It was a story that Bleeding Cool first only offered as a possibility, but as more and more evidence came in, it became more and more likely.
That, as a result of Disney's highest single shareholder and Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter's anger with Fox Studios over negotiations regarding the film-and-related rights to The Fantastic Four, that Marvel would cancel the Fantastic Four comic rather than provide any promotion, however small it might be, towards the Fox Studios film. Merchandise and licenses were scrapped and even Fantastic Four posters in the offices were pulled down lest Perlmutter see one and have his ire raised. It may not have been logical, but it was a decision born of personal emotion. It was steadied by sense. X-Men wasn't cancelled, for example as the Xbooks sell so well. But Fantastic Four? It may have been the first book of the Marvel Universe, but its sales have continued to drag, even after multiple relaunches with high profile creators. There would be less of a hit to the bottom line if this comic was dropped.
Our story was pooh-poohed by all and sundry, save for CBR who independently confirmed that it was intended for the Fantastic Four to be cancelled. Then the letter about sketch card artists being forbidden to use Fantastic Four characters was made public, Mondo talked about being forbidden to use Fantastic Four characters and today, we we were already planning to run another story about Diamond Select Toys confirming that they are unable to make any Fantastic Four toys.
Right now we are not able to make characters from the FF, but as soon as that changes we will consider them.
But events moved on too quickly. Now the catalogues of Hachette, Marvel's bookstore distributor, seems to confirm the cancellation at least. With June's solicitation for James Robinson and Leonard Kirk's Fantastic Four: The End Is Fourever.
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!
Fantastic Four Vol 3 ended with legacy numbering of #611, Matt Fraction's run went to #16, which would add up to #627. December's 2014's solicited issue for the current volume is #14 which would add up to #641. Which would slip into a renumbering of January's #642 nicely.
On that basis we might expect Fantastic Fourever to begin in January and the final issue to be published in April. Although the collection before Fantastic Fourever is listed on Amazon as going up to #16… though I can't work the addition on that at all. Anyone?
And how this tallies with Tom Brevoort's statement back in June that,
We are publishing FANTASTIC FOUR. Next month, we will be publishing FANTASTIC FOUR. A year from now, assuming that it's still selling well, we will be publishing FANTASTIC FOUR.
…I don't know. I suppose if it isn't actually being published, then it won't be selling well. August's stats has #8 of the comic selling more than Wolverine & The X-Men, Punisher, Nightcrawler and Storm, and way ahead of other to-be-cancelled titles.
Expect the announcement of the cancellation of The Fantastic Four at NYCC. And expect a story-based reason for the cancellation – that they have a great final story for the team and want to give it impact.
We have also noted that the Time Runs Out storyline in the Avengers titles, looking forward to April and May, sees Susan Storm as a member of an Avengers team hunting the Illuminati, specifically her now bearded husband Reed Richards, who is in hiding. The Fantastic Four is clearly no more.
They will say there's a story-based reason and also say they feel that the comic could do with a rest, as happened with Thor in the past. Maybe that because the film is so different to the comic, they don't want confusion in the marketplace. I'm sure there will be a reason given. But people working at Marvel who have spoken without attribution say that, from the beginning, it was all about Ike.
It's also worth noting that this comic may be cancelled just before the Fantastic Four movie was originally planned to come out. Now that it has been delayed, you may have to wait even longer for the comic to return – after the DVD is out, perhaps?