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.
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 WomanSue 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 ThingBen 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 ValeriaWhy 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.
AnnihilusIt 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 FantasticThis 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?