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Fantastic Four

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Showing 1-25 of 42 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 24, 2011 5:18:33 PM PDT
R. Converse says:
Hey guys I have never read the FF. Wheres a good place to start? I want to start getting into reading them.

Posted on May 24, 2011 5:52:22 PM PDT
Luckily for you, the first 100-or-so issues are in print in several formats... I would definitely start at the beginning. Some of the other runs might be good, but nothing beats the initial Lee/Kirby run... it's comics history!!!

Posted on May 25, 2011 12:26:43 AM PDT
R. Converse says:
Great do you think one of the formats is better than the other? Which one would you suggest?

Posted on May 25, 2011 8:25:36 AM PDT
Esgaldil says:
I absolutely agree that the Lee/Kirby run is the place to start. For myself, Essentials is the way to go. These are about 500 pages, black and white, with the complete run starting with issue #1. If you absolutely need colour, the Masterworks are very nice on glossy paper and are also complete, but end up costing quite a bit more since they are both more expensive and have fewer pages. Either way, you might not want to start with issue #1 - I think the quality of the both the art and the stories improves when they started their "soap opera" style around issue #30 or so.

If you see a volume available for more than twenty dollars, skip it for now -they are all sure to be printed again before too long.

Essential Fantastic Four - Volume 1 (v. 1)

Fantastic Four, Vol. 1 (Marvel Masterworks)

There should be links on those pages to other volumes of the same format.

Posted on May 25, 2011 1:41:27 PM PDT
J. L. Henry says:
If you don't want to go way back to the 60's you could just start reading now. Jonathan Hickman is in the middle of a great run. John Byrne and Walter Simonson both had great runs also.

Posted on May 27, 2011 12:17:23 AM PDT
I agree with J.L Henry.

Posted on May 27, 2011 3:26:42 PM PDT
What format you should get really depends on your biases... personally, I really dislike the "Essentials" format, as it's a really shoddy way to get people to spend money. The artwork was created for color, so it's absence really hurts, IMO. Conversely, I really am not too crazy about most "Omnibus" editions, either. The FF ones are simply much too big to handle and read comfortably... you literally have to set them on a desk to read them!! Depending on how much money you want to spend, I'd go with the Masteworks format... try the first couple in softcover, and if you like it, graduate to the hardbacks... I agree with the previous poster that #30 is where things really get cooking, but the issues before are comics history and really are quite good. Byrne, Perez and Simonson had pretty good runs (I can't really comment on anything after around '89 or '90, as I stopped reading most mainstream comics around that time), but nothing beats Kirby!! You will also see how much influence Kirby had on superheroes after reading his run...

Posted on May 27, 2011 3:35:38 PM PDT
Kirby era is by far the best, followed by Byrne. But if you want to read something more modern, I would suggest Fantastic Four Unthinkable. (FF496-500) It gives you a good insight into the team dynamic, and into the mind of Doctor Doom - one of the BEST Villains ever in comic history.

Posted on May 31, 2011 2:16:53 PM PDT
Alan Glick says:
Definitely the Kirby/Lee years, specifically when they were at their peak from issues #44 (when inker Joe Sinnott came on board) till about issue 80, after which Kirby started saving his best efforts for other avenues. The Omnibus vol. 2 contains issues 30-60 with the best reproduction anywhere. Out of print and expensive, so I borrowed a copy from my library via inter-library loan. Definitely worth the wait.

Posted on Sep 24, 2011 4:05:42 AM PDT
Jesse Willey says:
I really like the Waid/Weiringo and Waid/Weiringo/Kessel run.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 4:36:34 AM PDT
Jesse Willey says:
OOOH-- and I almost forgot another great FF run that no one else mentioned. Steve Gerber's run on Marvel Two in One.

Posted on Oct 3, 2011 8:51:52 PM PDT
TheBastid says:
I started reading around issue #40 or so. Volume 1 that is. That was when they were fighting the Inhumans and then the first appearance of Galactus, Silver Surfer.

Really, really good. Classics.

Posted on Oct 4, 2011 11:19:54 AM PDT
Alexander P. says:
what's the quickest way to kill an entire circus?? go for the juggler!!
skip everything everyone told you start with, even if you already bought them... Go straight for ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR...

Its 6 volumes deep, at $20 a piece in hardcover (where available) its a steal... My local shop is selling the set of hardcovers for $75!! They're not too big, they're a complete story, they retell many of the original stories in better, more put together plots with nicer artwork... If you like anything you read there, then I'd suggest getting more cultured with the Lee/Kirby stints...

Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol. 1: The Fantastic & Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol. 2: Doom

Posted on Oct 7, 2011 6:39:43 AM PDT
Robert Fysh says:
Do not, under any circumstances, start with Ultimate Fantastic Four. It's never any better than average and becomes outright awful as it goes on.

If you can appreciate that the stories are dated, start with the Lee/Kirby run, the Omnibus editions especially are beautiful.

Mark Waid's run is excellent and available in three over sized hardcovers at a reasonable price.

Jonathan Hickman's current run is also excellent.

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 11:35:24 PM PDT
Pretty simple answer here.

1) the Lee-Kirby run (the 1960s)
2) the John Byrne run (the 1980s)
2) the Hickman-Epting run (the last couple of years), including FF
(The Hickman-Epting run is densely-plotted with lots on ongoing story threads that are a little hard to keep straight and definitely would read better in collected form -- you definitely don't want to jump in on the middle of this; go back to beginning of Hickman's run). Some people liked the Mark Millar-Bryan Hitch run that immediately preceded Hickman's -- something about it just didn't gel for me; just didn't feel like FF.

Which run you begin with is entirely up to your tastes & sensibilities, but you can't go wrong with any or all of these.

Posted on Nov 4, 2011 4:57:38 PM PDT
Ryan says:
The best thing about FF is how it went from like 584 or something straight to 600. Some folks say FF 'counted' as F4... but f4 600 comes out the same month as a new ff and the next month, f4 601 comes out instead of 602. Marvel can't count!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 9:20:14 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 4, 2011 9:41:18 PM PDT
You think that's confusing? Try to follow the numbering of THE INCREDIBLE HULK. (Notes courtesy of
Incredible Hulk (1962) #1-6 continues to Tales to Astonish (1959) #60-101...
Tales to Astonish (1959) #101 continues to Incredible Hulk (1968) #102...
Incredible Hulk (1968) #474 (with 1997 flashback #-1 counted as #475) continues to Hulk (1999) #1...
Hulk (1999) #11 continues to Incredible Hulk (2000) #12...
Incredible Hulk (2000) #112 (in addition to continuing to Hercules (2008) #113) also continues to Hulk (2008) #1...
Hulk (2008) #12 (in addition to continuing in it's own ongoing series with #13 to the present) also continues to Incredible Hulk (1968) #600.
Incredible Hulk (1968) #600 continues to #611. #612 changes name to Incredible Hulks.
Incredible Hulks #635 continues to Incredible Hulk (2011) #1

[Years in parentheses indicate the year the title was first published.]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2011 5:42:45 AM PDT
Ryan says:
See, told you guys Marvel can't count!

Posted on Nov 20, 2011 12:31:21 AM PST
Get the FF Marvel Masterworks from the beginning (if you want to keep them permanently), or the FF Marvel Essentials (if you just want to read them and don't mind the B&W repro). You could also get (for "permanency") the first two volumes of the FF Omnibus, if you can locate them. Lee & Kirby are great, and you should really enjoy most of their run. But I think the title is pretty stale after John Buscema departs from his initial run.

Posted on Dec 16, 2011 2:14:59 PM PST
Mike Hunt says:
This might be off-topic but I am always puzzled about this reflexive worship of "classic" runs. I love Lee and Kirby but come on...anyone over 10 years old who reads their run and thinks that it's the "best FF run ever" is blinded by fanboy worship. It has everything: terrible, amateurish art (I'm's true...), horrible, stilted dialogue you'd never hear in the real world, childish villains with laughable motivations, etc. etc.

I appreciate the trailblazers but at some point people have just got to admit that just because you were the first doesn't mean you were the best. For example, Ultimate Fantastic Four is for my money, 10 times better than ANYTHING written about the FF in the 1960s.

1. The art is amazing. Kirby would probably cry if he saw Kubert's pages.
2. Their origin is updated with actual (gasp) internal logic.
3. The dialogue is sharp, funny and intelligent.

For new reader: please...realize that those old comics from the 60s were great BACK THEN...if you start reading Fantastic Four as written by Lee and Kirby you will cringe and giggle the whole time. Pick up Ultimate Fantastic Four. The first three volumes alone are absolutely classic.

Posted on Dec 16, 2011 2:36:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 16, 2011 2:42:25 PM PST
@ Mike... wow, I don't think you could be more wrong. "terrible, amateurish art"!!?!? That "terrible, amateurish art" was the template for what the entire superhero genre has become! Ultimate Fantastic Four!?!? With the awful, computer-enhanced art? Dime-a-dozen scripting? You have to be joking! Let's take a look at your points...

1. The art is nice illustrations, not good cartooning! The art detracts from the story, as so much of today's Marvel product is guilty of. That's where oldsters like Kirby have it all over all that came after him. Kirby was drawing for a general audience while today's artists are drawing for fandom... the only thing that would make Kirby cry is Kubert's paycheck.

