Even a family the likes of the Fantastic Four may be shattered by a single secret.
Original Sin seeps into Marvel’s First Family in FANTASIC FOUR #6-7 this summer and writer James Robinson has thought through every angle of its impact on the team and what it may mean for their future.
Marvel.com: James, what will we see in these two Original Sin issues of FANTASTIC FOUR?
James Robinson: Something that happened in the past, but resonates in the present. Ben Grimm’s going to undergo a fairly intense betrayal, mostly because he was lied to, because he didn’t revert back from the Thing. And his life will begin to unravel as Johnny’s life has begun to unravel, and Reed and Sue’s will very soon begin to unravel.
Marvel.com: What’s the current standing of Ben and Johnny’s friendship as you see it?
James Robinson: Well, it’s always been good and strong, and they’ve always been sort of like big brother and little brother, with little brother delighting in the teasing and playing pranks on the big brother. In the past, with other writers, it seemed very mean, but it’s always good-natured, and he always loves Ben and wants Ben to be happy in the end. But this is one time when it went too wrong and we’ll see the repercussions of that now.
Marvel.com: What about Reed and Ben? Where are they at when the story begins?
James Robinson: Well, it’s early enough in my run on FANTASTIC FOUR that the relationships are the way they’re meant to be. Ben is the heart of the Fantastic Four, he’s Reed’s best friend, and they’ve been best friends since college. And that is all good. The little bit of involvement that Reed has in Original Sin, and then Reed’s involvement in the major travails of Ben at the same time will all lead to an estrangement, which we’re looking towards.
Marvel.com: It’s probably never a good time for secrets to be revealed, but is this an especially bad time for the team?
James Robinson: Yes, and especially with the stuff that’s happening to Ben, concurrent with what’s happening in Original Sin? These revelations couldn’t happen at a worse time.
Marvel.com: Ben’s played the game of switching back and forth for years now; how does he have it fixed in his mind these days?
James Robinson: Well, he’s found peace with being the Thing on and off for quite some time, and he’s had some resolution with that in different runs, but as we see him now, I really wanted to get him back to that “point zero” place, where he’s back with Alicia Masters and everything’s the way it really should be. He has some degree of—“contentment” is probably too strong of a word here, but he is resigned to and accepting of being the Thing.
But obviously that’s in a perfect world, and his world’s about to get far from perfect.
Marvel.com: What about Sue? What’s her role in all this?
James Robinson: She’ll be there and involved, but believe me, she’ll have other fish to fry, too. There’ll be big problems for her and the kids of the Future Foundation that she has to deal with. She’ll be involved, but she’s not necessarily the focus of this aspect of the Fantastic Four.
Marvel.com: Of the three—Reed, Sue, and Johnny—who would most want Ben to be just Ben again?
James Robinson: I think it’ll be Reed, because it’s definitely on Reed’s shoulders the fact that, to some degree, it’s him that wanted them all to go up into space. And he’s the kind of a guy that hates problems that are unsolvable; he’s a solver of problems. So having Ben’s condition be that one thing that he can’t completely cure must eat away at him to some degree and he must feel some degree of guilt, even though I’m sure Ben must tell him, “Stretch, don’t worry about it, I’m fine.”
Marvel.com: So, this Original Sin storyline will have ramifications going forward?
James Robinson: Oh, yeah. And, actually, Original Sin has helped me take elements of the story I was going to play out anyway and make them much more effective and organic. This is coming at a very good time and will make the book better for it.
Marvel.com: The Fantastic Four is usually described as a family; in your opinion, is that the best term for them?
James Robinson: I don’t think there is a better term for them. They are the First Family, the launching pad for Marvel Comics. I write them as a family. I think that any writer who has any sense does. All of the great runs of FF have been written with that idea in mind, and I hope that mine and [artist] Leonard [Kirk’s] run will be considered a great run too when we’re through. So I feel very strongly that they are a family, and when you have that engrained in you and you approach it that way, they become very easy and fun to write.
Teams are hard sometimes because you have to find those points of connection that make a team more then just a group of individuals who just happen to be in the same room. And with FF that sense of why they’re together and who they are is so obvious and apparent that it just makes it very fun and easy to write.
Marvel.com: These issues sound like a whole world of hurt for the four. As a writer, does it ever cause you pain to cause them such pain?
James Robinson: No. A good writer tears something down and builds it back up again. Unless I, God forbid, get hit by a trolley car or something on the way to the gym, you’re going to see the FF back the way you want them by the time I’m finished putting them back together again. But to have fun seeing them back together you’ve got to tear them apart to begin with.