From Heroes Database
The Fantastic Four is a fictional superhero team appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The group debuted in The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961), which helped to usher in a new naturalism (literature) in the medium. The Fantastic Four was the first superhero team created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby, who developed a collaborative approach to creating comics with this title that they would utilize from then on. As the first superhero team title produced by Marvel Comics, it formed a cornerstone of the company's 1960s rise from a small division of a publishing company to a pop-culture conglomerate. The title would go on to showcase the talents of comics creators such as Roy Thomas, John Byrne, Steve Englehart, Walt Simonson, and Tom DeFalco, and is one of several Marvel titles still in publication since the Silver Age of Comic Books.
The four core individuals traditionally associated with the Fantastic Four, who gained superpowers after exposure to cosmic rays during a scientific mission to outer space, are: Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), a scientific genius and the leader of the group, who can stretch his body into incredible lengths and shapes; the Invisible Woman (Susan "Sue" Storm), Reed's wife, who can render herself invisible and project powerful force fields; the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Sue's younger brother, who can generate flames, surround himself with them and fly; and the monstrous Thing (Ben Grimm), their grumpy but benevolent friend, who possesses superhuman strength and endurance.
Since the original four's 1961 introduction, the Fantastic Four have been portrayed as a somewhat dysfunctional yet loving family. Breaking convention with other comic-book archetypes of the time, they would squabble and hold grudges both deep and petty, and eschew anonymity or secret identities in favor of celebrity status. The team is also well known for its recurring struggles with characters such as the villainous monarch Doctor Doom, the planet-devouring Galactus, the sea-dwelling prince Namor, the spacefaring Silver Surfer, and the shape-changing alien Skrulls.
The Fantastic Four have been adapted into other media, including four animated television series, an aborted 1990s low-budget film, the major motion picture Fantastic Four (2005), and its sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007).
Apocryphal legend has it that in 1961, longtime magazine and comic book publisher Martin Goodman was playing golf with either Jack Liebowitz or Irwin Donenfeld of rival company DC Comics, then known as National Periodical Publications, and that the top executive bragged about DC's success with the new superhero team the Justice League of America. While film producer and comics historian Michael Uslan has debunked the particulars of that story, Goodman, a publishing trend-follower aware of the JLA's strong sales, did direct his comics editor, Stan Lee, to create a comic-book series about a team of superheroes. According to Lee in 1974:
"For just this once, I would do the type of story I myself would enjoy reading.... And the characters would be the kind of characters I could personally relate to: they'd be flesh and blood, they'd have their faults and foibles, they'd be fallible and feisty, and — most important of all — inside their colorful, costumed booties they'd still have feet of clay."
Stan Lee, who had served as editor-in-chief and art director of Marvel Comics and its predecessor companies, Timely Comics and Atlas Comics, for two decades, found that the medium had become creatively restrictive. Determined "to carve a real career for myself in the nowhere world of comic books, Lee concluded that:
"For just this once, I would do the type of story I myself would enjoy reading.... And the characters would be the kind of characters I could personally relate to: they'd be flesh and blood, they'd have their faults and foibles, they'd be fallible and feisty, and — most important of all — inside their colorful, costumed booties they'd still have feet of clay."
Lee said he created a synopsis for the first Fantastic Four story that he gave to penciller Jack Kirby, who then drew the entire story. Kirby turned in his penciled art pages to Lee, who added dialogue and captions. This approach to creating comics, which became known as the "Marvel Method", worked so well for Lee and Kirby that they utilized it from then on; the Marvel Method became standard for the company within a year.
Jack Kirby recalled events somewhat differently. Kirby was challenged with Lee's version of events in a 1990 interview, responding "I would say that's an outright lie", although the interviewer, Gary Groth notes that this statement needs to be viewed with caution. Kirby claims he came up with the idea for the Fantastic Four in Marvel's offices, and that Lee had merely added the dialogue after the story had been pencilled. Kirby has also sought to establish, more credibly and on numerous occasions, that the visual elements of the strip were his conceptions. He regularly pointed to a team he had created for rival publisher DC Comics in the 1950's, Challengers of the Unknown. "[I]f you notice the uniforms, they're the same ... I always give them a skintight uniform with a belt ... the Challengers and the FF have a minimum of decoration. And of course, the Thing's skin is a kind of decoration, breaking up the monotony of the blue uniform."
