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A brilliant scientist - his best friend - the woman he loves - and her fiery-tempted kid brother Together they braved the unknown terrors of outer space, and were changed by cosmic rays into something more than merely human Mr. Fantastic The Thing The Invisible Woman The Human Torch The comics that launched the Marvel Age of Comics are collected right here Collects Fantast A brilliant scientist - his best friend - the woman he loves - and her fiery-tempted kid brother Together they braved the unknown terrors of outer space, and were changed by cosmic rays into something more than merely human Mr. Fantastic The Thing The Invisible Woman The Human Torch The comics that launched the Marvel Age of Comics are collected right here Collects Fantastic Four (vol. 1) # 1-10


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A brilliant scientist - his best friend - the woman he loves - and her fiery-tempted kid brother Together they braved the unknown terrors of outer space, and were changed by cosmic rays into something more than merely human Mr. Fantastic The Thing The Invisible Woman The Human Torch The comics that launched the Marvel Age of Comics are collected right here Collects Fantast A brilliant scientist - his best friend - the woman he loves - and her fiery-tempted kid brother Together they braved the unknown terrors of outer space, and were changed by cosmic rays into something more than merely human Mr. Fantastic The Thing The Invisible Woman The Human Torch The comics that launched the Marvel Age of Comics are collected right here Collects Fantastic Four (vol. 1) # 1-10

