Cancelled as a personal reaction by Marvel CEO and Disney's largest single shareholder, Isaac Perlmutter, to strained relations between Marvel and Fox over the licensed film rights to their characters, held as long at they keep making TV shows and/or movies featuring them, it was just one of a number of actions by Marvel Comics to get themselves out of the Fantastic Four business. Posters, posters, toys, statues, T-shirts, T-shirts, trading cards, foreign licensed comics, each were systematically withdrawn, and the Fantastic Four were removed from promotional materials for the publisher as a whole, even as it celebrated its 75th Anniversary since the publication of a comic that featured an earlier version of the Human Torch. I was told by Marvel staffers that Isaac had demanded that posters featuring the family superhero team be pulled down from the offices so that he wouldn't have to see them as he walked through. I am aware that Marvel staffers who would never normally talk to me, chose to leak this story in an attempt that negative publicity might reverse the decision. This did not happen.
And while not even Isaac would do similar to the much better selling X-Men, though licenses would also be withdrawn, Fantastic Four was an allowable sacrifice to make a point. Isaac loves making points. It certainly outsold the Inhumans comic – but Marvel Studios has a vested interest in keeping them going, with TV shows and films featuring them, and pushing the royal family of powered-up misfits to fulfil the role in the Marvel Universe of the X-Men. With random people discovering they are powered members of an outcast society that looks after its own, but faces prejudice from a world that seeks to control, or eliminate, them.
As we initially reported however, Marvel were allowed to use the characters in other comics, and they have been spread out between Guardians Of The Galaxy, Inhumans and Secret Wars, and they were allowed to delay and find a story reason to cancel the series, able to (almost) stretch it out until the Secret Wars series which saw lots of series cancelled and relaunched. Hiding the executive decision amongst a creative process, enabled Marvel to give easy pat answers to fan concerns as to why they weren't publishing a Fantastic Four comic during the big promotional hype of the movie. It is worth pointing out that at the time of the original Bleeding Cool report, the quality of the movie wasn't known at all…
We also stated that we were told that the comic wouldn't return until at least the promotional period for the DVD/Blu-Ray release was up. And it was possible that a movie sequel would continue the publication pause for years.
Well, with that sequel now rumoured to being switched out for a Deadpool sequel, to a film which is tracking insanely high numbers right now, it could be that we will actually get a comic returning after the disc is on sale. Estimates for that are November – could we get a new series that soon, or have to wait for December or into the New Year?
If so, that will give Marvel the excuse that the Fantastic Four was only cancelled for the Secret Wars event, and that it returned just like a number of other comics, if a little later than some.
But that is not the reason, And one day you'll hear a Marvel ex-staffer go on the record about it. Just not now.
As for rumours that the Secret Wars will leave Reed Richards and Sue Storm dead, I never heard that. Not Reed and Sue, anyway…