SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Fantastic Four #1 by Dan Slott, Simone Bianchi, Sara Pichelli, Skottie Young and Esad Ribic, on sale now.
The Marvel Universe has felt a little emptier ever since the conclusion of Secret Wars, which resulted in the supposed deaths of Reed Richards and Sue Storm (along with both their children), thus irrevocably fracturing the First Family. Those left behind, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm, haven’t faired well. Ben has been working through his grief alongside his longtime girlfriend, Alicia Masters, while Johnny has been making his way through every excuse in the book to keep from admitting that his sister and brother-in-law might be gone for good.
Those conflicts, both internal and external, come to a head in Fantastic Four #1. Johnny gingerly takes steps towards accepting the death of his family, while Ben seems ready to start a new chapter. Johnny’s journey goes down in much the way you might expect (there’s a lot of hot-headed blustering and zipping around in the sky while on fire involved), but Ben’s path feels a bit more meaningful, as he finally takes steps towards cementing a family of his own. Fantastic Four #1 marks the moment when Ben proposes to Alicia, and it seems like Marvel might finally get the pair's relationship right this time around.
First things first, though. Matrimony has been in the air not just at Marvel Comics, but also in the industry in general -- largely to unfulfilling effect. Earlier this year, Colossus and Kitty Pryde were set to be married. Over at DC Comics, the same could be said for Batman and Catwoman. Neither plan worked out particularly well, though Rogue and Gambit did end up getting a semi-shotgun kind of wedding and then a honeymoon in space, so that’s nice. Still, no one could blame comic book fans for being wary of a new superhero proposal so soon after others fizzled spectacularly.
Additionally, it’s hard not to look at the relationship history between Ben and Alicia and be skeptical. First introduced in Fantastic Four #8 back in 1962, Alicia was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. She was first introduced as a tool of deception for her surrogate father (though she quickly threw off those familial shackles). Later, she was instrumental in convincing the Silver Surfer to leave Galactus’ service and fight for Earth, though that would eventually lead to tension between her and The Thing. In time, she would be replaced by a Skrull-in-disguise who struck up a relationship with Johnny Storm. Things got understandably weird when the real Alicia was liberated, as her feelings for The Thing had never actually waned, but Johnny was left with the ghost echoes of a relationship.
With such a strange, rocky history behind them, it would be reasonable to assume that Ben and Alicia’s wedding is destined to be a bust. Except, that’s not the vibe one gets from reading the comic -- which is just... so dang wholesome.