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Dan Slott gets excited when he thinks about what he's got planned for Reed and Sue Richards, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm this coming year. Over the past 10 months, Slott (alongside incredible artists including Sara Pichelli, Adam Hughes, Mike Allred, Sean Izaakse, Paco Medina, Aaron Kuder, and Stefano Caselli) has ushered in the return of Marvel Comics' first family. But now, he tells SYFY WIRE, things are about to get weird.
After more than a decade writing Amazing Spider-Man, Slott took charge of the Fantastic Four along with the new Iron Man series, Tony Stark: Iron Man, last year. Slott admits that both series are amazing, but the Fantastic Four has allowed him to finally write stories he's been saving for a long time. Almost everything in the series so far — including the Hulk vs. Thing fight in Issues #12 and #13, Ben's marriage to Alicia, and the Richards family's move to Yancy Street — was a "bucket list item" for the longtime Marvel writer.
For instance, Slott says, the idea of Doom battling Galactus in Latveria was an idea he had been holding onto for years.
"It always bugged me that when Galactus came down to eat the Earth, he'd always land in New York," he told SYFY WIRE last month. "I always thought, 'What if he did land in Latveria?' Doom would go, 'If Richards can do it, I can do it. No one else is allowed in my country. I will defeat Galactus!'"
Even the arc's pivotal moment (in which Sue turns Dr. Doom's mask invisible on live TV) was a long time in the making, as Scott says it was an idea he'd shared with former Fantastic Four writer Mark Waid when he was penning the series way back in the early 2000s.
"Now that stuff is out of the way we can do full steam ahead, go cosmic, go weird," he said. This week, Slott, who is also writing Tony Stark: Iron Man, teased what kind of cosmic delights the Fantastic Four have in their future, what to expect from the upcoming "Iron Man 2020" arc, and hinted at a universe-altering change he's been waiting to unleash for decades.
What can you tell us about the Fantastic Four moving forward?
In year one we focused on family. In year two, we're doing big space things. No offense to anyone, but the greatest FF run is Lee/Kirby. When you were reading Lee/Kirby, you were always getting something new. You weren't getting the third Diablo story. It was "Now we're at the Inhumans, but you know what, forget the Inhumans, now we're moving on to Galactus. Now, let's go into the Microverse." You kept meeting new characters, new situations, new things. We're going to try to pay tribute to that. We're going to big things. You're about to meet a whole lot of new characters in this next arc. We've already given it away in the solicits, but there's a bit of FF history that we haven't seen since FF #1.
You're hinting at the Fantastic Four's original ship, right?
If you know your FF #1, they get up into space in their ship — which we finally name in Fantastic Four #14! — they go through the Van Allen Belt and get bombarded by cosmic rays. They crash back down to earth and emerge from the broken ship, alive. And ... it doesn't explode. The physical ship still exists. We haven't seen it since FF #1, and you see it again in FF #14, and it will be a catalyst for a new adventure.
I'm always pleased — these characters have been around for more than 50 years — when you can find the point of history no one's touched on. We'd have moments on Spider-Man like that. Nick Lowe once called me up and asked if we'd done a story about the guy on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #1, that Spider-Man caught? I said, "Yes, I did that in Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2." I'm going to find everything. I'm going to turn over every stone. It's my Marvel brain. Do I know the names of my cousin's children? No, I do not. Can I tell you what happens in all these different issues? Yes, I can. I love the Marvel Universe and all the mysteries and secrets.
What's going on with Iron Man now? Recently, he's been dealing with his alcoholism again, lost longtime collaborator Jocasta and found out about his evil "brother," Arno Stark. On the bright side, he's dating Janet Van Dyne.
(Reader note: Originally conceived as a successor of Tony Stark, Arno Stark was created by Tom DeFalco and Herbe Trimpe in Machine Man 2020 #2 in 1984. In 2013, the character was rebooted by Kieron Gillen and Dale Eaglesham as Howard and Maria Stark's true biological son, making Tony adopted.)
Well, we're going to the year 2020, and if you know your lore, that's where to look. I read the "Machine Man" and all of the 2020 appearances in the Spider-Man annuals. For the most part, we can't do what they did. For the same reason, if you're in the year 1983 you can't write a futuristic story about 1984.
What we're doing has to be new, but it obviously has to touch upon the original books. We'll be playing off what Keiron Gillen did with the character, using that iconography and playing with your expectations about 2020. It'll be weird.
We're also coming up on Ultron/Pym in the Ultron Agenda. So you'll have an Iron Man throw down and of course Wasp will be there as well as Ultron's bride, Jocasta. Of course, Ultron/Pym cares about Jocasta on one side and Janet on the other. What do you do?
Do you have any other big plans coming up that you can share?
There's an idea I had when I was a kid, 8 years old, reading a Marvel comic. Reading something fundamental to the Marvel Universe, a key building block. It's only been used once in a Stan Lee story and, ever since then, no one's touched upon it. Some writers have gotten close, but nothing yet. We're talking a half of a century. When you hear what that thing is, you'll go, "Ah I see how that's important." Even if you've never read that particular issue, which is a pivotal story, say you're just into the movies or read your cousin's comics five years ago and you're just getting into the shows and films. When you hear the premise, you think, "That's important. I care about the Marvel Universe, oh God, how's that going to work out?"
We're going to hit that. I've kept that in my pocket since I was 8 and watched in fear as writers have got close to it. Now that we're getting closer and closer, I just can't wait to get to it.
Are we talking something in the Fantastic Four?
You'll have to wait and see. The last Marvel retreat was the first time I mentioned it to a lot of the group and people went, "That's big." There's a few I had known I'd had this close to the chest, but it was the first time I'd really talked about it widely. Now, I know it's safe. And we'll get there. Hahahah! Be afraid for everything you hold dear in comics.