UPDATE Oct. 6 at 9:28 AM: Marvel has declined to comment on this story.
Following widespread rumors and reports, it appears Marvel‘s “Fantastic Four” series may indeed end in 2015. As spotted by Bleeding Cool, Hachette Book Group — Marvel’s distributor in the bookstore market since 2010 — has listed a “Fantastic Four Vol. 4: The End is Fourever” collected edition by current creative team James Robinson and Leonard Kirk, with a release date of June 30, 2015. The product description states that the book will contain the “Triple Sized Final Issue 645.”
This seemingly confirms earlier rumors and reports that Marvel was planning to cease publication of the “Fantastic Four” series, at least temporarily — with some accounts attributing the motivation to dissatisfaction with 20th Century Fox, who control the live-action rights to the characters. This past May, CBR confirmed with multiple industry sources speaking on the condition of anonymity that a hiatus for the property was indeed planned.
CBR News has reached out to Marvel for confirmation of Hachette’s listing, which reads in full:
THE END IS FOUREVER! Witness the closing act on the First Family of the Marvel Universe! THE INVADERS meet the FANTASTIC FOUR as the hunt for REED RICHARDS and the missing kids of the FUTURE FOUNDATION continues. Meanwhile the mastermind behind everything unveils his ultimate plan. But how does FRANKLIN RICHARDS factor in? And how does this all lead to…The END?! Collecting FANTASTIC FOUR #642-644 and the Triple Sized Final Issue 645!
The description text signifies a change to the series’ original numbering in the near future; the latest solicited issue of “Fantastic Four” is #14 of the current volume, scheduled for release in December. Writer Jonathan Hickman‘s acclaimed “Fantastic Four” run ended with issue #611, and the subsequent volume (primarily by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley), lasted for 16 issues — putting issue #642 for a likely release in January, with the “Triple Sized Final Issue” potentially in April.
The current volume of “Fantastic Four” has seen much upheaval to the team, including Human Torch losing his powers and The Thing facing murder charges. The current “Time Runs Out” storyline in “Avengers” and “New Avengers,” which takes place eight months in the future of the Marvel Universe, depicts the Invisible Woman as part of the Avengers and searching for her husband, Mr. Fantastic.
On the August 2014 sales charts, “Fantastic Four” #8 finished ahead of “Wolverine and the X-Men,” “Magneto,” “Nova,” “Black Widow” among other currently running ongoing Marvel series.
Given Marvel’s tendency to revisit concepts and restart series, even if “Fantastic Four” ends for a while, the odds are certainly low that the book won’t be published again in the future. Yet given the book’s status within Marvel — 1961’s “Fantastic Four” #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby effectively kicked off the Marvel Universe as readers still know it today — and the fact that it’s been a near-constant presence in that 50-plus year span, a period with no new “Fantastic Four” title would be a significant development.
Fox’s latest “Fantastic Four” film, a Josh Trank-directed reboot of the previous two live-action movies, is scheduled for release on August 7, 2015.