With next week's Marvel 2-In-One #3, writer Chip Zdarsky will finally send Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm - and incoming artist Valerio Schitti - into the multiverse on the trail of the Richards family and into contact with some new versions of classic characters.
Newsarama spoke with Zdarsky ahead of the issue's February 14 release, and though he would not reveal the ultimate fate of the Richards family (believe us - we tried!), he did call the tale of Ben and Johnny reconnecting his "weird little Fantastic Four book" - and hinted at big things to come for Marvel 2-In-One as the hunt for the Richards family begins in earnest.
Newsarama: Chip, now that Ben and Johnny have a mission, what's their next step? Where will their first multiverse jaunt take them?
Chip Zdarsky: Well, their first stop is a world that’s similar to theirs, but a diverged key event early in the Fantastic Four’s career changed everything. They're beginning their multiversal search for Reed, Sue, and the kids here, but as we now know, Ben thinks they’re dead and he’s been lying to Johnny. So who’s waiting for them here?
Nrama: The third major player in your story is Doctor Doom. What's his deal right now? Future solicitations make it look like he's going back to his old, villainous ways.
Zdarsky: He’s conflicted, for sure. Reconciling his new, heroic ways and his need for power and control is hard for him, and we see that a lot over the next few issues. The multiverse shows him what could be, for better or worse.
Nrama: Marvel 2-In-One #2 took a bit of a bold step by placing a year - 1998 - on a flashback scene. That lines up with the ten-year sliding scale of the Marvel Universe - was it a conscious decision to be so definitive? Was there any hesitation to timestamp the scene?
Zdarsky: Ha! Uh, I didn’t quite realize how big a deal that would be! I just figured a trophy needed a date on it, so I did some math and figured “1998” made sense. If we’re already accepting the sliding timeline, then I figured it wouldn’t do any harm. Maybe I’m wrong? Future scholars will decide.
Nrama: The solicitation for the next issue, Marvel 2-In-One #3, mentions a "mysterious woman" who might be able to help with Johnny's out-of-whack powers. Is she the character we're seeing on the cover of April's Marvel 2-In-One #5? What can you tell us about this woman?
Zdarsky: Yeah! That’s Rachna Koul, who was in issue one outside the event with Ben. Our guys are smart, but they aren’t “Reed smart,” so she’s the brains helping them on their journey. But she’s not exactly the selfless type, so what’s in it for her? Is she helping or hurting our duo?
Nrama: Speaking of Johnny, according to writer Jim Zub, Johnny was "vaporized" in a recent chapter of "No Surrender." Jim sends his apologies - but is this title, as he hopefully jokingly says, about to be "Marvel 1-In-One"?
Zdarsky: Johnny is alive. Who are you gonna believe? One third of the writers on Avengers? Or the writer of one half of Fantastic Four?
Nrama: Well... you. (Sorry, Jim!)
Artist Valerio Schitti is joining up on Marvel 2-In-One for the next few issues. What's your favorite thing he's drawn so far? Have you planned out how long he'll be sticking with the title?
Zdarsky: Oh, he’s awesome. Issues 3-5 are illustrated by Valerio and he’s created some amazing alternate universe versions of familiar characters. Issue #5 especially has some pretty big moments and he nails them. Jim Cheung comes back for issue #6, which is monstrously epic.
Nrama: Marvel 2-In-One #5 mentions the multiverse being in danger at the hands of two of Johnny and Ben's greatest foes. If one of them is Doom, who is the other?
Nrama: Given that Marvel 2-In-One is about the hunt for the Richards family, how long a run are you planning for this series?
Zdarsky: I have up until issue #12 planned out right now. We basically wrap up the Richards search by issue #10, and I have two more big emotional issues dealing with the fallout. That’s all I can say.
Nrama: The central question is, of course, will the Richards family be found? We know you won't spoil that here, but how do you avoid a series like this feeling like a prologue to something else?
Zdarsky: Yeah, no spoilers! I think, regardless of the outcome, the story is about Ben and Johnny, two brothers who have drifted apart, who need to heal their family. I’m striving, along with the artists, to make a big, fun, sad, exciting story that reminds you how you used to feel reading Fantastic Four. As we push through the first year of this title I don’t think people will be disappointed if I’ve done my job well.
Nrama: Given the chance, would you take the reins of a new Fantastic Four title?
Zdarsky: Given the chance, almost every comic creator working from Marvel would work on Fantastic Four. I’m no different! But I feel wholly satisfied on 2-In-One as my own FF book.
Nrama: We've already seen so many classic FF characters in Marvel 2-In-One. Can you tease us on anyone you're particularly excited to bring into an upcoming issue?
Zdarsky: We have some fun stuff coming up with The Mad Thinker! And there’s no way I’m doing my weird little FF book without dealing with Galactus.
Editor's Note: These pages include a new Marvel watermark ("For Advance Review - Do Not Distribute"). Marvel has authorized Newsarama to distribute/publish these pages. Newsarama remains committed to not compromising the artwork any further with our own watermark.