We are mere days away from the return of the Fantastic Four to the Marvel Universe in writer Dan Slott and artist Sara Pichelli’s Fantastic Four #1, and there are still secrets about what the Richards family and the Future Foundation have been up to since 2016's Secret Wars finale.
Given that it’s been a few years and the team’s various members have fractured in that time, Newsarama has tracked down everything you need to know about where the FF have been since the end of Secret Wars before they come back to their own title on August 8.
Reed Richards is the figurative head of the household for Marvel’s first family. It’s his absence that has been most heavily felt in the Marvel Universe – but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been there (sort of).
When it comes to Reed himself, the FF’s patriarch is the one most directly responsible for the Richards family’s absence from the Marvel Universe. He’s the mastermind behind rebuilding Marvel’s multiverse using the power of the Molecule Man, and the one who used that cosmic power to make the rest of the Marvel Universe believe he, Sue, and the kids were dead.
But Ultimate Reed Richards – a.k.a. the villain known as the Maker – actually did make the jump into the new, post-Secret Wars reality. Interestingly, the Maker’s master plan in the Marvel Universe also involved rebuilding the multiverse – though he planned to bring back the worlds that were destroyed in Secret Wars. Maker was a primary nemesis of Sunspot’s Avengers Idea Mechanics in New Avengers (Vol. 4) before the team took him down.
Maker was able to escape captivity however, thanks to his ability to inhabit the bodies of Reed Richards from throughout the multiverse. Teaming up with the High Evolutionary, the pair tried to use the cosmic being Eternity to “evolve” the multiverse, but were defeated by the Ultimates. His body was destroyed by Spectrum and the High Evolutionary, and he hasn’t been seen since.
As for the core Reed, he last appeared in Marvel 2-In-One Annual #1 in a flashback showing him wiping the knowledge that he and his family are still alive from Doctor Doom’s mind. That same story revealed that other Reeds from throughout the multiverse have formed a new Council of Reed Richards – with the end goal of eliminating the circumstances that led to Doctor Doom becoming evil.
Of all the original FF members, the Invisible Woman has been the least present in the Marvel Universe since Secret Wars.
In fact, since Secret Wars, Sue hasn’t really appeared much at all, aside from background appearances in flashbacks. Like the rest of her family, she’s just been chillin’ in Reed’s extra-dimensional space, helping to rebuild the multiverse and guide the Future Foundation.
Franklin & Valeria Richards
The Richards kids have had little presence in the mainstream Marvel Universe since the end of Secret Wars. Like their parents and classmates of the Future Foundation (more on them shortly), they remained in the pocket universe from which Reed Richards and the Molecule Man rebuilt the multiverse.
Last time the pair showed up, they were exploring the multiverse together in the pages of Marvel Legacy #1 - with Valeria potentially showing her ability to manipulate reality in the same manner as her brother, Franklin.
Along with the Richards family, the students of the Future Foundation (the FF’s incubator for students of super-science) remained in the multiverse following Secret Wars.
Since then, they’ve largely been absent, appearing only rarely as background characters. Artie, Leech, Alex Power, Bentley, Onome, Dragon Man, and the rest are technically still lost in space – so here’s hoping they make a comeback along with their adult supervision.
Unlike his sister and brother-in-law, Johnny Storm never left the Marvel Universe. Like Doom and everyone else, Johnny was left believing his family had perished and left the idea of the FF behind. Despite the end of the Fantastic Four, Johnny continued being the Human Torch working alongside the Avengers Unity Squad in Uncanny Avengers and even living alongside the Inhumans while dating Medusa for a time (she eventually reunited with Black Bolt).
Johnny also had a brief falling out with his best friend Peter Parker, who purchased the FF’s headquarters the Baxter Building while he was CEO of Parker Industries. However, Peter’s company failed and the building was sold again.
Lately, Johnny and Ben Grimm have been traversing the multiverse looking for the Richards family – though both Johnny recently discovered the journey was started under false pretenses (more on that in a minute). In the meantime, their powers have been fading, due to their distance from the rest of the FF.
Like Johnny Storm, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing was left alive in the Marvel Universe, believing his family to be dead following Secret Wars. Also like Johnny, Ben left the idea of the FF behind when the Richards family “died.”
Unlike Johnny however, Ben didn’t stick around on Earth after Secret Wars. Instead, he joined the Guardians of the Galaxy for a jaunt around the universe, coming home only when Captain Marvel enlisted the Guardians to fight Iron Man in Civil War II. From there, Ben started working with S.H.I.E.L.D. to monitor and track Victor Von Doom, who began operating as Iron Man following Tony Stark entering a coma in Civil War II.
In recent months, Ben and Johnny Storm have been on an adventure through the multiverse trying to find Reed and Sue Richards, based on information gained from a device given to Ben by Doom, in which Reed left a message for his surviving family members to continue exploring in the event of his death.
Still believing Reed, Sue and the kids to be dead, Ben “lied” to Johnny about looking for the Richards family in the multiverse – with Johnny having just recently discovered Ben’s ruse (though neither one of them has discovered the Richards family actually are alive just yet).
The story continues August 8 with the launch of Fantastic Four.