The Fantastic Four is now a trio. Marvel Comics this week killed off Johnny Storm, also known as The Human Torch, in a blaze of publicity. How did the beloved comic-book character meet his maker — and will he remain dead for long?

What happened to The Human Torch?
Johnny Storm sacrifices himself so that his fellow superhero, The Thing, can escape the Negative Zone, a parallel universe discovered by his Fantastic Four cohort Rex Reed. In issue #587, currently on newsstands, Storm is shown being overcome by monstrous bug people from the alternate world.

Will he stay dead?
Almost certainly not, says Bob Gough at "No matter how nasty a comic book character's death may seem... no one stays dead for long." Each of the Fantastic Four has, in fact, "died" before, only to be resurrected by "timeline tricks" and "other deus ex machinas." Add to them Captain America, Batman, and Superman, says Scott Thill at Wired, who all died before making "inevitable" comebacks. Marvel is "currently looking to smoke Spider-Man as well."

So why is everyone making such a big deal out of this?
Simply because "there's nothing like a dead superhero to dredge up press and sales," says Thill. To prove it, Fantastic Four #587 sold out "before officially hitting the stands," says Joey Esposito at IGN. "Looks like the hype machine paid off." Yes, but next time it decides to kill off a character, Marvel should let fans find out from the comic book itself, says David Uzumeri at Comics Alliance, rather than "blasting it from the mainstream media" before the issue is even published. Do they even know the meaning of the words "spoiler alert"?

Sources:, Wired, Comics Alliance