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Fantastic Four

                   
Fantastic Four

Promotional art for Fantastic Four #509 (March 2004)
by Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel.
Group publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
In-story information
Type of organization Team
Base(s) Baxter Building
(formerly Avengers Mansion, Four Freedoms Plaza, Pier 4)
Agent(s) Mister Fantastic
Invisible Woman
Human Torch
The Thing
Roster
See: List of Fantastic Four members
Fantastic Four
Ff1kirby.jpg The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961). Cover art by Jack Kirby (penciller) and unconfirmed inker
Series publication information
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Genre Superhero
Publication date (vol. 1)
Nov. 1961 – Sept. 1996
(vol. 2)
Nov. 1996 – Nov. 1997
(vol. 3)
January 1998 – August 2003
(vol. 1 cont.)
September 2003 – April 2011
(FF)
May – December 2011
(vol. 1 cont. #2)
January 2012 – Present
Number of issues (vol. 1): 416
(vol. 2): 13
(vol. 3): 70
(vol. 1 cont.): 89
(FF): 11
(vol. 1 cont. #2): 2+
Creative team
Writer(s) (vol. 1)
Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, John Byrne, Roger Stern, Steve Englehart, Walt Simonson, Tom DeFalco
(vol. 2)
Jim Lee
(vol. 3)
Scott Lobdell, Chris Claremont, Mark Waid
(vol. 1 cont.)
Mark Waid, Jonathan Hickman
(FF)
Jonathan Hickman
(vol. 1 cont. #2)
Jonathan Hickman
Penciller(s) (vol. 1)
Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Rich Buckler, George Pérez, John Byrne, Walt Simonson, Paul Ryan
(vol. 2)
Jim Lee, Breth Booth
(vol. 3)
Alan Davis, Salvador Larroca, Mike Wieringo
(vol. 1 cont.)
Mike Wieringo, Mike McKone, Bryan Hitch, Dale Eaglesham, Steve Epting
(FF)
Steve Epting
Barry Kitson
(vol. 1 cont. #2)
Steve Epting
Inker(s) (vol. 1)
Joe Sinnott, Danny Bulanadi
(vol. 3)
Art Thibert, Karl Kesel
(vol. 1 cont.)
Karl Kesel
Creator(s) Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Collected editions
Essential Fantastic Four: Volume 1 ISBN 0-7851-1828-4

The Fantastic Four is a fictional superhero team appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The group debuted in The Fantastic Four #1 (cover-dated Nov. 1961), which helped to usher in a new level of realism in the medium. The Fantastic Four was the first superhero team created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby, who developed a collaborative approach to creating comics with this title that they would use from then on. As the first superhero team title produced by Marvel Comics, it formed a cornerstone of the company's 1960s rise from a small division of a publishing company to a pop-culture conglomerate. The title would go on to showcase the talents of comics creators such as Roy Thomas, John Byrne, Steve Englehart, Walt Simonson, John Buscema, George Pérez and Tom DeFalco, and is one of several Marvel titles originating in the Silver Age of Comic Books that is still in publication today.

The four individuals traditionally associated with the Fantastic Four, who gained superpowers after exposure to cosmic rays during a scientific mission to outer space, are: Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), a scientific genius and the leader of the group, who can stretch his body into incredible lengths and shapes; the Invisible Woman (Susan "Sue" Storm), who eventually married Reed, who can render herself invisible and later project powerful force fields; the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Sue's younger brother, who can generate flames, surround himself with them and fly; and the monstrous Thing (Ben Grimm), their grumpy but benevolent friend, a former college football star and Reed's college roommate as well as a good pilot, who possesses superhuman strength and endurance due to the nature of his stone-like flesh.

Ever since the original 1961 introduction, the Fantastic Four have been portrayed as a somewhat dysfunctional, yet loving, family. Breaking convention with other comic-book archetypes of the time, they would squabble and hold grudges both deep and petty, and eschewed anonymity or secret identities in favor of celebrity status. The team is also well known for its recurring encounters with characters such as the villainous monarch Doctor Doom, the planet-devouring Galactus, the sea-dwelling prince Namor, the spacefaring Silver Surfer, and the shape-changing alien Skrulls.

The Fantastic Four have been adapted into other media, including four animated television series, an aborted 1990s low-budget film, and the studio motion pictures Fantastic Four (2005) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007).

Contents

  Publication history

  Origins

Apocryphal legend has it that in 1961, longtime magazine and comic book publisher Martin Goodman was playing golf with either Jack Liebowitz or Irwin Donenfeld of rival company DC Comics, then known as National Periodical Publications, and that the top executive bragged about DC's success with the new superhero team the Justice League of America.[note 1] While film producer and comics historian Michael Uslan has debunked the particulars of that story,[note 2] Goodman, a publishing trend-follower, aware of the JLA's strong sales, did direct his comics editor, Stan Lee, to create a comic-book series about a team of superheroes. According to Lee, writing in 1974, "Martin mentioned that he had noticed one of the titles published by National Comics seemed to be selling better than most. It was a book called The [sic] Justice League of America and it was composed of a team of superheroes. ... 'If the Justice League is selling', spoke he, 'why don't we put out a comic book that features a team of superheroes?'"[1]:16

Lee, who had served as editor-in-chief and art director of Marvel Comics and its predecessor companies, Timely Comics and Atlas Comics, for two decades, found that the medium had become creatively restrictive. Determined "to carve a real career for myself in the nowhere world of comic books,[note 3] Lee concluded that, "For just this once, I would do the type of story I myself would enjoy reading.... And the characters would be the kind of characters I could personally relate to: they'd be flesh and blood, they'd have their faults and foibles, they'd be fallible and feisty, and — most important of all — inside their colorful, costumed booties they'd still have feet of clay."[1]:17

Lee said he created a synopsis for the first Fantastic Four story that he gave to penciller Jack Kirby, who then drew the entire story. Kirby turned in his penciled art pages to Lee, who added dialogue and captions. This approach to creating comics, which became known as the "Marvel Method", worked so well for Lee and Kirby that they used it from then on; the Marvel Method became standard for the company within a year.[2]:87

Kirby recalled events somewhat differently. Challenged with Lee's version of events in a 1990 interview, Kirby responded: "I would say that's an outright lie",[3]:39 although the interviewer, Gary Groth notes that this statement needs to be viewed with caution.[note 4] Kirby claims he came up with the idea for the Fantastic Four in Marvel's offices, and that Lee had merely added the dialogue after the story had been pencilled.[3]:38 Kirby has also sought to establish, more credibly and on numerous occasions, that the visual elements of the strip were his conceptions. He regularly pointed to a team he had created for rival publisher DC Comics in the 1950s, Challengers of the Unknown. "[I]f you notice the uniforms, they're the same... I always give them a skintight uniform with a belt... the Challengers and the FF have a minimum of decoration. And of course, the Thing's skin is a kind of decoration, breaking up the monotony of the blue uniform."[4]:4 The characters wear no uniforms in the first two issues.

Given the conflicting statements, outside commentators have found it hard to identify with precise detail who created the Fantastic Four. Although Stan Lee's typed synopsis for the Fantastic Four exists, Earl Wells, writing in The Comics Journal, points out that its existence doesn't assert its place in the creation; "[W]e have no way of knowing of whether Lee wrote the synopsis after a discussion with Kirby in which Kirby supplied most of the ideas".[5]:78 Comics historian R.C. Harvey believes that the Fantastic Four was a furtherance of the work Kirby had been doing previously, and so "more likely Kirby's creations than Lee's".[6]:69 But Harvey notes that the Marvel Method of collaboration allowed each man to claim credit,[6]:68 and that Lee's dialogue added to the direction the team took.[6]:69 Wells argues that it was Lee's contributions which set the framework within which Kirby worked, and this made Lee "more responsible".[5]:85 Comics historian Mark Evanier, a studio assistant to Jack Kirby in the 1970s, says that the considered opinion of Lee and Kirby's contemporaries was "that Fantastic Four was created by Stan and Jack. No further division of credit seemed appropriate".[7]:122

  1961–1970s

The release of The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961) was an unexpected success. Lee had felt ready to leave the comics field at the time, but the positive response to Fantastic Four persuaded him to stay on.[8] The title began to receive fan mail, and Lee started printing the letters in a letter column with Issue #3. Also with the third issue, Lee created the hyperbolic slogan "The Greatest Comic Magazine in the World!!" With the following issue, the slogan was changed to "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!", and became a fixture on the issue covers into the 1990s,[2]:87 and on numerous covers in the 2000s.

  Fantastic Four #48 (Sept. 1966): The Watcher warns, in part one of the landmark "Galactus Trilogy". Cover art by Kirby and Joe Sinnott.

