[The following was originally posted on my blog]
Marvel recently confirmed at NYCC that the Fantastic Four series would be cancelled in 2015 after holding the title of Marvel's First Family for more than half a century. Many speculate that this is due to conflicts between the publisher and Fox studios over character rights, but it probably also has a lot to do with tanking comic book sales. The status of the Fantastic Four family members is questionable (Will they join new teams? Retire? DIE??), and the ultimate fate of the title itself is unknown, however after reading the newInhuman series, I've got a theory (it could be bunnies) that Marvel may rebuild the team for a new generation.
You may wondering what the Inhumans have to do with the Fantastic Four. Their relationship has developed over 50 years, but the basics will give you an idea. The Inhumans first appeared as a team in Fantastic Four #45; the first encounter didn't go too well, ending in an all out brawl. Once the groups realized they were all good guys (well, the Inhumans kind of bounce back and forth depending on how you look at it), they were more often allies than enemies during the next few decades. Both teams got their powers after exposure to some kind of cosmic energy, and both are comprised mostly of family members.
In the recent Infinity event, Black Bolt, silent leader of the Inhumans, set off a Terrigen bomb that spread a mist across the globe, activating new Inhumans who hatch out of giant, gross cocoons. These "Nuhumans" were descendants of secret Inhuman tribes that had been living on earth with their lineage hiding in dormant genes. To sum up, Attilan was destroyed, Black Bolt went missing, and Medusa, BB's wife, set up what was left of her home (now dubbed New Attilan) in New York Harbor (mainly because that's where it landed after being blown up) where she attempts to track down and assist any and all Nuhumans. One by one, we are introduced to a gaggle of young Inhumans who find it in themselves to accept their new identity and become heroes. Once these kiddos team up, however, their powers seem… familiar.
So, IF Marvel decides to assemble a next gen Fantastic Four, could this be the new roster?
Human Torch: Inferno
Dante (heh, get it?) Pertuz was one of the first Nuhumans that popped out of his little Terrigen cocoon and into our hearts in the first issue of Inhuman. He's still discovering his abilities, but like the Human Torch, his powers involve fire. As of right now, he can't fly (that power is covered by another FF contender), but he can shoot blasts of plasma from his fists and turn his body into a chiseled form of molten rock and fire. Plus, he looks super cool with all those flames pouring out of his mouth and eyes. Dante cares about his family (old and "Nu"), and seems to have the makings for a good leader.
The Thing: Flint
All of these Nuhuman origin stories are kind of a bummer, but Jason's might be the saddest. He always knew he was adopted, but his parents still kept many secrets, including why they adopted him. The Terrigen Mist affected any potential Inhuman, resulting in either successful metamorphosis or death. Jason's parents, aware of their Inhuman genes, didn't like those odds so they tried to flee with their son, but the mist caught up to them, leaving Jason with powers and without a family. If you're familiar at all with Avatar: The Last Airbender, "Flint" is basically an earthbender. Along with the ability to move rocks with his mind, he's also got a few stones fused to his skin, however his disfigurement is nothing compared to The Thing. Jason is still timid with his powers, but he's learning to trust himself and his new friends.
Invisible Woman: Naja
Naja is brand new in the mix and still rather mysterious; it's not even clear if "Naja" is her actual name or her alias. She hasn't been forthcoming with her identity, but it's implied that she was famous and possibly a model. This would be ironic, because it's doubtful she looked like a furry, snake-like creaturebefore exposure to the Terrigen Mist. Her reptilian complexion might be why she has the chameleon-like ability to blend into her environment, meaning she can turn invisible! She can also fly, although I don't know how many reptiles can do that. Naja is willful but selfless, volunteering to help Dante and Jason on a dangerous mission mere hours after after meeting them.
Mr. Fantastic: Ms. Marvel
When I tried to figure out who would fill the stretchy shoes of Mr. Fantastic, I was initially at a loss. There were no new characters in the Inhuman series that really fit the bill, plus Inferno, Flint, and Naja already had their first team up as trio. Then a big, giant DUH hit me when I remembered the most famous superpowered person to come from the Terrigen bomb: the new Ms. Marvel! Kamala Khan emerged from her cocoon months before the first issue of Inhuman was released and has just recently learned that she is an Inhuman after an impromptu visit to New Attilan. She's had more time to discover her powers, which include the ability to "embiggen" (with the strength to match her size), shrink, heal herself, and accidentally look like other people. She also has that rubbery limb thing that Mr. Fantastic is known for, though evidently not his scientific genius. Kamala is a major fangirl who freaks out when she realizes she's teamed up with an Avenger (this has happened at least twice so far) and feels obligated to live up to the great deeds of her predecessors. She hasn't yet met the other 3 in this lineup, but I bet she'd be pretty stoked to be on her own superhero team.
I want to emphasize that this is just a fan theory, likely fallible, concocted after some over-excited conversations with like-minded people. It could be completely off-base (OR I could get a cease and desist letter from Marvel – fingers crossed!), but if it's not, that means Marvel's new first family will be comprised of more females and POC, moving away from its waspy origins and continuing the comic publisher's trend of diversifying their characters in order to represent more of their readers. Additionally, these young heroes have already been developed and have fandoms (especially Ms. Marvel) that would react positively to more exposure.
Whether or not my roster holds merit, Inhuman and Ms. Marvel have been killing it as far as fresh characters and storytelling. Even if we are losing the Fantastic Four for good, Marvel is offering a new generation of superheroes that are guaranteed to build their own legacy for years to come.