Dwayne McDuffie and Paul Pelletier have been phenomenal on this title.
I read on Tom's blog that Dwayne McDuffie's been waiting a couple decades to have the reins of this book, and I wouldn't want to take him off; he really gets it. And I'm loving Pelletier's style. I will take a cue from Mike's pitch and suggest Ed McGuinness as the cover artist, if he's available.
With your permission, O Editor in Chief, I'd like to build upon my Defenders pitch in this book regardless of whether or not you mandate a linewide crossover (which I still think would be a good idea as represented by an emoticon smiley face with a big smile and dollar signs for eyes... and I think he has a pimp cane with a diamond handle, too).
That means establishing various FF-related characters (Doom, Namor, Black Panther, Blackbolt etc.) as a unified group standing against American Initiative hegemony, and also dealing with a Sue, Reed and Namor triangle. Hopefully this would lead to the cataclysmic crossover series I described, but I could tone back the universal nature of it and have it be contained merely in this book and FFWest.
I was also thinking that perhaps Johnny Storm might move to L.A. and join Shulkie's team (where she's working as a lawyer again btw) and thusly try and capitalize and the movie-star lifestyle (and if the other members of that team were Lyja and Medusa, it would just be a bunch of ex-FF ex-GFs and that has the potential for hilarity and maybe even incentive for girls to check it out, kind of a lighter, Marvelized Birds of Prey). But I should really get back to the FF.
At the beginning of my run, Sue and Reed would come back and Black Panther and Storm would return to Wakanda. This leaves Sue, Reed, Ben and an opening for an additional character. Again, I'd love your input here, but I was thinking about having it be an Initiative Mandated lamebrain who doesn't really go well with the FF (Reed said okay as a favor to Tony, who doesn't get that the FF's a family, not a team). Maybe one of the newbies from the Initiative. Alternately, I'd be okay with letting Dwayne McDuffie build upon his most recent story (not that I'm supposed to do that) and let Gravity be a temporary member. Again, I could really use your knowledge of this universe.
As Mike pointed out when listing potential problems with my pitch, this would shift a little of the focus in this book off the four and onto other characters, including their enemy, but I think it would be the set up for a very interesting story, as well as an examination of where the somewhat old school Fantastic Four fits in the new world. To that end, since I don't know how long he's planning on doing Thunderbolts with Ellis, I might want to bring Deodato Jr. in for the arc leading up to my Defenders stuff (he's definitely my top pick for that title if it happens). Bear in mind, I'm 100% happy to keep Pelletier on since he's got a great style for the FF, but Deodato might bring a darker, more realistic look that could really suit the story I'm describing.
I await your comments, O Sean, the Great and Terrible.