What is going on with the Fantastic Four?
For the last few weeks, Marvel has been teasing that something will be happening with the Fantastic Four/Future Foundation characters in November.
They’ve released a series of four images, so far, which culminated this weekend in an announcement of the taking back up of the Fantastic Four line.
The first image just depicted a giant "4" floating in space and the words "November 2011," then this image of the current team came soon after:
This is the Future foundation in their bright and shiny new outfits. Their line doesn’t seem to be really interesting to readers so far, if the sales are any indication, but seeing this image, I think means that there is no plan to cut the line.
The second image was a modern stylized version of the original Fantastic Four Team:
It’s an apparent wrap-around cover. Seeing the characters in these old costumes, and with the Human Torch apparently still alive, leads some to speculate the series is being rolled back - to a point in timer before all the recent changes occurred.
Then we most recently recieved this one, which looks like an older illustration style and more like the classic team. It even boasts Spidey in his old costume.
Most interestingly, it has the #600 on it, indicating the cancelled Fantastic Four line may be returning with new issues in November. It came alongside an announcement that Fantastic Four #600 would be released this November as a quadruple issue.
How does that relate to the other teased images, then? This is just a guess, but I think it means Marvel may be splitting the Fantastic Four universe - with each of the three images representing one of the lines the characters will be featured in.
How canon the lines will be is anyone’s guess, but I think it would be a huge mistake to bring back the Human Torch in the canon Marvel Universe story. Comics are only just starting to get away from the idea that the fans who complain about changes are the ones in charge of the stories, and that canons and continuities are so muddy that they’re not worth following for anyone but the closest in.
DC is even relaunching its entire line-up, just to unmuddy all of their various canons. Resurrecting this character due to fan outcry (a vocal minority, I assure you) would be a huge blow to the new credibility that is starting to form around comicbooks, and would be one more piece of evidence that while Marvel is making the best films these days, DC is way out in front in terms of quality books.