"Fantastic Four" Downsizes After Shocking Super-Hero Death

By Michael Preston
|  Wednesday, Jan 26, 2011  |  Updated 5:39 AM CDT
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Twentieth Century-Fox

Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards, Jessica Alba as Susan Storm and Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm make up The Fantastic Four in two Twentieth Century Fox films.

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As the fan boys say: spoiler alert!

The Fantastic Four is now just a trio.

Johnny Storm, a.k.a The Human Torch, met his heroic end in the iconic Marvel comic's 587th issue hitting news stands this week, reports the New York Daily News.

Though the actual identity of the team member who would die was kept secret until the release of the latest issue, the death was preordained at the beginning of a months-long story arc appropriately titled "Three."

The hot-headed Storm met his demise while saving his niece and nephew from a rampaging horde of insect creatures as his teammate, The Thing, stood helplessly on the sidelines having been temporarily returned to his human form.

Fantastic Four writer Jonathan Hickman said he was pleased that they were able to keep the identity of the fallen hero under wraps for so long.

"We didn't want to give it away," he said in an interview with USA Today. "It's so impossible to keep it a secret nowadays. Readers are smart enough that if you do too much revealing or foreshadowing, they'll completely pick up on it. There's probably a pretty large segment out there where plenty of people will have guessed it was Johnny. But we left enough confusion that the story's still interesting and a sense of peril to everyone only heightens attention."

Storm's death will serve as a jumping off point for surviving members of the group, which was originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961.

February's issue 588 will end the current run of The Fantastic Four and will be replaced in March by a new title called FF. But with the 50th anniversary of the comic coming in October coupled with Marvel's history of resurrecting dead heroes - Captain America, anyone? - there's a good chance this particular flame won't be extinguished for long.

Selected Reading: NY Daily News, Wired, USA Today

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