Thursday, January 06, 2011

Fantastic Three

Marvel has announced that they will kill a founding member of the Fantastic Four. They have not said which character. I'm going to make an educated guess.

I think that they will kill the Johnny Storm, Human Torch. There are several reasons.

The biggest reason is the novelty.

Reed and the Thing have been killed before. Sue and the Thing have each left for extended periods for other reasons. There has not been an extended plotline with the Torch missing and the other three still there.

There are other considerations. When Reed was dead, it really changed the dynamics of the team. I don' t think that the title could survive without him.

The kids are an integral part of the comic. that makes Sue indispensable. I don't see Marvel leaving them motherless and the prospect of Reed trying to raise two kids as a single dad are frightening.

The Thing is a popular character. He has had his own solo book and a team-up book. Killing him would affect long-term sales of the FF. Again, there is the novelty factor. Ben left the group for years in the 1980s and was replaced by She-Hulk.

The Torch is no longer unique. Both the Golden Age Human Torch and his sidekick Toro have been revived. The fact that Marvel ran a book called "The Human Torch" that did not star Johnny Storm is a bad omen.

As a character, the Torch stopped growing in the 1990s. The movies showed him as a jerk and the comic book version seemed to become younger and less mature to match the movie version.

The Torch's characterization has changed dramatically since the days of Lee and Kirby. Back then he was easily the most powerful and versatile member (not counting the time a small dinosaur knocked a flower vase on him and doused his flame). When Doctor Doom stole the Silver Surfer's power, the Torch took him on single-handed. He lost but the off-screen battle caused miles of devastation.

When John Byrne took over the book and the Thing took an extended leave of absence, Johnny started a romance with the Thing's girlfriend, Alicia. They eventually married. Later writers hated the idea so it turned out that "Alicia" was actually a Skrull named Lyja. The two developed an interesting relationship until the comic was rebooted as part of the Onslaught story arc. Lyja was forgotten after that until the Skrull invasion.

In the 1990s there was a special embossed cover of the Fantastic Four showing the Torch using his nova-strength flame and melting a good portion of Empire State University.

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