Given the conflicting statements, outside commentators have found it hard to identify with precise detail who created the Fantastic Four. Although Stan Lee's typed synopsis for the Fantastic Four exists, Earl Wells, writing in The Comics Journal, points out that its existence doesn't assert its place in the creation; "we have no way of knowing of whether Lee wrote the synopsis after a discussion with Kirby in which Kirby supplied most of the ideas." Comics historian R.C. Harvey believes that the Fantastic Four was a furtherance of the work Kirby had been doing previously, and so sees the Fantastic Four as "more likely Kirby's creations than Lee's." But Harvey notes that their working practises, the "Marvel Method", allowed each man to claim credit, Wells argues that it was Lee's contributions which set the framework within which Kirby worked, and this made Lee "more responsible". Mark Evanier, studio assistant to Jack Kirby, recalls Stan Lee calling Kirby into the office one day, and that on that day the Fantastic Four was born. Evanier says that the considered opinion of Lee and Kirby's contemporaries was "that Fantastic Four was created by Stan and Jack. No further division of credit seemed appropriate."
The release of The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961) was an unexpected success. Lee had felt ready to leave the comics field at the time, but the positive response to Fantastic Four persuaded him to stay on. The title began to receive fan mail, and Lee started printing the letters in a letter column with Issue #3. Also with the third issue, Lee created the hyperbolic slogan "The Greatest Comics Magazine in the World!!" With the following issue, the slogan was changed to "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine", and became a fixture on the issue covers into the 1990s, and on numerous covers in the 2000s.
Issue #4 (May 1962) reintroduced Namor the Sub-Mariner, an aquatic antihero who was a star character of Marvel's earliest iteration, Timely Comics, during the late 1930s and 1940s period historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comics. Issue #5 (July 1962) introduced the team's most frequent nemesis, Doctor Doom. With issue #16 (July 1963), the cover title dropped its The and became simply Fantastic Four.
While the early stories were complete narratives, the frequent appearances of these two antagonists, Doom and Namor, in subsequent issues indicated the creation of a long narrative by Lee and Kirby that extended over months. Ultimately, according to comics historian Les Daniels, "only narratives that ran to several issues would be able to contain their increasingly complex ideas". During its creators' lengthy run, the series produced many acclaimed storylines and characters that have become central to Marvel, including the hidden race of alien-human genetic experiments, the Inhumans; the Black Panther, an African king who would be mainstream comics' first black superhero; the rival alien races the Kree and the Skrulls; Him, who would become Adam Warlock; the Negative Zone; and unstable molecules. The story frequently cited as Lee and Kirby's finest achievement is the three-part "Galactus Trilogy" that began in Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966), chronicling the arrival of Galactus, a cosmic giant who wanted to devour the planet; and his herald, the Silver Surfer. Daniels noted, "The mystical and metaphysical elements that took over the sage were perfectly suited to the tastes of young readers in the 1960s", and Lee soon discovered that the story was a favorite on college campuses.
After Kirby's departure from Marvel in 1970, Fantastic Four continued with Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman as its consecutive regular writers, working with artists such as John Romita, Sr., John Buscema, Rich Buckler and George Pérez, with longtime inker Joe Sinnott adding some visual continuity. Jim Steranko contributed a few covers as well.
The 1980s and early 1990s
John Byrne joined the title with issue #209 (Aug. 1979), doing pencil breakdowns for Sinnott to finish. Byrne then wrote two tales as well (#220-221, July-Aug. 1980) before writer Doug Moench and penciller Bill Sienkiewicz took over for 10 issues. With issue #232 (July 1981), the aptly titled "Back to the Basics", Byrne began his run as writer, penciller and (initially under the pseudonym Bjorn Heyn inker.
Byrne revitalized the slumping title with his run. Originally, Byrne was slated to write with Sienkiewicz providing the art. Sienkiewicz left to do Moon Knight, and Byrne ended up as writer, artist, and inker. Various editors were assigned to the comic; eventually Bob Budiansky became the regular editor. Byrne told Jim Shooter that he could not work with Budiansky, although they ultimately continued to work together. In 2006, Byrne said "that's my paranoia. I look back and I think that was Shooter trying to force me off the book." Despite this, Byrne really enjoyed his time on Fantastic Four. He ended up leaving in the middle of a story arc because he couldn't recapture the fun he had previously had on the series. One of Byrne's changes was making the Invisible Girl into the Invisible Woman: assertive and confident. During this period, fans came to recognize that she was quite powerful and, when drawn by Byrne, attractive. Previously, she had been a "Super-Mom/Super-Wife" in the tradition of TV moms like Donna Reed and Florence Henderson.
