A classic Marvel hero has finally met his killer on the battlefield, and she is somehow even more terrifying than what he already knew.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Fantastic Four # 40, available now from Marvel.
The Reckoning has unleashed chaos throughout the entire Marvel Universe. Not only has Earth nearly fallen to an alien invasion, but some of its greatest heroes have left for the far reaches of the cosmos to fight another all-important battle. Even worse, it is across the stars where one of them has come face-to-face with his own demise. No matter how unstoppable the Thing might be, his story will end at the hands of Rapture, and there is nothing he can do to stop her.
As the heroes of Earth fight back the invading Badoon hordes, Reed Richards has assembled his own, smaller team to take on the stars. No matter how serious the threat to their world is, Reed, She-Hulk, Jack of Hearts, and the Thing are the only ones who can protect the all-powerful M’Kraan Crystal. Shortly after arriving in Shi’ar space in the pages of Fantastic Four #40 (by Dan Slott, Rachael Stott, Jesus Aburtov, and VC’s Joe Caramagna), the heroes are greeted by the sight of a battlefield already torn apart by other forces. Even worse, Ben Grimm has finally come face-to-face with the one person he truly fears. It might be his first time meeting Rapture in the flesh, but he already knows that she will be the one who kills him.
Back in 2021s Fantastic Four # 28 by Dan Slott and RB Silva, the titular team was locked in a vicious battle against the living embodiment of entropy herself, the Griever at the End of All Things. Thanks to the Forever Gate, the Fantastic Four were exposed to a myriad of other worlds and futures, including their own deaths. In the case of Ben Grimm, he got the chance to live through his eventual demise at the end of Rapture’s blade. Without any idea of who she was or why they were fighting, the Thing experienced the violent death that awaited him at some unknown point in the future, and now that fateful day has come.
The Fantastic Four have all emerged victorious from countless battles against impossible threats, yet the appearance of Rapture now has left the Thing shaken to its core. Assuming that the stage truly has been set for their first and final confrontation, Ben at least knows a few things about what is coming his way. Considering how powerful the M’Kraan Crystal is, seeing Rapture so close to it does imply that she is part of a separate effort to attain it. There is always the possibility that she has come to safeguard it just as the Thing has, although that would paint his death as an unnecessary tragedy born of a ridiculous misunderstanding. On the other hand, if Rapture has come to claim the M’Kraan Crystal for malevolent reasons, she might be just as bad as the Reckoning itself.
If this really is the end of Ben Grimm, it would also be the end of an era for Marvel’s First Family. The possibility of lives being lost in the Reckoning War was already all but assured, but the Griever’s visions coming to fruition taints any otherwise ordinary danger with an unexpectedly horrific ambiance. With the stakes higher than ever before Rapture arrived, there is at least some chance that Ben’s ultimate demise has not actually come to pass. Then again, that would only be a delay of the inevitable.
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