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Off My Mind: Who's Really Responsible for the Human Torch's Death?

Is there one person we can place all the blame on?

It's been a few months since we saw the death of Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. He made a noble sacrifice but was it really necessary? We haven't seen much of the actually discussion about his death other than the silent mourning in issue #588. Things are moving on for the rest of the family in this week's FF #2 and Amazing Spider-Man #659.

The other members of the Fantastic Four clearly feel guilt for not being able to prevent his death. After all, they are a team and a family. They have always been there for each other...except this time when Johnny really could have used some assistance. 

It may not be fair to the others to place any blame on them but for everything the team has faced, this is something that shouldn't have happened. Who really is responsible for Johnny's death (no, we're not going to say Jonathan Hickman). Let's revisit what happened in that tragic (and well written) issue that brought an end to the team. == TEASER ==

Sue Richards, the Invisible Woman 

Sue is Johnny's big sister. When their mom died, it was left to Sue to watch over her little brother. Yes, Johnny is an adult now, even if he doesn't always act like one. Sue can't be expected to constantly hold Johnny's had after all these years. The Human Torch has faced incredible dangers on his own and it's unfortunate that Sue chose this time to leave the team to go on her underwater adventure with Namor. She already has plenty of responsibilities to her team and her family. Did it really fall on her to be the representative for the human race? She might be one of the very few that could keep Namor under control perhaps she'll think twice next time she needs to leave the others behind. She had good intentions and the fate of many were involved. It wouldn't be fair to put the blame on Sue.

Ben Grimm, the Thing 

Ben was there with Johnny up until his final moment. It was supposed to be Ben defending the gateway to the Negative Zone with Johnny keeping the kids safe in the Baxter Building. But Ben was in his human form at the time. He obtained a serum from the Future Foundation that would turn him human for one week once a year. He decided to take it as soon as he got it. Sure, he deserved to see if it worked and deserved to become human once again. The problem is, he made an impulsive decision. He didn't even wait to get Reed's advice before trying out this magical potion. Who knows what could have happened. It was just really bad timing that Sue and Reed both were called away. If he was in his rock form, perhaps he would've stood more of a chance than Johnny. Ben didn't choose to be on the safe side of the doorway. Johnny forced Ben to stay with the kids and he faced the hordes of Annihilus. Ben will carry a lot of guilt for his decision to become human but you can't blame him either. Johnny made the choice to push Ben away. It's just too bad that Ben found himself transforming back to his rock form moments after he was pushed to safety.

The Future Foundation, Franklin and Valeria 

Why not blame those pesky kids? They made the formula that changed Ben and it was in trying to keep the kids safe that both Ben and Johnny were ready to sacrifice themselves. Isn't Valeria a super-genius? Isn't Franklin super-powerful? But they are just kids...really smart kids but they don't have the experience to see the big picture. They can't be blamed for being smart or for being kids. They're clearly off the hook for this one. As far as who made the big mess in the microwave...that's another story.


It was his minions that (seemingly) tore Johnny apart. You could argue that they were just defending their territory. They didn't ask for a big old gateway to the Baxter Building to be built on their doorstep. Annihilus has a right to be angry with humans after what Nova did to him. But this isn't exactly the same Annihilus, right? He did try to do the right thing by returning the remains of Johnny's suit to Reed. (But what if Annihilus is actually keeping Johnny alive and locked away in a prison?)

Reed Richards, Mister Fantastic 

This is the man that wanted to solve everything. He didn't have too much of a choice when Silver Surfer arrived on Earth demanding that Reed explain to Galactus why there was a dead body of Galactus buried deep beneath the surface. Reed had to do whatever he could to save the billions of lives on Nu-World. I do think this is part of Reed's problem. He does want to save everyone. He often begins big crazy plans but moves on or is pulled to the next. There are some questions that should be asked. Why was there a doorway to the Negative Zone in the Baxter Building, the same place where his family...his kids lived? Where were the safety protocols that would absolutely prevent anyone from entering without his okay?

