Fantastic Four series will be no more.
But no comic-book death lasts forever: in March, Marvel will publish the first issue of FF – which in principle stands for Reed Richards’s Future Foundation – where the heroes get snazzy new costumes and Spider-Man is invited to join the team.
Jonathan Hickman, the writer of Fantastic Four and FF, said in a telephone interview that these latest developments were all part of a two-and-a-half to three-year story arc that he had initially pitched his editors.
“The death of Johnny Storm is the end of a really long Act I and we’re getting ready to start our Act II with FF No. 1,” Mr. Hickman said.
Comics historians will recall that Spidey originally sought membership in the Fantastic Four way back in the very first issue of Amazing Spider-Man in 1963. Since then, his alter ego, Peter Parker, has shared a friendship and rivalry with Johnny Storm, and Mr. Hickman said he was attracted to the character “because he is a version of Johnny – a less successful, more trouble-ridden version, but a version nonetheless.”
Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, said he was recently approached by editors on the Spider-Man titles who had their own proposal for Peter Parker and Johnny Storm, not knowing of Mr. Hickman’s darker plans.
“They said, ‘They could be roommates together, this could be a cool thing,’ ” Mr. Brevoort recalled. “As it turns out, he’s going to have a lot of room in that apartment.”
Instead, Mr. Brevoort said, the new FF series, which will occasionally overlap with Amazing Spider-Man, will see the team “groom the next generation so they’ll be ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow.” He added: “Johnny’s death has served as something of a wake-up call. Nobody really knows how much time they have left.”
Marvel said the first issue of FF, written by Mr. Hickman and illustrated by Steve Epting, will be released on March 23.
Be sure to join us at Planet X Comics for our "Welcome to the FF Party"! There will be cake.