Byrne also staked bold directions in the characters' personal lives, having the married Sue Storm and Reed Richards suffer a miscarriage, and with the Thing quitting the Fantastic Four and the She-Hulk being recruited as his long-term replacement.
Byrne was followed by a quick succession of writers: Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, and Roy Thomas. Steve Englehart took over as writer for issues 304–332 (except #320). The title had been struggling, so Englehart decided to make radical changes. He felt the title had become stale with the normal makeup of Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny, so in issue #308 Reed and Sue retired and were replaced with the Thing's new girlfriend, Sharon Ventura, and Johnny Storm's former lover, Crystal. The changes increased readership through issue #321. At this point, Marvel made decisions about another Englehart comic, West Coast Avengers, that he disagreed with, and in protest he changed his byline to S.F.X. Englehart (S.F.X. is the abbreviation for simple Sound Effects). In issue #326, Englehart was told to bring Reed and Sue back and undo the other changes he had made. This caused Englehart to take his name entirely off the book. He used the pseudonum John Harkness, which he had created years before for work he didn't want to be associated with. According to Englehart, the run from #326 through his last issue, #332, was "one of the most painful stretches of [his] career." Writer-artist Walt Simonson took over as writer with #334 (Dec. 1989), and three issues later began pencilling and inking as well. With brief inking exceptions, and one fill-in issue, he remained in all three positions through #354 (July 1991).
Simonson had been writing the Avengers. He had gotten prior approval for Reed and Sue to join the Avengers because Engelhart had written them out of Fantastic Four. When he go to Avengers #300 where they would join, he was told they were being put back into Fantastic Four. This annoyed him, so quite, making #300 his last issue. Soon after, he was offered the job of writing Fantastic Four, who Marvel decided should consist of Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben again. He had already written a number of stories involving the Avengers with Reed and Sue in the lineup, which he then rewrote for Fantastic Four. Working on the series allowed him the lattitude to use original Avengers members Thor and Iron Man, who he was not allowed to use in the actual Avengers title. He took the opportunity to do a Galactus story where the Ultimate Nullifier from the original Galactus arc was actually used.
After another fill-in, the regular team of writer and Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco, penciller Paul Ryan and inker Dan Bulanadi took over, with Ryan self-inking beginning with #360 (Jan. 1992). That team, with the very occasional different inker, continued through for years through #414 (July 1996). DeFalco nullified the Storm-Masters marriage by retconning that the alien Skrull Empire had kidnapped the real Masters and replaced her with a spy named Lyja. Once discovered, Lyja, who herself had fallen for Storm, helped the Fantastic Four rescue Masters. Ventura departed after being further mutated by Doctor Doom. Ryan's lengthy run is behind only those of Jack Kirby and John Byrne in number of issues drawn.
Although some fans were not pleased with DeFalco's run on Fantastic Four, calling him "The Great Satan", its sales increased over the period.
Other key developments included Franklin Richards being sent into the future and returning as a teenager, the return of Reed's time-traveling father, Nathaniel, and Reed's apparent death at the hands of a seemingly mortally wounded Doctor Doom. It would be two years before DeFalco resurrected the two characters, revealing that their "deaths" were orchestrated by the supervillain Hyperstorm.
"Heroes Reborn" and renumbered
The ongoing series was canceled with issue #416 (Sept. 1996) and relaunched with vol. 2, #1 (Nov. 1996) as part of the multi-series "Heroes Reborn" crossover story arc. The year-long volume retold the team's first adventures in a more contemporary setting in a parallel universe. Following the end of that year-long experiment, Fantastic Four was relaunched with vol. 3, #1 (Jan. 1998). Initially by the team of writer Scott Lobdell and penciller Alan Davis, it went after three issues to writer Chris Claremont (co-writing with Lobell for #4-5) and penciller Salvador Larroca; this team enjoyed a long run through issue #32 (Aug. 2000). Carlos Pacheco then took over as penciller and co-writer, first with Rafael Marín, then with Marín and Jeph Loeb.
This series began using dual numbering, as if the original Fantastic Four series had continued unbroken, with issue #42 / #471 (June 2001). (At the time, the Marvel Comics series begun in the 1960s, such as Thor and The Amazing Spider-Man, were given such dual numbering on the front cover, with the present-day volume's numbering alongside the numbering from the original series.) After issue #70 / #499 (Aug. 2003), the title reverted to its original vol. 1 numbering with issue #500 (Sept. 2003).
Karl Kesel succeeded Loeb as co-writer with issue #51 / 480 (March 2002), and after a few issues with temporary teams, Mark Waid took over as writer with #60 / 489 (Oct. 2002) with artist Mike Wieringo (with Marvel releasing a promotional variant edition of their otherwise $2.25 debut issue at the price of nine cents US). Pencillers Mark Buckingham, Casey Jones, and Howard Porter variously contributed through issue #524 (May 2005), with a handful of issues by other teams also during this time. Writer J. Michael Straczynski and penciller Mike McKone did issues #527-541 (July 2005 - Nov. 2006), with Dwayne McDuffie taking over as writer the following issue, and Paul Pelletier succeeding McKone beginning with #544 (May 2007).
Post Civil War
As a result of the events of the Civil War storyline, the characters Reed and Susan Richards were temporarily replaced on the team by the Black Panther and Storm. During that period, the Fantastic Four also appeared in Black Panther, written by Reginald Hudlin and pencilled primarily by Francis Portela. Beginning with issue #554 (April 2008), writer Mark Millar and penciller Bryan Hitch began what Marvel announced as a sixteen-issue run.
H.A.M.M.E.R. later attacks the Baxter Building which leads to the effects on the Fantastic Four.
Chthon later shrinks the Fantastic Four to keep them from interfering.
Ancillary titles and features spun off from the flagship series include the 1970s quarterly Giant-Size Fantastic Four and the 1990s Fantastic Four Unlimited and Fantastic Four Unplugged; Fantastic Force, an 18-issue spinoff (Nov. 1994 - April 1996) featuring an adult Franklin Richards, from a different timeline, as Psilord. A spinoff title Marvel Knights 4 (April 2004 - June 2006) was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Steve McNiven in his first Marvel work. As well, there have been numerous limited series featuring the group.
In 2004, Marvel launched Ultimate Fantastic Four. Part of the company's Ultimate Marvel imprint, the series reimagined the team as teenagers. In 2008, Marvel launched Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four, an out-of-continuity series aimed at younger readers.
The Human Torch solo
The Human Torch was given a solo strip in Strange Tales in 1962 in order to bolster sales of the title. The series began in Strange Tales #101 (Oct. 1962), in 12- to 14-page stories plotted by Lee and initially scripted by his brother, Larry Lieber, and drawn by penciller Kirby and inker Dick Ayers.
Here, Johnny was seen living with his elder sister, Susan, in fictional Glenview, Long Island, New York, where he continued high school and, with youthful naiveté, attempted to maintain a "secret identity". (In Strange Tales #106 (Mar. 1963), Johnny discovered that his friends and neighbors knew of his dual identity all along, from Fantastic Four news reports, but were humoring him.) Supporting characters included Johnny's girlfriend, Doris Evans, usually in consternation as Johnny cheerfully flew off to battle bad guys. (She was seen again in a 1970s issue of Fantastic Four, having become a heavyset but cheerful wife and mother). Ayers took over the penciling after ten issues, later followed by original Golden Age Human Torch creator Carl Burgos and others. The FF made occasional cameo appearances, and the Thing became a co-star with issue #123 (Aug. 1964).
The Human Torch shared the "split book" Strange Tales with fellow feature "Doctor Strange" for the majority of its run, before finally flaming off with issue #134 (July 1965), replaced the following month by "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.". The Silver Age stories were republished in 1974, along with some Golden Age Human Torch stories, in a short-lived ongoing Human Torch series.
A later ongoing solo series in Marvel's manga-influenced "Tsunami" line, Human Torch, ran 12 issues (June 2003 - June 2004), followed by the five-issue limited series Spider-Man/Human Torch (March-July 2005), an "untold tales" team-up arc spanning the course of their friendship.
The Thing solo
The Thing appeared in two team-up issues of Marvel Feature (#11-12, Sept.-Nov. 1973). Following their success, he was given his own regular team-up title Marvel Two-in-One, co-starring with Marvel heroes not only in the present day but occasionally in other time periods (fighting alongside the World War II-era Liberty Legion in #20 and the 1930s hero Doc Savage in #21, for example) and in alternate realities. The series ran 100 issues (Jan. 1974 - June 1983), with seven summer annuals (1976–1982), and was immediately followed by the solo title The Thing #1-36 (July 1983 - June 1986). Another ongoing solo series, also titled The Thing, ran eight issues (Jan.-Aug. 2006).