30 review for Marvel Masterworks: The Fantastic Four, Vol. 1

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nicolo

    This is not the format I would have preferred to have this collection of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s seminal first ten issues of Fantastic Four; I’d rather have it in as a Marvel Masterwork hardcover, with heavy stock archival paper and a larger page size. But these are essential reading for any fan of Marvel Comics, since these are the issue that begat their Silver Age. These ten issues have a sort of manic energy that one can rarely see in comics nowadays. They seemed unfocused as Lee squeezed as This is not the format I would have preferred to have this collection of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s seminal first ten issues of Fantastic Four; I’d rather have it in as a Marvel Masterwork hardcover, with heavy stock archival paper and a larger page size. But these are essential reading for any fan of Marvel Comics, since these are the issue that begat their Silver Age. These ten issues have a sort of manic energy that one can rarely see in comics nowadays. They seemed unfocused as Lee squeezed as much science fiction concepts as he can in twenty pages. These first ten issues had Lee and Kirby making it up as they a long, so they were trying everything and throwing it to the wall and see what stuck. But Lee already had his Marvel superhero formula by issue one. He conceptualized a team that was most unlike an alliance of super powered titans. Instead he had a family, who constantly bickered with each other. He made a cast of characters more interesting and real than a man of steel or caped crusader. They had feet of clay and they stumbled individually, but picked themselves up together as a family. By the tenth issue, Lee and Kirby would have already reused several concepts and villains because the fans loved it. They know because they solicited fan mail and received it by the truckload. I really liked how old comics used to have a lot of story in one issue and each page had action packed panels. Comics today favor a more decompressed storytelling, of five to six issues to be collected in a trade. I feel a lot more satisfied reading a single issue of this Fantastic Four and still be hungry for the next month’s comics. I guess having this trade paperback is not a bad idea because it would be easier to reread and this is something that should be read more than once.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    The Good: Old-school comics are almost always fun, and these are no exception. Despite their age, these superhero narratives stand the test of time, and are much more fun than any of the Fantastic Four films. You'll see the origin story, and be introduced to both the Sub-Mariner and Dr. Doom. The last issue is the best, with a rather convoluted plot. The Bad: Nothing, really; I just reserve my five-star ratings for absolutely outstanding works of literature. Conclusion: The Fantastic Four and I ha The Good: Old-school comics are almost always fun, and these are no exception. Despite their age, these superhero narratives stand the test of time, and are much more fun than any of the Fantastic Four films. You'll see the origin story, and be introduced to both the Sub-Mariner and Dr. Doom. The last issue is the best, with a rather convoluted plot. The Bad: Nothing, really; I just reserve my five-star ratings for absolutely outstanding works of literature. Conclusion: The Fantastic Four and I have an interesting history. I liked the first film to a degree; I couldn't finish the second; and, I refused to watch the third. However, I had a blast with the 1990s television series, which I watched on DVD a few years ago. This was on par with that. I hope I can find more old-school Marvel compilations...because they're really fun!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Superb collection of one of the most iconic group of superheroes by two legends in Lee and Kirby. Kirby's artwork is gorgeous and Lee's writing is very good. The villains that are present are great and the storylines are solid with a nice balance of earthbound and space adventures. I love the way that the individual members complement each other and form a cohesive unit that would not be the same if a member were to be removed. This collection is classic in every sense of the word. A lot of fun. Superb collection of one of the most iconic group of superheroes by two legends in Lee and Kirby. Kirby's artwork is gorgeous and Lee's writing is very good. The villains that are present are great and the storylines are solid with a nice balance of earthbound and space adventures. I love the way that the individual members complement each other and form a cohesive unit that would not be the same if a member were to be removed. This collection is classic in every sense of the word. A lot of fun.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    What can one say about these seminal comics that hasn't already been said? Not much. Collected here are the first 10 issues of one of the cornerstone titles of Marvel Comics and the Marvel Universe. Thoroughly Silver Age, you won't find deep, wrenching works of modern comics storytelling, suffused with overwrought angst (well, maybe a little) and barely contained violence and sadism - but what you will find are imaginative, fun superheroics perfect for any child in your life. I was given ORIGIN What can one say about these seminal comics that hasn't already been said? Not much. Collected here are the first 10 issues of one of the cornerstone titles of Marvel Comics and the Marvel Universe. Thoroughly Silver Age, you won't find deep, wrenching works of modern comics storytelling, suffused with overwrought angst (well, maybe a little) and barely contained violence and sadism - but what you will find are imaginative, fun superheroics perfect for any child in your life. I was given ORIGIN OF MARVEL COMICS (which reprinted FF#1 among others) as a birthday present by my late sister when I was about 9 years old and it set me on the superhero path for many, many years - and I still chuckled at the same panel here from FF#1 (The Thing calls fleeing onlookers "lily-livered cowards!") as I did when I was a child. Here you'll find Stan Lee and Jack Kirby operating at full-tilt: spinning action-packed yarns that can go almost anywhere. The heights of cosmic-era FF, where Kirby really shines, are yet to come but you can see the seeds being planted here. Lee takes his love of classic pulp and puts a superheroic spin on the concept of Doc Savage's crew - giving us scientific adventurers similar to DC's CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN (from 5 years earlier), but with their own superpowers and (as a Lee trademark) personal problems. While there's an issue here where "crime fighting" is mentioned in passing, the truth is that the FF were never out there in the streets beating criminals and bank robbers like Spider-Man and Daredevil - instead, they traveled the world, into outer space, underground and other dimensions to meet their menaces. Their dysfunctional (but loving) family unit was - in these early books - often threatening to come apart at the seams (The Human Torch and The Thing quit a few times) and Lee's "modern" approach means we get stories set in New York City, heroes with anger management issues, heroes unsure if they are heroic enough, heroes who invest their money badly (and go bankrupt!), a population that doubts their existence & then treats them like movie stars, noble villains, inconsistent and unreliable powers and on and on (much of which had never, or rarely, been seen before). One has to give Lee credit for being hyper-self-aware of his own writing: The Thing complains about being a monster and yet is referred to constantly by the rest of his team (his friends!) as "Thing"... and he calls them on it within a couple of issues! Not every story is a winner (I still feel the ending of issue #3 and the threat of "The Miracle Man", was as lame as my 9 year old self also felt, back in the day) and there are all kinds of markers of the time (note Invisible "Girl," not "Woman", yet) - and Lee's breathless plotting rush (such a contrast to modern comics' overly earnest, "decompressed" storylines) often leaves huge holes (if the Army knew they were going to trap the FF, and built cells for their special powers, why post guards to watch over an "Invisible Girl" who they suddenly wonder "hey, she's gone!?" and open the door to her cell? And one hoped for a little more ingenuity from Reed Richards when he realizes Dr. Doom has switched bodies with him!) but all that matters very little - getting the young comic book reader to turn the next page, and boggling their minds with fun, action, humor and visionary wonder is the name of the game and Lee/Kirby succeed mightily here! Aliens, robots, creatures - what more could a kid ask for? How about foes like the Mole Man (who lives underground with monsters at his command!), The Puppet Master (creepily designed by Kirby to look like a human puppet, while his blind daughter Alicia falls for Ben Grimm's gentle soul inside the monstrous appearance) and the shape-shifting Skrulls (classic 50's bug-eyed aliens)? And how about two of the most impressive villains ever created in the early Marvel canon: Doctor Doom and The Sub-Mariner? A word about these two singular, fallible characters. Stan Lee may be creditable with the creation of the (previously unrepresented) "noble villain". Granted, Doc Doom doesn't really display that quality yet (his origin backstory involving his desire to rescue his mother's spirit from Hell, and his despotic, but nobly aesthetic, rule over Latveria came later) but, as I said, the seeds are sown in Lee's conception. What's most striking about Doom is that he is both an equal to, and yet removed conceptually from, Reed Richards, his primary adversary. While both great minds, Von Doom is specifically "Old World" in his conception: European, armored, Monarchical, his "mad science" and sorcery set against Reed's clean, 50's American Atomic Age/Space Age know-how. Also, one gets the feeling that Doom is an equal "match" for Reed (who is enabled by his "family", which Doom lacks), and his inevitable failures seen here (cast away on a meteor, endlessly shrunk into the subatomic microverse) leave one not expecting he is "doomed" but that he will always return like a bad penny (he is, presumably, just as ingenious as Reed)! And Lee/Kirby's decision to return the Golden Age figure of the Sub-Mariner to modern times is equally as compelling. Discovered among hobos, and visually interesting (with his Spock-like, hyper-aestheticized, triangular face), Prince Namor is a fascinating rescue from obscurity by Lee - he is a truly alien figure, presiding over a now-destroyed and abandoned kingdom, a ruler over no one, yet still arrogant and filled with rage (while also sexually attractive to Sue Storm), Namor is a classic anti-hero and, in all honesty, he has the two greatest moments in this collection (his "Go! Go! GO!" leap through space to Doom's spaceship, and his slugfest with The Thing in the surf!). Prince Namor is one of those characters who I never really liked, but who, in my maturity, I can totally respect as an exemplar of the classic Marvel anti-hero. There's just so much here that it's not worth commenting on. See for yourself (with the right eyes), the true glory of the wondrous FANTASTIC FOUR: THE WORLD'S GREATEST COMIC MAGAZINE!!!! (multiple exclamation points trademarked by Stan Lee!!) This volume was part of Marvel's earliest attempts to reprint their classic stories in hardcover and in color (seemingly, they later re-approached this idea with larger books), on white paper. The production itself is quite nice - a solid hardcover well-bound, colors seem adjusted for the brighter paper, and covers are included (there is a minor printing error here - pages 3-5 of issue #5 - the first appearance of Dr. Doom, no less! - are printed out of order) - but all in all, a fine book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    A collection of the first ten issues of The Fantastic Four from 1961, Marvel's first entry in the Silver Age of comics. Once upon a time, scientist Reed Richards piloted a rocket ship through cosmic rays, granting himself, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm powers mirroring the four classical elements. These issues marked the earliest appearances of the Mole Man (#1), the alien Skrulls (#2), Doctor Doom (#5), and the first appearance of the Sub-Mariner in several years (#4). The Four also A collection of the first ten issues of The Fantastic Four from 1961, Marvel's first entry in the Silver Age of comics. Once upon a time, scientist Reed Richards piloted a rocket ship through cosmic rays, granting himself, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm powers mirroring the four classical elements. These issues marked the earliest appearances of the Mole Man (#1), the alien Skrulls (#2), Doctor Doom (#5), and the first appearance of the Sub-Mariner in several years (#4). The Four also came into conflict with (deservedly) lesser known enemies such as Miracle Man (#3), Kurrgo from Planet X (#7), and Puppet-Master (#8). Like a lot of Silver Age collections, this was clearly written for kids and as such doesn't have a lot of subtlety, but it's still good light reading and an interesting cultural time capsule item. Lots of colorful action, silly dialogue, and made-up science abound here as much as in any of Marvel's other heroic debuts around this time. The stories strike a serious (though still mostly absurd) tone more than I'd expected, especially with Ben Grimm's constant coping with taking on the frightening form of the Thing. (How insulting and demeaning is that superhero name? Have some self-respect, Ben. Don't let your own family call you that.) Judging by some of these first appearances, it's tough to understand why some of these ideas lasted at all beyond the issue they were introduced in; the Skrulls and Doctor Doom are staples of Marvel's complex villains today, but they're both pretty standard melodramatic science fiction villains as presented here. As with most of these early creations, I assume that they were given new life and fleshed out by later writers who remembered them nostalgically. Some weird plots here, such as the Miracle Man's use of mass hypnotism and Namor buying a movie studio in a ridiculously complicated plot to trap and destroy the FF. Strangest of all is in issue #10, where Stan Lee and Jack Kirby insert themselves as characters into the plot of the FF versus Doctor Doom, apparently acting as the FF's comic book chroniclers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    As with the first Ditko Spider-Man issues, the original incarnation of the Fantastic Four is a much weirder, darker book than what it'd eventually become. Our heroes are introduced as monsters who happen to fight other monsters, with Ben Grimm acting particularly violent and unloveable. Over the course of the first 10 issues, the series brightens considerably, with more comedic elements and a softening of some of Grimm's rough edges. Kirby brings his experience in sci-fi and monster comics to cr As with the first Ditko Spider-Man issues, the original incarnation of the Fantastic Four is a much weirder, darker book than what it'd eventually become. Our heroes are introduced as monsters who happen to fight other monsters, with Ben Grimm acting particularly violent and unloveable. Over the course of the first 10 issues, the series brightens considerably, with more comedic elements and a softening of some of Grimm's rough edges. Kirby brings his experience in sci-fi and monster comics to create truly striking images on almost every page, and characters like Namor and Dr. Doom are compelling antagonists from their first appearances. The usual Silver Age caveats apply - the racial and gender politics are appalling, and the stories don't resolve so much as abruptly end as soon as Kirby runs out of pages.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Himanshu Karmacharya

    Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the world to arguably the first ever family superhero team, the Fantastic Four. Composed of four members who gained superpowers after being accidentally exposed to Cosmic rays, they join forces to use their powers for the greater good, while at the same time trying their best to make their lives normal. The character designs are amazing for the time but the art is very 60's. However, it has certainly inspired a number of future artists and paved the way for endl Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the world to arguably the first ever family superhero team, the Fantastic Four. Composed of four members who gained superpowers after being accidentally exposed to Cosmic rays, they join forces to use their powers for the greater good, while at the same time trying their best to make their lives normal. The character designs are amazing for the time but the art is very 60's. However, it has certainly inspired a number of future artists and paved the way for endless possibilities. The characterization has been done fantastically well (no pun intended). Reed Richards is the leader of the group, a brilliant scientist but always feeling guilty about being the cause of the accident. Johnny Storm is the youngest member of the group, a teen and is psyched about getting superpowers more than any other members. Ben Grimm, the hot head of the team, is the one who has the most traumatic experience of all, being disfigured and transformed by the cosmic rays into a rock-like creature. Susan Storm, the love interest of Reed Richards and the elder sister of Johnny Storm, is the heart of the group. She is the one who looks after each and every member and keeps the group from falling apart and acts more on the emotional level than any other members of the team. However, I felt that it was her character that was not fleshed out the most. In most of the stories, her role is limited to a damsel-in-distress. And there are number of sexist remarks. We are also introduced to classic FF characters, arch villain Doctor Doom and inconsistent villain/ally Sub Mariner. Though their characters are still in primordial stage. The stories so collected in this volume, are by now, all classics. But not all of them are written very well. There are tons of ridiculous plot points and garbage dialogues. Over-saturation of expositions also take away the fun of reading sometimes. The best story in this volume so far has to be the one involving the Puppet Master. Though not perfect in any way, it certainly delivers more sense of adventure and thrill than any other stories in this collection.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Breanna

    I only have one thing to say: The movies did them so dirty.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Cheesy! Over-the-top! Dawn of the Marvel Age perfection. Excelsior for everything, Stan!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aditya Mallya

    The first volume of the Fantastic Four Masterworks series collects the comic's first ten issues - ever. The very first issue (Nov 1961) belongs in a museum, signalling as it does Marvel's entry into superhero stories and the subsequent revolution in the genre. The tenth issue (Jan 1963) is surprisingly sophisticated meta story, featuring writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby as characters who interact with the Fantastic Four. In between these two issues, we meet for the first time villains like The first volume of the Fantastic Four Masterworks series collects the comic's first ten issues - ever. The very first issue (Nov 1961) belongs in a museum, signalling as it does Marvel's entry into superhero stories and the subsequent revolution in the genre. The tenth issue (Jan 1963) is surprisingly sophisticated meta story, featuring writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby as characters who interact with the Fantastic Four. In between these two issues, we meet for the first time villains like the Skrulls and Doctor Doom, who would go on to be Hall of Fame members of the Marvel rogues' gallery. Namor the Sub-Mariner, one of the earliest known antiheros, also receives an introduction. All in all, that's a pretty iconic set of comic books. The stories themselves are quite old-fashioned in their style, content and dialogue, but the writing and art has a fun vitality that prevents it from seeming dated. I'll never tire of The Thing's grumpiness!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    I've had this book for ages, a collection reprinting the first ten issues of Fantastic Four from 1961 and 1962, but I don't think I've ever read it all before. That's a mystery, as this was from the first printing of these reprints ran $50, and sells for a pretty penny nowadays. It's interesting to try to read these first ten issues from the perspective of creative minds not realizing they were building something iconic, but just having fun with a looser way of mixing and matching familiar trope I've had this book for ages, a collection reprinting the first ten issues of Fantastic Four from 1961 and 1962, but I don't think I've ever read it all before. That's a mystery, as this was from the first printing of these reprints ran $50, and sells for a pretty penny nowadays. It's interesting to try to read these first ten issues from the perspective of creative minds not realizing they were building something iconic, but just having fun with a looser way of mixing and matching familiar tropes. The first issue has a wonderful introduction in which we meet these characters for the first time - Kirby's pacing here is terrific. The early plots are filled with the same sort of monsters and aliens scattered throughout Strange Tales, Journey Into Mystery, Tales of Suspense, and Tales to Astonish of that time. But there is a freshness here, in the stretching out to make room for characterization (very basic in the beginning, but characterization nonetheless), in the beginnings of building a universe, albeit one where Stan and Jack are real, while their other stories are still comic books. Five of the first ten issues featured Sub-Mariner and/or Doctor Doom, with very little similarity to what either would become, but which obviously struck a chord. Kirby's artwork and storytelling are efficient, thrilling, fun, and only hinting at the wonders ahead. Stan's dialogue slowly loosened up to achieve the great style he would handle for the next few years. Comic book history was being made, but the men responsible were just figuring it out by the seats of their pants.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