Issue #4 (May 1962) reintroduced Namor the Sub-Mariner, an aquatic antihero who was a star character of Marvel's earliest iteration, Timely Comics, during the late 1930s and 1940s period that historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comics. Issue #5 (July 1962) introduced the team's most frequent nemesis, Doctor Doom. These earliest issues were published bimonthly. With issue #16 (July 1963), the cover title dropped its The and became simply Fantastic Four.

While the early stories were complete narratives, the frequent appearances of these two antagonists, Doom and Namor, in subsequent issues indicated the creation of a long narrative by Lee and Kirby that extended over months. Ultimately, according to comics historian Les Daniels, "only narratives that ran to several issues would be able to contain their increasingly complex ideas".[2]:88 During its creators' lengthy run, the series produced many acclaimed storylines and characters that have become central to Marvel, including the hidden race of alien-human genetic experiments, the Inhumans;[9] the Black Panther,[10] an African king who would be mainstream comics' first black superhero; the rival alien races the Kree and the shapeshifting Skrulls; Him, who would become Adam Warlock; the Negative Zone; and unstable molecules. The story frequently cited as Lee and Kirby's finest achievement[11][12] is the three-part "Galactus Trilogy" that began in Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966), chronicling the arrival of Galactus, a cosmic giant who wanted to devour the planet, and his herald, the Silver Surfer.[13] Daniels noted that "[t]he mystical and metaphysical elements that took over the saga were perfectly suited to the tastes of young readers in the 1960s", and Lee soon discovered that the story was a favorite on college campuses.[2]:128

Kirby left Marvel in mid 1970, having drawn the first 102 issues plus an unfinished issue later completed and published as Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure (April 2008), Fantastic Four continued with Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman as its consecutive regular writers, working with artists such as John Romita, Sr., John Buscema, Rich Buckler and George Pérez, with longtime inker Joe Sinnott adding some visual continuity. Jim Steranko also contributed several covers during this time.

  1980s and early 1990s

John Byrne joined the title with issue #209 (Aug. 1979), doing pencil breakdowns for Sinnott to finish. Byrne then wrote two tales as well (#220-221, July–Aug. 1980) before writer Doug Moench and penciller Bill Sienkiewicz took over for 10 issues. With issue #232 (July 1981), the aptly titled "Back to the Basics", Byrne began his run as writer, penciller and inker, that last under the pseudonym Bjorn Heyn for this issue only.[14]

Byrne revitalized the slumping title with his run.[15]:265 Originally, Byrne was slated to write with Sienkiewicz providing the art. Sienkiewicz left to do Moon Knight, and Byrne ended up as writer, artist, and inker. Various editors were assigned to the comic; eventually Bob Budiansky became the regular editor. Byrne told Jim Shooter that he could not work with Budiansky, although they ultimately continued to work together. In 2006, Byrne said "that's my paranoia. I look back and I think that was Shooter trying to force me off the book". Byrne eventually[vague] left in the middle of a story arc, explaining he could not recapture the fun he had previously had on the series.[16] One of Byrne's changes was making the Invisible Girl into the Invisible Woman: assertive and confident. During this period, fans came to recognize that she was quite powerful, whereas previously, she had been primarily seen as a superpowered mother and wife in the tradition of television moms like those played by Donna Reed and Florence Henderson.[17]

Byrne also staked new directions in the characters' personal lives, having the married Sue Storm and Reed Richards suffer a miscarriage, and the Thing quitting the Fantastic Four, with She-Hulk being recruited as his long-term replacement.

  John Byrne gets "Back to the Basics" in #232 (July 1981), his debut as writer-artist. Cover art by Byrne and inker Terry Austin.

Byrne was followed by a quick succession of writers: Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, and Roy Thomas. Steve Englehart took over as writer for issues 304–332 (except #320). The title had been struggling, so Englehart decided to make radical changes. He felt the title had become stale with the normal makeup of Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny, so in issue #308 Reed and Sue retired and were replaced with the Thing's new girlfriend, Sharon Ventura, and Johnny Storm's former love, Crystal. The changes increased readership through issue #321. At this point, Marvel made decisions about another Englehart comic, West Coast Avengers, that he disagreed with, and in protest he changed his byline to S.F.X. Englehart (S.F.X. is the abbreviation for Simple Sound Effects). In issue #326, Englehart was told to bring Reed and Sue back and undo the other changes he had made. This caused Englehart to take his name entirely off the book. He used the pseudonym John Harkness, which he had created years before for work he didn't want to be associated with. According to Englehart, the run from #326 through his last issue, #332, was "one of the most painful stretches of [his] career."[18] Writer-artist Walt Simonson took over as writer with #334 (December 1989), and three issues later began pencilling and inking as well. With brief inking exceptions, two fill-in issues, and a three-issue stint drawn by Arthur Adams, Simonson remained in all three positions through #354 (July 1991).

Simonson, who had been writing the team comic The Avengers, had gotten approval for Reed and Sue to join that team after Engelhart had written them out of Fantastic Four. Yet by The Avengers #300, where they were scheduled to join the team, Simonson was told the characters were returning to Fantastic Four. This led to Simonson quitting The Avengers after that issue. Shortly afterward, he was offered the job of writing Fantastic Four. Having already prepared a number of stories involving the Avengers with Reed and Sue in the lineup, he then rewrote these for Fantastic Four. Simonson later recalled that working on Fantastic Four allowed him the latitude to use original Avengers members Thor and Iron Man, which he had been precluded from using in The Avengers.[19]

After another fill-in, the regular team of writer and Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco, penciller Paul Ryan and inker Dan Bulanadi took over, with Ryan self-inking beginning with #360 (Jan. 1992). That team, with the very occasional different inker, continued for years through #414 (July 1996). DeFalco nullified the Storm-Masters marriage by retconning that the alien Skrull Empire had kidnapped the real Masters and replaced her with a spy named Lyja. Once discovered, Lyja, who herself had fallen for Storm, helped the Fantastic Four rescue Masters. Ventura departed after being further mutated by Doctor Doom. Ryan's lengthy run is behind only those of Jack Kirby and John Byrne in number of issues drawn.[citation needed] Although some fans were not pleased with DeFalco's run on Fantastic Four, calling him "The Great Satan", the title's sales increased over the period.[20]

Other key developments included Franklin Richards being sent into the future and returning as a teenager; the return of Reed's time-traveling father, Nathaniel, who is revealed to be the father of time-travelling villain Kang; and Reed's apparent death at the hands of a seemingly mortally wounded Doctor Doom. It would be two years before DeFalco resurrected the two characters, revealing that their "deaths" were orchestrated by the supervillain Hyperstorm.

The ongoing series was canceled with issue #416 (Sept. 1996) and relaunched with vol. 2, #1 (Nov. 1996) as part of the multi-series "Heroes Reborn" crossover story arc. The year-long volume retold the team's first adventures in a more contemporary style, and set in a parallel universe. Following the end of that experiment, Fantastic Four was relaunched with vol. 3, #1 (Jan. 1998). Initially by the team of writer Scott Lobdell and penciller Alan Davis, it went after three issues to writer Chris Claremont (co-writing with Lobdell for #4-5) and penciller Salvador Larroca; this team enjoyed a long run through issue #32 (Aug. 2000).

  2000s

Following the run of Claremont, Lobdell and Larocca, Carlos Pacheco took over as penciller and co-writer, first with Rafael Marín, then with Marín and Jeph Loeb. This series began using dual numbering, as if the original Fantastic Four series had continued unbroken, with issue #42 / #471 (June 2001). (At the time, the Marvel Comics series begun in the 1960s, such as Thor and The Amazing Spider-Man, were given such dual numbering on the front cover, with the present-day volume's numbering alongside the numbering from the original series.) After issue #70 / #499 (Aug. 2003), the title reverted to its original vol. 1 numbering with issue #500 (Sept. 2003).

Karl Kesel succeeded Loeb as co-writer with issue #51 / #480 (March 2002), and after a few issues with temporary teams, Mark Waid took over as writer with #60 / 489 (October 2002) with artist Mike Wieringo (with Marvel releasing a promotional variant edition of their otherwise $2.25 debut issue at the price of nine cents US).[21] Pencillers Mark Buckingham, Casey Jones, and Howard Porter variously contributed through issue #524 (May 2005), with a handful of issues by other teams also during this time. Writer J. Michael Straczynski and penciller Mike McKone did issues #527-541 (July 2005 - Nov. 2006), with Dwayne McDuffie taking over as writer the following issue, and Paul Pelletier succeeding McKone beginning with #544 (May 2007).