The Fantastic Four is formed when during an outer space test flight in an experimental rocket ship, the four protagonists are bombarded by a storm of cosmic rays. Upon crash landing back on Earth, the four astronauts find themselves transformed with bizarre new abilities. The four then decide to use their powers for good as superheroes. In a significant departure from preceding superhero conventions, the Fantastic Four make no effort to maintain secret identities, instead maintaining a high public profile and enjoying celebrity status for scientific and heroic contributions to society. At the same time they are often prone to arguing and even fighting with one another. Despite their bickering, the Fantastic Four consistently prove themselves to be "a cohesive and formidable team in times of crisis."
While there have been a number of lineup changes to the group, the four characters who debuted in Fantastic Four #1 remain the core and most frequent lineup.
- Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), a scientific genius, can stretch, twist and re-shape his body to inhuman proportions. Mr. Fantastic serves as the father figure of the group, and is "appropriately pragmatic, authoritative, and dull". Richards blames himself for the failed space mission, particularly because of how the event transformed pilot Ben Grimm.
- Invisible Girl/Invisible Woman (Susan Storm), Reed Richards' girlfriend (and eventual wife) has the ability to bend and manipulate light to render herself and others invisible. She later develops the ability to generate force fields, which she uses for a variety of defensive and offensive effects.
- The Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Sue Storm's younger brother, possesses the ability to control fire, allowing him to project fire from his body, as well as the power to fly. This character was loosely based on a Human Torch character published by Marvel's predecessor Timely Comics in the 1940s, an android that could ignite itself. Lee said that when he conceptualized the character, "I thought it was a shame that we didn't have The Human Torch anymore, and this was a good chance to bring him back". Unlike the teen sidekicks that preceded him, the Human Torch in the early stories was "a typical adolescent – brash, rebellious, and affectionately obnoxious".
- The Thing (Ben Grimm), Reed Richards' college roommate and best friend, has been transformed into a monstrous, craggy humanoid with orange, rock-like skin and super-strength. The Thing is often filled with anger, self-loathing and self-pity over his new existence. He serves as "an uncle figure, a longterm friend of the family with a gruff Brooklyn manner, short temper, and caustic sense of humor". In the original synopsis Lee gave to Kirby, The Thing was intended as "the heavy", but over the years the character has become "the most lovable group member: honest, direct and free of pretension".
The Fantastic Four has had several different headquarters, most notably the Baxter Building, located at 42nd Street (Manhattan) and Madison Avenue in New York City. The Baxter Building was replaced by Four Freedoms Plaza at the same location after the Baxter Building's destruction at the hands of Kristoff Vernard, adopted son of the team's seminal foe Doctor Doom (Prior to the completion of Four Freedoms Plaza, the team took up temporary residence at Avengers Mansion. Pier 4, a waterfront warehouse, served as a temporary headquarters after Four Freedoms Plaza was destroyed by the ostensible superhero team the Thunderbolts shortly after the revelation that they were actually the supervillain team the Masters of Evil in disguise. Pier 4 was eventually destroyed during a battle with the longtime Fantastic Four supervillain Diablo, after which the team received a new Baxter Building, courtesy of one of team leader Reed Richards' former professors, Noah Baxter. This second Baxter Building was constructed in Earth's orbit and teleported into the vacant lot formerly occupied by the original.
Allies and supporting characters
A number of characters are closely affiliated with the team, share complex personal histories with one or more of its members but have never actually held an official membership. Some of these characters include, but are not limited to: Namor the Sub-Mariner (previously an antagonist), Alicia Masters, Lyja the Lazerfist, H.E.R.B.I.E., Kristoff Vernard (Doctor Doom's former protégé), Wyatt Wingfoot, governess Agatha Harkness, and Reed and Sue's children Franklin Richards and Valeria Richards. Several allies of the Fantastic Four have served as temporary members of the team, including Crystal, Medusa, Luke Cage, Nova (Frankie Raye) (as the Human Torch), She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel II, Ant-Man II, Namorita Prentiss, Storm, and the Black Panther; a temporary lineup from Fantastic Four #347-349 consisted of the Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider (Daniel Ketch). Other notable characters who have been involved with the Fantastic Four include Alyssa Moy, Caledonia (Alysande Stuart of Earth-9809), Fantastic Force, the Inhumans (particularly Black Bolt, Crystal, Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak, Triton, and Lockjaw), Nathaniel Richards, Silver Surfer (previously an antagonist), Thundra, Willie Lumpkin the postal worker, and Uatu The Watcher.
