"The Fate of the Four."
That story title should tell you just about everything you need to know about what's coming from Marvel Two-In-One #1 in December. But there's more to writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Jim Cheung's revival of the classic Ben Grimm-centric title than just the first step on the road to the Richards family - even though yes, that's in there too.
In the story, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm will reunite to find the rest of the Fantastic Four - because Johnny just can't accept that they're really gone. Standing in the way, however, is Doctor Doom - who holds the secret to the Richards' return.
Newsarama spoke to Zdarsky about Marvel Two-In-One, including what it means to bring back the title in "Legacy," his favorite era of the FF, the surprise cameos he has in store, and of course why he believes Jim Cheung is the best Ben Grimm artist today.
Newsarama: Chip, Marvel Two-In-One is a classic title dating back to the 70s. Its tangible connection to “Legacy” is obvious, but what does it mean to be bringing this title back now, with Marvel focused on celebrating its long history?
Chip Zdarsky: Well, I think there are a couple of things at play here. One, yeah, the title itself is one we haven’t seen for a long time, so it’s nice that the "Legacy" initiative gives us the opportunity to bring it back. But beyond that, it’s the fact that we’ve found a home for two of the original, and greatest, Marvel characters: Ben and Johnny. They’ve been popping up all over the Marvel Universe, but rarely together. This is them as a team again, and that feels really good.
Nrama: The first arc of the revived Marvel Two-In-One reunites Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm – and of course it’s called “The Fate of the Four.” Will this story reveal what’s next for the Richards family?
Zdarsky: It’s Ben and Johnny diving headfirst into the mystery of what happened to them. The world presumes that Reed, Sue, and the kids are dead, but Johnny especially can’t accept that fact. So we’re heading on a road trip to find out what happened.
Nrama: What’s your history with the FF? Is there a particular era that speaks to you?
Zdarsky: Oh man, I can’t think of another Marvel title that’s had as many stellar runs as Fantastic Four. I was first reading comics in the John Byrne era, so those hold a special spot for me. Then I went back and read all or the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby issues, which were just mind-blowing with how much creativity filled them. Jonathan Hickman’s epic, the heart of Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s run, Matt Fraction and Mike Allred’s Future Foundation breath of fresh air - so many great comics. But, I have to say my all-time favorite run was Walt Simonson’s time-hopping, universe-hopping adventure, featuring my favorite Reed/Doom throwdown.
Nrama: Doctor Doom will also be a part of Marvel Two-In-One – and he has a secret. What’s he hiding?
Zdarsky: Well, unbeknownst to Ben and Johnny, Doom holds the key to finding the missing heroes. Writing Doom is insanely fun, and my favorite Marvel book right now is Infamous Iron Man, so it’s great to be able to play with what Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev have been doing with the character.
Nrama: Will any other FF characters appear in Marvel Two-In-One? Any surprise cameos?
Zdarsky: Oh, definitely. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this title is going to be pretty heavy on the FF characters, and FF-adjacent.
Nrama: Many classic Marvel titles are taking on their original numbering for “Legacy” - but not Marvel Two-In-One. Is there a reason you’re starting this volume with a new #1?
Zdarsky: People definitely have some fatigue around reboots, but Marvel Two-In-One’s been gone so long, I don’t think anyone will mind us having an issue one after several decades! Whether it switches over to “Legacy” numbering as we go along, I have no idea. That’s above my pay grade. Everything is above my pay grade.
Nrama: Jim Cheung is drawing Marvel Two-In-One. He’s drawn some pretty big Marvel moments. As an artist yourself, does that inform the way you script, or the working relationship you have?
Zdarsky: You can’t help but picture Jim’s gorgeous level of detail and knack for bringing emotion to life when you’re scripting for him. I think most writers know to play to their artists’ strengths, and I hope I’ve managed that with the scripts so far. I 100% had his work in mind when I wrote issue two and had it set on Monster Island. Who doesn’t want to see monsters and lush greenery drawn by Jim?
Nrama: Jim has drawn some major Marvel moments. What’s you’re favorite thing he’s drawn for Marvel Two-In-One so far?
Zdarsky: I think he may be the best Thing artist working in comics right now. It’s a hard character to get right, especially when it come to having him emote, so there are some silent panels of Ben Grimm that are just perfect and beautiful.
I’ve been extremely lucky to have been paired with amazing artists on all of my projects, so I’m pretty happy to see that streak continue.
Nrama: What’s next in Marvel Two-In-One after the initial "Legacy" story?
Zdarsky: It’s Ben and Johnny doing what the Fantastic Four always did best: exploring new worlds and universes and trying not to die.
Here's the full solicitation for Marvel Two-In-One #1, on shelves in December.
THE FOUR ARE NO MORE, SO TWO MUST DO! Something is very wrong with THE HUMAN TORCH and only THE THING can help him! It’s the Marvel Universe reunion you’ve all been waiting for (well, HALF of it, at least!). Plus: What monumental secret has DOOM been hiding since the end of SECRET WARS, and how will it completely change the lives of Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm?