The Fantastic Four have come back in a big way in 2019 – and their protégés aren’t far behind. Future Foundation, launching August 7, tells a multidimensional story of a patchwork team of clones, teens, Moloids, androids, and Yondu from the Guardians of the Galaxy wreaking havoc throughout space-time as they try to reassemble the Molecule Man.
Newsarama spoke to writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Will Robson about the new book, including a preview of issue #1 - and a few bonus pages from September’s #2.
Newsarama: Jeremy, Will – tell us the basic premise of Future Foundation.
Jeremy Whitley: The Future Foundation started out as Reed Richards’ think tank. They’re a group of geniuses from the younger generation that Reed thinks have the potential to be the next great minds of the universe.
But with Reed and the Fantastic Four back on Earth, the Future Foundation are out in the multiverse under the guidance of Alex Power. The mission is both to keep learning from the multiverse, but also to find the scattered pieces of their friend the Molecule Man and find a way to put him back together.
Will Robson: It’s about a team of the greatest minds the next generation has to offer. They’re all smart and they’re all super. What we are adding to the lore is the next stage of their lives and see how the team operates as an older unit. Jeremy has been cooking up some gold in terms of characters and stories, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into future issues.
Nrama: How did Future Foundation come together?
Whitley: Well, in the time that the Fantastic Four have been missing from the Marvel Universe, they’ve been out in the multiverse putting it back together after Secret Wars. Now that the Fantastic Four have returned to their duties on Earth, we wanted to find out what the Future Foundation have been up to in their absence.
Our editor, Sarah Brunstad, approached me to see what ideas I might have to bring this teenage super-team back into the forefront of the Marvel Universe, and we hatched what I think is a pretty big plan to tell a pretty fun story with these teen geniuses at the center of it.
Nrama: What's particularly unique/challenging about working on an ensemble book?
Robson: The toughest thing art-wise is fitting all the characters in the book. Not only that, but Jeremy has me drawing prison breaks and explosions and a multitude of battles. This is the most work I’ve ever done on a book! Looking forward to hopefully an issue of just Bentley and Dragon Man having coffee in a diner.
Whitley: I want to make sure every character gets their due. Obviously, you develop favorites – characters you relate stronger to or whose voice you enjoy more – but you have to make sure everyone gets their time to shine. We have so many stories to tell, I just hope we don’t blow up the multiverse before we get to them all!
Nrama: Who are the main members of the team here, and what role does each play?
Whitley: Well, as people saw in the story we had in July’s Fantastic Four issue, Alex and Julie Power will be co-leading the team. Accompanying them are their android mentor Dragon Man, Wakandan engineer Onome, mad-scientist and teen clone of the Wizard – Bentley 23, Moloid computer scientist Tong and her multi-talented brothers, mutant moppets Artie and Leech, and Uhari Prince and Princess Wu and Vil.
Oh, and they’ll have a few more folks along for the ride, including a blue-skinned space pirate by the name of Yondu…and a few other surprise guests you’ll have to read the book to get to know.
Robson: There’s Alex Power, who’s trying his best to take up the mantle as the team leader. Julie, his sister, who is far more capable as the leader but struggling with her own personal baggage on top of the tribulations of the team. There’s Bentley – my personal favorite – who probably thinks more than anyone he should be the real leader. Dragon Man – whom I call Old Walnut Head – who to me is the Gandalf of the group. He is wise but doesn’t assume a position of leadership. There’s Onome, the tech and mechanical genius, the Moloids, the aqua kids... there’s so many!
That’s probably half of this crazy big team. Oh, and Yondu who probably regrets working with these crazy kids.
Nrama: You mentioned favorites - do you have a favorite character to write/draw, or one you think will become a breakout? If so, who?
Whitley: Oooh, gosh, I want to give like six answers to this. I love Julie and I always have. I think people will enjoy Bentley, because he’s a ball to write. I’ve been thinking a lot about developing Onome, because she’s had some of the least on panel time of any of the group. Also, love my Tong. But I think some of the folks we haven’t talked about yet that readers will meet in this arc have the potential to become favorites.
Robson: I love drawing Bentley, he’s cocky and I can fully play with all of his expressions. Also love Dragon Man, any chance to draw big hulking dudes is always a treat.
Nrama: Tell us about the initial quest the characters are going on regarding the Molecule Man.
Whitley: After the events of the first arc of Fantastic Four, it appeared that Molecule Man had been scattered throughout the multiverse. The Future Foundation is on a mission to find those pieces and put them back together. The problem with that is, due to their incredible power, our team are not the only ones who want to get their hands on those pieces.
