After reading the extra-fantastic Fantastic Four #600, I'm now convinced that if you put writer Jonathan Hickman in a room with fellow comics writer Grant Morrison, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and a word processor, the universe as we know it would completely shatter. So, just for the record, NEVER DO THAT.
With this five-part, 100-page opus "Forever," Hickman once again shows he's crafting a Fantastic Four saga spanning years with no discernible end in sight. Numerous plot points he's been laying ever since taking over the title with #570 come into play, the major one being the return of the presumably-deceased Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. Hmmm...The Human Torch returning in Fantastic Four #600...Gee, who saw that one coming?
Regular artist Steve Epting picks things up from the end of FF #12, with the alien Kree invading New York City while the Anti-Priest makes his move to open the gateway to the Negative Zone to unleash the forces of Annihilus. Carmine Di Giandomenico reveals exactly what happened to Johnny Storm after the events of Fantastic Four #587 and how he managed to survive trapped in the Negative Zone with Annihilus. Ming Doyle gets the story of Medusa's reaction to her Inhuman husband Black Bolt taking four more brides and plans for going to Earth. Leinil Francis Yu tells the brief tale of Galactus informing Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman that a Galactus Seed on Earth must be destroyed before it can replace him. Lastly, Farel Dalrymple ends things on an upbeat and somewhat theological note with young Franklin Richards and the ramifications of his creation of a baby universe in Fantastic Four #574.
Oh, is that all you can give us, Hickman? Slacker.
Yes, Hickman is demanding a lot from his readers these days. One hell of a lot. However, if you're willing to make that 30+ issue investment, even going to back to reread things you thought were inconsequential the first time, Hickman seems to be willing to give you the payoffs you expect. Fantastic Four has become an incredibly ambitious series over these past two and a half years, but as long as those payoffs keep coming on a regular basis, this run could be something fans will talk about for decades.