It wouldn’t be Marvel Comics if the spoilers weren’t plastered across the web before local comic shops had a chance to open their doors, so it’s really not even a spoiler by this point to tell you this, but the Human Torch isn’t dead anymore.
Last year he died after taking on the Annihilation Wave inside the Negative Zone, and while we were never shown a body, Annihilus did show off his uniform to Reed.
So did Johnny die, or was he just held captive?
He died. Several times. That’s kinda the twist, and something that only worked out because of it being in the Negative Zone. Johnny kept getting killed and brought back, the entire place is a cycle of death and rebirth to lead to yet more death. In fact, when Reed talked to Annihilus, Johnny was just straight up dead, it was that conversation that caused Annihilus to have Johnny brought back.
Imprisoned alongside a group of Universal Inhumans, and used as gladiators to die and be brought back over and over again, and on top of that wearing a very Tron like outfit. Eventually he learns of the other Reed’s offer to reopen the gates to the Negative Zone and allow the Wave back through, which is what led to Johnny and his friends breaking free from Annihilus’s prison.
An epic battle later, Johnny has seized control of the Cosmic Control Rod, Annihilus is like a dog on a (literal) chain, and he’s standing in front of the gate in time for Spider-Man to see that his friend is, in fact, alive.
Tags: Fantastic Four, FF, Future Foundation, Human Torch, Jonathan Hickman, Spoiler Warnings