A super-heroic love triangle like no other gets a fantastic start!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

Together, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought so much to the Marvel Universe, ranging from heroes and villains to iconic locales and whole races. However, they also established a great deal of relationships that remain relevant to this day. We, of course, know all about the connections between the Fantastic Four and even longtime comrades like the Avengers, but Lee and Kirby also established romantic bonds between characters, including the long and complicated one between Sue Storm and Namor!

It all began in 1962’s FANTASTIC FOUR #4 when Reed and Sue blamed Ben for chasing Johnny off in the previous issue. With one of their own flying solo, the other members of the team split up to track him down. Thing found the Torch working on a car with his buddies, but they fought, Ben changed back into his human form and Johnny ran off. After renting a bed at a men’s hotel in the Bowery, the youngest FF member met a man dealing with amnesia who also happened to be super-strong. After a flame-assisted shave, Johnny quickly realized the mystery man’s true identity: Namor, the Sub-Mariner!

To help jog his new friend’s memory, the Torch dropped Namor into the ocean, which brought all of the Golden Age stalwart’ss memories rushing back. Unfortunately for us surface-dwellers, the Sub-Mariner soon discovered that his underwater home had been ravaged by radioactivity left over from nuclear weapons testing. With that, Namor swore to have his revenge on mankind, even blaming Johnny Storm for waking him up to these atrocities. The Human Torch sent up a flare to get his partners’ attention. At that same time, the displaced ruler of Atlantis plunged the ocean’s depths to rouse a whale-like behemoth called Giganto!

Fantastic Four (1961) #4

Fantastic Four (1961) #4

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As the beast laid waste to New York City, The Thing decided to do the only thing that made sense: he strapped a nuclear bomb to his back and walked straight into Giganto’s maw! The plan worked, destroying the monster in the process. Unperturbed, Namor raised his creature-calling horn to summon more when Sue Storm used her invisibility powers to sneak up and snatch the instrument away. Upon seeing the Invisible Girl’s true form, the Sub-Mariner became instantly smitten. He even offered to spare humanity if Sue agreed to marry him. She quickly rebuked his ridiculous offer, which did not sit well with the arrogant king. At that point, Human Torch turned on the turbo jets, creating a cyclone that carried Namor back out to the ocean so he could cool off.

Far from the best meet cute in the history of comics, this initial meeting between Sue and Namor has led not just to further flirtations, but also more than a few alternate realities where the two actually got together and ruled the planet!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Sue Storm steps into the spotlight as we mark her fantastic feats!

This March, we celebrate Women’s History Month by spotlighting some of the most iconic characters and creators from the Marvel Universe.

Sue Storm stands as a true comic book icon. In addition to helping kick-start the Marvel Universe, she’s used her invisibility and force field powers to make the world a better place for her fellow citizens as well as the family she’s built with her husband Reed Richards.

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961’s ground breaking FANTASTIC FOUR #1, Sue Storm gained amazing powers along with her boyfriend Reed, her brother Johnny Storm, and their friend and pilot Ben Grimm when they flew an experimental spacecraft through cosmic rays. Before we saw the origin contained in that issue, though, a “Fantastic Four” flair went up into the New York City skies. Sue had been having tea with another woman, but went invisible upon seeing it thinking, “So it has happened at last! I must be true to my vow! There can be no turning back!”

With that, she headed out into the streets and walked through people who could feel her presence but not see her. She also hopped in a taxi and asked the cabbie to take her somewhere, but he freaked out, thinking he had picked up a ghost! Sue took that as an affirmation that her invisibility powers really worked! With all of these moves, Sue is the first member of the team to actually demonstrate her powers.

After they all met up at Mr. Fantastic’s place and the origin gets told, we found out the true purpose of the meeting: The Mole Man! The team then traveled to Monster Isle where a beast attack separated them, but they eventually discovered the villain’s plot to take over the surface world with a series of tunnels and lots of giant monsters. The team put the kibosh on that plan and left, hoping to never see Mole Man again!

In the next few issues, Sue and her squad took on a series of threats such as the Skrulls, Miracle Man, Doctor Doom, Namor, and The Puppet Master. Though the Invisible Girl may have played damsel in distress more times than any of us would like, she eventually evolved into The Invisible Woman, one of the most respected and powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe.

Think about it: in addition to co-starring with her teammates in hundreds of issues of their own series, Sue has also played important parts in just about every major event in the Marvel Universe ranging from Galactus’ first attempt at devouring the Earth to Doctor Doom taking over reality in Secret Wars. In fact, she and Reed haven’t been seen since that huge, reality-altering event making her eventual return all the more anticipated.

The Women of Marvel

In addition to traveling through time and space to right wrongs, Sue and Reed have also developed a strong, though oftentimes troubled relationship with one another that dates back to that first appearance when they were simply dating. Their marriage in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3 proved the event of the century as everyone from a pre-Hellcat Patsy Walker and Tony Stark to a couple of party crashers called Stan and Jack wanted to attend. This union eventually brought two incredibly powerful kids into the world, Franklin and Valeria, who have saved the world in their own right.

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From teaching to construction work, this family of four has explored many different careers!

It’s Monday, and that means that you’ve had to find the strength to shake off the after effects of a weekend well spent just to get back into shape for the weekday work-athon. It’s tough, sure, but it’s a fact of life – one that isn’t lost on super humans either. Yep, Mondays mean back to work for super heroes too, as they trade in their uniforms for something more business casual.

As Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four have a higher in-universe profile than most every other hero around. After all, they got the modern day super hero ball rolling way back in 1961’s FANTASTIC FOUR #1. Because of their status and Reed Richards’ immeasurable scientific contributions to the world, this family of four has punched more mole people than clocks in their history. But just because their careers as heroes get all the attention doesn’t mean they’ve never held down a 9 to 5.

Fantastic Four (1998) #61

Fantastic Four (1998) #61

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As some of the most prominent people on Earth, the Fantastic Four have a lot going on business-wise. Licensing, marketing, and patent revenue all allowed for the FF to maintain their day-to-day operations, and in FANTASTIC FOUR #61, Sue Storm gave Johnny Storm responsibilities that he could not shirk by making him Fantastic Four, Inc.’s Chief Financial Officer.

4 (2004) #1

4 (2004) #1

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When the Fantastic Four briefly went broke, they all had to figure out a way to cope without their savings accounts and the security of the Baxter Building. Mr. Fantastic became a stay at home dad/scientist, the Thing turned to construction work, and the Invisible Woman became a high school English teacher. Johnny Storm, however, took the opportunity to ditch CFO life and chase his original dream job: being a celebrity.

Fantastic Four (1998) #579

Fantastic Four (1998) #579

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Recently, Reed Richards turned his eye towards the future and opened up a school within the FF’s headquarters called the Future Foundation. After dropping the mic with his mission statement at the Singularity Conference, the Four all went about recruiting students to fill the fledgling institute. There, the next generation of geniuses all began to learn from the best and come up with ways to improv the world – and also save it, from time to time.

See how the FF deal with the fallout from ORIGINAL SIN in FANTASTIC FOUR #6, on sale this Wednesday!

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Thor's not the only Marvel hero with a tall family tree!

Thor and Loki might just be the most famous pair of siblings in the Marvel Universe right now, but the Asgardians will soon discover a whole new branch on their family tree. Thanks to the events of ORIGINAL SIN, Thor and Loki will meet their long lost sister – Angela. Turns out that the angelic warrior from another dimension has a little bit of Asgardian blood running through her veins. These revelations will occur this July in the five-part THOR & LOKI: THE TENTH REALM series from writers Jason Aaron and Al Ewing, with art by Lee Garbett and Simone Bianchi.

Sure, Angela’s introduction into Odin’s family sounds like it’ll be a high stakes adventure in the mighty Marvel manner, but it’s about par for course where other super siblings are concerned. Being a super hero only magnifies your family drama, as evidenced by these five other super siblings.

Invisible Woman & Human Torch

Fantastic Four (1961) #32

Fantastic Four (1961) #32

  • Published: November 10, 1964
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

After being exposed to crazy levels of cosmic radiation, Sue Storm and her younger brother Johnny became half of the super-powered quartet called the Fantastic Four. This surrogate family, forged with Sue’s fiancée Reed Richards and his best friend Ben Grimm, helped replace the one that the Storm siblings had previously lost. As depicted in FANTASTIC FOUR #32, Sue and Johnny’s mother had died from injuries caused by a car crash, injuries that their father – a celebrated physician – could not fix.

Medusa & Crystal

Secret Invasion: Inhumans (2008) #3

Secret Invasion: Inhumans (2008) #3

  • Published: October 08, 2008
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 14, 2010
  • Rating: Rated T+
  • Writer: JOE POKASKI
  • Penciller: Tom Raney
What is Marvel Unlimited?

They may be called Inhumans, but the relationship between Medusa and her little sister Crystal feels all too human. The sisters have clashed in the past, usually because of Medusa’s role as queen of their people, but they’ve been able to work through their differences when situations demanded it. When the Skrulls kidnapped Medusa’s husband Black Bolt, Crystal stepped up and supported Medusa’s take-no-prisoners approach to rescuing her king.

Cyclops & Havok

 

Even though Scott and Alex Summers spent their childhoods in separate orphanages following the apparent death of their parents in a fiery plane crash, all the love, jealousy, warm memories, and name-calling came rushing back when they were finally reunited as young adults. Alex followed in his brother’s footsteps when he became an X-Man and leader of X-Factor. At times it appeared as though Alex made it his main motivation to step out of Scott’s shadow, but the younger Summers brother would still begrudgingly turn to his older brother for advice about leadership.

Trickshot & Hawkeye

Hawkeye (2012) #12

Hawkeye (2012) #12

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To say that Barney and Clint Barton didn’t have an easy childhood would still be an understatement. Their abusive father made their home unstable, creating an environment where the Barton brothers could only rely on each other. Following the death of their parents in a car accident, the Bartons made a pit stop at an orphanage before joining the Carson Carnival of Traveling Wonders. There they both caught the eye of the Swordsman, who turned both of them into master archers. Despite many years together, the duo eventually ended up separated by the law; Barney became a criminal called Trickshot while Clint became Hawkeye, an Avenger.

Colossus & Magik

Uncanny X-Men (2011) #8

Uncanny X-Men (2011) #8

  • Published: March 07, 2012
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: February 25, 2013
  • Rating: T+
What is Marvel Unlimited?

