A few people have wondered about the absence of the Fantastic Four on the Alex Ross cover to Marvel Comics #1000. It wouldn't be the first time the Fantastic Four's absence on Marvel Comics products has been noted, but back then, even though Executive Editor Tom Brevoort did his best to deny it, this was down to Marvel's clashes with Fox Studios over rights. Marvel Chair Ike Perlmutter declared that Marvel would stop publishing the Fantastic Four, stop licensing the Fantastic Four, stop promoting the Fantastic Four. Games, toys, statues, trading card lines, cartoon appearances, were all cancelled, even T-shirts and calendars were edited to remove any appearance of the four.
Back in 2017, the Alex Ross Instagram account posted a brand-new piece of artwork featuring Reed Richards and Sue Storm in what appeared to be new Fantastic Four uniforms.
Both had been absent from the Marvel Universe since the end of Jonathan Hickman's Secret Wars, as part of a decision by Marvel executives not to publish any more comics called Fantastic Four, after their negotiations with movie license holder Fox. This dispute was originally revealed by Bleeding Cool, was disputed by Tom Brevoort, then confirmed by Jonathan Hickman.
Last year, thanks to a) Dan Slott and b) Disney buying Fox Studios, the Fantastic Four returned, finally. But what of that Alex Ross teaser?
The answer was revealed in last year's Marvelocity hardcover volume by Ross, in which he spends six pages showing us a 60s-styled pitch he made for the Fantastic Four if they returned. A pitch that Marvel turned down. Alex Ross may be one of the most popular comic book creators around, but that means nothing to an Ike Perlmutter grudge match.
With a hat tip to 13th Dimension, here's how it might have looked… is it me or does Reed Richards look a little David Bowie at one point?
Alex Ross is an American comic book writer/artist known primarily for his painted interiors, covers, and design work described as in possession of "a Norman-Rockwell-meets-George-Pérez vibe" and has been praised for its realistic, human depictions of classic comic book characters. He first became known with the 1994 miniseries Marvels, on which he collaborated with writer Kurt Busiek. He has since done a variety of projects for both Marvel and DC Comics, such as the 1996 miniseries Kingdom Come, which Ross co-wrote.
Since then, he has done covers and character designs for Busiek's series Astro City, and various projects for Dynamite Entertainment. His feature film work includes concept and narrative art for Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, and DVD packaging art for the M. Night Shyamalan film Unbreakable. He has done covers for TV Guide, promotional artwork for the Academy Awards, posters and packaging design for video games, and his renditions of superheroes have been merchandised as action figures.