Life expectancy in the Ultimate universe?

Dark_Images

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What would you say the life expectancy is of a hero in the Ultimate universe? Beast lasted 44, or 45, issues. Can we expect Spidey to outlive 200? 300?
 

Ricky

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In that respect, one can't compare solo characters to team members in ongoing titles. OR rather, one can compare them, and one will find a huge difference:
The death of a solo character automatically means his title will have to be cancelled (okay, okay, DC invented the mantle characters like green lantern and flash, but that wouldn't even work for superman or batman, much less for most marvel characters). What would it be called, otherwise? "Ultimate MJ Watson"? "Ultimate Aunt May?" "Ultimate Kong?"
It's far easier to kill of a single character from a team book. You can even disband a team, and have it reform with a changed rooster. The book still continues.

Death is not the only issue, though. Anyone remember Ben Reilly? I didn't read it, but it was suppossedly stated, that Ben had been the original Peter, and the guy we read about for over 30 years had been a clone. Well, it might have worked for a team member on avengers or x-men, but nor for a solo character. That's why it became ignored afterwards, in my opinion.
(By the way, the FF are more like solo characters themselves, in this regard. Other than X-Man, Avengers, JLA or most other teams, the FF were always and will always be Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Jonny Storm and Ben Grimm).
 

Dark_Images

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(By the way, the FF are more like solo characters themselves, in this regard. Other than X-Man, Avengers, JLA or most other teams, the FF were always and will always be Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Jonny Storm and Ben Grimm).

You know, I never thought about that. Good point.
 

E

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In that respect, one can't compare solo characters to team members in ongoing titles. OR rather, one can compare them, and one will find a huge difference:
The death of a solo character automatically means his title will have to be cancelled (okay, okay, DC invented the mantle characters like green lantern and flash, but that wouldn't even work for superman or batman, much less for most marvel characters). What would it be called, otherwise? "Ultimate MJ Watson"? "Ultimate Aunt May?" "Ultimate Kong?"
It's far easier to kill of a single character from a team book. You can even disband a team, and have it reform with a changed rooster. The book still continues.

Death is not the only issue, though. Anyone remember Ben Reilly? I didn't read it, but it was suppossedly stated, that Ben had been the original Peter, and the guy we read about for over 30 years had been a clone. Well, it might have worked for a team member on avengers or x-men, but nor for a solo character. That's why it became ignored afterwards, in my opinion.
(By the way, the FF are more like solo characters themselves, in this regard. Other than X-Man, Avengers, JLA or most other teams, the FF were always and will always be Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Jonny Storm and Ben Grimm).

Great points.
 

Goodwill

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YEah, I would say the life expectancy would be shorter, though, because they are organizing the Ultimate Verse better. 616 seemed all over the place with mini's relaunches etc. Ultimate just has 4 titles and minis here and there.
 

David Blue

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Ricky: (By the way, the FF are more like solo characters themselves, in this regard. Other than X-Man, Avengers, JLA or most other teams, the FF were always and will always be Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Jonny Storm and Ben Grimm).

I've just finished reading Tom DeFalco's Dorling Kindersley book Fantastic Four: the ultimate guide. This is about mainstream Marvel Fantastic Four, apart from two pages (130 and 131) on Ultimate Fantastic Four. On the basis of the information here, I'd say what you said is only partly true.

It's true for the best Fantastic Four comics, that is for Ultimate Fantastic Four and for the 1960s, Lee/Kirby hundred issue run. There were a lot of fights and swiftly-resolved breakups and departures, but basically the fantastic family stuck together.

But through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the Fantastic Four progressively ceased to be a family made up of precious, irreplaceable individuals. Rather, the family story came to a stop, Franklin Richards ceased growing naturally, the key family dynamic stagnated and rotted, and every gimmick was tried except restoring the original successful family concept.

Team members were swapped in and out, which is fine for a team comic like the avengers, but poison for a family where people are not supposed to be expendable and interchangeable. Though each change might prove temporary, fairly long-lasting non-family stories accumulated. Anybody who kept buying Fantastic Four hoping for the first family of Marvel comics to be a family would have spent decades like Charley Brown trying to kick the football, with Lucy (Marvel) constantly jerking it away.

Fantastic Four in the 1970s: #168: Power Man (Luke Cage) replaces the Thing (Ben Grimm). #191 Reed Richards resigns and the Fantastic Four disbands. Agatha Harkness also develops major family negatives (not just temporary quarrels) with her son Nicholas and Salem's Seven.