Author Christopher Knowles states that Kirby's work on creations such as the Inhumans and the Black Panther served as "a showcase of some of the most radical concepts in the history of the medium".
Writers and artists over many years have created a variety of characters to challenge the Fantastic Four. Knowles states that Kirby helped to create "an army of villans whose rage and destructive power had never been seen before," and "whose primary impulse is to smash the world." Some of the team's oldest and most frequent emnities have involved such foes as the Mole Man, the Skrulls, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Doctor Doom, Puppet Master, Kang the Conqueror/Rama-Tut/Immortus, Blastaar, the Frightful Four, Annihilus, Galactus, and Klaw. Other prominent antagonists of the Fantastic Four have included the Wizard, Impossible Man, Red Ghost, Mad Thinker, Super-Skrull, Molecule Man, Diablo, Dragon Man, Psycho-Man, Ronan the Accuser, Salem's Seven, Terrax, Terminus, Hyperstorm, and Lucia von Bardas.
The Fantastic Four's characterization was different from all other superheroes at the time. One major difference is that they don't conceal their identities, leading the public to be both suspicious and in awe of them. Also, they frequently argued and disagreed with each other, hindering their work as a team. Described as "heroes with hangups" by Stan Lee, the Thing has a temper, and the Human Torch resents being a child among adults. Mr. Fantastic blames himself for the Thing's transformation. Bradford W. Wright, author of Comic Book Nation, describes the team as a "volatile mix of human emotions and personalities." In spite of their disagreements, they ultimately function well as a team.
The first issue of Fantastic Four was a success; it started a new direction for superhero comics, soon influencing all other superhero comics. Stan Lee was surprised at the reaction to the first issue, leading him to stay in the comics field despite previous plans to leave. Readers liked Ben's grumpiness, how Johnny annoyed everyone, and Reed and Sue's spats. Comics historian Stephen Krensky said that 'Lee's natural dialogue and flawed characters appealed to 1960s kids looking to "get real."'
By 2005, the Fantastic Four had been featured in over 150 million comics. A Fantastic Four film was released in 2005, after successes with film series based on Marvel characters such as Blade, the X-Men, and Spider-Man. Counting on support from loyal fans who had waited while films were released based on characters created since the Fantastic Four's debut, Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad called the film "a tent pole film that supports all our brands and every area of our business." Christopher Knowles, author of Our Gods Wear Spandex, felt that the filmmakers "kept the spirit of the original Lee and Kirby team intact," and that despite many fans' concerns that the concept would not play well on film, the character's faults and foibles appealed to ordinary movie-goers.
In other media
There have been four The Fantastic Four animated TV series and three feature films (though one of the movies went unreleased, and is only available in a widely circulated bootleg). The Fantastic Four also guest-starred in the "Secret Wars" story arc of the 1990s Spider-Man animated series and the Thing guest-starred (with a small cameo from the other Fantastic Four members) in the "Fantastic Fortitude" episode of the 1996 Hulk series. There was also a very short-lived radio show in 1975 that adapted early Kirby/Lee stories, and is notable for casting a pre-Saturday Night Live Bill Murray as the Human Torch. Also in the cast were Bob Maxwell as Reed Richards, Cynthia Adler as Sue Storm, Jim Pappas as Ben Grimm and Jerry Terheyden as Doctor Doom. Other Marvel characters featured in the series included Ant-Man, Prince Namor, Nick Fury and the Hulk. Stan Lee narrated the series, and the scripts were taken almost verbatim from the comic books. The team made only one other audio appearance, on the Power Records album The Amazing Spider-Man and Friends. The Way It Began featured Stan Lee himself in the role of Johnny Storm and saw Ben Grimm reliving the origin of the FF, before leaving the Baxter Building to find their original nemesis the Mole Man, and a possible cure for Alicia's blindness. The story was never followed up on any further Power Records albums. In 1979, the Thing was featured as half of the Saturday morning cartoon Fred and Barney Meet the Thing. The character of the Thing was given a radical make-over for the series. The title character for this program was Benji Grimm, a teenage boy who possessed a pair of magic rings which could transform him into the Thing. The other members of the Fantastic Four do not appear in the series, nor do the animated The Flintstones stars Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, despite the title of the program.
