Spoilers ahead for this week's Uncanny Avengers #2 and Secret Wars #7.
The biggest secret to Secret Wars might be what happened to the Fantastic Four's Richards family, and this week's Uncanny Avengers #2 and Secret Wars #7 might hold some clues - at least to what people think happened.
The Richards family has, so far, been entirely absent from the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe in both comic books and solicitations. Sure, Ultimate Reed has popped up in New Avengers as a villain, but he’s not the mainstream Reed Richards. As for the mainstream Reed, Sue, Franklin, and Valeria, so far, we’ve only had the most minor glimpses of their legacy, such as the statue erected in the Baxter Building in Amazing Spider-Man #3.
What happened? That's still unknown, but the picture became a little more clear this week.
While we don’t know what the end of Secret Wars has in store for Marvel’s first family, we can somewhat piece together their status quo. First up, we have our biggest clue as to the Richards’s fates yet, over in the pages of Uncanny Avengers #2.
Here, the Avengers “Unity Squad” is facing off against a villain calling himself “The Ragged Man” in the streets of Boston. Trying to compensate for the absence of Reed’s intellect, Johnny hightails it over to MIT to find some big brains to help curtail the plant creatures the Ragged Man is spawning. But they have some questions of their own, about Reed:
Immediately, Johnny is beset by questions from the MIT students – chief among them whether any of Reed Richards’s work will be published “posthumously.”
"Posthumously." As in, after someone's death. By all appearances, these students believe Reed Richards to be deceased.
This is the first indicator of what Richards’s fate even might be in the new Marvel Universe – or at least, the public perception of his fate. Johnny responds by saying Reed is “not around,” which may indicate that he knows something more about the truth of the matter.
Meanwhile, over in Secret Wars #7, there’s some heavy foreshadowing taking place. On Battleworld, Doom has erased all memory of his hated nemesis Reed Richards, while also effectively “stealing” his family for himself,
consorting with Sue Richards, and raising Franklin and Valeria – his beloved protégé – as his own. However, cracks are starting to show. Valeria, with an intellect her father Reed Richards has said surpasses even his own, is beginning to suspect something is amiss.
As this is happening, Reed – the Reed from the mainstream Marvel Universe – has, along with the Black Panther, has engineered a rebellion on Battleworld. But before heading into the next phase of their plan, Panther – the King of the Dead, in Wakandan lore – has an exchange with Reed that sure seems to indicate what might be coming.
Reed, as those riding into battle often do, begins to express his feelings about what would happen if he should die. Panther cuts him off, telling him “I will see you on the other side,” and “Death is just a different kind of journey.”
So what does this all amount to? Is Reed dead? What of his family? At this point, the only things that are certain are that Reed – and presumably the rest of the Richards family – are presumed dead by the world at large – and there may be more to that story. As for their true fate, we’ll likely have to wait until Secret Wars bows to find that out.