Gone but never forgotten, the first family of Marvel Comics’ is finally returning to their rightful place among the house of ideas pantheon of heroes.
Fans of the Richards family have been in a grim mood since the forced conclusion of the mainline “Fantastic Four” series in Fantastic Four #645. Adding insult to injury, the core of the Marvel Universe was further shattered when 2015’s universe altering Secret Wars event, which saw Reed, Sue and their children leaving the known galaxy on a quest to reignite the Marvel Multiverse (seriously, why was this not a book itself? It sounds amazing!)
Making matters worse, the whole of the Marvel Universe believed the Richards family to be dead, including Johnny and Ben. The next few years of storytelling were rocky for both characters, Ben spent time traveling through space with the Guardians of the Galaxy before return to earth as an enforcer for SHIELD. While Johnny attempted to find himself while serving with both the Uncanny Inhumans as well as the Avengers.
Fate brought the two back together in the pages of Marvel Two-in-One, from writer Chip Zdarsky. The relaunch of Ben Grimm’s team up book sent the ever lovin’ Blue Eyed Thing and the Human Torch on an intergalactic search for the missing Richards family.
Hints as to the Richards return have been laced throughout the Marvel Universe since the earliest issues of the “All New, All Different” relaunch, with the most direct non-confirmation coming in last summer’s Marvel Legacy one-shot, which gave us our only glimpse of Franklin and Valeria since the end of Secret Wars.
And now, after years of teasing, the publisher has finally announced that Marvel’s greatest heroes are on their way home. As a part of the forthcoming “Fresh Start” initiative, Fantastic Four will return to shelves on a monthly basis, starting in August.
Dan Slott (Amazing Spider-Man, Silver Surfer) will helm the book with all-star artist and longtime Brian Michael Bends collaborator Sara Pichelli.
This announcement comes as a double edge sword to some, as Dan Slott is known to be divisive and controversial writer, with his 10 year run on Amazing Spider-Man introducing many changes that were not well received, most notably the year long Freaky Friday-esque Superior Spider-Man, which saw the titular hero body swapped with Doctor Octopus.
A little controversy here and there can be a healthy thing in terms of generating discussion, but this is the second time that a divisive writer has been named to a fan favorite book. In the first wave of “Fresh Start” announcements, Nick Spencer, the creative mind behind the much-bemoaned “Hydra Cap” storyline. Does this move signal a continued lapse in understanding fan sentiment from the publisher? Or is the undercurrent of this newest initiative a call for second chances?
Whether it is “too little, too late” or another round of obligation-soaked hope, one thing is for certain.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR ARE HOME.