The Fantastic Four have been the subject of four different cartoon television series. The first Fantastic Four series, produced by Hanna-Barbera, ran for 20 episodes from September 9, 1967–March 15, 1970. The second Fantastic Four series, produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises lasted only 13 episodes and ran from September 9, 1978–December 16, 1978; this series features a H.E.R.B.I.E. Unit in place of the Human Torch. The third Fantastic Four was broadcast under the The Marvel Action Hour umbrella, with introductions by Stan Lee; this series ran for 22 episodes from September 24, 1994–February 24, 1996. The fourth series, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes debuted on September 2, 2006 on Cartoon Network (United States), and has thus far run for 26 episodes.
In 1998, a side-scrolling video game was released for the Sony PlayStation home video game system / platform, based on the Fantastic Four characters. In the game you and a friend could pick among the Fantastic Four characters (along with the She-Hulk), and battle your way through various levels until you faced Doctor Doom. The game was widely panned by critics for having weak storyline and handling of the characters' powers.
The Fantastic Four appeared in the Super NES and Sega Genesis video games based on the 1990s Spider-Man animated series and in their own multi-platform games based on the 2005 movie.
The Thing and the Human Torch appeared in the 2005 game Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects.
All of the Fantastic Four appear as playable characters in the game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, although they had had only minimal roles.
The Human Torch has an appearance in a mini-game where you race against him in all versions of the Ultimate Spider-Man (video game) game except for Game Boy Advance.
A movie adaptation of The Fantastic Four was completed in 1994 by B movie producer Roger Corman. While this movie was never released to theaters or video, it has been made available from various Bootleg video distributors.
The film was made because the studio that owned the movie rights would have lost them if it did not begin production by a certain deadline (a tactic known as creating an ashcan copy). According to producer Bernd Eichinger, Avi Arad had Marvel purchase the film for a few million dollars.
Another feature film adaptation of Fantastic Four was released July 8, 2005 by Fox, and directed by Tim Story. Fantastic Four opened in approximately 3,600 theaters and despite predominantly poor reviews grossed US$156 million in North America and US$329 million worldwide, weighed against a production budget of $100 million and an undisclosed marketing budget. It stars Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Jessica Alba as Susan Storm/Invisible Woman, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/Human Torch, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm/The Thing and Julian McMahon as Victor Von Doom/Dr. Doom, with Stan Lee making a cameo appearance as Willie Lumpkin, the mailman.
A sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, directed by Story and written by Don Payne, was released June 15, 2007. Despite another round of mostly poor reviews, the sequel brought in US$132 million in North America a total of US$288 million worldwide. Talks are underway to produce a third movie, where the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom are said to reprise their roles.
- Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #1-416, Annual #1-27, 500-present
- Fantastic Four Vol. 2* #1-13
- Fantastic Four Vol. 3 #1-70, Annual 98-01
- Fantastic Four vs the X-Men #1-4
- Fantastic Four: House of M #1-3
- Secret Invasion Fantastic Four #1-3
- Fantastic Four: True Story #1-4
- Fantastic Four 2099 #1-8
- Fantastic Five Vol. 1 #1-5
- Fantastic Five Vol. 2 #1-5
- Fantastic Four Unpluged #1-6
- Giant-Size Super-Stars #1
- Giant-Size Fantastic Four #2-5
- Fantastic Four: 1234 #1–4
- Fantastic Four: Atlantis Rising #1–2
- Fantastic Four: Big Town #1–4
- Fantastic Four: Fireworks #1–3
- Fantastic Four: The End #1—6 (2006—2007)
- Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Comics Magazine #1–12
- Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules #1–4
The stories have been collected a number of times:
As part of the Essential Marvel range:
|Volume Name||Years Covered||Issues Collected||Pages||ISBN||Date Published (First Edition)|
|Template:Sort||1961-1963||The Fantastic Four #1-20, Annual #1||544||ISBN 0-7851-1828-4||1998-11-04|
|Template:Sort||1963-1965||The Fantastic Four #21-40, Annual #2, Template:-Strange Tales Annual #2||528||ISBN 0-7851-0731-2||1999-10-20|
|Template:Sort||1965-1967||The Fantastic Four #41-63, Annual #3-4||536||ISBN 0-7851-2625-2||2001-08-01|