Some might say that ultimately it's Johnny that is responsible. Yes, he made a sacrifice. He could have stayed safe but how could he leave Ben, in human form, to deal with the horde of deadly aliens. I mentioned that it's not really right to blame someone for this tragic incident, but I will place the blame on someone. That someone I blame is Reed Richards. Don't get me wrong, I dig the guy. He's brilliant even if he gets distracted or in over his head. My big problem with all of this is this shouldn't have happened. I'm not saying the team shouldn't have been separated. They can't always be together. The threat from the Negative Zone shouldn't have happened. Reed may be an explorer and may have the best intentions but he should have made sure there was absolutely no way having a doorway to the Negative Zone would could ever threaten his family and Earth.

So I say, shame on you Reed Richards. Hopefully things are better locked up now. If Johnny does ever come back, Reed better make sure he makes it up to him. Who agrees with me? Is Reed ultimately to blame? Does it fall on someone else? Should no one be blamed at all?
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Posted by TypingKira

It's Reed's fault. Y'know, by default. 

"Johnny's dead Namor!" cried Sue. 
"Die, Richards!" 
"But. . . he was torn apart by monsters. . . "
"I proclaim that it is still Richard's fault!" 

Posted by DoctorTrips

Who's responsible? The writer, silly.

Posted by Aheld92

Valid argument and I agree Reed is partially responsible, who keeps a gateway to a dimension filled with monsters in their home! 

Posted by JonesDeini
@TypingKira said:
" It's Reed's fault. Y'know, by default. 

"Johnny's dead Namor!" cried Sue. 
"Die, Richards!" 
"But. . . he was torn apart by monsters. . . "
"I proclaim that it is still Richard's fault!" 

Yeah, it's waaay to easy to blame Reed. It was a tragedy to them all, but I blame nobody for this. Life happens and sometimes so does death. Honestly Johnny had cease to grow as a character to me, even during Hickman's marvelous run. Like Jason Todd before him, he'll be more important in "death" than life. 

Interesting that you interpreted Annihilus as trying to return his costume. I read that panel as him mocking Reed. 
Posted by The Myth

I don't believe Johnny's dead, he's in the Negetive Zone beboppin' around with Lyja!!! ;)    

Posted by Eyz

Joe Quesa....oops.

Carry on.

(also, we can't keep blaming the man for everything)

Posted by dorsk188

We should blame whoever convinced both major publishers that "major events" and frequent character deaths increases readership.

...I feel like I should try to soften the cynicism of my comment... so... puppies. 
Posted by Bestostero

...but he's not dead! :)

Posted by HellionVulcan

Until i see Johnny's dead body i aren't believing hes dead but I don't think any ones to blame it just happened but the thing will feel guilt for it thou knowing he was helpless to do anything or well clobber something .

Posted by Billy Batson

The writers :p

Posted by Marshal Victory

Johnnys gone for what 12 months or so ?Maybe a bit longer.An dont let those kids off the hook.They will never learn that way.
Posted by TypingKira
@DoctorTrips said:
" Who's responsible? The writer, silly. "
Posted by matthuliz
Chris Evans, because he took on the role of Captain America.
So the writers thought "oh men! who's gonna play Torch now?"
"well, why don't we just kill him"

Posted by Marcovaldo

I think there is going to be an important "resurrection" in Fantastic Four # 600... and, of course, there will be a Fantastic Four # 600.

Edited by Xenozoic Shaman

I blame us.  If we didn't buy Fantastic Four in the first place, they would never have gotten to the point where they "killed" him off.

Posted by TheCheeseStabber

I blame Stan Lee He create he DESTROY

Posted by Emerald Dragonfly

I blame alonso & quesada. And believe me, not only for that case.

Posted by blaakmawf

I blame society.

