WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Marvel Two-In-One #3 by Chip Zdarsky and Valerio Schiti, in stores now.
Ever since the end of Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic's Secret Wars event, the Fantastic Four have been disbanded. Reed and Sue Richards have taken their children far out into the multiverse, where they've proceeded to populate it once more with multiple worlds and realities. The Marvel Legacy #1 one-shot verified that yes, they are alive, and they're taking their mission to heart.
But back on Earth, it's a different story. Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm believe Reed and Sue are dead, and they bear the responsibility of carrying on what the Fantastic Four always stood for: adventure and discovery.
In Marvel Two-In-One, we've learned it's not an easy road ahead for The Thing and the Human Torch. Both are plagued with grief, yet still seek to honor the team they once were a part of. As the two embark on a path to explore the multiverse and restore Johnny's dwindling powers, however, it appears Marvel just might be teasing a new lineup for the classic team.
At first, it seemed like the appropriately titled Two-In-One series would feature only Johnny and Ben, but now it seems like Marvel might be setting up two more characters to join them. The first of the two, Hercules, arrives early on in issue #3. Ben seeks him out in a bar while looking for answers as to Johnny's condition, and Hercules is quick to point them in the direction of the woman who managed to give him his powers back, once upon a time.
But Herc' doesn't just send them on their way -- he actually accompanies the pair, as both a friend and a guide. Instantly, Hercules demonstrates that he has a fun rapport with both Ben and Johnny, and his unique voice makes a jovial clash with the somber attitudes of the two other heroes. His levity brings about more levity, and his enthusiasm for super-heroics and punching is almost infectious.
It's when they arrive at their destination that we are introduced to the potential final member of this quirky foursome: Rachna Koul, an expert scientist who specializes in superhero genetics. Thanks to her job and a morally ambiguous personality, Rachna is filthy rich. She's also lacking in charm, exhibiting a to-the-point and pretentious approach to socialization, but she has the smarts to back it all up.
Rachna, a new character, made her brief debut in Marvel Two-In-One #1. She doesn't appear to be a throwaway, either -- Zdarsky appears to have big plans in store for her. In fact, after she agrees to help Ben and Johnny on their quest, she reveals her one condition for he raid -- they have to bring her along on their adventures through the multiverse. She's a woman of impossible science, after all, and she wants to see the mysteries of the universe.
The board seems all but set for Rachna to tag along with Johnny and Ben, and with Hercules present, it seems we have an all-new lineup of four ready for some fun new adventures. It would actually make a whole lot of sense for Rachna to become a member of the team, considering that both Thing and Torch (and Herc' for that matter) aren't the brightest of the bunch. They have brawns and firepower, but Rachna could really replace Reed Richards as the brains of the team. The Fantastic Four were always about science, and this new character could represent that very fact. And, on top that, there's also the matter of money. Ben and Johnny haven't got much wealth to their name, while Rachna has plenty.
Marvel has a history of shaking up the lineup of the Fantastic Four. From the team of Hulk, Wolverine, Spider-Man and Ghost Rider to Storm and Black Panther, there have been many heroes that became members of the Fantastic Four at one time or another. Why should now be any different? Johnny and Ben constitute one half of the team, and they have two new friends more than willing to explore and fight beside them.
For all intents and purposes, it seems like we have a new Fantastic Four on our hands -- that is, until Reed and Sue make their triumphant return to the Marvel Universe's prime Earth.