It’s been a tough time for fans of the Fantastic Four. Marvel’s First Family has been absent from the publisher’s recent comic book relaunch (dubbed All-New, All-Different Marvel) and last year’s film adaptation from Fox didn’t do much to help the Richards family. Now, it seems like Marvel is driving a pretty big nail into the Fantastic Four’s coffin.
Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort confirmed there will not be a Fantastic Four book lined up for 2016 at all. It’s a landmark decision that marks the first time in more than five decades that Marvel won’t have a Fantastic Four book either in publication or development.
What exactly could be the reason for this? If the reaction to Josh Trank’s film is any indication, it’s clear that fans want a good Fantastic Four story. Brevoort posits that readers consider the FF “stodgy, or old school,” and that the property has been taken for granted as an always dependable staple of the Marvel canon. Brevoort believes that taking away the Fantastic Four will help create an eventual desire to see the team reunited years down the road.
It’s pretty easy to claim that this is yet another tactic of Marvel’s comic branch strong-arming Fox; Fox still owns the film rights to Fantastic Four and the X-Men — Marvel famously killed off Wolverine, the most popular character in the X-Men universe, in 2014 — and taking these names off the shelves helps bolster sales of the characters that they do own (there’s a reason another Civil War comic is happening around the same time as Captain America: Civil War).
That’s not to say that the FF characters won’t be in the comics at all — both the Human Torch and the Thing are currently appearing in separate books — but don’t expect to see any incarnation of the Fantastic Four for a long time. It’s a shame considering how important the team is to Marvel’s history, but here’s hoping that absence will make the heart grow fonder. When we do get the Fantastic Four back (Brevoort says that they will “inevitably and invariably” return), here’s hoping it’s even better than ever.