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Death Becomes Them

The Fantastic Four is about to become the Fantastic Three.

Doesn’t have the right ring to it, does it?

Anyway, Marvel says that in issue 587 of the comic, one of the four — the Thing, the Human Torch, Invisible Woman, and Mr. Fantastic — will die, and, unlike previous character “deaths” that were fake or led to convenient story lines that involved them being taken to another dimension, will be just plain dead. From then on, the comic will involve the remaining three, plus “new alliances” and maybe new member(s). And they’re pulling out all the stops by wrapping the issue in a black polybag so you can’t peek.

Well, they got your attention, right?

Killing off regular characters is, of course, a time-honored tradition that results from one of a few situations: the writers can’t figure out what to do with the character, the actor wants more money and the producers want to teach him or her a lesson, that kind of thing. Sometimes, it’s established as a regular part of the action — “Lost,” for instance, although, technically, they ultimately killed off the whole cast — but there are a lot of examples. It’s rare, however, that a main, lead character bites the dust. The classic was Maj. Henry Blake on “M*A*S*H,” dispatched for good after McLean Stevenson quit the show.

And then there was the show that killed off the lead, title character but kept the actor. How do you get away with that? The show was “Nichols,” a western starring James Garner in 1971. Ratings were poor, and the producers decided that maybe the problem was that the lead character, Nichols himself, was the problem, because he was sort of an anti-hero — pacifist, money-focused, motorcycle-riding — and audiences weren’t taking to him. So they decided to kill him off in the final episode of the first season to bring in — seriously — an “identical twin” out for revenge. And they would have gotten away with it, too, if not for that meddling NBC, which canceled the show, leaving the “transitional” episode the last one.

But TV, and comics, and all of popular culture are littered with the bodies of popular-but-not-popular-enough characters who met an untimely demise. Remember them in the comments. And place your bets on which of the Fantastic Four is about to be significantly less fantastic.

Images: Marvel, Comedy Central

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  1. Tom says:

    I would vote Johnny because I believe that he is the only one who never died before.

  2. The Ginger says:

    Wow… I could do without Mr. Fantastic or The Thing. In the most likely of cases The Thing is the most expendable. All he does is provide the group with brute strength. How many Marvel characters couldn’t bring that to the table? However, in order to give other team members more motivation they could very well kill off The Invisible Woman. Being romantically involved with Reed, and related to Johnny, her death would be the most dramatic. I suppose, only time will tell though.

  3. Cass says:

    wasn’t Sue Storm killed off during the story arc of “Civil War”? granted all she did was whine throughout the entire series…so if my memory serves me correct…they killed of Sue Storm in Civil War and I was relieved because she was getting annoying..

  4. Cass says:

    wasn’t Sue Storm killed off during the story arc of “Civil War”? granted all she did was whine throughout the entire series…so if my memory serves me correct…they killed of Sue Storm in Civil War and I was realived because she was getting annoying..

  5. Gospel X says:

    I’ve never been a huge fan of the Fantastic Four. Something about the family dynamic turned me away from it. (Meanwhile, I love the family dynamic in The Incredibles.) I keep seeing the ads suggesting that there will be a Fantastic Three, and I think it’s ridiculous. Killing off any of these characters won’t do anything for the narrative. It’s just a shake-up for the sake of generating excitement for a book whose sales are dropping. Know who I think is gonna get offed? Reed. There are too many scientists in the Marvel Universe, especially now that Peter Parker has a pretty cool position in the science field. Reed is unnecessary. They played with the death of The Invisible Woman a couple years back, The Thing is the most popular and marketable character in the group (and just joined the New Avengers), and Johnny is probably the most interesting character yet has not been made to grow up yet. Yet.

  6. Brie987 says:

    I’m not to familiar with this comic but I somewhat know the dynamics of the team. I think Mr. Fantastic will get snuffed. There are so many directions they can go if he died. 1. Who will lead (internal fighting), 2. The big “How can we go on?!” (overcome emotion and find strength in loved ones thus fight stronger, blah blah) 3. Other super heroes come to them to “help” and all the mayhem this can induce. Yes Mr. Fantastic will get dropped and leaving the “youngsters” to fend for themselves. My2cents.

  7. sandchigger says:

    I’m putting my money on Johnny. While it would be interesting, from a story perspective, to see Sue die she’s kinda the heart and soul of the group and losing her would shatter and likely scatter the remaining members. Johnny, on the other hand, has always been kinda a dick and while his death would cause a great deal of emotional turmoil among the remaining members, it wouldn’t utterly destroy the team.

  8. My guess is it’ll be Sue, precisely because Marvel loves for its heroes to be sad, and so having a wife/mom/sister die off will be the best way to make all of its characters mopey.

  9. Psh. It’ll just be until they realize the series doesn’t work without that fourth character. Then they’ll bring back the fourth character as a villain who’s angry that he or she got replaced. Personally, I think Johnny’ll die though. He has a great power, but he’s probably the least emotionally “needed” of the bunch.