As a result of the events of the "Civil War" company-crossover storyline, Reed and Susan Richards were temporarily replaced on the team by the Black Panther and Storm. During that period, the Fantastic Four also appeared in Black Panther,[22] written by Reginald Hudlin and pencilled primarily by Francis Portela. Beginning with issue #554 (April 2008), writer Mark Millar and penciller Bryan Hitch began what Marvel announced as a sixteen-issue run.[23] Following the Summer 2008 crossover storyline, "Secret Invasion", and the 2009 aftermath "Dark Reign", chronicling the U.S. government's assigning of the Nation's security functions to the seemingly reformed supervillain Norman Osborn, the Fantastic Four starred in a five-issue miniseries, Dark Reign: Fantastic Four (May–Sept. 2009), written by Jonathan Hickman, with art by Sean Chen.[24][25][26] Hickman took over as the series regular writer as of issue #570 with Dale Eaglesham and later Steve Epting on art.

  2010s

In the storyline "Three", which concluded in Fantastic Four #587 (cover date March 2011, published January 26, 2011), the Human Torch appears to die stopping a horde of monsters from the other-dimensional Negative Zone. The series ended with the following issue, #588, and relaunched in March 2011 as simply FF.[27][28][29] The relaunch saw the team assume a new name, the Future Foundation, adopt new black-and-white costumes, and accept longtime ally Spider-Man as a member.[30][31] In October 2011, with the publication of FF #11 (cover-dated Dec. 2011), the Fantastic Four series reached its 599th issue.

In November 2011, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fantastic Four and of Marvel Comics, the company published the 100-page Fantastic Four #600 (cover-dated Jan. 2012),[32] which returned the title to its original numbering and featured the return of the Human Torch. It revealed the fate of the character of Johnny Storm after issue #587, showing that while he did in fact die, he was resurrected to fight as a gladiator for the entertainment of Annihilus. Storm later formed a resistance force called Light Brigade and defeated Annihilus.

Although it was launched as a continuation of the Fantastic Four title, FF continues publication as a separate series. Starting with issue #12, the title focuses upon the youthful members of the Future Foundation, including Franklin and Valeria Richards.

In the graphic novel, titled Fantastic Four: Season One, the Fantastic Four is given an updated origin story where their transformation occurs in the present day instead of the 1960s.[33] The hardcover compilation debuted at number four on the New York Times best seller list for graphic novels.[33]

  Spinoffs

Ancillary titles and features spun off from the flagship series include the 1970s quarterly Giant-Size Fantastic Four and the 1990s Fantastic Four Unlimited and Fantastic Four Unplugged; Fantastic Force, an 18-issue spinoff (November 1994 – April 1996) featuring an adult Franklin Richards, from a different timeline, as Psi-Lord. A 12-issue series Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Comics Magazine ran in 2001, paying homage to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's legendary run. A spinoff title Marvel Knights 4 (April 2004 – August 2006) was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and initially illustrated by Steve McNiven in his first Marvel work. As well, there have been numerous limited series featuring the group.

In 1996, Marvel launched Fantastic Four 2099. The series was part of the company's Marvel 2099 imprint, which explored an alternate future of the Marvel Universe. The four protagonists inexplicably find themselves in 2099, with the world believing them to be clones of the original members of the Fantastic Four. The series ran for 8 issues (Jan. - Aug. 1996), serving as a companion to Doom 2099 -- an original Marvel 2099 title which featured an individual claiming to be the original Victor von Doom.

In 2004, Marvel launched Ultimate Fantastic Four. As part of the company's Ultimate Marvel imprint, the series re-imagined the team as teenagers. The series ran for 60 issues (Feb. 2004 - Feb. 2009). In 2008, Marvel also launched Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four, an out-of-continuity series aimed at younger readers.

  The Human Torch solo

The Human Torch was given a solo strip in Strange Tales in 1962 in order to bolster sales of the title.[2]:98 The series began in Strange Tales #101 (October 1962), in 12- to 14-page stories plotted by Lee and initially scripted by his brother, Larry Lieber, and drawn by penciller Kirby and inker Dick Ayers.

Here, Johnny was seen living with his elder sister, Susan, in fictional Glenview, Long Island, New York, where he continued high school and, with youthful naiveté, attempted to maintain a "secret identity". In Strange Tales #106 (March 1963), Johnny discovered that his friends and neighbors knew of his dual identity all along, from Fantastic Four news reports, but were humoring him. Supporting characters included Johnny's girlfriend, Doris Evans, usually in consternation as Johnny cheerfully flew off to battle bad guys. She was seen again in a 1970s issue of Fantastic Four, having become a heavyset but cheerful wife and mother. Ayers took over the penciling after ten issues, later followed by original Golden Age Human Torch creator Carl Burgos and others. The Fantastic Four made occasional cameo appearances, and the Thing became a co-star with issue #123 (Aug. 1964).

The Human Torch shared the "split book" Strange Tales with fellow feature "Doctor Strange" for the majority of its run, before being replaced in issue #134 (July 1965) by "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.". The Silver Age stories were republished in 1974, along with some Golden Age Human Torch stories, in a short-lived ongoing Human Torch series.

A later ongoing solo series in Marvel's manga-influenced Tsunami imprint, Human Torch, ran 12 issues (June 2003 – June 2004), followed by the five-issue limited series Spider-Man/Human Torch (March–July 2005), an "untold tales" team-up arc spanning the course of their friendship.

  The Thing solo

The Thing appeared in two team-up issues of Marvel Feature (#11-12, September–November 1973). Following their success, he was given his own regular team-up title Marvel Two-in-One, co-starring with Marvel heroes not only in the present day but occasionally in other time periods (fighting alongside the World War II-era Liberty Legion in #20 and the 1930s hero Doc Savage in #21, for example) and in alternate realities. The series ran 100 issues (January 1974 – June 1983), with seven summer annuals (1976–1982), and was immediately followed by the solo title The Thing #1-36 (July 1983 – June 1986). Another ongoing solo series, also titled The Thing, ran eight issues (January–August 2006).

  Characters

The Fantastic Four is formed when during an outer space test flight in an experimental rocket ship, the four protagonists are bombarded by a storm of cosmic rays. Upon crash landing back on Earth, the four astronauts find themselves transformed with bizarre new abilities. The four then decide to use their powers for good as superheroes. In a significant departure from preceding superhero conventions, the Fantastic Four make no effort to maintain secret identities, instead maintaining a high public profile and enjoying celebrity status for scientific and heroic contributions to society. At the same time they are often prone to arguing and even fighting with one another. Despite their bickering, the Fantastic Four consistently prove themselves to be "a cohesive and formidable team in times of crisis."[15]:204–205

While there have been a number of lineup changes to the group, the four characters who debuted in Fantastic Four #1 remain the core and most frequent lineup.

  • Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), a scientific genius, can stretch, twist and re-shape his body to inhuman proportions. Mr. Fantastic serves as the father figure of the group, and is "appropriately pragmatic, authoritative, and dull".[15]:19 Richards blames himself for the failed space mission, particularly because of how the event transformed pilot Ben Grimm.[15]:205
  • Invisible Girl/Invisible Woman (Susan Storm), Reed Richards' girlfriend (and eventual wife) has the ability to bend and manipulate light to render herself and others invisible. She later develops the ability to generate force fields, which she uses for a variety of defensive and offensive effects.
  • The Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Sue Storm's younger brother, possesses the ability to control fire, allowing him to project fire from his body, as well as the power to fly. This character was loosely based on a Human Torch character published by Marvel's predecessor Timely Comics in the 1940s, an android that could ignite itself. Lee said that when he conceptualized the character, "I thought it was a shame that we didn't have The Human Torch anymore, and this was a good chance to bring him back".[2]:85 Unlike the teen sidekicks that preceded him, the Human Torch in the early stories was "a typical adolescent — brash, rebellious, and affectionately obnoxious."[15]:204 Johnny Storm was killed in the 2011 storyline "Three".[28]
  • The Thing (Ben Grimm), Reed Richards' college roommate and best friend, has been transformed into a monstrous, craggy humanoid with orange, rock-like skin and super-strength. The Thing is often filled with anger, self-loathing and self-pity over his new existence. He serves as "an uncle figure, a long-term friend of the family with a gruff Brooklyn manner, short temper, and caustic sense of humor".[15]:204 In the original synopsis Lee gave to Kirby, The Thing was intended as "the heavy", but over the years, the character has become "the most lovable group member: honest, direct and free of pretension".[2]:86

The Fantastic Four has had several different headquarters, most notably the Baxter Building, located at 42nd Street and Madison Avenue[citation needed] in New York City. The Baxter Building was replaced by Four Freedoms Plaza at the same location after the Baxter Building's destruction at the hands of Kristoff Vernard, adopted son of the team's seminal foe Doctor Doom (Prior to the completion of Four Freedoms Plaza, the team took up temporary residence at Avengers Mansion.[34]). Pier 4, a waterfront warehouse, served as a temporary headquarters after Four Freedoms Plaza was destroyed by the ostensible superhero team the Thunderbolts[35] shortly after the revelation that they were actually the supervillain team the Masters of Evil in disguise. Pier 4 was eventually destroyed during a battle with the longtime Fantastic Four supervillain Diablo,[36] after which the team received a new Baxter Building, courtesy of one of team leader Reed Richards' former professors, Noah Baxter. This second Baxter Building was constructed in Earth's orbit and teleported into the vacant lot formerly occupied by the original.[37]

  Supporting characters

  Allies and supporting characters

A number of characters are closely affiliated with the team, share complex personal histories with one or more of its members but have never actually held an official membership. Some of these characters include, but are not limited to: Namor the Sub-Mariner (previously an antagonist), Alicia Masters, Lyja the Lazerfist, H.E.R.B.I.E., Kristoff Vernard (Doctor Doom's former protégé), Wyatt Wingfoot, governess Agatha Harkness, and Reed and Sue's children Franklin Richards and Valeria Richards.