|Template:Sort||1967-1968||The Fantastic Four #64-83, Annual #5-6||536||ISBN 0-7851-1484-X||2005-06-29|
|Template:Sort||1969-1971||The Fantastic Four #84-110, Annual #7-8||568||ISBN 0-7851-2162-5||2006-06-21|
|Template:Sort||1971-1973||The Fantastic Four #111-137||592||ISBN 978-0785126973||2007-05-23|
|Template:Sort||1973-1975||The Fantastic Four #138-159, Template:-Giant-Size Super-Stars #1, Template:-Giant-Size Fantastic Four #2-4, Avengers #127||560||ISBN 978-0785130635||2008-07-16|
In the Marvel Masterworks series:
|#||Volume Name||Issues Collected||1st Edition||2nd Edition||Pages||ISBN|
|2||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #1-10||November 1987||29 June 2003||256||ISBN 0-7851-1181-6|
|6||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #11-20, Annual #1||October 1988||30 July 2003||295||ISBN 0-7851-0980-3|
|13||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #21-30||September 1990||24 September 2003||234||ISBN 0-7851-1182-4|
|15||The Silver Surfer: Vol. 1||The Silver Surfer #1-6, The Fantastic Four Annual #5||June 1991||18 June 2003||260||ISBN 0-7851-1187-5|
|21||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #31-40, Annual #2||November 1992||26 November 2003||264||ISBN 0-7851-1183-2|
|25||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #41-50, Annual #3||October 1993||28 January 2004||240||ISBN 0-7851-1184-0|
|28||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #51-60, Annual #4||25 October 2000||17 March 2004||240||ISBN 0-7851-1266-9|
|34||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #61-71, Annual #5||25 August 2004||N/A||304||ISBN 0-7851-1584-6|
|42||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #72-81, Annual #6||16 March 2005||N/A||272||ISBN 0-7851-1694-X|
|53||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #82-93, Annual #7||23 November 2005||N/A||272||ISBN 0-7851-1846-2|
|62||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #94-104||24 May 2006||N/A||272||ISBN 0-7851-2061-0|
|103||Template:Sort||The Fantastic Four #105-116||17 September 2008||N/A||272||ISBN 978- 0-7851-3047-5|
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: George Perez 1 (collects #164-167, 170, 176-178, 184-186)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: George Perez 2 (collects #187-188, 191-192, Annual #14-15, Marvel Two-In-One #60, Adventures of the Thing #3)
- In Search of Galactus (collects #204-214)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne 0 (collects #215-218, 220-221)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne 1 (collects #232-240)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne 2 (collects #241-250)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne 3 (collects #251-257, Annual #17, Avengers #233, Thing #2)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne 4 (collects #258-267, Alpha Flight #4, Thing #10)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne 5 (collects #268-275, Annual #18, Thing #19)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne 6 (collects #276-284, Secret Wars II #2, Thing #23)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne 7 (collects #285-286, Annual #19, Avengers #263, Annual #14, X-Factor #1)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne 8 (collects #287-295)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walt Simonson 1 (collects #334-341)
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walt Simonson 2 (collects #342-346)
- Fantastic Four: Monsters Unleashed (collects #347-349)
- Heroes Reborn: Fantastic Four (collects Vol 2 #1-12)
- Heroes Return: Fantastic Four (collects Vol 3 #1-)
- Fantastic Four: Flesh and Stone (collects Vol 3 #35-39)
- Fantastic Four: Into the Breach (collects Vol 3 #40-44)
- Fantastic Four/Inhumans (collects Vol 3 #51-54, Inhumans #1-4)
- Fantastic Four: Imaginauts (collects Vol 3 #56, 60-66)
- Fantastic Four: Unthinkable (collects Vol 3 #67-73)
- Fantastic Four: Authoritative Action (collects Vol 3 #74-79 [503-508)
- Fantastic Four: Hereafter (collects #509-513)
- Fantastic Four: Disassembled (collects #514-519)
- Fantastic Four: Rising Storm (collects #520-523)
- Fantastic Four: The Life Fantastic (collects #527-532)
- Fantastic Four: The Life Fantastic Vol 2 (collects #533-535, The Life Fantastic, A Death in the Family)
- Fantastic Four: Civil War (collects #538-543)
- The New Fantastic Four (collects #544-550)
- Fantastic Four: The Beginning of the End (collects #525-526, 551-553, Isla de la Muerte)
- Fantastic Four: World's Greatest (collects #554-561)
- Fantastic Four: Masters of Doom (collects #562-569)
- Fantastic Four HC Vol 1 (collects #489-502)
- Fantastic Four HC Vol 2 (collects #503-513)
- Fantastic Four HC Vol 3 (collects #514-524)