For nearly half a century, the Baxter Building has been the iconic home and headquarters of the Fantastic Four. Earlier this year, that all changed when it went on the market, purchased by none other than Spider-Man.
As a bit of meta background, the Fantastic Four have found themselves in the middle of a bit of a pissing contest between Marvel and the studio that owns the movie rights, Fox. While unconfirmed, reports have circulated for years now that Marvel wants the rights back, in addition to the ones for the X-Men characters (although not being able to use the term “mutant” in their Cinematic Universe has provided the Inhumans with some interesting opportunities).
Despite Fox clearly having no idea what to do with a Fantastic Four movie, the studio hasn’t budged on their holdings, and unlike Sony, they don’t seem very interested in working with Marvel. In response, Marvel has seemingly spent the last couple of years taking out their frustrations on the comic book version of the characters (although obviously they’ve denied there’s any direct connection).
Major X-Men characters have had their origin stories changed, some have been killed off completely, and the Fantastic Four in particular has really taken a thrashing. Their comic book series has been cancelled outright, and the team has split up. Sue Storm and Reed Richards are missing, the Thing is out in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Johnny Storm is working with the Inhumans. To add some insult to injury, the Baxter Building, which they’ve owned since 1962’s Fantastic Four #3, has been sold to Peter Parker.
Thankfully, with The Amazing Spider-Man #3, we’ve at least gotten a chance to explore why Parker bought it, and what it could mean for the future of the Fantastic Four. Spoilers obviously.
So if you’re a bit behind on Marvel comics, Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, is currently the owner of a company called Parker Industries, a major tech company in line with (and perhaps partly inspired by) Stark Industries. Spidey purchased the Baxter Building to use as Parker Industries’ expanded New York offices.
Johnny Storms, the last Fantastic Four member still on Earth, gets wind of this, and is not too happy.
The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man have a long, long history together, and is as close to an honorary member as you could get. In fact, the very first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man in 1963 featured a story where Spidey sneaks into the Baxter Building in the hopes of joining the team.
Johnny sees the purchase and renovation of the Baxter Building as a betrayal, coming at a time in his life when the loss of his team still feels fresh. Peter doesn’t help of course when he reveals that he’s turned Johnny’s old room into a bathroom, that Norman Osborne think he’s Peter’s best friend, and that Peter has built a new version of the Spider-Mobile (a really fun call-back to Amazing Spider-Man #127, in which Johnny built the first Spider-Mobile).
Once things settle down though, Peter reveals the real reason he bought the building. And uh, excuse me, I think I might have something in my eye…
In a way, I can’t help but feel that this is the writing team speaking directly to the reader, assuring us that while the Fantastic Four might not be around right now, but they’re not forgotten. Someday they’ll be back, and until then, we, like Spider-Man, will keep their memory alive.