Several allies of the Fantastic Four have served as temporary members of the team, including Crystal, Medusa, Power Man (Luke Cage), Frankie Raye (as the Human Torch), She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura), Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Namorita, Storm, and the Black Panther. A temporary lineup from Fantastic Four #347-349 (December 1990-February 1991) consisted of the Hulk (in his "Joe Fixit" persona), Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider (Daniel Ketch).

Other notable characters who have been involved with the Fantastic Four include Alyssa Moy, Caledonia (Alysande Stuart of Earth-9809), Fantastic Force, the Inhumans (particularly royal family members Black Bolt, Crystal, Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak, Triton, and Lockjaw), Reed's father Nathaniel Richards, Silver Surfer (previously an antagonist), Thundra, postal worker Willie Lumpkin, and Uatu the Watcher.

Author Christopher Knowles states that Kirby's work on creations such as the Inhumans and the Black Panther served as "a showcase of some of the most radical concepts in the history of the medium".[38]

  Antagonists

Writers and artists over many years have created a variety of characters to challenge the Fantastic Four. Knowles states that Kirby helped to create "an army of villains whose rage and destructive power had never been seen before," and "whose primary impulse is to smash the world."[38] Some of the team's oldest and most frequent enmities have involved such foes as the Mole Man, the Skrulls, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Doctor Doom, Puppet Master, Kang the Conqueror/Rama-Tut/Immortus, Blastaar, the Frightful Four, Annihilus, Galactus, and Klaw. Other prominent antagonists of the Fantastic Four have included the Wizard, Impossible Man, Red Ghost, Mad Thinker, Super-Skrull, Molecule Man, Diablo, Dragon Man, Psycho-Man, Ronan the Accuser, Salem's Seven, Terrax, Terminus, Hyperstorm, and Lucia von Bardas.

  Cultural impact

The Fantastic Four's characterization was initially different from all other superheroes at the time. One major difference is that they do not conceal their identities, leading the public to be both suspicious and in awe of them. Also, they frequently argued and disagreed with each other, hindering their work as a team.[15] Described as "heroes with hangups" by Stan Lee,[39] the Thing has a temper, and the Human Torch resents being a child among adults. Mr. Fantastic blames himself for the Thing's transformation. Social scientist Bradford W. Wright describes the team as a "volatile mix of human emotions and personalities". In spite of their disagreements, they ultimately function well as a team.[40]

The first issue of The Fantastic Four proved a success, igniting a new direction for superhero comics and soon influencing many other superhero comics.[41] Readers grew fond of Ben's grumpiness, Johnny's tendency to annoy others, and Reed and Sue's spats. Stan Lee was surprised at the reaction to the first issue, leading him to stay in the comics field despite previous plans to leave. Comics historian Stephen Krensky said that "Lee's natural dialogue and flawed characters appealed to 1960s kids looking to 'get real'".[8]

As of 2005, 150 million comics featuring the Fantastic Four had been sold.[39] A Fantastic Four film was released in 2005, and a sequel in 2007.

  In other media

There have been four The Fantastic Four animated TV series and three feature films (though one of the movies went unreleased, and is only available in a widely circulated bootleg). The Fantastic Four also guest-starred in the "Secret Wars" story arc of the 1990s Spider-Man animated series and the Thing guest-starred (with a small cameo from the other Fantastic Four members) in the "Fantastic Fortitude" episode of the 1996 Hulk series.

There was also a very short-lived radio show in 1975 that adapted early Kirby/Lee stories, and is notable for casting a pre-Saturday Night Live Bill Murray as the Human Torch. Also in the cast were Bob Maxwell as Reed Richards, Cynthia Adler as Sue Storm, Jim Pappas as Ben Grimm and Jerry Terheyden as Doctor Doom. Other Marvel characters featured in the series included Ant-Man, Prince Namor, Nick Fury, and the Hulk. Stan Lee narrated the series, and the scripts were taken almost verbatim from the comic books. The team made only one other audio appearance, on the Power Records album The Amazing Spider-Man and Friends. The Way It Began featured Stan Lee himself in the role of Johnny Storm and saw Ben Grimm reliving the origin of the FF, before leaving the Baxter Building to find their original nemesis the Mole Man, and a possible cure for Alicia's blindness. The story was never followed up on any further Power Records albums.

In 1979, the Thing was featured as half of the Saturday morning cartoon Fred and Barney Meet the Thing. The character of the Thing was given a radical make-over for the series. The title character for this program was Benji Grimm, a teenage boy who possessed a pair of magic rings which could transform him into the Thing. The other members of the Fantastic Four do not appear in the series, nor do the animated The Flintstones stars Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, despite the title of the program.

  Animated series

The Fantastic Four have been the subject of four different cartoon television series. The first Fantastic Four series, produced by Hanna-Barbera, ran for 20 episodes from September 9, 1967–March 15, 1970. The second Fantastic Four series, produced by DePatie-Freleng, lasted only 13 episodes and ran from September 9, 1978–December 16, 1978; this series features a H.E.R.B.I.E. Unit in place of the Human Torch.

The third Fantastic Four was broadcast under the Marvel Action Hour umbrella, with introductions by Stan Lee; this series ran for 26 episodes from September 24, 1994–February 24, 1996. The fourth series, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, debuted on September 2, 2006 on Cartoon Network and ran for 26 episodes.

The Fantastic Four have made appearances on the animated children's series The Super Hero Squad Show.[citation needed]

Different Fantastic Four members appear (briefly and with little or no dialogue) and are mentioned various times throughout the first season of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Reed Richards is mentioned in the episode "Some Assembly Required" when Iron Man states that he and Richards are working to develop a new supervillain prison in the Negative Zone (as a result of the events of the two-part episode "Breakout"). Reed is mentioned again in the episode "The Man Who Stole Tomorrow" when the prison he and Stark (and, as revealed in this episode, Dr. Henry Pym) designed, named "42" because it is the 42nd idea that Richards, Stark, and Pym thought of to make the world a better place, is introduced and featured in an episode for the first time. In this same episode, a photo of the entire team is seen in the Avengers' mansion. The Human Torch and the Thing were seen helping the Avengers fight the evil forces of Malekith the Accursed in the episode "The Casket of Ancient Winters". Thing, voiced by Fred Tatasciore, only says his catch phrase, "It's Clobbering Time", in the episode. In the episode "The Private War of Doctor Doom" The Avengers team up with the Fantastic Four to Battle Doctor Doom. Here we see that the Baxter Building is shown in a similar style to the way it was shown in Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes.

  Video games

The Fantastic Four starred in a 1997 Fantastic Four video game.

The team appeared in the Spider-Man: The Animated Series video game, based on the 1990s Spider-Man animated series, for the Super NES and Sega Genesis.

The Thing and the Human Torch appeared in the 2005 game Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects.

All of the Fantastic Four appear as playable characters in the game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance with Doctor Doom being the main enemy. The members of the Fantastic Four are also featured in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, although the team is separated over the course of the game.

  Promotional poster for Fantastic Four (2005), featuring Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, and Ioan Gruffudd

The Human Torch has an appearance in a mini-game where the player races against him in all versions of Ultimate Spider-Man, except on the Game Boy Advance platform.

The Fantastic Four star in games based on the 2005 movie Fantastic Four and its 2007 sequel.

  Film

A movie adaptation of The Fantastic Four was completed in 1994 by B movie producer Roger Corman. While this movie was never released to theaters nor video, it has been made available from various bootleg video distributors.

