A Death In The Family: RIP Johnny Storm

When I first heard the news – that tragic, tragic news – of the recent bereavement in the Storm family, my first reaction was, “And how long is this one going to last?”

Hey, in the Marvel universe, it’s not that inappropriate of a question. (“My next thought might have been: Hey, this explains how they can get Chris Evans to play Cap in the Avengers movie”). The dead do tend to come back to life with alarming frequency. I hereby invoke the Bucky Clause: take the infamous (even to non-comic book fans) Death of Superman epic in the 90s, or the recent “death” of Captain America. It was the height of the Civil War story arc, garnered big press, revived the public’s interest in comic books, and then was completely negated by his return to life a year or two later. It’s not the first time, either. In fact, it’s so common that there’s a Wikipedia article on it.

Marvel fans used to say that the only people who ever stay dead are Bucky, Uncle Ben, and Jason Todd. Well, even Bucky and Jason Todd came back to life in recent years. Which kinda makes all that rhetoric about child sidekicks being a senseless waste of life useless. But then again, so do the Young Avengers. Now, only Uncle Ben can rest in peace, and I highly doubt that Johnny Storm is about to join him.

Yes, the Human Torch, brother of Invisible Woman and brother-in-law of Mr Fantastic (seriously, who named superheroes back in the day?), has recently (in the March issue of Fantastic Four) passed on.. A moment of silence in remembrance of our fallen brother.

Thank you.

He went out, as one would expect, in a blaze of glory, beating the everloving poop out of a horde of monsters to protect his family and teammates. Which happen to be one and the same, actually. But the Fantastic Four are one of those big titles, so big that I don’t truly expect his death to stick. Not just because of the Bucky Clause (Uncle Ben Clause?), but because the Fantastic Four have always been grounded in being, well, four.

FF are different from other superheroes. Sure, the X-Men have their team thing going on, even if the roster changes. There’s the Justice League of America, the Avengers and all their incarnations, the Teen Titans, dozens of other teams that do the exact same thing. The thing about the Fantastic Four is that they are more than just a team. They’re family. You can’t have one without the other. They don’t work apart.

The Fantastic Four have always been more about the dynamics than the origin story. We can watch and read a dozen versions of how Spiderman got bitten by a radioactive bug – now he’s got radioactive blood! – but a radiation storm in space, etc, boring. Really. I could barely sit through the first half of the first movie, and I’m a comic book geek. The dynamics and dysfunctions of a superpowered family have always been what drives FF storylines, not the superpowers themselves.

Marvel’s going to get some mileage out of a sister’s grief, but I don’t see the Fantastic Four lasting long without Johnny.

What’s your take on the Bucky Clause? Do you think it applies in this case? Tell me the truth – did you cry when you heard the news?

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