Posted by Arevish
@blaakmawf said:
" I blame society. "
ahahahahah :)
@Emerald Dragonfly said:
" I blame alonso & quesada. And believe me, not only for that case. "
Quesada ruined spidey's life, but the REAL killer (and "ruiner") is Bendis.
Posted by atomicrobo5

Reed.  One of the smartest minds in the Marvel Universe does some rather stupid stuff.  Like having that door way in a building with children living in it.

Posted by jubeiyagyuX
@JonesDeini said:
"  Interesting that you interpreted Annihilus as trying to return his costume. I read that panel as him mocking Reed.  "

My thoughts exactly.
Posted by TheGoldenOne
@atomicrobo5 said:
" Reed.  One of the smartest minds in the Marvel Universe does some rather stupid stuff.  Like having that door way in a building with children living in it. "
Posted by MooseyMcMan

I still firmly believe that it's impossible to kill someone MADE OUT OF FIRE. 

He'll be back. And it'll turn out he was never dead. JUST WAIT AND SEE!
Posted by Radread

 Everyone had equal blame here, it wasn't just one person's fault. 
Posted by FadeToBlackBolt

Jonathan Hickman's weird desire to alienate the reader from Reed in every way.

Posted by RYU/BATMAN

We could find out soon enough that Johnny might have not died, but is being controlled as a puppet of Annihlus. However, I think it is Sue Storm and Ben Grimm's fault that Johnny died. 

Posted by thecheckeredman

  So I say, shame on you Reed Richards. Hopefully things are better locked up now. If Johnny does ever come back     

You mean when he comes back. -sigh-
Posted by dondasch
@TypingKira said:
" @DoctorTrips said:
" Who's responsible? The writer, silly. "
QFT.  "
Bit harsh, no ? 

Anyhoo, remember everyone, this is the Marvel Universe where no one really dies, they are only put on the creative back burner until, magically, the need arises to provide a miraculous return.  All is well.  Wink wink.

Blame can be cast around to all characters involved.  Seems to be a perfect storm of events and decisions in leading up to the Human Torch's "death".  Little things add up to result in major events.  For a real world study, look at the BP oil disaster and consider all the decisions and parts that led up to it.  Nothing merely happens.

Reading suggestion:  Google "The Nail" and you'll have a reference to analyze and see the various events.
Posted by hrodvitnir

I'll be honest, I've never been a fan of the Fantastic Four, especially not Reed, so I could find it easy to place the blame on him, but in the end none of the characters can be blamed.  If anyone can be everyone else has already covered them in their comments. (Writers, readers, and editors.)

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

Everyone's guilty!!! they should all go in treatment!

Posted by hrdwrkngXsoldier

Um... he's not dead.  He probably went supernova and torched their faces off.  He will end up building an army and fighting Blastaar for controll of the negative zone after he knocks somebody up there and becomes king.  His wife and unborn child will be killed by Annihulus, but he will blame his old family, mostly reed for his short sightedness, and come back with a group of warbound and declare war on the ....positive zone.


Positive and negative will cancel out, and the whole thing will be a piece about net neutrality.



Posted by GothamRed


Posted by jubilee042

i think the death of reed would have been a bigger impact and tragedy

Posted by thiagofonseca

I don't know. The gateway was not that big. Johny could have stayed on the Earth side burning the monsters one by one as they tried to pass through it. So it's his own fault.

Posted by DEGRAAF

Reeds could be to blame and you make a valid arguement but Reed is considered by 98% of the world the smartest man alive, i would be suprised if he didnt have life threatening devices and portals in his common vacinity and with a kid as smart as or smarter than himself, it would be hard to keep everything secure.


My question would be why were they playing with the portal to begin with? I would guess it  was turned off in a secure room, so if Valeria could make the room unsecure the machine should still have been off. This actually first confused me because i thought they went in to the place of all the Reeds.


Also i know they are just kids but a kid that can do just about anything and a sister who is smarter than just about anyone, they should be able to take on a universal size army. The only thing i could think of is that their fear made them hesitate and forget any training and experience they previously had.