Another feature film adaptation of Fantastic Four was released July 8, 2005 by Fox, and directed by Tim Story. Fantastic Four opened in approximately 3,600 theaters and despite mixed reviews[42] grossed US$156 million in North America and US$329 million worldwide, weighed against a production budget of $100 million[43] and an undisclosed marketing budget. It stars Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Jessica Alba as Susan Storm/Invisible Woman, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/Human Torch, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm/The Thing and Julian McMahon as Victor Von Doom/Dr. Doom, with Stan Lee making a cameo appearance as Willie Lumpkin, the mailman.

A sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, directed by Story and written by Don Payne, was released June 15, 2007. Despite mixed reviews, the sequel brought in US$132 million in North America and a total of US$288 million worldwide.[44]

On 31 August 2009 Fox announced a reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise.[45]

  Collected editions

The Fantastic Four stories have been collected into several trade paperback and hardcover editions.

As part of the Essential Marvel range:

Title Years covered Material collected Pages Publication date ISBN
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 1 1961–1963 The Fantastic Four #1-20, Annual #1 544 November 1998 978-0785106661
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 2 1963–1965 The Fantastic Four #21-40, Annual #2; Strange Tales Annual #2 528 October 1999 978-0785107316
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 3 1965–1967 The Fantastic Four #41-63, Annual #3-4 536 August 2001 978-0785126256
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 4 1967–1968 The Fantastic Four #64-83, Annual #5-6 536 June 2005 978-0785114840
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 5 1969–1971 The Fantastic Four #84-110, Annual #7-8 568 June 2006 978-0785121626
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 6 1971–1973 The Fantastic Four #111-137 592 May 2007 978-0785126973
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 7 1973–1975 The Fantastic Four #138-159; Giant-Size Super-Stars #1; Giant-Size Fantastic Four #2-4; Avengers #127 560 July 2008 978-0785130635
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 8 1975–1977 The Fantastic Four #160-179, #181-183, Annual #11; Marvel Two-in-One #20, Annual #1 520 May 2010 978-0785145387

As part of the Marvel Masterworks series:

# Title Material collected Pages First edition Second edition ISBN
Hardcovers
2 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 1 The Fantastic Four #1-10 256 November 1987 June 2003 978-0785111818
6 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 2 The Fantastic Four #11-20, Annual #1 295 October 1988 July 2003 978-0785109808
13 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 3 The Fantastic Four #21-30 234 September 1990 September 2003 978-0871356291
15 The Silver Surfer, Vol. 1 The Silver Surfer #1-6; The Fantastic Four Annual #5 260 June 1991 June 2003 978-0785131137
21 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 4 The Fantastic Four #31-40, Annual #2 264 November 1992 November 2003 978-0785111832
25 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 5 The Fantastic Four #41-50, Annual #3 240 October 1993 January 2004 978-0785111849
28 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 6 The Fantastic Four #51-60, Annual #4 240 October 2000 March 2004 978-0785112662
34 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 7 The Fantastic Four #61-71, Annual #5 304 August 2004 N/A 978-0785115847
42 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 8 The Fantastic Four #72-81, Annual #6 272 March 2005 N/A 978-0785116943
53 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 9 The Fantastic Four #82-93, Annual #7 272 November 2005 N/A 978-0785118466
62 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 10 The Fantastic Four #94-104 272 May 2006 N/A 978-0785120612
103 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 11 The Fantastic Four #105-116 272 September 2008 N/A 978-0785130468
132 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 12 The Fantastic Four #117-128 272 February 2010 N/A 978-0785142188
169 The Fantastic Four, Vol. 13 The Fantastic Four #129-141 288 November 9, 2011 N/A 978-0-7851-5040-4
Trade paperbacks
Fantastic Four, Vol. 1 The Fantastic Four #1-10 256 March 2009 N/A 978-0785137108
Fantastic Four, Vol. 2 The Fantastic Four #11-20, Annual #1 295 July 2009 N/A 978-0785137122
Fantastic Four, Vol. 3 The Fantastic Four #21-30 234 February 2010 N/A 978-0785142966
Fantastic Four, Vol. 4 The Fantastic Four #31-40, Annual #2 264 October 2010 N/A 978-0785145660
Fantastic Four, Vol. 5 The Fantastic Four #41-50, Annual #3 240 February 2011 N/A 978-0785150589
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 6 The Fantastic Four #51-60, Annual #4 240 May 2011 N/A 978-0785150602
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 7 The Fantastic Four #61-71, Annual #5 304 November 2011 N/A 978-0785150626
The Fantastic Four, Vol. 8 The Fantastic Four #72-81, Annual #6 272 August 2012 N/A 978-0785162940

  Paperbacks

Title Material collected Writer Publication date ISBN
Fantastic Four Visionaries: George Pérez, Vol. 1 Fantastic Four #164-167, #170, #176-178, #184-186 June 2005 978-0785117254
Fantastic Four Visionaries: George Pérez, Vol. 2 Fantastic Four #187-188, #191-192, Annual #14-15; Marvel Two-in-One #60; Adventures of the Thing #3 April 2006 978-0785120605
Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 0 Fantastic Four #215-218, #220-221; Marvel Team-Up #61-62; Marvel Two-in-One #50 January 2009 978-0785137610
Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 1 Fantastic Four #232-240 November 2001 978-0785142706
Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 2 Fantastic Four #241-250 May 2004 978-0785114642
Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 3 Fantastic Four #251-257, Annual #17; Avengers #233; Thing #2 January 2005 978-0785116790
Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 4 Fantastic Four #258-267; Alpha Flight #4; Thing #10 March 2005 978-0785117100
Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 5 Fantastic Four #268-275, Annual #18; Thing #19 December 2005 978-0785118442
Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 6 Fantastic Four #276-284; Secret Wars II #2; Thing #23 September 2006 978-0785121909
Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 7 Fantastic Four #285-286, Annual #19; Avengers #263, Annual #14; X-Factor #1 June 2007 978-0785127352
Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 8 Fantastic Four #287-295 December 2007 978-0785127369
Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walt Simonson, Vol. 1 Fantastic Four #334-341 May 2007 978-0785127581
Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walt Simonson, Vol. 2 Fantastic Four #342-346 August 2008 978-0785131304
Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walt Simonson, Vol. 3 Fantastic Four #347-350, #352-354 November 2009 978-0785137511
Fantastic Four: Trial of Galactus Fantastic Four #242-244, #257-262; What the--?! #2 John Byrne September 1990 978-0871355751
Fantastic Four: Monsters Unleashed Fantastic Four #347-349 Walt Simonson January 1992 978-0871358776
Fantastic Four: Nobody Gets Out Alive Fantastic Four #387-392 Tom DeFalco February 1995 978-0785100638
Fantastic Four: Heroes Reborn Fantastic Four vol. 2, #1-12 Brandon Choi, Jim Lee July 2000 978-0785107446
Fantastic Four: Heroes Return Fantastic Four vol. 3, #1-4
Fantastic Four: Flesh and Stone Fantastic Four vol. 3, #35-39 Jeph Loeb III, Rafael Marin, Carlos Pacheco November 2000 978-0785107934
Fantastic Four: Into the Breach Fantastic Four vol. 3, #40-44 Jeph Loeb III, Rafael Marin, Carlos Pacheco January 2002 978-0785108658
Fantastic Four/Inhumans Fantastic Four vol. 3, #51-54; Inhumans #1-4 Karl Kesel, Rafael Marin, Carlos Pacheco 2007 978-0785127031
Fantastic Four, Vol. 1: Imaginauts Fantastic Four vol. 3, #56, #60-66 Mark Waid April 2003 978-0785110637
Fantastic Four, Vol. 2: Unthinkable Fantastic Four vol. 3, #67-70, #500-502 Mark Waid December 2003 978-0785111115
Fantastic Four, Vol. 3: Authoritative Action Fantastic Four #503-508 Mark Waid December 2003 978-0785111986
Fantastic Four, Vol. 4: Hereafter Fantastic Four #509-513 Mark Waid August 2004 978-0785115267
Fantastic Four, Vol. 5: Disassembled Fantastic Four #514-519 Mark Waid December 2004 978-0785115366
Fantastic Four, Vol. 6: Rising Storm Fantastic Four #520-524 Mark Waid June 2005 978-0785115984
Fantastic Four by J. Michael Straczynski, Vol. 1 Fantastic Four #527-532 J. Michael Straczynski January 2006 978-0785117162
Fantastic Four: The Life Fantastic Fantastic Four #533-535; Fantastic Four Special #1; Fantastic Four: The Wedding Special; Fantastic Four: A Death in the Family J. Michael Straczynski September 2006 978-0785118961
The Road to Civil War Fantastic Four #536-537; New Avengers: Illuminati; The Amazing Spider-Man #529-531 Brian Michael Bendis, J. Michael Straczynski February 2007 978-0785119746
Fantastic Four: Civil War Fantastic Four #538-543 J. Michael Straczynski, Dwayne McDuffie May 2007 978-0785122272
The New Fantastic Four Fantastic Four #544-550 Dwayne McDuffie May 2008 978-0785124832
Fantastic Four: The Beginning of the End Fantastic Four #525-526, #551-553; Isla de la Muerte Dwayne McDuffie May 2008 978-0785125549
Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Fantastic Four #554-561 Mark Millar March 2009 978-0785125556
Fantastic Four: The Master of Doom Fantastic Four #562-569 Mark Millar January 2010 978-0785129677
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 1 Fantastic Four #570-574 Jonathan Hickman July 2010 978-0785136880
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 2 Fantastic Four #575-578 Jonathan Hickman December 2010 978-0785145417
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 3 Fantastic Four #579-582 Jonathan Hickman April 2011 978-0785147183
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 4 Fantastic Four #583-588 Jonathan Hickman November 2011 978-0785151432
Marvel Knights Fantastic Four, Vol. 1: Wolf at the Door Marvel Knights 4 #1-7 Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa September 2004 978-0785114710
Marvel Knights Fantastic Four, Vol. 2: The Stuff of Nightmares Marvel Knights 4 #8-12 Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa January 2005 978-0785114727
Marvel Knights Fantastic Four, Vol. 3: Divine Time Marvel Knights 4 #13-18 Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa July 2005 978-0785116783
Marvel Knights Fantastic Four, Vol. 4: Impossible Things Happen Every Day Marvel Knights 4 #19-24 Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa January 2006 978-0785118084
Marvel Knights Fantastic Four, Vol. 5: The Resurrection of Nicholas Scratch Marvel Knights 4 #25-30 Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa September 2006 978-0785119593
Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men #1-4 Chris Claremont October 1991 978-0871356505
Fantastic Four: Foes Fantastic Four: Foes #1-6 Robert Kirkman January 2005 978-0785116622
Fantastic Four/Spider-Man Classic The Fantastic Four #218; Marvel Team-Up #100, #132-133; The Amazing Spider-Man #1; The Spectacular Spider-Man #42; Untold Tales of Spider-Man Annual '96 Kurt Busiek, Chris Claremont, John Marc DeMatteis, Stan Lee, Bill Mantlo April 2005 978-0785118039
Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan #1-4; Spider-Man Unlimited #8 Zeb Wells June 2006 978-0785117766
House of M: Fantastic Four/Iron Man Fantastic Four: House of M #1-3; Iron Man: House of M #1-3 John Layman July 2006 978-0785119234
Fantastic Four: First Family Fantastic Four: First Family #1-6 Joe Casey November 2006 978-0785117032
Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four: Silver Rage Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #1-4 Jeff Parker October 2007 978-0785126737
Black Panther: Four the Hard Way Black Panther vol. 4, #26-30 Reginald Hudlin November 2007 978-0785126553
Black Panther: Little Green Men Black Panther vol. 4, #31-34 Reginald Hudlin May 2008 978-0785126577
Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four Fantastic Four #300, #357-358; Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #1-3 Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa February 2009 978-0785132479
Fantastic Four: True Story Fantastic Four: True Story #1-4 Paul Cornell May 2009 978-0785128335
Fantastic Four: Lost Adventures Fantastic Four #296, #543; Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure; The Last Fantastic Four Story Stan Lee September 2009 978-0785140474
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1-5; Dark Reign: The Cabal Jonathan Hickman October 2009 978-0785139089
Fantastic Four: Extended Family Fantastic Four #1, 81, 132, 168, 265, 307, 347, 384; Fantastic Four vol. 3, #42; Fantastic Four #544 Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, John Byrne, Steve Englehart, Walter Simonson, Tom DeFalco, Dwayne McDuffie, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Marin, Jeph Loeb March 2011 978-0785153030

