R. I. P. Johnny Storm AKA Human Torch (1961 – 2011)

Posted by Grey Thursday, January 27, 2011

Death in Marvel's First Family! Johnny Storm, better-known as the flamboyant Human Torch of Fantastic Four turns the flame for the last time in his final stand against a seemingly endless horde of creatures from Negative Zone!

Jonathan Lowell Spencer "Johnny" Storm, better-known to the general public as the Human Torch of Marvel's First Family, Fantastic Four, was killed in Fantastic Four #587, released yesterday. First appeared in Fantastic Four #1, published in November 1961, Johnny Storm (Human Torch), along with his sister Sue Storm (the Invisible Girl, who eventually got married and change her moniker to the Invisible Woman), his brother-in-law, Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), and his long-time rival-cum-best friend, Ben Grimm (the Thing), has enjoyed tremendous popularity for almost half a century as the Fantastic Four.

Several months ago, it was made known to the readers that one members of the Fantastic Four would meet his or her demise at the conclusion of "Three", the current story arc that cleverly places all four member of the team in dire peril respectively. After months of speculations from fans and pundit (an internet betting were actually on with The Invisible Woman topping the bet with a 1/1 odd) as well major media attention, Fantastic Four #587, depicting the conclusion of "Three", were published yesterday.

Written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Steve Epting, this issue saw Reed, accompanied by Ted Castle and Alyssa Moy-Castle, in a mission to rescue inhabitants from the artificial planet known as Nu-World from being devoured by Galactus, while Sue is in New Atlantis to negotiate peace between Tribes of Old Atlantis and Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. It is at this moment, the Cult of the Other Side of Zero breaches the portal to the Negative Zone, and unleashes an seemingly endless wave of Annihilus's insectoid soldiers upon Baxter Building with Johnny and a powerless Ben to protect Reed and Sue's young children, Franklin and Valeria.

In a final stand, Johnny made a last stand to protect Ben and the children by shutting them at the other end of the portal.

The official press release from Marvel, courtesy of ComicBookResources:

“FLAME OFF!” In a move sure to shock comic fans worldwide, Marvelunveiled that its ever popular super hero the Human Torch will meet his demise and die heroically in Fantastic Four #587, hitting stores tomorrow (Wednesday, January 26th). Concluding the “Three” storyline that captivated the mainstream media and industry press alike, this issue and the death of such a renowned character from the First Family of comics signals the beginning of major changes for the Marvel Universe as the Fantastic Four lose one of their founding members.

“Jonathan Hickman [writer of Fantastic Four] came to us two years ago with a vision for evolving the characters and concepts introduced to fans 50 years ago in Fantastic Four #1 – and quite frankly his vision blew us away,” said Tom Brevoort, Marvel Entertainment SVP of Publishing. “The death of the Human Torch is the first major move in this incredibly exciting evolution of the legendary Fantastic Four franchise and a necessary part of the larger story we will be telling featuring the beloved characters moving forward.”

But the story doesn’t end there-- February’s Fantastic Four #588 brings the long running series to a conclusion as the Fantastic Four disband and the surviving characters must discover their new roles in the Marvel Universe. Just what’s next for the surviving members of Marvel’s First Family?

Fantastic Four #1 debuted in 1961, kicking off the “Marvel Age” of comics and dramatically increasing the popularity of super heroes. As the progenitor of Marvel Universe, the Fantastic Four set a new tone for super hero comics with its nuanced characterization, reflection of real world fears and progressive depiction of super heroes. Through the years, the Fantastic Four have been involved in many of comics most important & memorable storylines, from the introduction of Galactus to the chart-topping Civil War and now the upcoming event Fear Itself.

It all begins with the shocking death of the Human Torch in Fantastic Four #587, in comic stores Wednesday, January 26th, 2011!

Interests for Fantastic Four #587 has been predictably intense, with Marvel hyping the event with a polybag infamously called by fans as "Death Bag" (a'la "The Death of Superman" back in the 90s).

In addition, a variant cover of the issue was made available at time of publish.

With the tremendous response selling out the issue everywhere, Marvel has released a second printing, featuring a new variant cover illustrated by none other than Marvel Chief Creative Officer and a popular artist in his own right, Joe Quesada himself.

Being an integral member of the team, Johnny is arguably the one with the most essential connections to everyone. His demise will no doubt further shaken Marvel's First Family as Hickman's master plan for the title continues.

In an interview with ComicBookResources, Hickman revealed the reason behind Johnny's demise:

"One of the things I think we needed to do with "Fantastic Four" was inject some nostalgia into a setting of modernity, and one of the themes I've been playing with in the book is, Reed wants to make the world into what it can be. Johnny has always represented the childlike innocence of the book and all of the wonderful nostalgic qualities of childhood. Removing him elevates the conflict in the book in a way that serves the theme."

Comic book deaths come and go. We were initially used to the saying that, "You can being anybody from a comic back except for Bucky, Robin (Jason Todd), and Uncle Ben". And Uncle Ben is the only one not back from comic book death now. In the case of Fantastic Four, all members of the team are not stranger to comic book demise as well. Quesada, in an interview with Associated Press, had this to say:

"Whether the human torch comes back or not is really a question that will be answered in time. While I will never discount that a character can come back from the dead because it is one of the staples of comic book story telling . I'm not going to tell you if he will, or when he will and if he does, how he will, but I can assure you that it's going to be very, very interesting and not what anyone expects."

Fantastic Four #588 will be the final issue of the series, as the series relaunches in March as simply "FF". We are quite sure the Fantastic Three will pick themselves up just in time for the next big Marvel crossover event, "Fear Itself".


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