In the latest issue (No. 587) of the Fantastic Four, out today, Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, heroically dies in battle.
He leaves three teammates – the Invisible Woman (his sister), Mr. Fantastic (his brother-in-law), and the Thing (his best friend) – to pick up the pieces of Marvel Comics’ first family. Even though you know this death will not be permanent (superheroes almost always return), this is quite the event since the character has been around for 50 years.
It was in 1961 that Fantastic Four, issue No. 1 debuted, created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the masterminds of Marvel. This was the beginning of the "Marvel Age," which grew from a small operation to a pop culture powerhouse. The Fantastic Four were soon followed by the introduction of Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, and the Hulk.
In a statement released by Marvel Comics, writer Jonathan Hickman says the death-of-the-Human-Torch storyline has been in the works for a few years and will lead to a new comic book just called "‘FF" in March. The next issue in February will end the old Fantastic Four series with the three remaining members disbanding.
That will leave us to wonder about the next incarnation of the Fantastic Four. Will it be one new member or a whole new cast?
The team has had replacements before with superheroes Luke Cage, She-Hulk, Storm, the Black Panther, and the "Inhumans" – Crystal and Medusa – just to name a few.