Robson: I’m a huge Dragon Ball Z fan – Akira Toriyama is a major art influence of mine which hopefully shows in all the aliens and the new costume design. This book to me is like Dragon Ball GT but in a good way. They’re off on a space adventure to find the missing Dragon Balls, or pieces of Molecule Man in this case.
Nrama: What will the characters be encountering over these initial stories?
Robson: Aliens, double-crossing, red herrings, lost characters, fan favorites... oh my!
Whitley: Every type of space scoundrel, murderer, and marauder in the multiverse are in this prison and the kids are going face-to-face with all of them. The Maker is just the start of the insanity that this prison is holding and once they get out, things aren’t getting any easier. Not everybody’s making it out of this first story in one piece.
Nrama: What do you feel makes the book unique among the other superhero titles out there?
Whitley: I take the pedigree of this book very seriously. There are only two writers who have written a book called “Future Foundation” before now – Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction. Those are two of the best writers working today and I don’t intend to be the one who drops the ball. We’re going big from the first issue and you’ll never finish an issue and not want the next one right away, I promise that.
Robson: This book to me is the X-Men of space. Young heroes struggling to find their place not only in this world, but on many.
Nrama: And who are some of the other antagonists they'll be facing?
Whitley: Would you believe me if I said Reed Richards? Well, it may not be the one they know, but one that comes in slices. Devious, dangerous slices that have no problem getting rid of a group of meddling teenagers that might get between him and his goal.
Nrama: How much does the book tie in with what's going on in Fantastic Four and in other parts of the MU, such as Runaways with Julie's ex Karolina?
Robson: I’d say quite a bit, the main arc of the story plays off of the past events established in those books and more.
Whitley: I think it’s a book that both borrows and interacts with a lot of the Marvel Universe without readers having to have picked up every other book to understand it. The team’s ties to the Fantastic Four are a huge part of the book and fans of Marvel’s First Family will almost certainly enjoy this book. And Julie’s relationship with Karolina plays a very large part in how Julie ends up where she is when we first meet her in the book. There are also strings that reach all through the history of the Marvel Universe…and certain other Marvel Universes in which the Fantastic Four have also played a large part.
Nrama: Jeremy, The Unstoppable Wasp dealt with some similar themes of science and young people working together. What makes this book both similar and distinct from that title?
Whitley: I think the link of science and kid geniuses absolutely ties these books together, but I think it’s the scope that sets them apart. In Unstoppable Wasp, the important stakes were almost always personal. There was danger, but what really drove the book was Nadia’s relationships with her friends and with Janet.
Future Foundation exists on a Multiversal scale. These kids trained to do superhero science under Mr. Fantastic himself. The first issue has them executing a jailbreak from a space prison, and it’s only going to get bigger from there!
Nrama: Jeremy, tell us what makes Will and the rest of the art team the perfect co-creators for Future Foundation. What do they bring to the book?
Whitley: Will and Greg Menzie are doing career-good work and I’m honestly knocked out by every page they turn in. Will was born to draw big weird space aliens and he’s doing an incredible job at it. And honestly, you can’t have a book this big and wild without an incredible colorist on your team, and Greg is really making these pages shine. Get ready for some rainbows and lasers, dear reader.
Nrama: And pure fanboy question: With Alex and Julie as part of the book, curious if you were a fan of the original Power Pack title.
Whitley: I love the original series! Julie has been one of my favorite characters for a long time and I think Alex has one of the coolest power sets. The original is such pure fun and I think is still a blueprint for how to make great all-ages comics even today! I’ve said before that when I grow up, I want to be Louise Simonson and I feel like getting to continue the adventures of the Power Pack gets me one step closer to that goal.
Robson: Power Pack for life!
Nrama: What else is coming up for you that you can talk about at this time?
Whitley: I have a story coming up in Marvel Comics #1000 with Irene Koh that I’m really pumped for. I can’t wait to get that comic in people’s hands. Also, in the next few months, I’ll be releasing the penultimate chapter of my creator owned series Princeless and finally dropping the collection of my “Date Night” story for Raven: Pirate Princess. As for other new projects on the horizon, folks will have to keep an eye out. By the fall, I think there will be lots of exciting announcements about upcoming projects I can’t talk about just yet.
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Whitley:I think by the time this interview comes out, Unstoppable Wasp will have either wrapped up or be days from doing so. I’d love to encourage people to check that book out. It has been a real passion project of mine along with the rest of the team on it. I think that’s a book that people will be talking about for a while. I hope Future Foundation is too by the time we’re done with it.
Robson: I hope that everyone enjoys what we are doing and hope that we can continue to bring you a fun comic every month!