    First published between November 1961 and January 1963, the first ten issues of the Fantastic Four can be laughably quaint. Atomic power and asbestos are categorical boons for society. The Human Torch sprays his bedroom every night with an unnamed chemical to keep it from going up in flames. The Invisible Girl is less likely to be a co-combatant and more likely to be a hostage, bait, or a spy. (Also the writing can be frankly bad, though that it possible in any generation, and perhaps more possib First published between November 1961 and January 1963, the first ten issues of the Fantastic Four can be laughably quaint. Atomic power and asbestos are categorical boons for society. The Human Torch sprays his bedroom every night with an unnamed chemical to keep it from going up in flames. The Invisible Girl is less likely to be a co-combatant and more likely to be a hostage, bait, or a spy. (Also the writing can be frankly bad, though that it possible in any generation, and perhaps more possible in ours. I once counted thirty-three exclamation points over a two-page spread. Maybe Stan Lee got paid by the exclamation point.) In other ways, the Fantastic Four was ahead of its time. The series changed comics by devoting precious space to characterization and back story.The Fantastic Four experience waves of doubt, jealousy, and sometimes outright rivalries. In one issue, the Fantastic Four faces eviction because superheroing doesn't pay the bills and Mr. Fantastic lost the gang's nest egg in the stock market. The brutish Thing is the most complex character of the bunch. I plan to continue reading the series. It will interesting to see how the tone of the comics change as the 1960s become increasingly complex and tumultuous. I wonder, for example, how the series will deal - directly or indirectly - with the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, and the Summer of Love. I wonder also when I will see a non-white person, and in what context. Should be fun.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Zack! Empire

