January 26, 2011


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While I'm Thinking About It

Jonathan Lowell Spencer Storm, RI(t)P

You may have heard in the news that Marvel Comics (now a subsidiary of the Vast Disney Empire) recently killed off a beloved character with decades of history behind him. It was Captain America, back in 2007. And not only was someone else wielding the shield within a couple of issues, Steve Rogers himself got better and returned to duty just two years later.

Which is part of why I'm not terribly concerned about the death of the Human Torch in the newest issue of Fantastic Four.

They've been hyping the mystery of "One will die--but who?" for several months, since before the current story arc began. And even though they weren't giving any hints, I figured the smart money was on Johnny. Even beyond the fact that his current movie actor, Chris Evans, is set to play Captain America in a number of movies, there's also the following:

  • Back in the 90's, writer Tom DeFalco did a story where both Reed and Doctor Doom were considered dead by the world at large. It lasted two years, and ended when it was revealed that, nope, they were both just lost in time.
  • During Mark Waid's run on the title, Ben was killed off. Except that nobody, not even the characters, believed it was going to stick. In fact, the cliffhanger in that issue was how Reed was going to bring him back.
  • Mark Millar had a story entitled "The Death of the Invisible Woman." It turned out the Sue who died was from the far distant future, journeying back to the present with a relative handful of survivors of a ruined Earth. And Karl Kesel told another story where Johnny went back in time to prevent Sue from being killed, even though he knows that, according to the Marvel laws of time travel, a new timeline would split off from the point where history changed, and he would return to the present with his sister still dead.
  • Johnny's the only character who has never taken an extended leave of absence from the team.

Why yes, as a matter of fact I am a huge fan of the Fantastic Four. How did you guess?

Anyway, my point here is that Johnny had to die or people could (rightly) complain about Hickman repeating what other creators before him had already done. Plus, it's a comic book death. They're about as easy to undo as a slip knot in the hands of writers both skilled and hacky. They will bring the character back in time for either the next big anniversary issue, or the upcoming movie franchise relaunch.

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