  Hardcovers

Title Material collected Writer Publication date ISBN
The Best of the Fantastic Four Fantastic Four #1, #39-40, #51, #100, #116, #176, #236, #267; Fantastic Four vol. 3, #56, #60; Marvel Fanfare #15; Marvel Two-in-One #50; Marvel Knights 4 #4 John Byrne, Archie Goodwin, Karl Kesel, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith June 2005 978-0785117827
Fantastic Four Omnibus, Vol. 1 Fantastic Four #1-30, Annual #1 Stan Lee November 2007 978-0785118701
Fantastic Four Omnibus, Vol. 2 Fantastic Four #31-60, Annual #2-4 Stan Lee June 2007 978-0785124030
Fantastic Four: In Search of Galactus Fantastic Four #204-214 Marv Wolfman February 2010 978-0785137344
Fantastic Four: Resurrection of Galactus Fantastic Four vol. 3, #46-50, Annual 2001 Jeph Loeb, Raphael Marin January 2011 978-0785144762
Fantastic Four, Vol. 1 Fantastic Four vol. 3, #60-70; Fantastic Four #500-502 Mark Waid August 2004 978-0785114864
Fantastic Four, Vol. 2 Fantastic Four #503-513 Mark Waid March 2005 978-0785117759
Fantastic Four, Vol. 3 Fantastic Four #514-524 Mark Waid, Karl Kesel November 2005 978-0785120117
Fantastic Four by J. Michael Straczynski, Vol. 1 Fantastic Four #527-532 J. Straczynski January 2006 978-0785120292
The New Fantastic Four Fantastic Four #544-550 Dwayne MacDuffie November 2007 978-0785128472
Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Fantastic Four #554-561 Mark Millar January 2009 978-0785132257
Fantastic Four: The Master of Doom Fantastic Four #562-569 Mark Millar October 2009 978-0785133704
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 1 Fantastic Four #570-574 Jonathan Hickman March 2010 978-0785143178
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 2 Fantastic Four #575-578 Jonathan Hickman July 2010 978-0785147169
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 3 Fantastic Four #579-582 Jonathan Hickman November 2010 978-0785147176
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 4 Fantastic Four #583-588 Jonathan Hickman May 2011 978-0785148913
Fantastic Four/Spider-Man Classic The Fantastic Four #218; Marvel Team-Up #100, #132-133; The Amazing Spider-Man #1; The Spectacular Spider-Man #42; Untold Tales of Spider-Man Annual '96 Kurt Busiek, Chris Claremont, John Marc DeMatteis, Stan Lee, Bill Mantlo January 2005 978-1415607190
X-Men/Fantastic Four X-Men/Fantastic Four #1-5 Akira Yoshida February 2005 978-0785115205
Fantastic Four: Lost Adventures Fantastic Four #296, #543; Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure; The Last Fantastic Four Story Stan Lee July 2008 978-0785130970
House of M: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and X-Men Fantastic Four: House of M #1-3; Spider-Man: House of M #1-5; Black Panther vol. 4, #7; New Thunderbolts #11; Uncanny X-Men #462-465 Chris Claremont, Reginald Hudlin, John Layman, Fabian Nicieza, Tom Peyer, Mark Waid December 2009 978-0785138815
X-Men vs. Fantastic Four Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men #1-4; Fantastic Four #28 Chris Claremont, Stan Lee January 2010 978-0785138075

  International publication

  North America

The Fantastic Four has been published in translation around the world, beginning in the late 1960s in Mexico (Los Cuatro Fantásticos, published by La Prensa until the mid-1970s, then by Macc Division until 1980, and finally by Novedades Editores during the early 1980s) and French-speaking Canada (Les Fantastic Four, from 1969–1986, after which the title was merged with the Spider-Man title for 3 more years). Mexican translators were not consistent in their translations of the characters' code names; The Thing was called Coloso (Colossus) in the first series, La Mole in the second and the third (which was the name used for The Hulk in the first series). The other three main characters had more stable translated names: Mister Fantástico (sometimes translated as Señor Fantástico), La Chica (or La Mujer) Invisible, and La Antorcha Humana. Dr. Doom was Doctor Destino and She-Hulk was La Mujer Hulk in her run in the Fantastic Four. In the movie, and in current appearances in Mexico, Mister Fantastic is referred to as "El Hombre Elástico" (Elastic Man). Canada rarely translated character names from their English version, although sometimes switching back and forth between English and French names in the same issue (The Thing / La Chose, Mister Fantastic / Monsieur Fantastic, Invisible Girl / Fille (or Femme) Invisible, Human Torch / Torche Humaine). The names of Dr. Doom and She-Hulk were not translated into French for the Canadian reprints.

