A new Annihilation event is coming to the Negative Zone – and this time, its usually- antagonist denizens are the ones in peril. With billions of lives in a hostile alien world at stake, who ya gonna call?
If you’re writing Annihilation – Scourge: Fantastic Four, you call in Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, and the rest of the Fab Four to delve into the realm Reed discovered and Johnny once ruled to find the source of the threat that could spill into the Marvel Universe.
And that’s exactly what writer Christos Gage and artist Diego Olortegui have done, bringing the FF back in contact with one of the most exciting, classic concepts from their Lee/Kirby days. Newsarama spoke with Gage ahead of Annihilation – Scourge: Fantastic Four’s December 4 release to uncover the mysteries of this new Annihilation event, how classic FF foes like Blastaar and Annihilus play in – and what confronting the darkness of the Negative Zone means for the FF.
Newsrama: Christos, the Fantastic Four are about to get wrapped up in Annihilation – Scourge. How does the Richards family come into this cosmic conflict?
Christos Gage: When there's a cosmic crisis in the Negative Zone, it makes a lot of sense that the FF would get involved, seeing as they have a portal to the Negative Zone in their house! But it's not just Reed, who discovered the Zone, who is important here...
Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, once ruled the Negative Zone after escaping the captivity of Annihilus. So, in a way, his old kingdom is under threat. And even though he was pretty miserable there, he feels a strong sense of responsibility to its inhabitants. So you'll see Johnny in a light he's not often portrayed in - and he's not especially comfortable in.
Nrama: What are the FF up against here specifically?
Gage: Something has invaded the Negative Zone. Something so deadly and awful that it made longtime enemies Blastaar and Annihilus team up against it - and they failed to stop it. And whatever it is, it's infectious. That's all I can say right now, but basically, whereas in the past it was the denizens of the Negative Zone attacking our universe, now they're the ones who stand to be wiped out - and we're next.
Nrama: The solicitation for Annihilation - Scourge: Fantastic Four is ominous - it says "no one ever truly comes home from war." How bad will things get for the FF?
Gage: They'll be forced to confront some horrible things - especially Johnny, who suffered an extended period in the Negative Zone as a captive, being killed and resurrected (since death is much more fluid in the Negative Zone) multiple times. (This was in Jonathan Hickman's run.)
Now Johnny is back with his family, again the wisecracking little brother, but his old traumatic experiences are coming back to the surface. All the members of the FF will have to look at dark sides of themselves.
Nrama: Your long time collaborator Dan Slott is writing the core Fantastic Four series. How does what's going on here tie back to that core tale?
Gage: We're keeping each other apprised of what we're doing, but we're also trying to make each book stand on its own. Regular FF readers won't feel like they have to pick up Annihilation – Scourge to keep up (though we'd love it if they did) and vice versa.
Nrama: You're working with artist Diego Olortegui on this one-shot. What's he bring to a tale of this cosmic scope?
Gage: He's amazing - great action, incredible versatility. He can draw endless Negative Zone aliens and you feel like each one has its own story! And he really excelled at some of the more horror-oriented elements of the story. I wish I could say more, but you'll see what I mean! It was amazing to see the detail in the pages as they came in.
Nrama: How does this FF one-shot tie into the overall tapestry of Annihilation – Scourge?
Gage:Basically, there's an Alpha and Omega issue, and then four one-shots. The one shots each tell a part of the story that begins in Alpha and concludes in Omega. It's like the structure of the old school Annihilation events, but with one-shots instead of limited series. Readers can pick up whatever looks interesting to them, but if you get them all, you'll read the full tapestry. The FF portion reveals a key part of how all this started.
Nrama: What's it like bringing the FF into a new Marvel event, just a year into their return to the Marvel Universe?
Gage: It's awesome! I haven't done a ton of work with the FF, other than the Fantastic Four/Spider-Man miniseries I did a few years ago with Mario Alberti, which was so much fun. But I love these characters and it's always a joy to write them. They started it all. You feel the history when you write the FF!
Nrama: What do you want fans to know going into Annihilation - Scourge: Fantastic Four?
Gage: You don't need to have read any prior Annihilation stories to follow this one. And each individual issue of this event tells a self-contained story too. So if you're a new reader, jump in, and I bet you'll be seeking out the earlier Annihilation sagas very quickly! If you're a longtime reader, enjoy!