No other siblings on this list have had it as bad as Piotr and Illyana Rasputin. Colossus’ little sister spent all of her adolescence fighting demons in the nightmarish Limbo dimension and returned to Earth a teenager. Years later, the Russian government murdered their parents just a few months before Illyana – who had since been de-aged back to a child – succumbed to the Legacy Virus. Piotr’s grief drove him to join Magneto’s Acolytes. Not long after that, he rejoined the X-Men – and then died. Colossus got better, as heroes do, and the demon Belasco used black magic to resurrect Illyana. One would hope that these two, alive and reunited, would finally know peace. Nope! Recently, Magik allowed for Colossus to be possessed by the evil demon Cyttorak so that he would understand her inner pain. This manipulation and betrayal proved to be too much for Colossus, and the two have not spoken since.

For more family drama, check out THOR & LOKI: THE TENTH REALM #1 this July!

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The Man Without Fear comes up against Doctor Doom, gets lost in another dimension, and experiences the death of a loved one!

In 1964, Marvel premiered one of its enduring and exciting super heroes, Daredevil. Whether in his secret identity as blind lawyer Matt Murdock or using his enhanced radar senses, DD stood out from the crowd as an unrelenting crusader for justice.

To celebrate 75 years of Marvel, 50 years of the Man Without Fear and the upcoming debut of Marvel’s “Daredevil” show on Netflix in 2015, we look back on the hero of Hell’s Kitchen’s remarkable history!

The year 1968 kept the Man Without Fear more than busy, with a struggle against one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest tyrants, the return of a trio of terrors, and the arrival of a new adversary with a grand scheme to do away with Daredevil once and for all.

Daredevil (1964) #37

Daredevil (1964) #37

  • Published: February 10, 1968
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 28, 2007
  • Penciller: Gene Colan
  • Cover Artist: Gene Colan
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Matt Murdock raced to the Fantastic Four’s headquarters in the Baxter Building in DAREDEVIL #36 to save Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl, from the Trapster’s bomb. Then, while chasing the baddie into the subway, he ran right into none other than Doctor Doom himself. Meanwhile, across town, Mat’s law firm partner Foggy Nelson decided to run for District Attorney.

Doom desired to use our hero to gain revenge against the Fantastic Four, and in DAREDEVIL #37 whisked him off to Latveria and into a devilish mind-transfer device. Now trapped in Doom’s body, DD escaped the far-off land to warn the FF in DAREDEVIL #38 and ultimately forced the villain to switch their minds back by threatening to plunge Latveria into war with its neighbors. But, in a last-ditch attempt to gain something from the debacle, Doom turned the tables on the hero.

Daredevil (1964) #39

Daredevil (1964) #39

  • Published: April 10, 1968
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 28, 2007
  • Penciller: Gene Colan
  • Cover Artist: Gene Colan
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Reed Richards and his brood thought Doom still resided in Daredevil’s body in FANTASTIC FOUR #73, and it took an all-out battle with ol’ Hornhead, Spider-Man, and the mighty Thor to clear the air and prove them wrong.

The Unholy Three escaped from prison in DAREDEVIL #39 to form an alliance with the Exterminator, who schemed to blackmail Foggy Nelson. Debbie Harris, recently released from incarceration, fell prey to the Exterminator’s T-Ray gun and found herself trapped in an otherworldly limbo from its energies. Heading out for a crime spree in DAREDEVIL #40, the Three also zapped Daredevil into the alternate plane, where he discovered Debbie and then watched in amazement as she and others trapped there returned to the real world—but not himself.

Daredevil (1964) #41

Daredevil (1964) #41

  • Published: June 10, 1968
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 17, 2008
  • Penciller: Gene Colan
  • Cover Artist: Gene Colan
What is Marvel Unlimited?

While running his campaign for the office of District Attorney, Foggy began to investigate the Exterminator in DAREDEVIL #41, but wound up captured by the mystery criminal instead. Daredevil managed to free himself from limbo, and when he tracked the Unholy Three to their lair, decided to “kill off” his “twin brother” Mike in an explosion there. While Matt and his friends mourned the death of Daredevil and Mike in DAREDEVIL #42, a new menace calling himself the Jester arrived on the scene to make his mark. Crooked politician Richard Raleigh targeted Foggy for a beat down, hiring the Jester to deliver it, and Matt let it slip to Foggy and Karen page that his late brother Mike trained a “new” Daredevil to take the place of the dead hero.

Daredevil (1964) #43

Daredevil (1964) #43

  • Published: August 10, 1968
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: June 06, 2011
  • Penciller: Gene Colan
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Unable to sort out her strong feelings for Matt, Karen planned to leave the firm of Nelson & Murdock in DAREDEVIL #43. Our hero, frustrated over Karen and his lack of a lead on the Jester, tore off to battle Captain America at Madison Square Gardens after being exposed to radium. In DAREDEVIL #44, the Jester, in his secret identity as Jonathan Powers, announced he’d reveal our Daredevil’s identity in public and lead him into a trap. Now accused of murdering Powers, DD avoided a police snare in DAREDEVIL #45, met the Jester for a fight on Liberty Island. There, a police officer injected him with a sedative and hauled Matt off to jail. In DAREDEVIL #46, Daredevil escaped, appeared on television as the Jester to lure the villain into a trap of his own, and then exposed him as Powers, clearing his name before an audience.

Daredevil (1964) #47

Daredevil (1964) #47

  • Published: December 10, 1968
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 17, 2008
  • Penciller: Gene Colan
  • Cover Artist: Gene Colan
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Later, while on a trip to Vietnam to entertain American troops in DAREDEVIL #47, the Man Without Fear met blind soldier Willie Lincoln and suggested the law offices of Nelson & Murdock to defend Lincoln from an unfair situation back in the States. Clearing the former cop’s name, Matt switched to his Daredevil guise to subsequently aid him against a few goons who felt wronged by the verdict.

Read more DAREDEVIL (1964) on Marvel Unlimited

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Scott Lang joins up with the Fantastic Four and Heroes for Hire as his adventures continue!

In 1962, the legacy of Ant-Man began; today, over five decades later, the legend has come to encompass multiple heroes and will take shape as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2015.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Marvel as well as prepare for Marvel’s “Ant-Man,” coming to theaters on July 17, 2015, learn all about the history of this unique hero.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #24 cover

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #24 cover

With important, formative years as a solo super hero under his belt, in the 1990’s Scott Lang formed associations as Ant-Man with established teams that enriched his experience, but also brought new challenges, some of them far more personal than he’d imagined.

Shrinking Spider-Man and losing him to a subatomic world might’ve been a poor way to start a decade, but that’s what Scott Lang managed to do in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #24. With that out of the way, Ant-Man juggled a few solo adventures, such as when he defused an atomic bomb in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #81, but when a founding member of the Fantastic Four came calling, Lang knew he couldn’t refuse.

Sue Richards, the Invisible Woman, brought Lang to Four Freedoms Plaza in FANTASTIC FOUR #384 as an electronics expert, someone who could work on sensitive equipment left behind by her presumed-deceased husband Reed, aka Mr. Fantastic. Lang threw himself into the task, not just because the work seemed interesting, but to be as close to the beautiful heroine as possible. After witnessing the kind of danger the Fantastic Four found themselves in, he finished working on a time-sled project for Sue in FANTASTIC FOUR #387.

As Ant-Man, Lang fought alongside the team as they made their way from one alternate reality to another. He met and battled Hank Pym as Giant Man in FANTASTIC FOUR #388, and saw an alternate future with a ruined New York City in FANTASTIC FOUR #389.

Fantastic Four (1961) #388

Fantastic Four (1961) #388

What is Marvel Unlimited?

More adventures followed as the team faced off against the Watcher, Galactus, and the enigmatic Dark Raider, and Scott stuck with it all the way up through the return of Reed Richards in FANTASTIC FOUR #407.

At loose ends again, Ant-Man joined with Thunderstrike, War Machine, and She-Hulk to halt an evil scheme of Loki’s in THUNDERSTRIKE #21. Triumphant, Lang suggested that the four heroes band together to form a new team, but they ultimately dismissed the idea and went their separate ways.

When New York City shuddered under the weight of Onslaught’s Sentinel attack in X-MEN #55 and UNCANNY X-MEN #336, Ant-Man stood with his fellow heroes in battle, proving himself as valiant and courageous as the best of them.

Jim Hammond, the android Human Torch, asked Lang to join his new incarnation of Heroes for Hire, and in HEROES FOR HIRE #6, Ant-Man revealed himself to the team during their mission to help the Eternals. Though his new bio-electric sting came in handy, some members of the group grumbled at his covert inclusion. Things hit a bit too close to home when in HEROES FOR HIRE #7, Scott’s daughter Cassie fell prey to the Super-Adaptoid, who used her mind to jump-start his own artificial one.

Heroes for Hire (1996) #13 cover

Heroes for Hire (1996) #13 cover

Like Hank Pym before him with the synthezoid Vision, Lang shrunk down to microscopic size in HEROES FOR HIRE #13 to examine Hammond’s android body from the inside out. While there, he adopted some of the Torch’s fire-producing cells to become “Fire-Ant-Man.”

Things grew weirder for Lang when he found himself devolved by the High Evolutionary in HEROES FOR HIRE #13 and QUICKSILVER #11, later to be cured of the back-and-forth condition in HEROES FOR HIRE/QUICKSILVER ANNUAL 1998. The team disbanded in HEROES FOR HIRE #17 when the new owners ruled against keeping ex-cons on the payroll, so once again Ant-Man flew solo, unsure of what the future might still bring.

Read more on Marvel Unlimited

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The longest-running FF editor of all-time picks classic tales from the seminal run by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby!

By Kiel Phegley

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s groundbreaking run on Marvel’s FANTASTIC FOUR doesn’t  just stand among the most innovative comics of its time, but it also marks one of the longest collaboration in comics. That’s why it’s no surprise that our celebration of the original comic of the Marvel Age—as guided by SVP of Publishing and Executive Editor, and record-setting FF Editor Tom Brevoort—runs extra-long as we kick into the most famed FF issues!

Once the Marvel Universe had been well established in the mid 1960’s, Lee and Kirby tasked themselves with expanding the world with new characters, concepts and locales.

“There is definitely a paradigm shift that happens around then,” says Brevoort. “In 1965, Lee and Kirby came up with a bunch of new stuff that could be books. They came up with the Inhumans, the Black Panther and almost accidentally with the Silver Surfer. These were all meant to be their own books at one point, but as it turns out [Publisher] Martin Goodman couldn’t get their distributor to lift the restrictions—or lift them that much. They let them add Western books and comedy books and teen books, but they were very reticent to let them have anymore super hero space because at that point, they were a little afraid of the success Marvel was having.”

While it took years for some of their creations to finally land their own Marvel series, Lee and Kirby still delivered one jaw-dropping story after another. Read on as Brevoort explains the creative history of some of the biggest hits in comics history.

Fantastic Four (1961) #44

Fantastic Four (1961) #44

  • Published: November 10, 1965
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

FANTASTIC FOUR #44

The high period of the FANTASTIC FOUR started with the introduction of the Inhumans, the secret race that lived on the edges of the Marvel Universe. But beyond introducing Black Bolt, Medusa and the rest of the royal family in the story that began in FANTASTIC FOUR #44, the issue stands as one of the most important for another key reason.

“The artwork takes a quantum leap as Kirby’s able to spend more time on it, and he’s got an inker in Joe Sinnott who’s way better than the guys who had been there before,” Brevoort explains. “Look at [issue] #44, the first issue to introduce Gorgon of the Inhumans, and it’s like they come from different planets; how different and more sophisticated the art suddenly looks. That’s got everything to do with what Sinnott brought to the table.”

Fantastic Four (1961) #48

Fantastic Four (1961) #48

  • Published: March 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

FANTASTIC FOUR #48

The hits kept coming as one titanic story arc gave way to another in FANTASTIC FOUR #48, the issue the introduced two of the most important characters in Marvel history.

“You start to see the guest appearances from other Marvel characters fall away and the book go more into the sort of big sci-fi ideas that Kirby was interested in; it really almost becomes a different book,” Brevoort says of the era where the Silver Surfer and Galactus were introduced.

“It’s the coming of Galactus,” Brevoort says of the issue’s main draw. “In seven pages, they wrap up the Inhuman story where Maximus fires off his Atmo-Gun which will destroy the atmosphere for normal human beings so only Inhumans can survive. It doesn’t work and so he suddenly he reverses the polarity and traps them all inside the shell of the Negative Zone, and the Fantastic Four just barely make it out in time, but Crystal is trapped within the dome. The Torch’s heart is broken, and he’s on a quest to break her free. But on their way back, rocks appear in the sky and everything is aflame. People start to riot, and they have to get involved in that. Then the Watcher appears to declare ‘Hey, big things are happening. Galactus is on his way here, and he’s going to eat the Earth!’ Everything builds up to the last page where the Silver Surfer shows up and Ben punches him across town. Then Galactus lands on the Baxter Building and is going to eat the earth.

“It’s the same two guys doing the book, and it’s just completely different. While it’s kind of got the same surface sheen, the fun and excitement of it is still there, but the stakes are a million times bigger. The concepts are greater and grander. The artwork is slicker and more pristine. It is the cutting edge. It’s at the forefront not just of super hero comics but of comics.”

Fantastic Four (1961) #51

Fantastic Four (1961) #51

  • Published: June 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

FANTASTIC FOUR #51

Not to be outdone by their first major cosmic saga, Lee and Kirby followed Galactus with “This Man…This Monster,” perhaps their most personal exploration of Ben Grimm as a character.

“As a single issue that you can just pick up and read to get the sum and substance of what the series is about and how it works with both its scale and humanity, there’s probably not another book that does the job as well as #51,” Brevoort contends.

“Even with that, we all make a lot of suppositions about what each guy brought to the table and what their interests were. I’ve heard tell from people who were there and talked to both Stan and Jack back in the day, and when they’ve looked at the evidence, they say you’d be surprised at the stuff you’d think were clearly Stan ideas that came from Kirby or you’d clearly think were Kirby ideas that came from Stan. The credits started reflecting this around that time; they stop being ‘Stan Lee, Writer, and Jack Kirby, Artist’ and turn into ‘A Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Production.’ And I think that’s right. It’s hard to tell at that point where one guy stops and the other guy starts, but those books certainly wouldn’t be those books without both of them.”

Fantastic Four (1961) #62

Fantastic Four (1961) #62

  • Published: May 10, 1967
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

FANTASTIC FOUR #62

While FANTASTIC FOUR around issue #50 fired on all cylinders, it would not be the only era of the book that brought brand new ideas to the table. Brevoort points to #62—the first appearance of Negative Zone heavy Blastaar—as a moment that kick started the second wave of innovation in the title.

“That run may not be as seminally remembered as Inhumans to Galactus to Surfer to ‘This Man…’ to Black Panther, but that’s a pretty great run that people have generated a lot of stories on; Blastaar alone is a character that there are probably 50 Marvel comics about,” he says. “Certainly up through #67 or #69, they were still introducing a lot of stuff. Probably the last big new character was Adam Warlock—or ‘Him’—in the two Beehive issues. But right before that was Ronan and right before that was the Kree Sentry, and right before that was Blastaar.”

Fantastic Four (1961) #74

Fantastic Four (1961) #74

  • Published: May 10, 1968
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

FANTASTIC FOUR #74

The opening chapter of Lee and Kirby’s last great Silver Surfer/Galactus epic proved indicative of the brilliance of their later run, Brevoort explains, even when most people forget how deep the creators were able to take their core characters:

“People tend to remember the years of maximum innovation more than they remember the days of expansion and evolution. It’s not as exciting developing that stuff as it was creating it. But they do this big story with Galactus and the Silver Surfer that takes them into the Microverse and sets them up to be characters around the Marvel Universe. They do a story with Doctor Doom about what it’s like to live in Latveria that’s almost a riff on ‘The Prisoner’ television series where the Fantastic Four are trapped in a little city, but you also get to see things from Doom’s perspective for a while in #84. The same thing happens when Ben Grimm is captured by the Skrulls and taken off to gladiatorial games on a planet that looks like a 1920’s gangster movies in #92 and #93. That was expansionist but not really a new thing.”

Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #6

Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #6

  • Published: November 06, 1968
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: March 20, 2009
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #6

Of course, everyone who knows FANTASTIC FOUR knows that it’s a story of family first, and the crowning achievement in that line of storytelling came with FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #6, the culmination of Sue Storm’s pregnancy with son Franklin Richards.

“The stuff that tended to keep pushing forward was the character interpersonal stuff like the pregnancy,” says Brevoort. “The birth of Franklin and the naming of Franklin was stuff that had been done in newspaper strips, and television had done that. ‘I Love Lucy’ kind of broke those barriers on TV. But while there had been weddings before the Fantastic Four in comics—one or two—there really hadn’t been a child birth that was handled in this sort of manner. It underscored the notion that Lee and Kirby were treating the Fantastic Four as action adventure super heroes but also as a tight nit nuclear family who were moving forward in their lives. It was more about that than it was about the exciting new villain of the month, though you got some of those too.”

Visit marvel.com/75 for more 75th Anniversary celebration and share your thoughts on Twitter using the hash tag #Marvel75

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The longest-running FF editor of all-time picks classic tales from the seminal run by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby!

By Kiel Phegley

Looking back over the 75 years of Marvel Comics history, it’s hard to name exactly the greatest comic book the publisher ever put out, but Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s FANTASTIC FOUR has to be in the running.

The original book that kick-started the Marvel Age of the 1960’s, FF turned the monster comics of the Atlas Era towards a powerful, emotional kind of super hero story.

“FANTASTIC FOUR was the first, which is always a good barometer of innovation,” says Marvel’s SVP of Publishing and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, also the man who edited the title longer than anybody else over more than 150 issues from 2000 to this year. “It pioneered the format and the approach. It was also a spawning ground for a lot of the rest of the Marvel Universe. More stuff—more characters, more concepts, more places, more ideas—came out of FANTASTIC FOUR than any other book in those formative years.”

Over 102 consecutive monthly issues and 10 oversized annuals, Lee and Kirby redefined comics with FANTASTIC FOUR. To celebrate, Brevoort took us on a guided tour of some of the milestone issues from this titanic run.

Fantastic Four (1961) #1

Fantastic Four (1961) #1

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FANTASTIC FOUR #1

Early on, even Lee and Kirby didn’t know exactly the groundbreaking hit they had on their hands with FANTASTIC FOUR.

“The first couple of issues is clearly them finding their feet,” Brevoort says. “They’re not even necessarily confident that they can even publish a super hero comic successfully, so for the first couple of issues, they kind of back into it. The team runs around in street clothes. While they’re technically super hero comics, if you look just at the covers and erase your knowledge of all that, they look much more like the fantasy monster comics Marvel was publishing at the time. They all have monsters or aliens on them, and then around the edge there’s a stretchy guy or a fire guy.

“Issue #1 is a very strange issue. It clearly wasn’t put together the way you would normally put together an issue—starting at the beginning and going to the end. The conjecture is that the back half of the issue with the Fantastic Four fighting the Mole Man was done first. It would have run as a short feature in an anthology book rather than as its own book. Then for some reason they decided to expand it and added the chunk at the beginning. The structure of it and the clues in it aren’t the kind of thing you’d do if you were telling the story straight through. So there was a lot of tinkering and trying things out even at the launch of FANTASTIC FOUR as its own comic. Most other Marvel heroes ended up debuting in the fantasy books that they’d eventually take over. Iron Man appeared in TALES OF SUSPENSE, and Thor was in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY. So the early FF issues are very much them feeling their way out.”

Fantastic Four (1961) #3

Fantastic Four (1961) #3

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FANTASTIC FOUR #3

“The first real super hero issue is #3,” Brevoort explains. “That’s the point where they commit to doing a super hero book, and they give them costumes and the Fantasticar and the Baxter Building and all their accoutrements. It’s also the point where Stan makes the transition from a fantasy city to a real city. The first two issues are set in the made up Central City, but by issue #3, they’re in Manhattan. That’s the first big step towards the Marvel approach of showing the world outside your window and the verisimilitude of these weird, crazy characters running around in the same place that you are. #3 is a fairly important issue for those reasons.

“It’s also the point at which they streamline and redefine the Human Torch’s look,” he adds. “At first, he was just kind of a blob of fire, but in #3 they went back to something more akin to the 1940’s Carl Burgos look for him. And by the end of that third issue, the Torch quits! He and the Thing have a fight at the end about how they’ve beat the Miracle Man and the part he’s played in it, and he flies off. The last three panels of the book are Reed worrying, ‘What should happen if the Human Torch turned against mankind?’ So it’s the first cliffhanger and the first sort of continuing story and it’s all based around the character and soap opera of it.”

Fantastic Four (1961) #4

Fantastic Four (1961) #4

What is Marvel Unlimited?

FANTASTIC FOUR #4

Just like Captain America returned from Marvel’s previous life as Timely Comics in the pages of AVENGERS, FANTASTIC FOUR had its own Golden Age revival with the original undersea ruler Prince Namor.

“#4 [was] the return of the Sub-Mariner [and] that was really cool,” Brevoort recalls. “He was a super popular and interesting cat in the early days of the Marvel Universe not just for his FANTASTIC FOUR appearances but his appearances across the line as this kind of anti-hero/villain. It led to the point where they gave him his own series and he settled in as a good guy. But that was a fascinating character for the era and a character you didn’t see a lot in those days.”

Aside from competing for the love of Sue Storm and generally bringing a lot of righteous indignation to the table, Prince Namor also upped the level of action in a way that put Marvel on the map.