  United Kingdom

British publication of the series began in the black and white anthology title Mystic in the 1960s. In 1972, the Fantastic Four's adventures were publsihed starting with issue 1 of the US comic in Mighty World of Marvel alongside Spider-Man and Hulk reprints when Marvel Comics began its imprint Marvel UK. In 1976 the feature was moved to Marvel UK's The Titans to revive flagging sales, starting with issue #27. But after just a few months the feature was removed from The Titans (replaced by The Avengers) to form part of the line up of the new Captain Britain Weekly for its first issue in October 1976. After the demise of Captain Britain Weekly the FF went with Captain Britain into the merged Super Spiderman and Captain Britain Weekly in July 1977. A few months after the merger a new title The Complete Fantastic Four was launched in September 1977 starting with the story from the US Fantastic Four 133.[46] Unusually The Complete Fantastic Four reprinted an entire issue of the US publication at a time when stories were always broken up into several instalments. As a back up strip it started serializing the FF's adventures from US Fantastic Four 1, but this was replaced by The Invaders towards the end of the run. In 1978 that series merged into Mighty World Of Marvel returning the FF to their original home alongside Hulk. Their last adventure in that title was issue 329, when they were moved out so that the comic could be relaunched as Marvel Comic in early 1979. Their adventures briefly moved back into Spiderman Comic before stopping shortly after John Byrne took over pencilling chores on the strip. In March 1980 Marvel UK launched the Fantastic Four Pocketbook reprinting Lee and Kirby stories. After cancellation of the Pocketbook in July 1982 the classic Fantastic Four strips continued in a short lived weekly title that began in October 1982. During 1985 the Fantastic Four (along with other Marvel titles such as New Mutants, Avengers and X-men) were included in the Secret Wars II reprint title. This mostly focused on issues which crossed over into the Secret Wars II maxi series. From 2005, around the release of the Fantastic Four film, the super-team appeared in Fantastic Four Adventures, published by Panini Comics. The title ended in March 2012.

  France

Publication history in France started with the reprinting of the first 10 pages of Fantastic Four #50 in 1967 in an anthology title called "Les Chefs-d'Oeuvres de la Bande Dessinée" [Comic Book Masterpieces]. In 1974, the first 4 issues of the title were published, one page at a time, in the daily newspaper "France Soir". But primarily, rights to the Fantastic Four in France were held by a company called Editions Lug, which began publishing Fantastic Four first in an 1969 anthology title called Fantask, along with Spider-Man and Silver Surfer, then in another anthology called "Marvel". The censors objected to the content of the book, and citing "nightmarish visions" and "terrifying science fiction" as the reasons, forced their cancellations after respectively 7 and 13 issues. Although other anthologies featuring Marvel strips continued, notably "Strange" (featuring X-Men, Iron Man & Silver Surfer), the Fantastic Four remained unpublished in France until 1973. Editions Lug created a format aimed more for adults; an 80-page series called Les Fantastiques debuted where the old series left off, with the stories that introduced the Inhumans and Galactus. That series lasted over 15 years, coming out 4 times a year. In the mid-1970s, a title called Spidey was released by Editions Lug. Primarily featuring reprints from the juvenile "Spider Super Stories", it also featured a similarly themed FF series produced in France. These original stories had art that closely resembled the work of Jack Kirby or John Buscema, but the storylines themselves included watered-down super-villains, the FF on vacation, and even Santa Claus. This series was replaced by 1960s era X-Men reprints when Marvel demanded the same royalties for Editions Lug's original stories that they did for the US reprints. Eventually, a regular monthly series began publication in France, and the Fantastic Four took over the headlining position in the pocket format anthology "Nova" (sharing the title with Spider-Woman, Peter Parker, She-Hulk, and Silver Surfer)and lasted until Marvel began publishing its own titles under the newly-formed "Marvel France" line in the late 1990s. Fantastic Four shared space in the Silver Surfer's own book until the Heroes Reborn storyline created their own title, supported by Captain America. "Fantastic Four" then appeared in the anthology "Marvel Legends" and currently appears in "Marvel Icons", sharing that title with The Avengers.

Two different French companies held rights to Marvel Comics at the same time in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Lug (which eventually changed its name to Semic) published Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, X-Men, Daredevil, and Iron Man, and most related series, while Aredit held the rights to Avengers, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Sub-Mariner and many of the 1970s-era modern series like Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, Power Man, and the first She-Hulk series. Often, crossovers would force one company to publish another's title, i.e. the Marvel Two-In-One and Fantastic Four annuals that crossed over into the Invaders story would have to be published by the "other" company, and in fact that particular cross-over was published twice, once by each company. This resulted in different translations of the characters names — Susan Storm Richards was called Jane in her own title by Editions Lug (presumably because the name "Sue" is a form of the verb "to sweat" in French), and Reed was called Red, a combination of letters easier to pronounce than the double E sound. When Aredit published a Fantastic Four appearance they kept the traditional US names. Generally speaking, their names in France were: Monsieur Fantastic (although Mister was often used as well), L'Invisible, La Chose, and La Torche. (Rarely was "Humaine" used in the French editions.) Dr. Doom was called Docteur Fatalis, and She-Hulk was called Miss Hulk.

  Germany

"Die Fantastischen Vier" First appeared in Hit Comics, a weekly title that rotated the main feature with other Marvel titles. Williams Comics eventually obtained the rights to Marvel's line and began publishing (for the first time in color) in the mid-1970s. Fantastic Four was backed up with Daredevil, and began with issue #1. No annual was published by Williams and some early numbers were left out (Nos. 5/6/10/12/21 + 44). Condor Comic carried the title in the 1980s & 1990s, and published a series of 47 pocket format books at about 168 - 196 pages each. They also published a paperback series in a similar format to the Marvel Graphic Novels with twelve issues á 52 pages. Marvel Deutschland (later Panini Comics Deutschland) publishes "Die Fantastischen Vier". Since 2008 the series is named with its original title "The Fantastic Four". The German names of the characters are Das Ding (The Thing), Die Fackel or Die menschliche Fackel (The Human Torch), Die Unsichtbare (The Unseen One), and Mr. Fantastisch (Mr. Fantastic). Silver Surfer and She-Hulk retained their english names. Some early "Williams"-editions refer to Dr. Doom as "Doktor Unheil". In one "Williams"-publication Dr.Doom was also referred as "Doktor Untergang".Later they called him by his original US-name.

  Italy

I Fantastici Quattro was published in Italy in their own title (shared first with Captain Marvel, then rotating with other back up features) by Corno, then Star Comics in the 1990s, and are currently published by Marvel Italia. Character's names are typically translated as la Cosa (The Thing), la Torcia Umana (Human Torch), la Donna Invisibile (Invisible Woman) and Mister Fantastic. Dr. Doom is Dottor Destino; She-Hulk and Silver Surfer kept their English names. Also released in Italy was the series I Fantastici Quattro Gigante, an oversized magazine reprinting in chronological order all the super-team's appearances including the Human Torch solo series from Strange Tales.

  See also

  Notes

  1. ^ That DC all-star superhero team had debuted in The Brave and the Bold #28 (cover-dated Feb. 1960) before going on to its own hit title (issue #1 cover-dated Nov. 1960).
  2. ^ Uslan, in a letter published in Alter Ego #43 (December 2004), pp. 43–44, writes: "Irwin Donenfeld said he never played golf with Goodman, so the story is untrue. I heard this story more than a couple of times while sitting in the lunchroom at DC's 909 Third Avenue and 75 Rockefeller Plaza office as Sol Harrison and [production chief] Jack Adler were schmoozing with some of us... who worked for DC during our college summers.... [T]he way I heard the story from Sol was that Goodman was playing with one of the heads of Independent News, not DC Comics (though DC owned Independent News). ... As the distributor of DC Comics, this man certainly knew all the sales figures and was in the best position to tell this tidbit to Goodman. ... Of course, Goodman would want to be playing golf with this fellow and be in his good graces. ... Sol worked closely with Independent News' top management over the decades and would have gotten this story straight from the horse's mouth."
  3. ^ Lee, Stan (September 1974). Origins of Marvel Comics. Simon and Schuster/Fireside Books. ISBN 978-0-671-21863-8. "[My wife] Joan was commenting about the fact that after 20 years of producing comics I was still writing television material, advertising copy and newspaper features in my spare time. She wondered why I didn't put as much effort and creativity into the comics as I seemed to be putting into my other freelance endeavors. ...[H]er little dissertation made me suddenly realize that it was time to start concentrating on what I was doing — to carve a real career for myself in the nowhere world of comic books." 
  4. ^ Groth explains in his 2002 introduction to the interview that Kirby's state of mind needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating certain statements within the interview. Kirby was involved in an acrimonious dispute with Marvel Comics regarding the return of his artwork, and his relationship with Lee had deteriorated, in part due to this dispute but also due to Lee's public statements through the years, which Kirby saw as diminishing his role. Groth states: "Lee's contribution is a matter for endless speculation, but most observers and historians consider Kirby's claims here to be excessive."