Posted by Duo_forbidden

He did try to do the right thing by returning the remains of Johnny's suit to Reed. (But what if Annihilus is actually keeping Johnny alive and locked away in a prison?)

My thoughts exactly. Just because he showed remains of Johnny's uniform doesn't mean he's dead.

But really, if I had to choose who's at fault, I'm blaming the kids. Those meddling kids lol J/k.

Posted by SigTau123

i think that jonny knew what the danger was in the negative zone portal

overall its jonny fault

and im not trying to make fun of the dead guy here

Posted by cyberninja

Fantastic Four readers was declining so writers had to take drastic measures to gain more audience for the series by any means necessary, so who do I blame? Well honestly I blame the damn comic book fans that's who, if they didn't lose interest in the series in the first place, none of this would have happened. You people should all be ashamed of yourselves!    

Posted by Mr. Kamikaze

Johnny is going to come across Lyja in the Negative Zone, make Skrull babies, then help out Namor, Cyclops, Hope, and Nemesis. Afterwards, Lyja will betray him...again, she will die this time because Mr. Storm just ain't having it anymore. Then he is going into space, with the help of Blaastar, and joining the Nova Corps, helping revive Richard Rider...because Richard Rider being dead was a shameless cop out....


Well...I can dream.
Posted by Kairan1979

I blame Reed Richards and his crazy projects. Keeping portal to Negative Zone in your home? You don't have to be world's smartest man to understand why it's bad decision.

Posted by Enderof295

Does anyone really believe that Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, is really dead?  I think it is utterly preposterous to assume anything.  The alleged death was off-panel.  Personally, I think it would be utterly bad-ass if Johnny managed to survive and had to develop some survival skills.  Basically, he has always been a pretty-boy hedonist, devoted uncle and team player.  How about Johnny find a creative way to destroy Annihilus' minions?  Or maybe have Johnny become the new ruler of the Negative Zone, seeking revenge for having been left there to die?  With Johnny's knowledge of the Fantastic Four's security and ability to create and control fire, he could become a very dangerous villain.

Posted by obscurefan

Joe Quesada, for apparently thinking that the definition of a "Heroic Age" is to have characters start dying left and right.

Posted by sladewilson30

the only person responsible for the human torch's death is himself, because he stayed to fight off the negative zone onslaught, it was a true heroe's death, he fought till the bitter end

Posted by jloneblackheart

I think you have Annihilus pegged all wrong. He wasn't returning the suit, he was boasting. It was Annihilus who was invading in the first place. It's his nature. 

I don't think you can blame heroes decisions and circumstances for Johnny's death. It's Annihilus' fault. But, having a portal to the Negative Zone without every possible back up security feature available is a little reckless. 
Posted by WadeWilson

reed richards, man that guy is such a jerk

Posted by ReVamp

I blame J. Storm himself for getting becoming a stale character, but mostly the writers for letting him get stale. Its what let him die.

Posted by RavenT2

I have always thought that Reed was a bit of a moron to have all those experiments right around his family. Sure he's a scientist but... there's a limit and rule about bringing your work home with you. But, the death of the Human Torch was just a case of Johnny being the hero we all knew he was. He made a choice. Sure, Reed had his hand in the tragedy but Torch made the decision. I'm sure he blames no one and was proud to go down fighting.

Flame on.

Posted by DH69

Just read FF #2, doom really knows how to give someone a guilt trip :p

Posted by maxicere
@DoctorTrips said:

" Who's responsible? The writer, silly. "

Kill the Torch was a stupid idea.
 I'll not buy futures issues of Fantastic Four anymore.
Posted by Veidt

Reed is to blame, yes. We even got a hint from Valeria about how the safe measures Reed has been using aren't enough, when she said something like "seriously dad? I won't be able to sleep at night" while sneaking through the air ducts.

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