    These stories are really silly and corny, but still great fun. If you were reading these with a critical or bitter eye, you wouldn't enjoy them, but if you can look back into your childhood and remember how magic and miracles were once real to you, these stories will be a hell of a good time. These stories are really silly and corny, but still great fun. If you were reading these with a critical or bitter eye, you wouldn't enjoy them, but if you can look back into your childhood and remember how magic and miracles were once real to you, these stories will be a hell of a good time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    That was a neat read. Don’t know if I could say it was all fun, but yeah, it was neat. This volume brought the FF to the world’s attention, setting up (although briefly) their origin and some of who would be their lifelong foes. Dr. Doom is introduced here, but no major origin or mention of Latveria. Here’s merely a smart dude that went to school with Reed and messed around with the dark arts a bit, resulting in an accident. My biggest takeaway from this was that I was stunned that the FF managed That was a neat read. Don’t know if I could say it was all fun, but yeah, it was neat. This volume brought the FF to the world’s attention, setting up (although briefly) their origin and some of who would be their lifelong foes. Dr. Doom is introduced here, but no major origin or mention of Latveria. Here’s merely a smart dude that went to school with Reed and messed around with the dark arts a bit, resulting in an accident. My biggest takeaway from this was that I was stunned that the FF managed to survive as a team, much less a marketable product for as long as it has. The stories are ok and play it rather safe. Poor Sue is merely Invisible Girl here and those darn, female emotions of hers get in the way a fair bit (ugh…the 60s). Also, most surprising is that for a collection of small issues, there had to be 3-4 times where (at minimum) one member would exclaim something along the lines of “You stink! I’m outta the Fantastic Four”. Seriously, they BARELY hold it together throughout. Maybe that was some gimmick to instill suspense, and maybe it’s early-issue jitters, but I didn’t find this collection as captivating as one I read set only about 10 issues later. One last jab. Call it creative, or call it lazy (I’m going with lazy) but the las tissue in this REALLY makes you suspend your disbelief. So, the last we saw Dr. Doom, he was hurtling through space to who knows where. The issue cuts to “real life” with Stan and Jack talking to each other lamenting the loss of the greatest foe ever. SUDDENLY Dr. Doom appears and sort of glosses over how he got back in the most tenuous of explanations. Ok, cool…probably worked for kids back then. Anyways, the issue ends with him shrinking into nothingness…and so begins a long, storied history of not really getting rid of characters. TL;DR? This is more enjoyable as an historical document than it is fun. Think of it as the first few episodes of a modern TV show. Still finding its footing here.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    As I begin a foray into the First Family to celebrate their 60th anniversary this upcoming year, I celebrate the new language born in the offices of Madison Ave of 1961. It would be hard to understate the importance of these comics. One could argue that Fantastic Four #1 is the most important super hero comic after Action Comics #1. I would be pretty satisfied with that ranking myself. Why? Because everything you know as Marvel Comics came from Fantastic Four #1. Yes, they had created Captain Am As I begin a foray into the First Family to celebrate their 60th anniversary this upcoming year, I celebrate the new language born in the offices of Madison Ave of 1961. It would be hard to understate the importance of these comics. One could argue that Fantastic Four #1 is the most important super hero comic after Action Comics #1. I would be pretty satisfied with that ranking myself. Why? Because everything you know as Marvel Comics came from Fantastic Four #1. Yes, they had created Captain America in 1941. But you would have no clue who Captain America was if it wasn’t for Marvel’s First Family. I wish I could instill the joy that this is to new readers... but sadly, I realize I have to steer people to more recent roads. This however was one of the first super hero comics I read, checked out from my local library. Read many times since, I appreciate more and more the new and fertile land they trod. This collection contains Fantastic Four (1961) #1-10: The first appearances of the eponymous foursome, the Mole Man, the Skrulls, the MIracle Man, the reappearance of Namor the Sub-Mariner (a golden age Marvel (Timely) staple), Doctor Doom (of course), Kurrgo, the Puppet Master, and Alicia Masters. Of those, only two are forgettable; the rest are ongoing staples of the Marvel Universe which is forming before your eyes on every page. Should you read it? I want to say yes, I really do. But I am learning that what I love, not all love. I have come to terms with the fact that most do not love beginnings and experiencing narrative development as much as I do. I now tend to point new readers who want a taste of the Lee/Kirby greatness to issues #40-60, the pinnacle of their time on FF. (They are possibly greater in Thor, but that is a discussion for another day) As I conclude, I wonder if I need to reconsider my star ratings for super hero comics. I have made 5 stars essentially unattainable, but perhaps I am not relating it to its own medium but against great literature... but if I change this to 5 stars, the retroactive madness that would ensue...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    Before the Fantastic Four, superheroes were black and white. Oh the comics themselves were always in color, but the characters themselves weren't. They were one dimensional, just good guys (and the occasional lady) who suited up every day to fight evil, mixing it up only with the current big bad of the week. They had no substance. Most of them didn't even have a real good reason to battle bad guys in the first place. They just did. Even Batman, who had the most compelling reason of all to "strik Before the Fantastic Four, superheroes were black and white. Oh the comics themselves were always in color, but the characters themselves weren't. They were one dimensional, just good guys (and the occasional lady) who suited up every day to fight evil, mixing it up only with the current big bad of the week. They had no substance. Most of them didn't even have a real good reason to battle bad guys in the first place. They just did. Even Batman, who had the most compelling reason of all to "strike terror into the hearts of criminals" seemed to have gotten over the whole thing and had even gone so far as to head up a whole Batman Family, complete with Batwoman and Batgirl to make those nights fighting crime a little less lonely. But then something happened. Four humans took a rocket trip into space in the name of science and completely changed the face of comics forever. Bombarded by cosmic rays, they were granted strange powers that, on a whole, weren't really all that spectacular. In mean, don't get me wrong, bursting into flame is kinda cool, all though if unchecked could lead to some awkward moments, but the Human Torch was actually a re-imagining of the original Golden Age hero, so nothing really new. Mr. Fantastic could stretch. Oooooh! Like Stretch Armstrong! Hardly worthy of such a moniker. Still, I guess it's better than Plastic Man, one of the worst names ever, or Elongated Man, so named in order to make Plastic Man feel better. And while we're on the subject of names, you know what The Invisible Girl's power was? Duh! Again, not a very impressive power. And then there's the Thing. It's like they ran out of names. And what a power! Sure, he's got super strength, but at what cost? He's horribly disfigured! So why are they still wildly popular today? Because Stan Lee and Jack Kirby knew exactly what they were doing. Charged with the task of writing a super team book to compete with the successful Justice League of America, they created a team that was not only super powered, they were super interesting. Stretching may be a lame power, but that was just something Reed Richards could do. It wasn't his true ability. Above all, Reed Richards was brilliant! His brain was his super power. And fire delivered into the hands of a teenager? It's a wonder Johnny Storm didn't accidentally burn the Baxter Building down! Though he does come close... And it's fascinating that the female is given the invisibility. Here we have this gorgeous woman, and we hardly even see her! And it's worth noting that even without super strength, Sue Storm is in there swinging with the rest of them! Though she does fall victim to the "damsel in distress" bit every now and then. It is still 1961 after all. Lastly, we come to The Thing, truly the most tragic figure in all of comic-dom. The guy didn't even want to go up into space. He warned them about the cosmic rays. And what does he get for his troubles? A monstrous orange rocky hide that a woman would have to be blind to love. (See what I did there? If not, read the collection then get back to me) This is the world's first dysfunctional super team. When they're not fighting devil doers, they're fighting each other. Thing mouths off at them at least once an issue. (And can you blame him? He got screwed!) They just barely get along. But they do. Because they're all they have. This is Super Hero Drama at it's finest and every issue is fascinating and at times, down right hilarious. At times, it almost feels like you're reading a super hero parody, but one that's really really well written. In closing, I'll say this. Remember it's 1961. Then read any early issue of Justice League. And then, you may Marvel at the difference.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Evan Leach

    This book collects issues 1-10 of The Fantastic Four. Written from 1961 to early 1963, these were the first comics to take place within the Marvel Universe as we know it and basically put Marvel Comics on the map. For anyone interested in the history of the industry, this is a must-read. For others, it’s more of a mixed bag. Marvel’s comics in the 1960’s were generally aimed at children and teenagers. They’re written in a lighthearted tone and come across as extremely cheesy at times. Also, thes This book collects issues 1-10 of The Fantastic Four. Written from 1961 to early 1963, these were the first comics to take place within the Marvel Universe as we know it and basically put Marvel Comics on the map. For anyone interested in the history of the industry, this is a must-read. For others, it’s more of a mixed bag. Marvel’s comics in the 1960’s were generally aimed at children and teenagers. They’re written in a lighthearted tone and come across as extremely cheesy at times. Also, these issues are now over 50 years old, and some of the material is a bit dated. For example, a recurring theme in this collection and in Fantastic Four: Vol. 2 is the need to beat the commies in the space race because nobody had been to the moon yet. This sets up the group’s origin story, where the team rather flippantly jots off into outer space in order to…well I’m not quite sure what the goal is. Stick it to the commies, apparently? In a frenzy of enthusiasm, Reed Richards convinces his pilot buddy to fly him into outer space. And as long as you’re hijacking a billion dollar rocket, you might as well bring your girlfriend and her teenage brother along for the ride? USA! USA!! USA!!! Despite our heroes’ careful and thorough planning, they are bombarded with “cosmic rays” that somehow makes one of them super strong (and ugly), one of them super stretchy, one of them a human fireball and one of them super…able to turn invisible. Poor Sue did not win the superpower lottery that day, a fact that was not lost on early readers: The group uses their new-found powers to kick all kinds of villainous butt, including Doctor Doom, Mole Man, and the Sub-Mariner, over the next nine issues. Your enjoyment of this collection is going to depend on your taste for the Stan Lee style, which nobody is going to confuse with Shakespeare. Personally I enjoy it in a campy kind of way, and I do think the quality of the early Fantastic Four issues is higher than many other comics of the early ‘60s. These are dated and cheesy, yes, but also fun. 3 stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    James

