Marvel's X-Men Writer Comments on Controversial Fantastic Four Mutant Retcon

In November, Marvel Comics made a controversial retcon to Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Sue Richards, in the pages of Fantastic Four. The Dan Slott-written Fantastic Four #26 revealed that Franklin is not a mutant, which had explained his cosmic powers since 1982. This retcon proved controversial, especially among those following the current era of X-Men. Franklin appeared on a list of Omega Level Mutants early on in the run, and the X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover seemed to be setting up future stories about Franklin's mutant status. Speaking to Adventures in Poor Taste, Marvel's "Head of X" Jonathan Hickman commented on how the change to Franklin's origin affects his plans.

"Well, part of the problem with talking about this stuff publicly–and this is one of the (minor) reasons that I just don't do it much anymore–is because it really doesn't serve anyone to show how the sausage is made," he said. "When I was writing Avengers, I was working from a tight outline. I pretty much knew where I was headed the entire run. Not everyone works that way, and it would be unreasonable for there to be an expectation that everyone work that way, but I do. None of that changes the fact that one day I woke up and had to deal with Old Man Steve Rogers, Superior Spider-Man, Unworthy Thor, and Iron Man a billion miles away from Earth in Guardians. These are just the naturally-occurring complications of writing 'Big Books' at Marvel.

"Now, obviously, we would not have laid down the track we did in House of X and Powers of X and X-Men/Fantastic Four if we weren't planning on playing with that stuff–and who knows, we still might–but the truth is that Dan's story evolved. Which is kind of the larger point. Dan's the writer of the Fantastic Four. He gets to write the book. And I support him the same way I'd support Leah on hers or Zeb on his, and on and on. Velocity and volume make the job hard enough, and none of us have the time or energy to spare on pointless territorial disputes. And at the end of the day, you're talking about characters that have been around for over 50 years. It'll be fine."

Franklin's powers weren't always considered a mutation. The first hint that he may be one came from the classic X-Men story "Days of Future Past," where he had married Rachel Summers and was with her in one of the dystopian timeline's mutant camps. John Bryne, who drew "Days of Future Past," later confirmed Franklin was a mutant during his run writing and drawing Fantastic Four. Before these stories, characters only said that Franklin was full of cosmic energy. Most presumed it was the result of the cosmic rays that bombard his parents, turning them into Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman.

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