Fantastic Four (comic book)
The Fantastic Four is a comic book series about a fictional American superhero team published by Marvel Comics. The series debuted in The Fantastic Four #1 (cover dated Nov. 1961), which helped to usher in a new level of realism in the medium. The Fantastic Four was the first superhero team created by editor/co-plotter Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby.
The four individuals traditionally associated with the Fantastic Four, who gained superpowers after exposure to cosmic rays during a scientific mission to outer space, are Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), a scientific genius and the leader of the group, who can stretch his body into incredible lengths and shapes; the Invisible Girl (Susan "Sue" Storm; later "Invisible Woman"), who eventually married Reed, who can render herself invisible and later project powerful invisible 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, a former college football star and Reed's college roommate as well as a good pilot, who possesses tremendous superhuman strength, durability, and endurance due to the nature of his stone-like flesh.
Since their original 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 eschewed anonymity or secret identities in favor of celebrity status.
- The Thing: If you want to fly to the stars, than you pilot the ship! Count me out!
You know we haven't done enough research into the effect of cosmic rays! They might kill us all out in space!
- Invisible Girl: Ben, we've got to take that chance...unless we want the commies to beat us to it!
I never thought that you would be a coward!
- The Thing: A coward!! Nobody calls me a coward! Get the ship! I'll fly her no matter what happens!!
- Narrator: And so, led by a determined Dr. Reed Richards, the little group sped toward the spaceport on the outskirts of town!
- Mr. Fantastic: Susan, Ben and I know what we're doing...but you--and Johnny...
- Invisible Girl: Don't say it, Reed! I'm your fiancee! Where you go, I go!
- Human Torch: And I'm taggin' along with sis--so it's settled!
- Invisible Girl: Johnny! What is it? What's happening to you?
- Human Torch: I don't know sis! My body feels hot-like it's on fire!! I-I feel like I'm burning up!!
- The Thing: Ugh!! Listen to me...
...somebody else take the controls...I can't handle the ship any more! My--my arms are heavy--too heavy----can't move--too heavy--got to lie down--can't move!!
- Mr. Fantastic: Somehow the cosmic rays have altered your atomic structure...making you grow invisible!
- Human Torch: Sis! I can't see you at all any more!
- Invisible Woman: How...how long will it last?
- Mr. Fantastic: There's no way of knowing!!
- Mr. Fantastic: Thank heavens!! You're all right, my darling!
- The Thing: All right, eh? How do you know, wise guy? How do you know she won't turn invisible again? How do you know what'll happen to the rest' of us?
- Mr. Fantastic: Ben, I'm sick and tired of your insults... of your complaining! I didn't purposely cause our flight to fail!
- The Thing: And I'm sick of you... period! In fact, I'm gonna paste you right in that smug face of yours!
- Mr. Fantastic: Ben stop! Wait!! Look that's happening to you! You're--changing!'
- The Thing: Don' try to talk your way out of it mister! I'm gonna mop up the place with you!
- Invisible Girl: Run, Reed darling! He's turned into a--some sort of a Thing! He's strong as an ox!!
- The Thing: "Reed Darling"!! Bah! How can you care for that weakling when I'm here!?
I'll prove to you that you love the wrong man, Susan! I'll hey! What--??
- Mr. Fantastic: No, you don't!
You've had this coming to you for a long time, Ben!
- Invisible Girl: Oh Reed...Reed...not you too!! Not you too!!
- Mr. Fantastic: What am I doing?' What happened to me? To all of us?
- Human Torch: You've turned into monsters both of you!! It's those rays! Those terrible cosmic rays!
Now I know why I've been feeling so warm! Look at me!! They've affected me, too! When I get excited I can feel my body begin to blaze!
I'm lighter than air!!I can fly!! Look...I can fly!!
- Mr. Fantastic: Listen to me, all of you! That means you' too, Ben! Together we have more power than any humans have ever possessed!
- The Thing: You don't have to make a speech, big shot! We understand we've gotta use that power to help mankind, right?
- Mr. Fantastic: Right, Ben, right!
- Human Torch: I'm calling myself The Human Torch--and I'm with you all the way!
- Invisible Girl: Same goes for me...The Invisible Girl!
- Mr.Fantastic: There's only one still missing...Ben!!
- The Thing: I aint' Ben anymore-- I'm what Susan called me--The Thing!!
- Mr. Fantastic: And I'll call myself...Mr. Fantastic!!
- Narrator: And so was born "The Fantastic Four!!" and from that moment on, the world would never again be the same!!
- Fantastic Four No. 1 arrived as a comic book on newsstands exactly 54 years ago this Saturday, August 8th. Written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby, the comic book —priced at $0.10 — now looks hopelessly goofy. A dozen exclamation points punctuate the cover alone, which depicts a green monster bursting up through a street in "Central City," because Lee and Kirby had not yet decided to locate their super-team in the nonfictional borough of Manhattan. "I-I can't turn invisible fast enough!!" cries the half-transparent blonde struggling to escape the creature's grasp.
But in its time, Fantastic Four was revolutionary. Its heroes wore no uniforms (though they would later). They had no secret identities. They bickered among themselves like any family.
Most intriguingly, they often regarded their superpowers as a curse. Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards could stretch his body like taffy. Sue "Invisible Girl" Storm could vanish from sight, but also developed telekinesis and the ability to project force fields. Her brother Johnny turned into the The Human Torch, a flying fireball, just by saying "Flame on!" You probably wouldn't want to sit next to him on the bus, but at least Johnny could flame-off when he wanted. Poor Ben Grimm, the blue-collar kid on the team, was permanently transmogrified into giant orange rock monster. Pitifully christened "The Thing," his yearning to be made flesh again gave the early Fantastic Four stories an undercurrent of pathos.
- Chris Klimek, "A Disappointing Origin Story For The 'Fantastic Four'", NPR, (August 6, 2015).