Fantastic Four

Premiering shortly before Spider-Man, who is credited with starting “The Marvel Age of Comics,” The Fantastic Four #1 is the cornerstone of modern superhero comics. This period in the early ’60s sparked a surge in superhero popularity.

While DC had successfully revived many of their characters from the ’40s, Marvel’s approach was revolutionary. Stan Lee and the Marvel “bullpen” created heroes with complex personalities, psychological struggles, and real-life problems. Unlike DC’s straightforward heroes, Marvel’s characters were multi-dimensional and relatable.

The Fantastic Four began this new era, introducing a richly detailed world filled with recurring characters, alternate universes, and complex villains with genuine motives. Set in New York, the real-world setting added to the readers’ investment in the stories.

Each member of the Fantastic Four had distinct roles and personalities: Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), the scientific genius and leader; Sue Storm (Invisible Girl), the emotional center and protector; Ben Grimm (The Thing), the strong, street-wise best friend; and Johnny Storm (The Human Torch), the youthful, ego-driven clown. They also had unique superpowers: Reed could stretch, Sue could turn invisible and create force fields, Ben transformed into a strong rock-like being, and Johnny could ignite into flames.

The series introduced iconic villains and supporting characters like Doctor Doom, Sub-Mariner, The Inhumans, The Watcher, The Silver Surfer, Galactus, The Skrulls, Ultron, The Black Panther, the Crusader, and Impossible Man.

The enduring quality of The Fantastic Four is a testament to the creative talents of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Sinnott, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, George Perez, Archie Goodwin, John Byrne, and many others.

Fantastic Four #1 (1961)


1st Appearance of the Fantastic Four

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