Wait, Marvel really is canceling the Fantastic Four comic before the movie comes out?

With a new Fantastic Four movie on the way next year, it’d make sense that could be a boon for the comic version of Marvel’s First Family, right? Well, apparently not.

There have been rumblings that Marvel was getting ready to pull the plug on the Fantastic Four comic — just before the new film produced by rival studio Fox comes out, who bought the film rights to the comic several years before Marvel became a powerhouse studio — and it sounds like those rumblings are true.

According to a report at Bleeding Cool, culled from an alleged solicitation for future issues, it seems Marvel will be wrapping up the long-running comic with a “Triple Sized Final Issue 645.” Key word being, you guessed it, “final.”

Here’s an excerpt from the smoking solicitation:

THE END IS FOUREVER! Witness the closing act on the First Family of the Marvel Universe! THE INVADERS meet the FANTASTIC FOUR as the hunt for REED RICHARDS and the missing kids of the FUTURE FOUNDATION continues. Meanwhile the mastermind behind everything unveils his ultimate plan. But how does FRANKLIN RICHARDS factor in? And how does this all lead to…The END?! Collecting FANTASTIC FOUR #642-644 and the Triple Sized Final Issue 645!

So why would Marvel pull the plug on one of its oldest comic franchises? For one thing, sales haven’t been stellar. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Marvel would rather have all its properties back under one roof, but canceling a successful book to spite a movie seems a bit too far. But canceling a book with middling sales (or at least putting it on hiatus for a while)? Now, that isn’t too much of a shocker.

Marvel has shown it can turn little-known properties into hits across both media with the power of its mighty, mighty marketing muscle (see: Guardians of the Galaxy), and the company has made no secret of the fact that it would rather invest time and money into characters it fully controls.

Of course, X-Men is the anomaly here, since its film rights are also controlled by Fox. But the X-Men comics continue to sell well and anchor a big chunk of the Marvel universe, so Marvel would be cutting off its nose to spite its face to ax the X-Men line. The X-Men are almost too big to kill, in a sense, but Fantastic Four has been stumbling toward obscurity for years now.

Plus, as Bleeding Cool notes, key members of the Fantastic Four are set to be incorporated in the Time Runs Out storyline in the Avengers comics — which seems to indicate the team has apparently disbanded. So the characters will still be around, they just won’t have their own book anymore.

Our take? A hiatus might not be the worst thing for the Fantastic Four, and it’s something that’s happened in the past with other high-profile heroes, such as Thor. It’ll give the writers a chance to try some new things and hopefully flush out any Fantastic fatigue. Plus, if it just happens to end when a rival studio is launching a Fantastic Four movie that is said to be taking some liberties with the story, that’s one heck of a lucky coincidence. Right?

What do you think? Are you a reader of the current Fantastic Four run? Does the franchise need a hiatus?

(Via Bleeding Cool)

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