The end is never the end in the comic book industry. In 2015, Marvel Comics ended the print run of The Fantastic Four. Poor sales were behind the cancellation decision. Rumors now swirl that “The World’s Greatest Superheroes” are set to return. The Marvel Legacy books recently debuted. These titles bring back older characters to team them up with newer ones. How could The Fantastic Four be left out of the mix?
The history of the superhero team definitely is intriguing. In 1961, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revolutionized comics by breaking every rule in the superhero book. Issue number one of The Fantastic Four hit stands and the bickering and flawed characters captured older readers’ attention. A 1960’s animated television series, the first of many over the years, followed.
Sad to say, The Fantastic Four did not age well. Other than the John Byrne years of the early 1980’s, The Fantastic Four books really didn’t capture imaginations. The team even came off as outdated compared to The X-Men and other heroic teams. Still, Marvel kept the Fantastic Four in print. Two hugely successful, albeit campy, movies revived The Fantastic Four name but the success did not carry over into comic book sales. The recent embarrassing, brand-killing Fantastic Four reboot didn’t exactly do wonders for the team’s sales.
Marvel choose to end the run of the title. Fans shed tears for the loss, but sales figures really didn’t justify keeping the book in print. Was there anyone who believed The Fantastic Four would disappear from Marvel forever? A newbie comic book reader probably would. Others know no characters disappear forever. Look at how many chances B-level character Moon Knight and C-level character Man-Thing have gotten.
The return of The Fantastic Four won’t mean much unless the storylines connected to the return are exceptional. Let us hope the writers and editors have something special in mind for the team’s arrival in the LEGACY books.