“All the super hero comics of that period are well crafted—they’re well put together and thoughtful—but the one thing they’re not terribly great at is being exciting,” says Brevoort. “They’re certainly not visceral. Most super hero stories of the period, by virtue of the fact that you wanted to see colorful characters with fantastic powers doing amazing things while also not doing anything terribly violent, meant that the stories tended to be puzzles. They were either somebody finding out the hero’s secret identity or threatening to, or they’d have a mystery villain that you had to get to the heart of who it was. The Marvel books are all about emotion and energy and kineticism and action whereas most other comics of the era are about the interlinks or the puzzle; about figuring things out. They’re sort of antiseptic. Even if the actual artwork was crude at places and the printing was kind of shoddy, the raw verve of these guys actually punching one another with actual action sequences where there were emotional highs and lows instead of a neutral middle ground was phenomenally exciting. You literally cannot imagine the difference if you started reading comics in the past couple of years.

“The Marvel books of that period starting with FANTASTIC FOUR went outside the mold for readers. That was the secret of their success. It wasn’t like they were crafted in a certain way. They were just better on an emotional level. They were more engaging and more exciting, and it took a while for other publishers to catch up and figure out what Marvel was doing and how to approximate it.”

Fantastic Four (1961) #5

Fantastic Four (1961) #5

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FANTASTIC FOUR #5

After five issues, Marvel’s First Family met their greatest foe, but FANTASTIC FOUR #5 has another reason for being one of the biggest milestones of the era, as Brevoort explains:

“I’d point to #5 as a big issue and not because of the obvious reason that it’s where Doctor Doom first appears. Really, that one singular issue was inked by Joe Sinnott. His inking on FANTASTIC FOUR and over Kirby in general is pretty much the high watermark. He came on regularly with issue #44 and stayed through the end of Kirby’s run, and then he did another 150 issues beyond that. But if you look at FANTASTIC FOUR #5 and compare it to the issues around it like #4 and #6 or #3 and 7, it looks so much better. It’s cleaner and sharper and head and shoulders visually above the others.

“Comparing it to issue #1 is like night and day; issue #1 is a little crude,” he notes. “Instantly, the art jumps way the heck up in issue #5. It gets better after that, but the inking is much more scattershot thereafter. It gets better and then worse and varies issue-to-issue. But #5 as a watermark is just excellent. And also Doctor Doom debuts!”

Fantastic Four (1961) #12

Fantastic Four (1961) #12

  • Published: March 10, 1963
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
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FANTASTIC FOUR #12

“This is the first time we see an actual Marvel Universe crossover, and it’s the Fantastic Four meeting and battling the Hulk for the first time,” says Brevoort. “And the Hulk book launched around the same time as FANTASTIC FOUR #5, and in fact in #5 there’s a whole two-page sequence where the Human Torch is reading a copy of HULK #1. He gets in a big fight with the Thing about Thing being uglier than the monster in the comic. So it’s a little ad for HULK #1 that’s actually in the story of FANTASTIC FOUR rather than as an ad. So it’s weird that seven issues later they meet the dude in Johnny’s comic. But that was the reality of how the Marvel Universe existed in those days.

“Marvel didn’t invent the super hero team-up or crossover as it used to be called. Other companies had done it going back to the 1940’s, so the idea of cross pollinating these things wasn’t novel per se, but the way that Stan, Jack and the others at Marvel did it was a little bit more casually. First of all, it would happen at the drop of a hat. You’d get stories devoted to the crossover like in #12 where the Hulk’s appearance is the story of the issue. But as time went on, you’d also get characters showing up in someone else’s book for like three panels where there was a sense that they all lived in the same place. Anybody could drop by at any point in any series.

“And this really became a cliché after a while, but when two Marvel characters crossed paths, they’d beat the hell out of each other. That was either because of a misunderstanding or because the Marvel characters were more misanthropic. In FANTASTIC FOUR #12, the Hulk is being framed for sabotage by an evil commie saboteur called the Wrecker who is just a little bald dude. That withstanding, the Hulk was the Hulk. So the Fantastic Four coming out West to deal with him—almost regardless of the circumstances—meant there was going to be a fight. This was not a super hero comic where the two heroes got together for fun and solved a mystery. The Four were coming out to put the kibosh on the Hulk. It turns out the thing they were chasing was the Wrecker, and he had a giant robot for Thing to smash. But they dealt with that part of the story in like one, two, three [pages] because people were less interested in that. They wanted to see the Fantastic Four fight the Hulk! That’s the start of the Marvel Universe as a universe.”

Stay tuned for part 2 of our 75th Anniversary exploration of Lee & Kirby’s FANTASTIC FOUR!

Visit marvel.com/75 for more 75th Anniversary celebration and share your thoughts on Twitter using the hash tag #Marvel75

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James Robinson discusses the revelation that might turn the Thing against his friends and family!

Even a family the likes of the Fantastic Four may be shattered by a single secret.

Original Sin seeps into Marvel’s First Family in FANTASIC FOUR #6-7 this summer and writer James Robinson has thought through every angle of its impact on the team and what it may mean for their future.

Marvel.com: James, what will we see in these two Original Sin issues of FANTASTIC FOUR?

James Robinson: Something that happened in the past, but resonates in the present. Ben Grimm’s going to undergo a fairly intense betrayal, mostly because he was lied to, because he didn’t revert back from the Thing. And his life will begin to unravel as Johnny’s life has begun to unravel, and Reed and Sue’s will very soon begin to unravel.

