WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Lockjaw #4 by Daniel Kibblesmith and Carlos Villa, in stores now.
Despite being one of the Marvel Universe's most important pillars, the Fantastic Four, aka Marvel Comics' first family, has been M.I.A. for the better part of two years. Ever since the end of Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic's 2016 event Secret Wars, the team has been, well, gone. Sure, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm have been making guest appearances in various titles before headlining their own series with Marvel 2-In-One this year, but the other half of the team, Reed Richards, Susan Storm and their children, Valeria and Franklin Richards, haven't been seen save for one brief, semi-appearance in last September's Marvel Legacy #1.
In the last page of the one-shot, the pair of young adventurers were seen roaming the spaceways, their family charting a course for a new universe to discover. Ever since the end of Secret Wars, Reed, Sue, Val and Franklin have been out in the cosmos, literally rebuilding the multiverse, and this page was our glimpse at their boundless adventures.
As Marvel fans count down the days until August and the long-awaited arrival of a new Fantastic Four series, Val and Franklin briefly make their return this week in perhaps the last comic we would have expected: Lockjaw #4.
The series has been telling the story of everyone's favorite Inhuman dog finding and rescuing his brothers and sisters, the last of whom was located in the Negative Zone, held prisoner by none other than Annihilus. With the help of D-Man (who, thanks to a special serum, is turned into a fire-breathing dragon) Lockjaw takes the fight directly to the evil alien. During the fight, as Lockjaw uses his powers of teleportation over and over again, D-Man, the Inhuman dog and Annihilus are transported from one reality to the next as they fight.
One of those teleportation trips leads the three to "The World Between Worlds," where we see Franklin and Valeria Richards conducting scientific experiments as part of their multiversal research. Nothing big or major happens -- the scene is pretty much just played for a hearty chuckle -- but it's still nice to see the Fantastic Four make an appearance, reiterating that they are truly alive, even though Marvel 2-In-One keeps hammering the idea that they are dead.
The two children barely react to the fight that's happening right outside their window, and it pretty much tells us everything we need to know about their current situation. Their work is still incredibly important, and the children are still children. We may not see Reed and Sue, but we don't have to; Val and Franklin talk a bit about their parents, telling us that they are simply off panel. Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman are hard at work out in the multiverse, and it's almost a good thing we don't see them as it will only make their big return this August all the more exciting.