Today, comic book nerds are remembering the debut of The Fantastic Four, a foundational text of Marvel and comic book history in general.
Created by artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby and editor/co-plotter Stan Lee, The Fantastic Four was the first superhero team created by the two, which has earned the foursome the title of “First Family of Marvel.” While today the tropes associated with them might seem very generic, the team was responsible for reshaping the medium of comics.
For those who might have forgotten, the team is made up of four civilian astronauts who are exposed to cosmic rays during an unauthorized flight into outer space in a rocket ship designed for Dr. Reed Richards. As a result of this exposure, the team doesn’t get cancer, but Dr. Reed Richards, pilot Ben Grimm, and crew members Susan Storm and her brother Johnny Storm discover they have developed superpowers. With great power comes great responsibility, so they decide to become a superhero team.
Reed Richards becomes Mr. Fantastic, with the power to stretch. Sue Storm becomes The Invisible Girl (later woman), with the power to turn invisible and also create force fields. Johnny Storm is The Human Torch, with fire powers and flight. Finally, Ben Grimm becomes the Thing, a superpowered rock-like creature with the iconic catchphrase “It’s clobbering time.”
The rest is history.
One of the best “I Can’t Believe This Is Happening” moments of my whole career.
— Gail Simone (@GailSimone) August 9, 2021
First super hero comics I ever read were my cousin’s copies of FF #48, #49, and #50. (I think it was when we’d gone to his family’s house for Passover.)
It wrecked me for life.
In the best possible way.
Thanks, Stan & Jack.
(And my cousin, Meyer.)
— Dan Slott (@DanSlott) August 9, 2021
for the #FantasticFour‘s birthday, here’s Ben Grimm on why he does what he does
— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) August 9, 2021
Sometimes it really hurts that the only Fantastic Four live-action adaptations are all pretty damn terrible, but at the same time, it is a franchise that has stood the test of time—especially Sue Storm, who has grown into one of the most powerful superheroines of Marvel in her own right, not to mention having rogues like Dr. Doom and the anti-hero Namor among their ranks.
Hopefully, within the next few years, we will be blessed with some good content that will reintroduce younger audiences to this fantastic team.
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