Fantastic Four in the 1980s: In a great run, John Byrne replaces the Thing with the She-Hulk, moves the Fantastic Four from the Baxter Building to the Four Freedoms Plaza, has Sue Storm go crazy for a while, very justifiably declares the Ben Grimm/Alicia Masters romance dead of stagnation, and gets the Human Torch (Johnny Storm) and Alicia Masters involved. Then Roger Stern and John Buscema had Johnny and Alicia marry. (Good! Some forward progress there, building on John Byrne's good work!) Fantastic Four #317: with Reed and Sue on temporary leave, the recently mutated Thing leads an all-new team consisting of the Human Torch, Crystal and the She-Thing.

If this last is the kind of team you want, then there's no problem killing any Fantastic Four member off and replacing them with a functionally identical hero or even a different one. You can replace the Thing with any generic muscle-man or muscle-woman, and maybe the Four (or Five, or any number) doesn't need a stretching person.

I may have missed a Reed/Sue divorce or a breakup somewhere in there, and some random alteration in Franklin's age too.

Overall, I am reminded of the kind of family where mom, say, is constantly telling the kids that their latest daddy is just as good as the one(s) before him, and they are to love him just as much.

Fantastic Four in the 1980s: It is revealed at last that Alicia has been the Skrull infiltrator Lyja (later Lyja the Laser-Fist and later still Ms. Fantastic) all through the romantic plot recently resolved in love at long last, thus making hash of the whole thing. Wolverine carves up Ben Grimm's face. Reed Richards gets killed (along with Doctor Doom) - temporarily since nobody stays dead, but for a serious amount of time - and the Ant-Man and Kristoff are on the team. (Proving that Fantastic Four is no longer a random assemblage of heroes replacing what was once a family, since you don't have to be a hero.) Marvel cancels the whole series and has superstar artist/writer Jim Lee recreate it from scratch, then retroactively throws that out too and brings back the real Fantastic Four.

There was also a temporary all-new Fantastic Four of Spiderman, Wolverine, a grey Hulk and Ghost Rider - which is the perfect summation of where this kind of family evolution leads.

If there is a firm, sustained policy on what the Fantastic Four are all about, and that vision of what they are about agrees with mine (grin), then yes you can no more kill Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic), Sue Storm (the Invisible Girl), Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) and Ben Grimm (the Thing) off and replace them than you can kill off and replace Peter Parker the Spider-Man or Bruce Wayne (Batman) in his own comic.

However, for by far the greater part of the Fantastic Four's time in mainstream continuity (1970s, 1980s, 1990s, compared to some anomalous 1960s and post-2000 stuff) this has not been the case, and in that (stagnant/broken family) model, normal mortality rates for highly expendable team members would apply.
 
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ourchair

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Blue, I love the Fantastic Four roster as family members schtick just as much as any of the more hardcore FF enthusiasts, but I don't necessarily think that the changing roster is a bad thing.

To me its really just a natural intersection of the dynamic of a family with the demands of a super-team. When the Thing gets replaced by another heavy like Luke Cage or She-Hulk, that's just a matter of Ben not having the power to stay within the super-team. It's not that he's less a member of a family, but when he can't contribute to their role as explorer-adventurers, its almost like he's become the grumpy Dutch uncle who can't pull his weight around the house.

Changing the core cast isn't necessarily BETRAYing the concept of a family or destroying what the FF are about, it's just an idea that needs some greater consideration before being executed. In short, it needs an Ultimatization. The notion of what family is suppsoed to be has changed so often across the past few decades that having the roster become so sacrosanct as to only include the core four would betray the mutability of the family concept.

I mean, what is a family anyway? For Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny they're tied mostly by legal relations: spouses and in-laws and one grumpy best friend... but it's not the only definition of a family. For most people it's blood relations. Sometimes its just a bunch of strangers sharing space, heat and water. For others, its the ability to share confidential matters with similar folk united by kinship.
 

Guijllons

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Not being the biggest fan of superheroes, I see the Fantastic four books not to be a series about the team, but the individual characters of Reed, Ben, Sue and Johnny. It's their group dynamics that pull me to the stories.
I see them as a totally different kind of team to the X-Men or Avengers whose rosters can change as frequently as they like. And friends are the new family, right?

And do I think that the FF could survive without a core member? Even if a new member really joined the family in a convincing matter? As a team, sure, but as a story about the fantastic four? No, not for me. 3+1 only.
 

E.Vi.L.

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I doubt the UFF will go through that kind of roster changes. This seems to be to be precisely the kind of convoluted stories from 616 that the UU was designed to do away with.

IMO, anyway.
 

David Blue

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John Q. Public said:
I think sales figures might play a role in this.
How do you mean?

