The Marvel Universe has endured a tumultuous two and a half years without the Fantastic Four: There was a second superhero civil war and a brainwashed Captain America taking over the country, for starters. Thankfully, the long-awaited return of Marvel’s avatars of hope and progress — Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), Sue Storm (Invisible Woman), Ben Grimm (the Thing), and Johnny Storm (Human Torch) — is imminent. The new Fantastic Four series, written by Dan Slott (Silver Surfer, Amazing Spider-Man) with artist Sara Pichelli (Spider-Man), will deliver everything fans have been clamoring for since January 2016 — and EW has your exclusive first look at the first two pages below.
“It will be very cosmic-y and very big,” says Slott. “There will be completely different dynamics in the family, but it’s going to be a family you know and love going in new ways.”
Check out an exclusive first look at the pages below:
The last time we saw the Fantastic Four was during 2015’s universe-shattering event Secret Wars, which ended with Reed, Sue, their children Valeria and Franklin, and the Future Foundation venturing off to rebuild the multiverse after its destruction while Ben and Johnny went on to join the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Inhumans, respectively. In the wake of Secret Wars, Marvel decided to wait a while before allowing anyone else to touch the characters out of respect for writer Jonathan Hickman, who had just concluded a multi-year story with the family, and because the Powers that Be wanted to see what Marvel Universe looked like without them. However, when editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski took over in the fall, he made reviving the team a priority and thought the “Fresh Start” initiative was the time to do it.
“The guidelines that we were looking at when I came in were: new series, new creative teams, new directions, and new beginnings. Just the fact that we have four tenets alone was kind of telling,” Cebulski tells EW. “When we looked at the line and the books we could be changing up, so to speak — from Captain America to Amazing Spider-Man, to what we’re doing with Captain Marvel — it just felt like there was a hole. In speaking with [editor] Tom Brevoort, we knew that hole was the Fantastic Four.”
When Fantastic Four #1 begins, the Thing and Human Torch, the current stars of Marvel’s Two-in-One, are living in a world without Reed and Sue. That’s why they’re particularly surprised to see the Fantastic Four signal — the original one featured in the family debut 1961 comic from creators Jack Kirby and Stan Lee — in the sky in the pages above. However: “Something happens within the very first issue that, the minute you see it, you’ll know this is something that will change the fabric of the Fantastic Four,” says Slott, promising we’ll learn more about Reed and Sue’s adventures. “Their lives haven’t been in amber. They’ve been going forward, exploring and meeting new friends, and finding new enemies.”
Although Slott was hesitant to share much than that, he did reveal that the Fantastic Four would not be returning to the iconic Baxter Building seeing as Peter Parker bought it and lost in Slott’s run Amazing Spider-Man. “There will be a new place where the FF will setup shop. It’s something you haven’t seen before in an FF comic, but the minute you see it, it’s gonna feel the most FF-ish thing in the world,” says Slott, adding that he’s very excited for fans to see Pichelli’s art, too. “I love all of the moments between people. Sara’s characters are so real and we feel everything they feel. No Sara character has a poker face.”
For sure, Marvel’s plans for its First Family extend beyond this series. Not only will the quartet help restore a sense of community to the Marvel Universe, but they will also play a major role in the publisher’s future. “The stories we could tell with the Fantastic Four back as part of the larger Marvel Universe opened us up to so many more possibilities just to have fun with the other plans we have for the rest of 2018 and especially 2019,” says Cebulski. “The return will be making its presence felt across a lot of different books as we go forward.”
Fantastic Four #1 hits stands Aug. 8.