Writer: Stan ("The Man") Lee
Artist: Jack ("King") Kirby
Publication Date: November, 1961
Alright, here we are...the beginning.
Well, a beginning, at least. Most comic folk think of the first issue of the Fantastic Four as the beginnings of the Marvel Universe, so it's a good place for us to start. However, some of the elements of Marvel had been established at this point. Captain America already existed, as did an earlier version of the Human Torch, and Namor (whom we'll see in a few issues), and many other characters still popular today.
But Fantastic Four # 1 marks the start of the Marvel Universe as a (somewhat) cohesive whole, and therefore, it's a good place for me to begin this exercise.
The Fantastic Four are introduced. They are Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, Sue Storm, aka The Invisible Girl, Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, and Ben Grimm, aka The Thing. They came into the super hero scene by flying into space and encountering a cosmic storm, thus receiving their strange powers through cosmic rays. Reed calls the group together because of strange attacks by monsters. Reed pinpoints a place called Monster Isle as the spot equidistant to all the cave-ins, and so the group travels there to see what's up. They encounter the Mole Man, a strange looking fellow who abandoned humanity after years of abuse for his physical appearance, and found underground creatures to control instead (naturally). Alas, the Mole Man has nothing in the face of the Fantastic Four, who defeat him pretty handily, and sink Monster Isle in the process (easy come, easy go). Fantastic Four: 1, Mole Man: 0.
Stan starts the story of the Fantastic Four en media res, introducing our heroes as they answer a signal flare shot out by Reed Richards. Afterwards he presents their origins. Also, Ben Grimm is not a huge fan of Reed Richards, and has a crush on Sue Storm, Reed's fiance. I've got a hunch that in the long run, Reed's gonna win this battle.
The Fantastic Four seem to live in a city called Central City, so we'll see how long that lasts before it's replaced with New York City, which is the center of the Marvel Universe.
- Going into space never really seems to work out as planned in comic books.
- There's a tasteful reference to the space race against the "Commies" by Invisible Girl.
- Mole Man's radar sense warns him of danger, which seems a harbinger of Spidey's ever-tingling Spider Sense.
This panel is entertaining for a host of reasons. First, Mole Man pulls the popular "signal cord," number one on the list of ways to attract Godzilla like monsters to do your bidding. Second, in the heat of battle, the Thing still finds exciting ways to emasculate the self-proclaimed Mr. Fantastic.
And that's that. In one little post, all of 1961 is covered. Continuing at this pace, I should wrap up this whole project in about two months. That seems likely.
Next: Fantastic Four # 2.