Though the cast of Marvel Comics’ “FF” and “Fantastic Four” titles have been all over our world and countless others, they haven’t lost sight of what’s truly important: family. In 2009, writer Jonathan Hickman began his run on “Fantastic Four” and immediately began tested the familial bonds of Marvel’s First Family by plunging them into an epic multiyear cosmic storyline.
Over the course of the subsequent three years, the family grew as it welcomed all sorts of new and young members into its Future Foundation and Reed Richards was reunited with his long lost father, Nathaniel. It also contracted when the Human Torch was lost in the Negative Zone where he was killed and resurrected multiple times. In the wake of the Torch’s disappearance, Hickman launched a new title, “FF,” which saw Spider-Man join the team in an attempt to fill the void left by his fallen friend. Recently, Johnny was reunited with his friends and family as the larger FF came together to confront a multitude of powerful cosmic threats.
“There have been various takes on Doom over the years; some are much more sinister and some are much nobler. If you look at your big time villains in the Marvel Universe; your Dooms, your Magnetos and even Galactus, someone will always write a redemptive story for that character. Someone will always write the story where the guy goes over the cliff and kills an entire town,” Hickman said. “It just depends on what your take on the character is. My take is that Doom is incredibly egocentric and an inherently flawed megalomaniac, but there’s a bit of nobility there and for some reason he cares for certain things a whole lot. Like his people, his nation and Val.”
The end of Hickman’s massive story left Doom in charge of a group of alternate reality versions of himself. The “Parliament of Dooms” storyline will be followed up on eventually, but Hickman’s final plans for “Fantastic Four” and “FF” involve revisiting some other ideas.
“Wrapping things up isn’t the right way to describe what I’m doing with my last issues, because I think it would be perfectly fine to end things as is. If I decided to walk away from ‘Fantastic Four’ tomorrow and the last page I wrote was Doom sitting on a throne saying, ‘Here I can build’ and then turning the page for ‘The Parliament of Dooms,’ I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. So wrapping things up isn’t quite the right term for what I’m doing. Right now I’m certainly open to revisiting a bunch of the stuff I wrote about, and I think I will.
“These stories are evolving and changing as I’m writing them,” Hickman continued, “but we’re locked into doing a Spider-Man-Johnny Storm roommates story. Plus, we’ll be doing field trips to Wakanda and the Negative Zone. I’m doing a two-part Black Panther story in the main ‘Fantastic Four’ book.”
Longtime fans of the character may recall that the Black Panther and his home country of Wakanda first made their debut back in 1966’s “Fantastic Four” #52, and Hickman is enjoying welcoming the character back to the comic where he first appeared. “He’s a pretty great character. Even though he’s not on the throne currently, he’s basically a king of a secret science city, which is right up my alley. So far he’s been really easy to write,” Hickman said. “There are a lot of reasons why we’re telling this story, and I can’t talk about a lot of them. The few things I can mention are that we’ve got some ‘Avengers Vs. X-Men’ stuff that needs to be sorted out a bit before we can get into ‘AvX’-proper. So I’m going to do a little bit of that. There’s also some mythology we want to revisit. And then there are the other things, which will have to wait.
“T’Challa, his sister Shuri, the current Black Panther, and his wife Storm are all in this story,” Hickman continued. “The whole thing takes place in Wakanda in the time between David Liss’ last issue and ‘AvX.’ I actually just reread a bunch of Black Panther stuff; the Priest issues, the Hudlin stuff, Jason Aaron’s ‘Secret Invasion’ arc, the Liss run and ‘DoomWar,’ all of which was a lot of fun. Honestly, what’s not fun about reading comics for research? Anyway, very cool stuff coming up for T’Challa and crowd.”
Hickman’s final “Fantastic Four” and “FF” issues will feature otherworldly and extra dimensional characters as well. “I’m going to do some more stuff with the Inhumans, including a one-off with Crystal and Ronan. I’m also going to do a Light Brigade issue, because there’s nothing wrong with a dude with a horse head and a giant sword. And then we have some other things. So I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what the last 12 issues of both books are supposed to be, the combined 12 issues, but, of course, I reserve the right to mess around with this schedule if a lightbulb goes off,” Hickman explained. “There won’t be any more arcs. They’re all really short stories; two issues or less across both books. They’re really just fun adventure stories, discovery stories, and character pieces.”
Fans of Hickman’s “Fantastic Four” and “FF” run still have seven months of stories left to enjoy before the acclaimed writer says farewell in October. “I think I’ve told all the stories I wanted to tell. It just feels like the right time to go,” Hickman said. “I certainly would not have minded staying on the book. I’ve grown to love the characters and I could have jumped right back in and done the ‘Parliament of Doom’ story for a year or so. But we’re doing ‘AvX,’ and there’s a lot of cool stuff that’s going to happen as a result of that. So editorial, management and myself all thought it would be a good idea for me to wrap things up.”
Hickman still has plenty of stories left to tell with the first family of the Marvel Universe so he hasn’t had much time to look back on his run on “FF” and “Fantastic Four.” When he is able to reflect on things, though, he’s filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
“This has been a really special gig. I still remember when (Editor) Tom Brevoort asked me to pitch the book and I turned in an outline a day or so before I got on a plane to a comic convention in Dublin. I spent a whole lot of time at that show hitting refresh and waiting to see what he sent back about my proposal. Honestly, it was a really big honor to be asked to be on the book. Looking back, I feel like myself and all the artists that worked on it really put our hearts into doing the best job we could,” the writer remarked. “I say this a lot, because I mean it; these are all very rich books with rich histories of creators of incredible pedigree having told amazing stories. So when you get a chance to write something like the Fantastic Four, I think you should attempt to write the Fantastic Four as good as you possibly can, as hard as you possibly can and with as much creativity as you can muster.
“I feel like we did that,” Hickman continued. “I think we put a lot into it and the readers got a lot out of it. And while I’m glad Marvel made some money on it, which is always awesome, I think the most important things we did was leave the franchise in better shape than when we started. Adding to that, the story mattering to a bunch of different readers, both young and old, I think I’m okay with how we’re leaving. I’m really not sure what else I could have asked for — maybe a Lamborghini or something!”
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