New Fantastic Four comic writer previews his plans for Marvel's first family
Marvel's flagship superheroes are ready for some new adventures.
As you might have heard, there's been a lot of buzz about the Fantastic Four lately. Following John Krasinki's cameo as team leader Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the FF's proper MCU debut is on the horizon — though much is still under wraps about all that.
At the same time, Marvel's current Fantastic Four comic (which has been written by Dan Slott since the team returned from a years-long hiatus in 2018) is coming to an end with issue #46 later this month. So what next for the superheroes that made Marvel what it is?
EW can exclusively reveal that writer Ryan North (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Slaughterhouse-Five) and artist Iban Coello are taking over the book with Fantastic Four #1, out this November. As usual when a superhero comic changes hands after a few years, the team will be going in a different direction: in this case, smaller and more intimate stories instead of big epics. The heroes will even be leaving their longtime headquarters in New York City.
"I had the advantage that Dan Slott's run went super huge," North tells EW over Zoom as he finishes a lettering pass on the first issue. "In the most recent arc, The Reckoning War, they saved not just the universe, but the multiverse. That made the choice obvious: I'm never going to go as big as Dan did, so let's tell smaller stories about the Fantastic Four. That was my way in."
North adds, "I want to do these smaller, self-contained stories in the vein of '60s Star Trek where they go down to a planet, find a weird thing, fix the weird thing, and move on. Having these four weirdos roll into town where there's a mystery or a problem or some sci-fi thing, solve the problem, and then move on struck me as a very interesting way to position the Fantastic Four and tell stories that would feel fresh and not like a retread of what we've seen before."
At first, the family will be a little isolated in this new series. Issue #1 will focus on Ben Grimm/The Thing and Alicia Masters, who finally got officially married during Slott's run. Issue #2 will catch up with Reed and Sue Richards/Invisible Woman, and issue #3 will feature Johnny Storm/Human Torch before they come back together. After all, as North notes, the book is called Fantastic Four, so he won't keep them apart for long.
"I love that they got married in Dan's run," North says of Ben and Alicia. "They have a very real and sweet relationship. Usually in comics, you have this relationship where one character is slated to be the other character's lover, they meet in high school and then get married, it's a straight line. What I love about Ben and Alicia is because they've got 60 years of publication history, you have a Skrull replacing her at one point, you have all these trials and tribulations over the years, which makes the relationship and their marriage feel so real and lived in. They have this history, and they don't shy away from it."
In addition to the interior art by Coello, this Fantastic Four series will also feature gorgeous photorealistic covers from legendary comic artist Alex Ross — who, as it happens, is also writing and illustrating his own Fantastic Four graphic novel later this year. For North, it's a full-circle moment.
"When I was a kid reading comics, I loved Alex Ross especially, and my brother would tease me about it," North says. "At the same time, I had just gotten my driver's license. In order to drive his car, I needed car insurance, and car insurance is expensive when you're a teenager with no income. I forget how this started, but my brother would tease me by doing impressions of me writing a letter to my favorite artist Alex Ross and saying, 'Dear Mr. Ross, I love your work, would you please pay for my car insurance?' He would relentlessly do this bit."
He continues: "I texted my brother recently like, 'You will not believe what Alex Ross is doing. He didn't buy me car insurance, but he is doing covers for my Fantastic Four comic.' That's a joke for two people, but this is all to say I'm super thrilled. He's a gifted artist, and the very idea that he'll be drawing stuff that comes from my writing feels like a fairy tale."
Check out Ross' covers for the new Fantastic Four above.
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