Silver Age Fantastic Four Comics That Still Hold Up

Marvel's First Family are still Marvel's most accessible comic book on the market.
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Silver Age Fantastic Four Comics That Still Hold Up
Major Spoilers.com

Writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby's original 100 issue run of the Fantastic Four, from 1961- 1970 is the foundation upon which the Marvel Universe was founded. Based on a superhero family of explorers stationed in New York City, the team embarked on many offbeat adventures in their defining run of comics. Several staple Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) characters from Black Panther, the Skrulls, Inhumans, and Kree radical Ronan the Accuser were first introduced in the pages of Fantastic Four.

However, comic books have evolved drastically as a medium since the birth of the Fantastic Four during the period of 1956-1970, which would become known as the silver age of comics. Luckily, Marvel's First Family of Comics offers a plethora of stories for contemporary readers to sink their teeth into and enjoy as if the books released today.

This Man, This Monster (1966)

This Man, This Monster (1966)
Marvel.com

Perhaps the most tragic Fantastic Four tale constructed by Kirby and Lee, This Man This Monster takes the time to explore the heart and soul of the Fantastic Four in Ben Grimm a.k.a. the ever-loving blue-eyed Thing.  Following a startling encounter, The Thing is replaced by an eerily human imposter named Ricardo Jones. A scientific genius harboring jealously toward team leader Reed Richards, Ricardo has Reed trapped within the otherworldly dimension known as the Negative Zone, located in the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building headquarters.

However, Ricardo is stopped short of killing Reed when the heroism within Ben Grimm begins to seep onto Jones' own character. Though the story may not consist of huge battles and supervillains, This Man This Monster is an emotional piece that gets to the very core of the Fantastic Four's loneliest character. 

The Galactus Trilogy (1966) 

The Galactus Trilogy (1966) 
Major Spoilers.com

Up until The Galactus Trilogy, The Fantastic Four's cosmic adventures generally occurred in the far reaches of outer space. With the arrival of the feared Devourer of Worlds Galactus and his equally powerful herald Norrin Radd a.k.a. the Silver Surfer, the action would make its way to Earth. Standing in the way of Galactus and his unsavory appetite are the Fantastic Four. Though the Fantastic Four are mere superhumans fighting back against a cosmic deity, the fight against Galactus in Manhattan is one to remember.

Unlike past Marvel villains, Galactus presented the heroes with a new obstacle in not only his massive powerset but the fact that he was a threat that could not be bargained or reasoned with. Earth and the Fantastic Four just happened to be Galactus' latest choice on the menu.  

Bedlam at The Baxter Building (1965)

Bedlam at The Baxter Building (1965)
Longbox Graveyard.com

Even superheroes need time away from crime-fighting to renew their vows. The third in the double-sized Fantastic Four Annual series sess the famous odd couple of the titular team, Reed Richards and Sue Storm, finally celebrating their long-awaited wedding... in a world full of superheroes and supervillains. Fantastic Four archenemy Doctor Doom uses a newly invented device to attract an overabundance of the team's past foes to The Baxter Building in his attempt at sabotaging the famous Fantastic Four wedding, making the Four's headquarters the hottest place to be.

The 72-page wedding annual sees a visit from every mainstay superhero and a supervillain from across the Marvel Universe, including Earth's Mightiest Heroes The Avengers, time traveler Kang the Conqueror, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Skrull champion Kl'rt a.k.a. the Super Skrull, and outcasts the X-Men. The wedding of the Fantastic Four is an event in and of itself due to the sheer amount of heroes and villains coming together in the same book. 

The Black Panther (1966)

The Black Panther (1966)
Marvel.com

Before his recruitment among The Avengers, Fantastic Four #52 would introduce readers to the mysterious African ruler known as The Black Panther. Born T'Challa, rightful heir to the throne of the African nation of Wakanda, Black Panther was crowned king from childhood and raised in several forms of hand-to-hand combat, martial arts, and even non-physical feats such as chemistry in order to be the greatest warrior in his land. Luring America's beloved Fantastic Four to Wakanda, T'Challa was intent on eliminating the team and asking questions later.

However, Panther and the heroes would quickly put aside their differences to combine forces against an even greater threat in unscrupulous poacher Ulysses Klaw. Panther's introduction is not only significant in that he was a new superheroic addition to the Marvel Universe but a central African superhero at the forefront of an established comic book title, as opposed to a minor role. 

The Peril and the Power (1966) 

The Peril and the Power (1966) 
Fantastic Four 1 by 1.com 

Similar to The Galactus Trilogy, Peril and the Power was loosely adapted for the big screen through 2007's live-action film Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer. The Fantastic Four's foe Doctor Doom shares his first brush with godhood by stealing the primordial Power Cosmic energy from the Silver Surfer and using his newfound abilities to see world domination through. What makes this arc stand out above the rest is the fact that arch-villain Doctor Doom ultimately achieves his goal and acts as leader of the Earth for a number of issues.

Doom's planetary takeover takes the villainous monarch into battle with his greatest threat the Fantastic Four, which culminates in an epic fistfight with The Thing. Though the fight ends in a stalemate, Doom flies a bit too close to the sun and suffers the consequences in the end. Peril and the Peril shine a spotlight on the character of Doctor Doom and the lengths that he will go in order to achieve his goals, which happen to conflict with those of the Fantastic Four. 

Nearly every issue of the original Fantastic Four run was introducing a new addition that would become a crucial element in the pages of Marvel Comics. Without the silver age Fantastic Four issues, the modern Marvel Universe would be a completely different arena in the current market. Now that the Fantastic Four are becoming integrated into the MCU, there exists an ample opportunity to finally harken back to the comics which continue to resonate with readers.

Current junior Writing Arts major attending Rowan University. I am an avid writer, comic book reader, and film enthusiast.

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