Which FANTASTIC FOUR Member is Dying in 'Three'?

No Overprint for FANTASTIC FOUR #587

The Fantastic Four is no more.

Well, soon enough, anyway. The ending of the currently unfolding “Three” storyline by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Steve Epting in the pages of Fantastic Four is purportedly so surprising that Marvel Comics is seeing fit to release the final installment, January’s issue #587, sealed in a polybag — a practice rarely seen since the ‘90s.

Given the title of the story, the fact that Marvel’s announced that the comic won’t exist in its current form after #588, and the publisher’s word that the end of the story means “one member of the Fantastic Four will have breathed their last,” it looks rather clear that one of the founding members — either Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch or The Thing — is not long for the Marvel Universe. In a conference call with press this past August, Marvel vice president executive editor Tom Brevoort said, “Everything you think that we would never do will get done.”

But who’s it going to be? Over here at Newsarama, we’re not specifically rooting for the demise of any of these classic characters, but since it seems like a virtual guarantee that one of them is ceasing to be in the very near future, here’s a case for sending each member of Marvel’s First Family to the great, four-color beyond.


Mr. Fantastic: Reed Richards has essentially been the main character of Hickman’s Fantastic Four run thus far, especially in his initial story arc, “Solve Everything.” Reed has been somewhat low-profile in the first three issues of “Three,” but given the meeting he had with Galactus in #585, it’s obvious he’s getting involved with something major, apparently involving his ultra-powerful son Franklin.

From a dramatic standpoint, it would seem to make a lot of sense for Reed to be the one to die, given that he’s had so much of the focus. In #572 our Reed tells a member of the “Council of Reeds” — a cadre of alternate dimension Mr. Fantastics dedicated to fixing problems throughout the universes — that he’s not willing to give up his family to dedicate his life to their cause. The alternate Reed responds, “You’ll be back. You always come back!” It would be pretty poetic if Reed ends up sacrificing his life to “solve” whatever issue that Galactus was talking about, right? (Or any of the other threats currently facing the team, including the prospect of a “Second Annihilation Wave” that surfaced in #585.)

A couple of things make it seem a little less likely, though. Mr. Fantastic was presumed dead for a stretch during Tom DeFalco’s run on the book, and though that was back in the ‘90s, it still seems a tad too familiar for it to deliver on the kind of pre-release hype Marvel has drummed up for the end of “Three.” More recently, Reed and the Invisible Woman took an extended hiatus from the team post-Civil War, so it’s not like readers don't have a good idea of what a Mr. Fantastic-less Fantastic Four looks like.


The Thing:  Thanks to the efforts of the Future Foundation, Ben Grimm is now able to return to his human form for about a week a year. He did just that in Fantastic Four #584, enjoying a night out on the town with the Human Torch and reunited with on-again, off-again girlfriend Alicia Masters.

It was a pretty heavy emotional moment — and it would be even more resonant if it ended up being the character’s swan song, rather than a promise for the future. The Thing is arguably the biggest fan favorite character of the team, so no death would pack quite the same gut-punch to the readership.

Like Mr. Fantastic, there are a couple of major issues with it being the Thing, though. He died briefly a few years ago during Mark Waid and the late Mike Wieringo’s iconic run on the comic, and it may be too soon to go back to that territory — especially given how beloved that era of the title is with fans. He’s left the team plenty of times already, being replaced in the past by Luke Cage and She-Hulk.

Plus, he’s a member of the New Avengers, and though that’s certainly not a dealbreaker for him dying in “Three,” it at least complicates things a slight bit.


Invisible Woman: Susan Storm Richards dying profoundly affects everyone else in the comic, especially her children Franklin and Valeria, who have taken a prominent role in “Three.” In Fantastic Four #585, she accompanies Namor on a diplomatic mission gone awry, calling to mind the storied history between those two characters. Though Namor’s busy in Uncanny X-Men and his own solo series at the moment, it stands to reason that Hickman isn’t quite done with him yet in the current FF arc, and what would set off Namor more than knowing something happened to Sue?

Like Mr. Fantastic, Sue has never been “really” dead in the Marvel Universe (though readers have seen a couple of fake-outs over the years), but we have seen the team without her before, such as when Black Panther and Storm filled in for her and Reed. Sue dying would be disastrous to the team and very likely a compelling story, but it might not exactly be a polybag-worthy shock.

And, in the “probably not really evidence but we’ll pretend like it is anyway” department, comments from Spider-Girl writer Paul Tobin have established Sue is planned to be an important supporting cast member of that title for a while. (Of course, that kind of thing could change at any time.) 


Human Torch: In a team of explorers, no one quite represents a spirit of fun and adventure than the Human Torch. Which is why he has to die.

OK, that’s harsh. But look at it this way — a dead Mr. Fantastic? The Fantastic Four already dealt with that. Thing kicking the bucket? Saw it. Invisible Woman no more? It was ultimately a red herring, but just two years ago readers saw “The Death of the Invisible Woman” during Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s stint on the comic.

Johnny hasn’t played quite a major role in Hickman’s run thus far as the rest of the cast, so his death may seem a bit out of nowhere — which could either be a case for him not being the one to die, or the definition of “false sense of security.”

Compared to his teammates, Johnny Storm’s never even taken much of a leave of absence from the team. Mr. Fantastic may be the leader, but he never had to put together an ersatz team consisting of Namorita, She-Hulk and the Scott Lang Ant-Man. Hickman clearly isn't interested in simply doing what’s already been done — check out his work on Nightly News and S.H.I.E.L.D. for proof — and there’s nothing that would alter the Fantastic Four, both for the characters of the Marvel Universe and the readers of the comic, than taking the Human Torch out of the equation.

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