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Is Marvel Comics phasing out the Fantastic Four ahead of the upcoming movie?

Things are certainly getting interesting for Marvel’s first family of superheroes. 

With a live-action reboot of The Fantastic Four on the way, one would think that fans could expect to see more of Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm (and Doctor Doom) as we get closer to the film’s 2015 release date, but a recent report indicates that the superhero family might be disappearing altogether from the pages of Marvel’s comics in the near future.

Last week, Bleeding Cool noted the conspicuous lack of characters licensed to Twentieth Century Fox (particularly, the X-Men and Fantastic Four) in previews of the publisher’s upcoming 75th Anniversary projects. This observation quickly snowballed into a much larger story when anonymous sources in and around Marvel stepped up to report that not only would the Fantastic Four be omitted from Marvel’s anniversary materials, but the publisher was also considering a halt on the two comic book series currently being published that feature the Fantastic Four.

The snub of the team, according to Bleeding Cool, is the result of a less-than-friendly relationship between Marvel and Fox when it comes to the use of Marvel’s characters, which were licensed to the studio well before Marvel’s cinematic universe began to gel and the company was bought by Disney. (In contrast, Sony — which owns the rights to Spider-Man — currently has a more mutually beneficial relationship with Marvel.)

“Another source close to Marvel tells me that this is all coming from Marvel CEO and largest Disney shareholder Ike Perlmutter, who has been known to take these kind of things very personally indeed,” reports the site.

Along with posting a document reportedly sent to artists working on an upcoming set of 75th Anniversary trading cards for Marvel that specifically prohibits any depictions of the Fantastic Four or their supporting cast, the site also reports that much of the Fantastic Four art has been removed from Marvel’s offices. In response to the reports, Marvel Senior Editor Tom Brevoort offered a vague denial of the reports, but declined to elaborate on the company’s plans for the superhero team beyond the next few months of comic book issues.

Adding fuel to the fandom fire, long-running comics news site Comic Book Resources seemed to corroborate the initial report — at least as far as the Fantastic Four’s comic book series are concerned — stating in a May 30 article that “CBR cannot confirm the exact future of Fantastic Four and Ultimate FF, but has confirmed with multiple industry sources speaking on the condition of anonymity that a hiatus for the property is planned, at least as of recently. … The Fantastic Four characters are said to continue appearing in other Marvel titles, just not in a specifically branded Fantastic Four series.”

Various reports suggest that the publisher’s multiple X-Men series won’t suffer the same fate due to their status as some of the highest-selling titles in Marvel’s lineup, and that plans for the Fantastic Four could change now that the company’s internal initiative has been made public.

The reboot of The Fantastic Four is scheduled to hit theaters June 19, 2015.

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