I decided, after enjoying Jonathan Hickman’s work leading up to Secret Wars (you know, that thing I did that series of near-Wikipedia entries on), to go back and read through what was by all accounts an equally epic Fantastic Four run.
Yesterday as I type this, I read the trade that included the “death” of Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. Yeah, even if I didn’t know he was coming back, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Hickman’s story had the Four basically break into three groups.
Reed goes into space with Galactus to Nu-Earth since the denizens of that world, people from the future, killed Galactus in their time to travel back in time to get to the present. It’s complicated and a leftover Mark Millar storyline.
Sue goes to negotiate terms between Namor and a recently discovered lost city of Atlantis. That storyline reminded me of all the reasons why I really don’t like Namor.
And Ben and Johnny stay behind with the growing brood of kids at the Baxter Building. The kids are varying degrees of geniuses, and managed to find a formula to give Ben one week a year as a normal human. Ben took it, and Johnny showed him a good time by taking him places where people, for once, would not recognize him.
But, you know, it wouldn’t be a weekend at the Baxter Building without a major threat showing up. Annihilus is looking to cause trouble and sends some of his hive-minded insect men to infiltrate the Baxter Building and open the portal to the Negative Zone so a new Annihilation Wave can come through and kill everything like it tends to do.
Which basically means the portal’s being guarded by a bunch of genius kids, some with superpowers, a depowered Ben Grimm, and the Human Torch.
Well, the portal gets sabotaged, and someone has to stay behind on the Negative Zone side to make sure it stays closed. Johnny shoves Ben through the portal just as it closes and the last time we see him, he’s being overwhelmed by the Annihilation Wave. He’s dead, right?
Well, the characters clearly think so, but seeing a mass of insect men swarm over the guy on fire wasn’t enough to convince me. Yes, I read this with hindsight knowing he gets better later, but there was no body.
Even Annihlius showing Johnny’s tattered shirt to Reed through the portal didn’t convince me.
So, Hickman did the “temporary replacement” team-member with Spider-Man, and eventually they found Johnny alive in the Negative Zone. What a surprise.
No body makes it easier to bring someone like that back.
I will say that there was one cool thing in the aftermath issue. Spider-Man showed up to take Franklin out and have a good chat about losing a beloved uncle. I like that sort of thing.
But, really, next time make the death more convincing.