  References

  1. ^ a b Lee, Stan (September 1974). Origins of Marvel Comics. Simon and Schuster/Fireside Books. ISBN 978-0-671-21863-8. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Daniels, Les (1993). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-8146-7. 
  3. ^ a b Groth, Gary (February 1990). "Interview III: 'I've never done anything halfheartedly'". The Comics Journal (134).  Reprinted in George, Milo, ed. (May 2002). The Comics Journal Library Volume 1: Jack Kirby. Fantagraphics Books. ISBN 1-56097-434-6. 
  4. ^ Kirby, Jack (May 14, 1971). Interview II: 'I created an army of characters, and now my connection to them is lost'. Interview with Tim Skelly. The Great Electric Bird. WNUR-FM.  Transcribed and published in The Nostalgia Journal #27. Reprinted in George, The Comics Journal Library.
  5. ^ a b Wells, Earl (October 1995). "Once and For All, Who Was the Author of Marvel". The Comics Journal (181).  Reprinted in George, The Comics Journal Library.
  6. ^ a b c Harvey, R. C. (April 1994). "What Jack Kirby Did". The Comics Journal (167).  Reprinted in George, The Comics Journal Library.
  7. ^ Evanier, Mark (2008). Kirby: King of Comics. Abrams Books. ISBN 0-8109-9447-X. 
  8. ^ a b Krensky, Stephen (2007). Comic Book Century. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-8225-6654-0. http://books.google.com/?id=n23M0Bn0JmwC&pg=PA58&dq=%22fantastic+four%22. 
  9. ^ Cronin, Brian (September 18, 2010). "A Year of Cool Comics – Day 261". ComicBookResources.com. http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/09/18/a-year-of-cool-comics-day-261/. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  10. ^ Cronin, Brian (September 19, 2010). "A Year of Cool Comics – Day 262". ComicBookResources.com. http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/09/19/a-year-of-cool-comics-day-262/. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  11. ^ Thomas, Roy (2006). "Moment 29: The Galactus Trilogy". Stan Lee's Amazing Marvel Universe. New York: Sterling Publishing. pp. 112–115. ISBN 978-1-4027-4225-5. 
  12. ^ Hatfield, Charles (February 2004). "The Galactus Trilogy: An Appreciation". The Collected Jack Kirby Collector 1: 211. 
  13. ^ Cronin, Brian (February 19, 2010). "A Year of Cool Comics – Day 50". ComicBookResources.com. http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/02/19/a-year-of-cool-comics-day-50/. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  14. ^ Fantastic Four #232 at the Grand Comics Database
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Wright, Bradford W. (2001). Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins. ISBN 0-8018-7450-5. 
  16. ^ Cooke, Jon B.; Eric Nolen-Weathington (2006). Modern Masters Volume Seven: John Byrne. TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 42–44. ISBN 978-1-893905-56-6. 
  17. ^ "Jessica Alba - Fantastic Four Girls". UGO. http://fantasticfour.ugo.com/?cur=jessica-alba&gallery=true. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  18. ^ Englehart, Steve. "Fantastic Four 304–332". SteveEnglehart.com. pp. 1–3. http://www.steveenglehart.com/Comics/Fantastic%20Four%20304-321.html. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  19. ^ Nolen-Weathington, Eric (2006). Modern Masters Volume Eight: Walter Simonson. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-893905-64-1. http://books.google.com/?id=ILopomw3UpMC&pg=PA65&dq=%22fantastic+four%22+Steve+Englehart. 
  20. ^ Manning, Shaun (January 15, 2008). "Brand New (May) Day: DeFalco talks 'Amazing Spider-Girl'". ComicBookResources.com. http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=12309. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  21. ^ "The Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators: 'Fantastic Four (III) (1998–2003)'". Maelmill-insi.de. http://www.maelmill-insi.de/UHBMCC/fantfou5.htm#S462. Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  22. ^ Hudlin, Reginald (w), Portela, Francis, Andrea Di Vito (p), Olazaba, Victor, Francis Portela, Andrea Di Vito (i). "Two Plus Two Part One: Home Invasion", "Two Plus Two Part Two", "Hell of a Mess Part 1", "From Bad to Worse Part 2", "Absolutely No Way to Win Part 3", "Dead or Alive Part 1", "Gangsta Lean Part 2", "Ready to Die Part 3", "Endgame Conclusion" Black Panther v4, 26-34 (May 2007–March 2008), New York: Marvel Comics
  23. ^ "Mark Millar: Tripping the Light Fantastic". ComicsBulletin.com. February 12, 2008. http://www.comicsbulletin.com/features/120286510850855.htm. 
  24. ^ "The Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators: Dark Reign: Fantastic Four (2009)". Maelmill-insi.de. http://www.maelmill-insi.de/UHBMCC/dreign.htm#S568. Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  25. ^ Smith, Zack (January 12, 2009). "Jonathan Hickman - Secret Warriors, the FF and More". Newsarama.com. http://www.newsarama.com/comics/010912-Hickman.html. 
  26. ^ Richards, Dave (February 13, 2009). "Osborn Supremacy: Fantastic Four". ComicBookResources.com. http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=20040. 
  27. ^ Ching, Albert (January 25, 2011). "Associated Press Spoils Fantastic Four #587 Hours Before Comic Goes on Sale". Newsarama.com. http://blog.newsarama.com/2011/01/25/associated-press-spoils-fantastic-four-587-hours-before-comic-goes-on-sale/. 
  28. ^ a b Ching, Albert (January 25, 2011). "Hickman Details Fantastic Four #587's Big Character Death". Newsarama.xom. http://www.newsarama.com/comics/hickman-fantastic-four-587-110125.html. 
  29. ^ Moore, Matt (January 25, 2011). "After Half Century, It's 1 Fantastic's Farewell". Associated Press via ABC News. Archived from the original on 2011-01-30. http://www.webcitation.org/5w83Ujd0O. 
  30. ^ Khouri, Andy (February 9, 2011). "Fantastic Four Get a New Name, New Costume and an Old Spider-Man". ComicsAlliance.com. http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/02/09/fantastic-four-FF-new-costumes-spider-man/. 
  31. ^ Hanks, Henry (February 11, 2011). "Spider-Man replacing Human Torch on new 'FF' team". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2011/SHOWBIZ/02/10/spiderman.ff.go/index.html?hpt=C2. 
  32. ^ Fantastic Four #600 at the Grand Comics Database
  33. ^ a b "Best Sellers - The New York Times - Hardcover Graphic Books". New York Times. March 11, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/2012-03-11/hardcover-graphic-books/list.html. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  34. ^ Byrne, John (w), Byrne, John (p), Ordway, Jerry (i). "Towards Infinity!" Fantastic Four 282 (September 1985), New York: Marvel Comics
  35. ^ Busiek, Kurt (w), Bagley, Mark (p), Russell, Vince (i). "Heroes' Reward" Thunderbolts 10 (January 1998), New York: Marvel Comics
  36. ^ Pacheco, Carlos, Rafael Marín (w), Pacheco, Carlos (p), Merino, Jesus (i). "Shadows in the Mirror!", "Day of the Dark Sun" Fantastic Four v3, 35-36 (November–December 2000), New York: Marvel Comics
  37. ^ Pacheco, Carlos, Rafael Marín (w), Pacheco, Carlos (p), Merino, Jesus (i). "Things Change" Fantastic Four v3, 39 (March 2001), New York: Marvel Comics
  38. ^ a b Knowles, Christopher (2007). Our Gods Wear Spandex. Weiser. p. 173–174. ISBN 1-57863-406-7. 
  39. ^ a b Bing, Jonathon (July 2005). "The Doom-Defying, Two-Fisted Marketing of Fantastic Four". Wired. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.07/fantastic.html?pg=2&topic=fantastic&topic_set=. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  40. ^ Wright, Bradford W. (2001). Comic Book Nation. JHU Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-8018-6514-5. http://books.google.com/?id=9pPgDE63U9oC&pg=PA204&dq=%22fantastic+four%22. 
  41. ^ Fein, Eric (2006). The Creation of the Fantastic Four. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-4042-0765-3. http://books.google.com/?id=n1KHmaeMvwcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22fantastic+four%22. 
  42. ^ "Fantastic Four". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fantastic_four/. Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  43. ^ Fantastic Four at Box Office Mojo
  44. ^ "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=fantasticfour2.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  45. ^ Fleming, Michael (August 31, 2009). "Fox Sets 'Fantastic' Reboot". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118007959.html?categoryid=13&cs=1. 
  46. ^ http://comicbookdb.com/title.php?ID=8804

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