'Fantastic Four' Canceled? Comic Books Will Be Disappearing From Shelves For Awhile

If 2015 was already a bad year for Fantastic Four, it doesn't sound like 2016 is shaping up to be much better for Marvel's first family. 20th Century Fox's franchise reboot of the comic book property bombed hard at the box office and now Marvel Comics is shelving the superhero team, at least for awhile. Get the details below.

First of all, if you're a comic book fan and you're reading Secret Wars, there are spoilers from here on out through issue #9. But if you're in the clear on that front, or you just don't care about knowing the ending of the final issue of the series, then keep reading.

At the end of Secret Wars #9 (via THR), Reed Richards, Sue Storm and their kids Franklin and Valeria end up outside reality with a group of students from the Future Foundation. Their primary goal is to create new universes in an attempt to repopulate a comic book multiverse that suffered some crushing blows thanks to the events that led up to Secret Wars. And as a line that functions both as character dialogue and a hint to fans, Reed Richards says this:

No more superheroes for a while, just science. And no more Mister Fantastic, just Dad. That doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Back in the fall of 2014, the primary Fantastic Four comic book that was still being published was revealed to be coming to an end, and now this is the last appearance of the superpowered quartet that will happen in the Marvel comic book universe for the time being.

There has been speculation that a touchy relationship between Marvel and 20th Century Fox had the comic book company getting rid of the team for a while, out of spite for the movie studio holding on to the rights of their characters instead of letting them fall back to Marvel Studios. That buzz wasn't helped any by the fact that a page in one of The Punisher comics in 2014 killed off the cast members of the Fantastic Four reboot. But Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort sat down for an interview with Comic Book Resources and explained some different reasoning:

Fantastic Four has been one of those books that, for a number of years, has been effectively taken for granted. It's been considered stodgy, or old school, or some people see it as a thing that's there and people are comfortable because it's there, but they're not particularly passionate about it. So we're not going to have that book for a while.

That certainly makes sense. Fantastic Four has been a staple of Marvel because it was one of the early titles. But it's not exactly a comic book that has garnered a lot of attention or praise in recent years. This could actually end up benefiting Fantastic Four in the long run as Brevoort pointed out:

We didn't have a Thor book for a while. For a couple of years, there was absolutely no Thor book, and when Thor came back, it was a huge book. It continues to be a huge book to this day. I think that absence was part of what made people cherish its return, and then it was just having great talent to execute that return. If the same sort of thing happens with Fantastic Four that would not be the worst thing in the world.

So if Marvel keeps Fantastic Four canceled for a couple of years and 20th Century Fox doesn't end up making a sequel to their disastrous reboot (they've already pulled it from the release calendar in 2017), then maybe the rights will go back to Marvel Studios around the same time that Marvel Comics decides to bring them back to comic book shelves. That would be something that fans would get really excited about.

So now is the time to say farewell Reed, Sue, Johnny and the Thing. Well, not the Thing, because he's hanging out with Guardians of the Galaxy right now. And not Johnny, because he'll still be appearing in Uncanny Avengers and Uncanny Inhumans. And there's also an alternate universe Reed Richards in New Avengers as well. You know what, don't say bye to anyone. They'll all be back eventually.