    The original adventures of the superhero team that's also a family...that can't stop fighting with each other. This is the series that kicked off the Mighty Marvel revolution, and it begins with Reed Richards, Sue Storm, her brother Johnny, and Ben Grimm heading off into space and coming back as Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Human Torch, and the Thing. This whole first volume is pretty bonkers. It seems clear that writer Stan Lee and illustrator Jack Kirby realize they have gold here, bu The original adventures of the superhero team that's also a family...that can't stop fighting with each other. This is the series that kicked off the Mighty Marvel revolution, and it begins with Reed Richards, Sue Storm, her brother Johnny, and Ben Grimm heading off into space and coming back as Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Human Torch, and the Thing. This whole first volume is pretty bonkers. It seems clear that writer Stan Lee and illustrator Jack Kirby realize they have gold here, but they're not sure entirely how to mint it. As a result, a lot of these stories seem borrowed from monster comics of a generation before, complete with single-issue foes and ironic comeuppances for the villains. Still, in these pages we have a zany introduction to the Skrulls, the team breaking up in the third issue and Namor gathering undersea treasure to buy a movie studio just for some petty revenge. There's also the first appearance of Dr. Doom, which includes the Fantastic Four heading back in time to steal pirate treasure and the Thing becoming the legendary Blackbeard. If you can handle this sort of thing, it's just about as delightful as it sounds. I enjoyed how raw and breathless these first issues are, even if the Thing is a bit of a jerk. There are some parts where it seems like the creative team is just winging it, even by Silver Age standards. A native tribe with magic potions making them resistant to fire? That's just silly. But the stories are lively and fun and any classic Marvel fan will likely have a good time with them. There are some great moments, from Namor leaping out of a water tank into space to Reed Richards losing all the group's money to stock-market speculation. I'm glad I finally read these founding issues, and I look forward to taking in more. Read digital issues.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Corey

    The quality of comic books has massively improved since Marvel debuted the Fantastic Four. This is an incredibly hard volume to get through. Every sentence ends in an exclamation mark (or a question mark, occasionally.) Every character over-explains everything they're doing, even when the panels clearly show it. Stan Lee apparently hadn't heard about "Show, don't tell" yet. The plots of each issue are nonsensical. Beyond all the awful mechanics, the stories are full of characters making bizarre, The quality of comic books has massively improved since Marvel debuted the Fantastic Four. This is an incredibly hard volume to get through. Every sentence ends in an exclamation mark (or a question mark, occasionally.) Every character over-explains everything they're doing, even when the panels clearly show it. Stan Lee apparently hadn't heard about "Show, don't tell" yet. The plots of each issue are nonsensical. Beyond all the awful mechanics, the stories are full of characters making bizarre, inexplicable decisions all the time. One issue begins with the Fantastic Four bemoaning the fact Reed Richards spent literally every penny of their fortune on the stock market and losing it all, so they hitchhike across the country to be actors in Hollywood. Actually, Reed losing all their money isn't that bizarre, as we find out he is a total a-hole that screws over friends and enemies over and over again in completely amoral ways. But he's still the hero and leader of the team for some reason. Lastly, Sue Storm exists only to get kidnapped and is completely useless as a character. I know this was written in ancient times when grown women were apparently treated like idiotic children by other characters and their writers, but it's grating when she's treated like garbage issue after issue. The only thing that takes this from one star to two is the fact that Marvel had the interesting idea to try to show superheroes that didn't always get along and had some "real life" problems. It may be agonizing in the execution here, but it was an idea that started something that would grow into some fantastic stories in the ensuing decades.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brad McKenna

    I had never actually read the early years of the Fantastic Four. The team was never really one that interested me. I'd read a few issues growing up and with crossovers and universe-wide stories being so popular, the characters regularly guest starred in my regular reading. But when Stan the Man shuffled loose the mortal coil, I decided to go back and read his early stuff. So I started with the title that paved the way for comics as we know them. Here are some general thoughts on this collection: I had never actually read the early years of the Fantastic Four. The team was never really one that interested me. I'd read a few issues growing up and with crossovers and universe-wide stories being so popular, the characters regularly guest starred in my regular reading. But when Stan the Man shuffled loose the mortal coil, I decided to go back and read his early stuff. So I started with the title that paved the way for comics as we know them. Here are some general thoughts on this collection: In issue #1, they were in Central City. People feared them and with good reason, they were destructive, running through walls and destroying cars. Johnny could only use his powers when excited and if he got too tired his powers turned off. “Flame ON!” was first said in issue #2 Sue got Ben to pilot the ship by calling him a coward. Sue isn’t really portrayed all that well. Especially when Namor becomes infatuated with her. Ben and Johnny were constantly fighting. I liked how they didn’t all get along and Ben was pissed at his transformation. It gave the team a great dynamic. Johnny was very obviously Stan’s favorite member. His powers were highlighted the most. Speaking of powers, Sue’s force fields are nowhere to be seen. They hinted at The Hulk comic by writing The Hulk Is coming under the panels. Then Johnny is reading a Hulk comic in one issue.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This book was stranger than I expected with Dr. Doom threatening Stan and Jack in issue 10. This is much better then early X-Men, even though it had the same creative team launching it. I guess it really is because the FF were accepted as a team and a family instead of outcast teenagers. There is so much acceptance of the bizarre that the book just gets down to silly pranks and strange science very naturally. Looking forward to the introduction of story archs rather than stand alones.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Boyd

    The Marvel Masterworks volumes are fantastic reprints of the early years of Marvel comics. A fantastic resource to allow these hard to find issues to be read by everyone. This first volume of the Fantastic Four introduces some of the great villains and heroes of the Marvel universe. Very recommended to everyone and Highly recommended to any comic fan.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Morbus Iff

    For all the hilarity of the story (Skrull cows! Missing Skrull! Blackbeard Thing!), I just love this stuff.