I could see this going all sorts of ways, though I hope E.Vi.L. is right (because I agree with Guijllonsin in seeing the Fantastic Four as a different kind of team to the X-Men or Avengers), and I think that he might be.

Dramatic events - weddings, divorces, deaths and funerals, breakups (romantic or of the team), wonder-children with cosmic messiah powers, shocking revelations (for example if Doctor Franklin Storm was revealed to be an alien "mole" agent), including glamorous new members in the team (She-Hulk!) and so on may generate sales.

On the other hand, keeping this sort of stuff within bounds (not eliminating it, because soap opera is an essential feature, but moderating it) may also lead to sales in the long run, but how could you ever know?

Maybe that potential that the Fantastic Four once seemed to have, to go on and on as "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!" has gone now, either because decades of not being a successful super-family have taken it out of that imaginative space and offered it up to new contenders such as the Incredibles, or because as ourchair very rightly points out, the "notion of what family is supposed to be has changed [...] often across the past few decades..." Maybe if you pass up the sales that are always quickly available by putting the team through major changes, you won't get anything much in return for it, because you'll be referring to once-unquestioned social expectations that now have been questioned and have changed.
 
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David Blue said:
How do you mean?

I said..I..think...sales.....may..play..a..role..in...this.

Then again, after contemplating your questions, I really doubt that profit plays a part in the industry's decisions on the life expectancy of a character or a comic book. They are way too noble and ethical to stoop to that sort of thing.
 
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David Blue

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ourchair said:
Blue, I love the Fantastic Four roster as family members schtick just as much as any of the more hardcore FF enthusiasts, but I don't necessarily think that the changing roster is a bad thing.
Depending on the circumstances, I would agree. For example, if Reed and Sue got married and had a child (which I hope will not happen quickly), I would want that child to grow up normally (in a couple of decades) and be a member of the team, either an active explorer, or if without powers at last included in some role such as Doctor Franklin Richards has. I might find it odd and unpleasant if Reed and Sue's child was excluded from the team in some way in order to keep the present roster unchanged. The kid has his or her rights by blood, and if that means the team logo changes to five, it changes to five.

ourchair said:
To me its really just a natural intersection of the dynamic of a family with the demands of a super-team. When the Thing gets replaced by another heavy like Luke Cage or She-Hulk, that's just a matter of Ben not having the power to stay within the super-team. It's not that he's less a member of a family, but when he can't contribute to their role as explorer-adventurers, its almost like he's become the grumpy Dutch uncle who can't pull his weight around the house.
There is a lot of truth in that, and I think you are right in pointing to Ben Grimm as a candidate for replacement due to his being chronically under-powered.

But there is also something that is not mentioned. In the Fantastic Four, team slots are family slots. There are bonds between the exploration team members that don't apply to people who aren't involved in that any more. A Thing that can't hold his place in the team doesn't belong in team bonding, which is also family bonding, and (since we came in on a discussion of mortality and superhero life expectancy in the Ultimate Universe) he is obviously not indispensable in the way that a real team/family member is.

ourchair said:
Changing the core cast isn't necessarily BETRAYing the concept of a family or destroying what the FF are about, it's just an idea that needs some greater consideration before being executed. In short, it needs an Ultimatization. The notion of what family is suppsoed to be has changed so often across the past few decades that having the roster become so sacrosanct as to only include the core four would betray the mutability of the family concept.
Is the mutability of values the sort of thing that can be betrayed? How much loyalty is mutability owed?

I think when I said this, I was talking about much the same sort of thing you also see, just evaluating it differently: "Overall, I am reminded of the kind of family where mom, say, is constantly telling the kids that their latest daddy is just as good as the one(s) before him, and they are to love him just as much."

ourchair said:
I mean, what is a family anyway?
Exactly. This is the key term, it cannot be dispensed with, and there is no universally accepted definition of it.

ourchair said:
For Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny they're tied mostly by legal relations: spouses and in-laws and one grumpy best friend... but it's not the only definition of a family.
I only half agree with that. That's certainly not the only definition of a family, but I do not agree that Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny are tied mostly by legal relations, I think they are tied mostly by blood relations that are more fundamental and ancient than any laws, and which laws if they are just recognise, give way to, and only then support and consolidate.

But there I am drifting right away from comic book group dynamics and the character life expectancies that might be based on them.

ourchair said:
For most people it's blood relations. Sometimes its just a bunch of strangers sharing space, heat and water.
Indeed.

ourchair said:
For others, its the ability to share confidential matters with similar folk united by kinship.
There are, as you say, many possible ways to understand this.
 

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