Favourite Cover: Fantastic Four (1998) #64
Favourite Story: “Three”
Creators: Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Steve Epting (Penciller, Inker), Rick Magyar (Inker) and Mike Perkins (Inker)
Relevant Issues: Fantastic Four (1961) #583-587
I’m wary of treading familiar ground with this choice (having already picked “Forever” for my favourite Fantastic Four story), but I do love what Hickman did with the team. In “Three”, the writer promised to change the status quo, leaving Marvel’s First Family down a member, with one of them seemingly perishing fighting the good fight.
Being Hickman of course, things wouldn’t be so simple as to having the team lose a member in an all-out epic battle. No, instead he opted for a far more complex approach, pitting the quartet against different threats at the same time, meaning it was all out fan speculation as to who would die! Would it be Reed, failing to save the inhabitants of Nu-World from Galactus and finally falling victim to the Great Devourer of Worlds? Maybe Sue, caught in the midst of an ancient Atlantean civil war and struggle for power? What about Johnny and Ben, with the duo left alone to hold off the new budding Annihilation wave in the Baxter building, with Ben now powerless for day?
As it turns out, in a fitting moment of maturity, Johnny Storm stepped up, and forward, off into the Negative Zone alone to literally face the Annihilation wave alone, as his best friend watched, powerless to assist. It was a noble moment for the character, often known for his immature moments, to really take command of the moment, and make a difference. And as “Forever” showed, he in fact survived the experience, which no doubt has helped to make him a better hero – although I doubt it is an experience he’d ever wish to endure again, or wish on anyone.
Let’s just hope under a new writer, Johnny doesn’t totally revert back to his wholly immature ways. “Three” showed that when the moment comes, he is prepared to take responsibility.