  24. 5 out of 5

    charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)

    let sue storm do something 2k17!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Driscoll

    As I was reading the first Amazing Spider-Man collection, there were a lot of crossover issues with the Fantastic Four, and eventually I decided to read the first volume of that venerable title before finishing up Spidey. It's really entertaining stuff, although wordy and with pretty shallow characters sometimes. But the insane scenarios and powers and scenes make things much more entertaining, and made me want to read more of the old Marvels. Basically the plot is that Richard Reed and his GF Sus As I was reading the first Amazing Spider-Man collection, there were a lot of crossover issues with the Fantastic Four, and eventually I decided to read the first volume of that venerable title before finishing up Spidey. It's really entertaining stuff, although wordy and with pretty shallow characters sometimes. But the insane scenarios and powers and scenes make things much more entertaining, and made me want to read more of the old Marvels. Basically the plot is that Richard Reed and his GF Susan Storm, her teen bro Johnny Storm, and a pilot named Ben Grimm fly into outer space to beat the Reds at their own game. The four of them get bombarded by cosmic rays, which give them superpowers. They then use the tech that Richard invented combined with their wacky powers to fight a series of baddies, ranging from the likes of the Mole Man, the Tinkerer, the Skrulls, Doctor Doom, the Submariner, Miracle Man, and more. First of all, I was surprised at just how MUCH the four fight with each other! It seemed like in every book Reed was holding back Ben, or Ben and Johnny were getting into a fight, or both. The characters were also not as heroic as I thought they would be. In a draft at the end of the book, Ben Grimm (The Thing) is revealed to have been created to NOT be a hero, to actually be a selfish and ethically compromised member of the team! This shows, as he often doesn't want to take the high route and wants to smash people all the time. (Also interesting that the Invisible Girl was originally conceived as only turning her own body invisible, not her clothes.) I was surprised at how often the heroes smash things while saving the day that don't need to be smashed--like Johnny turning into fire and melting a car he had been working on for no reason, or Ben Grimm smashing a cab that won't take him with no consequences, or Richard yanking a biker off his bike mid-ride just to ask him if he has seen Johnny around. Also... they hypnotize several Skrulls to forget their lives and become cows! YOW! How cruel!!! One memorable episode has Stan Lee and Jack Kirby interrupt the story to talk about their creative process, and it is revealed that they regularly talk with Richard about the stories they are telling (the heck) and Dr. Doom holds them hostage and... what the hey?! It didn't make any sense at all, but whatever! Jack Kirby's art becomes noticeably more dramatic, dynamic and exciting over the course of the ten issues. At first it was kind of static, but by the end I loved his work a lot more. I was surprised that Sue has a crush on Sub-Mariner for most of the book, and she is always defending him, even though the Sub-Mariner is a colossal jerk who tries to destroy all of mankind with his giant kaiju from the sea! (Okay, it IS understandable why SM would be mad, given that the humans bombed Atlantis with their undersea bomb tests. That reminded me of the plot of Godzilla vs. Megalon actually.) Speaking of Godzilla connections, in one of the first issues, the gang fights against the Mole Man, who controls giant monsters and has a place called Monster Isle. When the heroes go to the island, they encounter a three-headed dragon who looks kind of like King Ghidorah--but this was several years before KG was created. So that was kind of cool. Anyway, I had more fun than I should have reading this book, and now I want to read lots more of the early comics to get a taste of the heroes in their early stages. It's fun!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    Excelsior! The original ten issues of Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four, a fun sci-fi romp. It's definitely a product of its time, the early 1960s, with its sci-fi elements, monsters, atomic technology, and treatment of women. All the groundwork for later Fantastic Four stories can be found here: the relationship between Reed and Sue, the hot-headed nature of Johnny, Ben's eternal frustration at being Thing. As Stan Lee says, he set out to make the Fantastic Four a more "realistic" comic Excelsior! The original ten issues of Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four, a fun sci-fi romp. It's definitely a product of its time, the early 1960s, with its sci-fi elements, monsters, atomic technology, and treatment of women. All the groundwork for later Fantastic Four stories can be found here: the relationship between Reed and Sue, the hot-headed nature of Johnny, Ben's eternal frustration at being Thing. As Stan Lee says, he set out to make the Fantastic Four a more "realistic" comic by having the characters face real world issues. Sure, that results in some comedic episodes like Reed losing all their money in the stock market, but even that is played against the fact of how money is brushed aside in other comics (e.g. billionaire Bruce Wayne's endless supply of cash to fund Batman). The pages are crowded and the dialogue is bombastic and verbose. But that's all par for the course in comics of this era, a far cry from the drawn out comic books of today. All the colors are bright and the art is kinetic thanks to Jack Kirby. It's also amazing how visually unchanged the Fantastic Four, Sub-Mariner, and Dr. Doom are more than 50 years later. There's plenty to poke fun at in these stories and the science is laughable, but that's all part of the charm. Trying to realistically explain how the Human Torch functions is going to fail no matter what given enough passage of time. This is pure entertainment, not science class or a literary study. That said, the constant references to atomic technology and hypnosis show the fears contemporary to the comics' original publication. It's not overt and is easily glossed over by all the action and ridiculousness. But not all comics have to be The Dark Knight Returns and slam its social commentary over your head. This collection succeeds as both a historical artifact (the first Marvel superheroes, a time capsule of the 1960s) and a fun sci-fi romp.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex Andrasik