Original Sin teaser by Leonard Kirk

Original Sin teaser by Leonard Kirk

Marvel.com: What’s the current standing of Ben and Johnny’s friendship as you see it?

James Robinson: Well, it’s always been good and strong, and they’ve always been sort of like big brother and little brother, with little brother delighting in the teasing and playing pranks on the big brother. In the past, with other writers, it seemed very mean, but it’s always good-natured, and he always loves Ben and wants Ben to be happy in the end. But this is one time when it went too wrong and we’ll see the repercussions of that now.

Marvel.com: What about Reed and Ben? Where are they at when the story begins?

James Robinson: Well, it’s early enough in my run on FANTASTIC FOUR that the relationships are the way they’re meant to be. Ben is the heart of the Fantastic Four, he’s Reed’s best friend, and they’ve been best friends since college. And that is all good. The little bit of involvement that Reed has in Original Sin, and then Reed’s involvement in the major travails of Ben at the same time will all lead to an estrangement, which we’re looking towards.

Fantastic Four #3 preview art by Leonard Kirk

Fantastic Four #3 preview art by Leonard Kirk

Marvel.com: It’s probably never a good time for secrets to be revealed, but is this an especially bad time for the team?

James Robinson: Yes, and especially with the stuff that’s happening to Ben, concurrent with what’s happening in Original Sin? These revelations couldn’t happen at a worse time.

Marvel.com: Ben’s played the game of switching back and forth for years now; how does he have it fixed in his mind these days?

James Robinson: Well, he’s found peace with being the Thing on and off for quite some time, and he’s had some resolution with that in different runs, but as we see him now, I really wanted to get him back to that “point zero” place, where he’s back with Alicia Masters and everything’s the way it really should be. He has some degree of—“contentment” is probably too strong of a word here, but he is resigned to and accepting of being the Thing.

But obviously that’s in a perfect world, and his world’s about to get far from perfect.

Fantastic Four #3 preview art by Leonard Kirk

Fantastic Four #3 preview art by Leonard Kirk

Marvel.com: What about Sue? What’s her role in all this?

James Robinson: She’ll be there and involved, but believe me, she’ll have other fish to fry, too. There’ll be big problems for her and the kids of the Future Foundation that she has to deal with. She’ll be involved, but she’s not necessarily the focus of this aspect of the Fantastic Four.

Marvel.com: Of the three—Reed, Sue, and Johnny—who would most want Ben to be just Ben again?

James Robinson: I think it’ll be Reed, because it’s definitely on Reed’s shoulders the fact that, to some degree, it’s him that wanted them all to go up into space. And he’s the kind of a guy that hates problems that are unsolvable; he’s a solver of problems. So having Ben’s condition be that one thing that he can’t completely cure must eat away at him to some degree and he must feel some degree of guilt, even though I’m sure Ben must tell him, “Stretch, don’t worry about it, I’m fine.”

Fantastic Four (2014) #3 cover by John Romita, Jr.

Fantastic Four (2014) #3 cover by John Romita, Jr.

Marvel.com: So, this Original Sin storyline will have ramifications going forward?

James Robinson: Oh, yeah. And, actually, Original Sin has helped me take elements of the story I was going to play out anyway and make them much more effective and organic. This is coming at a very good time and will make the book better for it.

Marvel.com: The Fantastic Four is usually described as a family; in your opinion, is that the best term for them?

James Robinson: I don’t think there is a better term for them. They are the First Family, the launching pad for Marvel Comics. I write them as a family. I think that any writer who has any sense does. All of the great runs of FF have been written with that idea in mind, and I hope that mine and [artist] Leonard [Kirk’s] run will be considered a great run too when we’re through. So I feel very strongly that they are a family, and when you have that engrained in you and you approach it that way, they become very easy and fun to write.

Fantastic Four #3 variant cover by JG Jones

Fantastic Four #3 variant cover by JG Jones

Teams are hard sometimes because you have to find those points of connection that make a team more then just a group of individuals who just happen to be in the same room. And with FF that sense of why they’re together and who they are is so obvious and apparent that it just makes it very fun and easy to write.

Marvel.com: These issues sound like a whole world of hurt for the four. As a writer, does it ever cause you pain to cause them such pain?

James Robinson: No. A good writer tears something down and builds it back up again. Unless I, God forbid, get hit by a trolley car or something on the way to the gym, you’re going to see the FF back the way you want them by the time I’m finished putting them back together again. But to have fun seeing them back together you’ve got to tear them apart to begin with.

Original Sin enters FANTASTIC FOUR beginning with issue #6 in June!

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Get an early look at preview pages from Fantastic Four #2 by Leonard Kirk!

Marvel is pleased to present your first look at FANTASTIC FOUR #2 from the creative team of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk! Manhattan is under attack by mysterious foes. From a corrupted pocket universe swarms scores of destructive creatures, wreaking untold havoc on the Big Apple! The Fantastic Four are the only ones capable of stopping the swarm. But to achieve that final victory, one of the Fantastic Four must make a terrible sacrifice that will shake the family to their very foundation! The strings continue to be pulled and the pieces are in play for the Fantastic Four’s downfall! Don’t miss the shocking FANTASTIC FOUR #2 on sale this March!

FANTASTIC FOUR #2 (JAN140725)
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art & Cover by LEONARD KIRK
Variant Cover by ART ADAMS (JAN140726)
FOC 2/17/14, ON-SALE 3/12/14

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