PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Where's Johnny Storm? In the latest issue of Marvel Comics' "Fantastic Four."
Issue No. 600, out Wednesday, marks the first time since January the classic team created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby is back to its original roster: Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, the Invisible Woman and Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, who was last seen perishing in what looked to be an all-out brawl against the minions of the Negative Zone.
Though it has only been 10 months since Marvel killed the Human Torch, death in the comics is rarely, if ever, a permanent condition.
How and why the Torch — who, along with the rest of the Fantastic Four launched Marvel's silver age 50 years ago — has returned to the living is yet to be told. But Tom Breevort, senior vice president for publishing at Marvel, told The Associated Press it's a tale that will be told in No. 600 and future issues.
"There's about 100 pages of story to tell just that," Brevoort said of Storm's return in issue 600.
Death is no stranger to the Fantastic Four. Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman, supposedly died, but that was just a ruse. Similarly, her husband, Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, was thought to be dead after being caught in a blast with his archenemy, Dr. Doom. Instead of death, however, Richards and his nemesis were snatched away to another dimension.
Brevoort said the new issue, which marks the title's return since No. 588 was published, makes it clear that Storm wasn't just hibernating or being held in a comatose state.
"Yes, he did die. He died a couple of times," Brevoort said, adding that writer Jonathan Hickman had outlined the plans for a return months ago so readers won't "feel cheated or disappointed in the slightest."
Hickman's plans will also be unveiled in the ongoing series "FF," which Marvel launched after the death of the Torch. It not only replaced the "Fantastic Four" but told the story of the surviving teammates, plus Spider-Man, too.
"'FF' will also continue, and Jon will be writing both of them. They will both function as sister titles," Brevoort said. "One focusing on the core four and the other focusing on the Future Foundation and the broader base of characters that we have assembled."
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