Fantastic Four #588 Final Issue

Here we are friends, coming upon a supposed milestone in the Marvel Universe. Fantastic Four #587 and Fantastic Four #588 will end the series as we know it, as well as the life of one of the members. On January 26 fans will be able to rip open their polybagged comic and find out which of the four will meet their fate, courtesy of Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting. But which character will it be? After the jump read my take on the four characters and which one will likely be the odd one out once "Three" is in effect.

Mr. Fantastic: Reed Richards is the rock. The stalwart. The man who has always been the unabashed leader of the group. Killing him would most likely be the easiest to do, as much of the recent storyline in the comic has revolved around him (his meeting with Galactus for instance). Details of the meeting are scarce, but Reed may be called upon to save the universe from something or another one more time. This may require him sacrificing himself for whatever greater good he perceives. Killing Reed would definitely have the "main character" impact that Marvel may be going for.

Would Marvel kill the patriarch though? Well, they killed Captain America, so they're not afraid to take that leap. Removing Reed from the equation would clearly have the biggest impact across the Marvel Universe as he is one of the most important characters. He's pretty much at the core of any mega event due to his intelligence, so I don't necessarily see him being the one.

Rank in New Three: One

Invisible Woman: Susan Storm Richards would definitely have a mammoth emotional impact if she was killed. The biggest impact would be on Reed and their two children, Franklin and Valeria. She's also always had that "thing" with Namor, which means he would feel the brunt of her death as well. Plus, as the only female in the group, there would be a certain uniqueness to her death that might garner the greatest reaction from readers. Throw in the fact that in the past she's been replaced by Storm and you could make a good case for her departure.

I'm a little skeptical though that she's really the one to go. Killing her is almost a "cheap pop" that would probably have a brief impact and set Reed and Namor on rages, but I do't see it doing much more than that. Her and Reed sort of come as a package, plus keeping her around maintains the Reed/Namor tension.

Rank in New Three: Two

Human Torch: Johnny Storm. The team hothead, both literally and figuratively. He's always been the goofball, the one that's never taken things quite so seriously. Ironically, the Fantastic Four Human Torch is predated by his Golden Age equivalent, who came about around the same time as Captain America and Namor. Captain America has been killed, so wouldn't it be fitting if Human Torch was next (considering he's sort of from the same era). His death would really only impact Sue (since she's his sister) and the group would definitely take a more somber tone.

Reasons for not killing him? Some would argue he's the most powerful of the group, sheerly because he flies and can control fire. You could also make a case that without him Sue may not have the same drive, leading to her (and subsequently Reed) possibly leaving the group. Then you'd go from four to three to one/two.

Rank in New Three: Three

The Thing: Of the entire time, Ben Grimm definitely got the shortest end of the cosmic ray stick. Sure he's super strong and built like a mountain, but that's the problem. He really is a rock. He was recently given the ability to return to his human form for about a week a year, but when he's in that form he's not the same Thing. Killing him would have a devastating effect on the team and readers. Not to mention he's the only member that's not technically "family," further exacerbating his outsider mentality.

He does have a few things going for him. He died briefly a few years ago and is currently a member of the New Avengers. He's also Reed's best friend and confidante, meaning that him dying would have almost the same effect on Reed as Sue dying. It would also be pretty impossible to kill him unless he can be reached in his vulnerable human form, so he won't necessarily succumb to the same factors as the other three.

Rank in New Three: Deceased

I really think The Thing is the one to go. As much as Marvel is hyping up this event, they know that people won't care too much about Human Torch dying. Sue Storm will be survived by Reed and her kids and Namor has never really built up that following that would make people truly care about his reaction. Reed dying just seems to easy and have the greatest impact on the universe as a whole, but because he's such an integral part the ripple effect may be more trouble than it's worth.

Thing is the outsider and has the mentality that he'll sacrifice himself for the good of the team. His death would actually unify the team even more as it will allow them to take stock in what they have in each other as a family. It would surprise me if they were galvinized by his death to the point that Reed continues to work feverishly finding a cure for him, even devolving into a state of insanity. It's one possible course but Thing's death definitely sets the new three up for a ton of storylines.

Of course, in a few years I'll probably be devoting an entire column applauding/blasting the return of whichever character dies. It is comics afterall. No one ever really dies (N.E.R.D.).