Try to imagine a solution to everything; not just the problems of the world, or the universe, but everything in existence. How do we reach this perfect world? And what will it cost to bring that vision to life?
Since their creation at the hands of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, the Fantastic Four have stood as a monument to our limitless hope and imagination: a family bound together through a shared love of adventure. While the team shared countless stories over the years, taking them to the fringes of the unknown, even hope can start to dwindle over time. Decades of fear brought on by the information age would lead to a darker vision of the future, but it would be Marvel’s Civil War that ultimately fractured the four, with Reed Richards’ role in Iron Man’s regime driving a wedge between himself and his family. While talented writers like J. Michael Straczynski and Dwayne McDuffie would take steps to reunite the team, readers were still looking for someone to bring back what made them great in the first place: their desire to explore the unknown, and build the foundations of a better tomorrow.
This return to form would arrive through writer Jonathan Hickman, and a sprawling three-year run that would leave ripples across the entire Marvel Universe, re-establishing the Richards family as its beating heart. Pulling from the team’s past, present, and future, Hickman and an extensive team of artists, inkers, colorists and letterers would deliver a saga that would redefine the Fantastic Four, both as the world’s greatest comic magazine, and the family behind it all.
It Always Begins The Same Way…
Even the grandest stories have to begin somewhere, and for writer Jonathan Hickman, the story of his Fantastic Four begins with one man: Reed Richards. Arriving on the book in 2009 with little knowledge about the team, Hickman began devouring the book’s previous stories, where he found two major sources of inspiration: the FF’s dual identity as both team and family, and Reed’s transformation into a colder, more pragmatic figure. While comics in the early 2000’s had been embracing a darker tone for some time, Reed’s involvement in Marvel’s Illuminati and Iron Man’s pro-registration forces were seen as a complete betrayal both in and out of fiction, with the rest of the FF leaving him behind as his desire for a perfect world boiled over into an obsession. Countless writers would address this shift, with Straczynski and McDuffie having Reed and Sue rebuild their marriage while Mark Millar would bring back the team’s high-concept adventures. But for Hickman, Reed’s turn showed something deeper: a shift in his outlook from boundless optimism to something colder and darker. Something that Reed would have to confront within himself for the team to move forward.