    What to say about the first ten issues of the Fantastic Four, the first ten issues of the Marvel Age of comics? It's corny and hokey and its starts to verge into that bombastic, ultra-showman Merry Marvel that would come to define the 60's and Stan Lee in particular. But despite its echoes of the lowbrow slog that characterized late-Golden Age comics and its hints of the excesses that would define the coming decade, there are glimpses here of the greatness that is rightly associated with the bes What to say about the first ten issues of the Fantastic Four, the first ten issues of the Marvel Age of comics? It's corny and hokey and its starts to verge into that bombastic, ultra-showman Merry Marvel that would come to define the 60's and Stan Lee in particular. But despite its echoes of the lowbrow slog that characterized late-Golden Age comics and its hints of the excesses that would define the coming decade, there are glimpses here of the greatness that is rightly associated with the best of the Lee-Kirby collaborations. The highlight is, of course, the Thing, a superhero unlike any that had ever been before, a bitter, self-loathing schmuck of ambiguous morality; in many ways, Ben Grimm is the prototype of the antihero mode of character that would become so popular in the later Bronze Age. The threats are mostly silly and inconsequential; even Dr. Doom, the defining villain of the Marvel Universe, is entirely without danger, lacking motivation beyond EVILLLL and VENGEANCE! (He also calls Sue "sister" at one point like a real mod cat.) The weird meta-appearance in issue 10 of Lee and Kirby themselves is a head-scratcher that serves mostly to perpetuate Stan's self-perpetuating rockstar mythology. Well, who can blame him? He wrenched a universe into being. It's a joy to watch Kirby's art develop over these ten issues. Obviously he was already a veteran of the medium, but I think it's possible to pinpoint the moment he gave up scribbling 50's schlock and decided he was going to pursue this work as an art form. His dynamic layouts and figure-work bring life to even the purplest prose and it's a joy to behold.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sean O

    The first 10 issues of the Fantastic Four feature some of their most important villains: Mole Man, the Skrulls, the Sub-Mariner (3x), and Doctor Doom(3x.) Sadly the other three villains are completely unmemorable. It is interesting to see Kirby develop the FF style over time. Reed Richards basically looks like Reed Richards by issue number 5 and the Human Torch's classic "Flame On" look shows up from panel to panel. The Thing has some ways to go, he still looks like an orange lump. You can reall The first 10 issues of the Fantastic Four feature some of their most important villains: Mole Man, the Skrulls, the Sub-Mariner (3x), and Doctor Doom(3x.) Sadly the other three villains are completely unmemorable. It is interesting to see Kirby develop the FF style over time. Reed Richards basically looks like Reed Richards by issue number 5 and the Human Torch's classic "Flame On" look shows up from panel to panel. The Thing has some ways to go, he still looks like an orange lump. You can really see the Marvel Method at work. Stan Lee would give Jack Kirby a brief script treatment and Jack, being the pro that he was, would pencil the entire story, making up scenes and script beats as he went along. Stan would script the pencils while they were getting inked and colored. Speaking of inks: Dick Ayers was one of the regular inkers, and sometimes he was good, and other times we was very bad. At first Stan's dialog is just plain dumb. I think as Kirby developed more and more, Stan was able to expand his creative powers too. By the 10th issue, the team is becoming tighter and tighter. Some interesting things: * The Thing turns into Ben Grimm pretty much every other issue. * Reed Richards is a jerk. Turning Skrulls into cows is just mean. * Johnny Storm is a very good teenager. * Sue doesn't realize how important she is to the team.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Molly Lazer

    Read with my four-year-olds during the 2020 pandemic quarantine. I've read these comics SO many times since I was five years old, and reading them yet again was still a joy. This time around, it interested me to see how quickly the team's dynamic and relationships are established and how the tone of this series is so different from the other Marvel comics from around the same time. (This is something I noticed in all of the books, from the INCREDIBLE HULK to the FF to the AVENGERS to AMAZING SPID Read with my four-year-olds during the 2020 pandemic quarantine. I've read these comics SO many times since I was five years old, and reading them yet again was still a joy. This time around, it interested me to see how quickly the team's dynamic and relationships are established and how the tone of this series is so different from the other Marvel comics from around the same time. (This is something I noticed in all of the books, from the INCREDIBLE HULK to the FF to the AVENGERS to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Despite being scripted by Stan Lee and mostly drawn by Jack Kirby, they all have a very different feel to them.) Johnny, in particular, comes off as extremely competent, a big difference from Peter Parker in his book. Anyway, my kids really gravitated towards the FF just as I did around their age, and these ten stories are a great foundation to bring them into this world. I was a bit surprised that this (and the Hulk) was the book they wanted to keep reading, but they love it. They have even made their own super hero team with a suspiciously similar origin story to the FF's (it involves "beating the commies to Jupiter").

  30. 4 out of 5

    Glen Engel-Cox

    Somewhat better than the other Marvel Masterworks volumes of early Marvel silver age comics, this collection of The Fantastic Four better showcases what would soon resuscitate Marvel’s line and make Stan Lee a household name—well, in some households. That secret? Finding a balance of human-level problems to complement the superhuman-level villains. Lee and Kirby sow the seeds of the love triangle between Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and Namor. He establishes the friendly rivalry between Torch and t Somewhat better than the other Marvel Masterworks volumes of early Marvel silver age comics, this collection of The Fantastic Four better showcases what would soon resuscitate Marvel’s line and make Stan Lee a household name—well, in some households. That secret? Finding a balance of human-level problems to complement the superhuman-level villains. Lee and Kirby sow the seeds of the love triangle between Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and Namor. He establishes the friendly rivalry between Torch and the Thing. They add the blind Alicia Masters to the mix, who can “see” behind the Thing’s rough exterior. And they start creating all the fantastic gadgets that made the Four as much a science fiction comic as a superhero one: flying cars, pogo planes, exploring other dimensions. The stories are still just one offs per magazine, with the monthly villain dispatched by the last page, instead of the multi-part serials we’ve come to expect today, but the recurrence of both Namor and Doctor Doom presages the future. Still likely only of interest to completists or those interested in the rough beginnings of these characters.

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