Late last year, word came down that Marvel Comics would be ending its longest-running superhero series, Fantastic Four, with its 645th issue at the conclusion of a storyline titled "The End is FOURever," by writer James Robinson and artist Leonard Kirk. At the time, the move was viewed by many as an effort to snub Fox, the studio releasing this summer's rebooted Fantastic Four film, but executives on both sides later denied that was the case, and it was pointed out many times that the comic hasn't exactly been selling all that well lately.
Whatever the behind-the-scenes reasons are, Fantastic Four really is coming to an end this month, and it's going out with an oversized issue featuring the conclusion of "The End is FOURever," four additional stories by some very bright comics talent, and reflections on Marvel's First Family by some comic-book legends.
Marvel revealed today that Fantastic Four #645 will feature the concluding story by Robinson and Kirk, who took over the series with a new first issue last year before it reverted to its original numbering. Here's the synopsis for their story:
Will the Fantastic Four defeat the Quiet Man and the corrupted forces of the Heroes Reborn universe? Will Johnny Storm get his powers back? Will Reed and Sue be a family again or will it all be torn asunder? Questions will be answered in this main feature story!
The concluding tale will be accompanied by four other stories by writers Karl Kesel (Fantastic Four 2099), Louise Simonson (New Mutants), Tom DeFalco (The Spectacular Spider-Man) and Jeff Parker (Thunderbolts) and artists David Marquez (Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man), Joe Bennett (Amazing Spider-Man), Tom Grummett (New Thunderbolts) and Pascal Campion (cover artist for books like Spider-Gwen and Ms. Marvel). Plus, Marvel Comics legends Stan Lee, John Byrne, Roger Stern, Mark Millar, Roy Thomas, Chris Claremont, John Romita Sr., Walt Simonson and others will take a look back at the history of Fantastic Four and remember their favorite covers from the series.
As for what's next, well ... we don't know. Robinson told a New York Comic-Con audience back in October that, once he's finished, the book is "going away for a while," which would suggest a hiatus, something not at all uncommon in superhero comics. Sometimes you just have to let the soil lie fallow for a while before you come back to it. We don't know how long the book will be gone, what changes might come to the characters through the upcoming Secret Wars or what the future of the First Family of Marvel Comics is, but for the moment we do know where we'll see their comic-book sendoff.
Check out a preview of the issue, including variant covers, in the gallery below. Fantastic Four #645 hits comic-book shops on April 29.