According to the legend surrounding the Fantastic Four, Julius Schwartz and Marvel ‘s Marvin Goodman were playing golf when Schwartz was bragging about the success of Justice League of America. Goodman then talked to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and told them to create a superhero team next.
The Fantastic Four were conceived as a dysfunctional family. Lee made the team dysfunctional because he felt the team would be more realistic. Like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four had to face the same mundane problems their readers faced, such as having to pay rent in the Baxter Building. Reed Richards was the dad, Sue Storm was the nurturing mother. Johnny was her cocky daredevil brother, and Ben Grimm was like a loveable uncle. In the first issue, the four protagonists took a rocket to outer space, where the ship was bombarded by cosmic radiation. The radiation enveloped our heroes, and when the rocket crashed, they all developed powers. Reed became able to stretch his body and bend it any way he wished. Sue could turn invisible and bend light to form force fields. Johnny could become living fire and fly. Ben became a rock-hard monster. They each gave themselves new names: Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Girl (in the 80’s, Sue’s name was The Invisible Woman), The Human Torch, and The Thing.
Issue #2 introduced the Skrull. They are a race of aliens who are shape-shifters. The Skrull eventually become enemies of the Avengers as well, especially after their enemies, the Kree were introduced.
Issue 3 introduced both their iconic costumes and their Fantasti-Car. They also moved into the Baxter Building.
Stan Lee wanted to bring back the stars of Marvel’s Golden Age. He started with Namor, who resumed his role as villain. He was infatuated with Sue, and often attempted to woo her. He’d eventually occasionally fight on the side of good as well, as he often had in the Golden Age.
The Fantastic Four ‘s most famous enemy, Dr. Doom, appeared in #5. He would eventually take over his home country of Latveria, and became a formidable opponent not only for The Fantastic Four, but other heroes as well.
Issue #48 introduced the Cosmic Realm. Galactus came to Earth to consume its life energy. His herald, The Silver Surfer, would eventually gain a comic book of his own.
Next week, we take a trip back to the 50’s, as I look at Gold Key’s superhero comics. First up, Solar.
Next: Solar: The Man of Atom