2. Sigh... I certainly hope this is a joke. One guy still stretches, right? Another turns into rocks, right? Internal logic never once comes into play in a super hero comic... despite how serious the current writers take such characters, they're still guys (and girls) in silly costumes using magic powers to fight other costumed characters.

3. There are many things Stan Lee has taken credit for that he shouldn't have, but one of (if not the) main talent he had was his scripting... those comics are, above all else, fun to read. And it's chiefly because of the dialogue.

Tell you what, Mike, let's have a little two-part test... between Lee/Kirby's run and "Ultimate FF"... when all is said and done, which series do you think will go down in history as better? And which series do you think had better sales? Lee/Kirby's FF has to be in the top 5 superhero strips of all time, and I'm thinking #1. The reason the series is so revered today isn't because of "fanboy worship", but because it was good.

Posted on Dec 16, 2011 4:50:30 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 16, 2011 4:51:18 PM PST]

Posted on Dec 16, 2011 7:17:55 PM PST
Esgaldil says:
Art is always subjective, so all I can say is that I grew up with John Byrne's Fantastic Four (and still consider it a great run), but the older I get, the more I love the Lee/Kirby stories. Ultimate Fantastic Four was worth a try and had a few interesting ideas, but I am as baffled by by anyone who calls it the best as P. and Hunt are by my preference. To each their own.

Posted on Dec 16, 2011 7:58:10 PM PST
Alan Glick says:
Don't feed the trolls.

Posted on Dec 17, 2011 10:25:56 AM PST
Mike Hunt says:
@Alan Glick
I certainly hope you are not referring to me as a "troll". There are many, many asinine habits that Internet discussion has engendered and the practice of calling someone a "troll" because he disagrees with your opinion is one of the most annoying and idiotic ones.

Sorry bro. I stand by my statement. I appreciate all that Kirby and Lee have given us as trailblazers but simply put I truly believe most of the credit given them is simply because of their mythic status as trailblazers not because of the quality of their stories. It's probably not their fault since they were writing at a time when they were bound by publishing and social rules and could not really branch out of the most pedestrian stories..but come on...anyone who reads the dialogue from a 1965 Fantastic Four comic book and thinks it's "sharp" is living on Pleasantville.

"Internal logic" is not "realism". For example, if in the midst of the film Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo found himself surrounded by Orcs, pulled out an AK-47 submachine gun and mowed his enemies down...that's a violation of internal logic. An ignorant person might argue: "But it's all fantasy! Hobbits don't really exist, neither do Orcs! What's to say that there are no machine guns in Middle Earth? They're magic!"

The 1960s Fantastic Four were written primarily for children. As such, Lee never really gave much scientific thought about how his heroes could possibly gain their powers. All he did was take a vague term like "cosmic rays" and bam! he had his McGuffin. The Ultimate Fantastic Four however, was published in the mid-2000s, an era in which by far, most comic book readers are either older teenagers or adults. It's a completely different aesthetic. Warren Ellis and Mark Millar actually ATTEMPT to create some internal logic to the characters' origins. Gone are cosmic rays. In are alternate dimensions, quantum states and molecular bio-engineering. This, in my opinion, perfectly illustrates the greater maturity of Ultimate Fantastic Four.

Millar and Ellis also explore things that Lee and Kirby could never explore in the 1960s due to the heavy Comic Code rules in place. Things like parental neglect, the misuses of science by a military-industrial complex, the thin line between entertaiment and news in the United States, the effect of having superpowers on teenagers and their relationships, etc etc. There are depths to Ultimate Fantastic Four that were never even scratched by Lee/Kirby in the 1960s.

And my point wasn't just about the Fantastic Four. I was talking about a larger trend in comic fandom that automatically places the originators from back in the 1960s at the top of the lists when the Greatest Ever are compiled. No one wants to look at it objectively and admit that J. Michael Straczynski wrote a better Spider Man than Lee ever did...or that The Ultimates were far better than the 1960s Avengers...or that Superman: Birthright makes John Byrne's incredibly dated Man of Steel look terrible in comparison.

This is why I love comics. I truly feel like they are an evolving medium and that creators and artists are always pushing the envelope. I truly believe that the Golden Age of Comics is NOT the 1940s or the 1960s but the 2010s. Never before have we been given such a variety of titles to choose from, never before have we such skillful authors, never before have established novelists written comics regularly, never before has the quality of art has been so high.

I won't discuss too much about the art since it is highly subjective but to denigrate Kubert's art because it is computer enhanced is a disservice to the artist. Computers are just another tool to create beautiful art. You could see a 1800s pencil sketcher mocking Kirby for using inks, and modern printing material to "enhance" his art.
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Discussion in:  Comics forum
Participants:  17
Total posts:  42
Initial post:  May 24, 2011
Latest post:  Dec 22, 2011

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