First, rumors surfaced that Marvel was intentionally lowering the profile of the Fantastic Four in its comics in order to damage their popularity and therefore negatively impact the film franchise, which Marvel licensed to 20th Century Fox back before Marvel established its own film studio.  The rights were set to return to Marvel, who had plans to reboot the franchise, but in order to prevent that, Fox fast-tracked director Josh Trank’s new radical re-imagining of the series with young cast Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan assuming the lead roles.  (Fox also holds the rights to the blockbuster X-Men franchise, but Marvel has little recourse there, as the movies continue to thrive and the comics are among Marvel’s best sellers.)

Adding fuel to the fire, Marvel has cancelled ‘Ultimate FF’ (a relaunched version of ‘Ultimate Fantastic Four’) after only six issues.  Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov tweeted:

Marvel subsequently confirmed the cancellation.

Is this more more Marvel angling?  Well, perhaps not, as Diamond Distributors lists ‘Ultimate FF’ as the lowest selling of the three recently rebooted ‘Ultimate’ books, trailing behind ‘All-New Ultimates’ and ‘Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man’.  Also, it should be noted that the book did not star most of the classic Fantastic Four characters.  The book focused on a team led by Sue Storm, accompanied by The Falcon, Machine Man and Agent Phil Coulson.  It could have just been the unconventional cast that failed to attract readers, resulting in the cancellation.

Marvel Senior Vice-President of Publishing Tom Brevoort denies that the mainstream ‘Fantastic Four’ comic is being cancelled, telling audiences at the Special Edition NYC convention, “I’m going to publish it. It will have four characters in it!  I presume that James Robinson will write that all the way into the future. ”

So was all this rumor, perhaps spread by Fox staffers in an effort to make the studio appear victimized?  Or just fan speculation, following the absences of X-Men and Fantastic Four members on Marvel’s ’75th Anniversary’ magazine?  Their absence is curious, but maybe Marvel is simply trying to promote characters that THEY have appearing in upcoming movies.

What do you think?

Sources: Comic Book Movie and Newsarama