Mister Fantastic, Reed Richards.
Has he died? Sort of. At one time it was thought that Reed and Dr. Doom killed each other, but it turned out they were sent off into time. Also, the entire Fantastic Four was thought killed during the horrific Heroes Reborn event in the 90s.
Would it be a big deal if he died? Potentially to the Marvel Universe. Even though Reed has never cured cancer or solved world hunger, he’s the smartest guy on the planet and represents man’s best hope for making a better future through science. In terms of the team - probably not that big a deal at this point.
The Invisible Woman, Sue Storm Richards.
Has she died? Not really. They tricked us into thinking she might, but it turned out to be a Sue Storm from 500 years in the future. Don’t ask. She has, however, become evil and pranced around in sexy bondage outfits as Malice, which probably made her want to die. Also, all of the Fantastic Four were thought dead during the horrible ‘Heroes Reborn’ storyline, but I think everybody is supposed to just forget about that.
Would it be a big deal if she died? For the team, yes. The Fantastic Four are a family and if Reed is the semi-absent father, Sue is the glue that holds everybody together. The team’s roughest personal patches have almost always centered around Sue’s problems, like her miscarriage and her days as Malice.
The Human Torch, Johnny Storm.
Has he died? Weirdly, not yet. Unless we count the fact that all of the Fantastic Four were thought dead during the horrible ‘Heroes Reborn’ storyline, but I think everybody is supposed to just forget about that.
Would it be a big deal if he died? It’s hard to imagine anybody caring. The Human Torch has not been a player of any sort in the Marvel Universe for a long time. He’s beloved on the team, and I guess his death would be a big deal to the other characters (as again, he’s one of the few comic characters I can think of who hasn’t died), but it doesn’t feel like something that shakes the book to the core. What would be interesting is that if he died there could be an argument that Marvel continues the gritting up of their world by killing one of the ‘fun’ characters. As this is the ‘Heroic Age’ or something over there, that would be against what they’re supposedly trying to do with their titles.
The Thing, Ben Grimm.
Has he died? Not yet. He did take a long break on Battleworld, the planet made by the Beyonder for Secret Wars. And as with everybody else, he was thought to be dead by the populace as a result of the industry-ruining Heroes Reborn event.
Would it be a big deal if he died? I don’t know, but he isn’t dying. He was shown as being one of the key players in Marvel’s next ‘event,’ Fear Itself. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
So who dies?
My guess: Sue Storm. Also, nobody. The death of Sue would be a big deal for the team and would allow the book to spin out a year of stories, at least. Reed would be destroyed and it would be interesting to see him tackling magic and religion along with science to get his wife back. Johnny would be totally messed up, but maybe the way she dies could be the catalyst the character needs to get out there into the Marvel Universe more than he has been. And The Thing would be a wreck, and would maybe even leave the team - again - to go do some soul searching.
But of course she won’t stay dead. Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America took a page from DC longform events like The Death of Superman and Batman: Knightfall but stepped up the game. He killed Captain America, replaced him and spent years playing the story out (quite well, I have to admit, although I wasn’t totally sold on the finale of Captain America: Reborn). I bet the death of this character will be just as longform a story (in fact I wonder if The Thing’s presence in Fear Itself doesn’t spring from the death of the FF member), but within three years everything will be at status quo again.
This, really, is the problem with the two major superhero universes. As much as Marvel’s Joe Quesada loves talking about change, everything is just a loop around back to the original status quo. I like a lot of what Marvel did in the last two years on a meta-story level, with Norman Osborne becoming the leader of a new, evil Avengers and other fallout from Civil War, but the reality is that none of this stuff sticks. If you don’t like something that’s happening in your favorite comic or universe, wait it out - it’ll be back to what you liked eventually.
So go bravely into that dark, temporary night, member of the Fantastic Four. We’ll see you when you get resurrected in a few years.