Okay , here's a thought .

  I jst recently bought , at my LCS , a Marvel Milestone Edition facsmile reprint of the entirety of FANTASTIC FOUR #1 - for a dollar .

  Let's try re-reading this story , with what we know now .

  It's been manymanymany times reprinted , so , unless anyone here is SO anti-Marvel that they-Well , I shudder to think !

  Anyway , let's find , if we can , some version of the story and comment about it again , from today's perspective and maybe imagining what it might'vbe seemd like in '61 .

  MSA , did you declare that - behind Spidey in AF #15??? - it was the most , or the second most , reprinted Marvel story , anyway ?

  Fittingly enuff:-) , I believe you stated that Superman's first story , though in the SUPERMAN #1 " director's cut " version , not the ACTION #1 " AM radio edit " , was the winn-ah ! there .

  FF #1's story is a book-length , 25-page , story - taking advantage of a first issue's then-not needing to have a Post Office-required text page , possible etcetera , to be a little longer , and I suppose that its' title is just that , " The Fantastic Four ! " , as Reed's non-equally-sized raygun flare letters spell out on the splash page ( I first read it in FANTASTIC FOUR SPECIAL #7 , from '69 , incidentally . )...

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The one thing I'll say right off is, I have the "Milestone" edition that came out about a year after the MASTERWORKS book. The MASTERWORKS book came out just at the point when they were switching over to digital printing technology, and there was a SERIOUS "technical" problem in that book, specifically in the reprint of FF #1.  The "trapping" settings were off, and the result was, WHITE GAPS around ALL the black lines. This made it very difficult to even look at the art.  I found out what the hell "trapping" was when I was working with a printer in North Dakota to have a book done.  It took me awhile to figure out what the hell it was all about, but once I did, I suddenly realized what all these printing problems I'd see (and all just about when the switch to digital was going on, before the printers had figured out what they were doing!) was al about.

When I did my "Marvel Re-Reading Project", I made a point of re-reading FF #1 in the Milestone version, as it was just so much easier on the eyes.  The rest of the MASTERWORKS book was okay, if I recall.

I'm sure they fixed the problem on subsequent editions of the book. But I paid a lot of money for those things, and I'm not in the habit of selling or trading anything. (Maybe I should be...) The only time I ever exchanged one of those books was when the LEGION ARCHIVES got up to the "Dave Cockrum" Volume, and a known printing problem erupted.  DC made a big deal about doing a 2nd printing, and offering all customers the chance to trade in the 1st edition for the 2nd.  I did, but not before I glanced thru both of them, side-by-side.  The 2nd edition was a HUGE improvement.  DC did right then!

FF ANNUAL #7 (1969) skipped the 1st chapter of the story, and only printed the 2nd & 3rd ("The Fantastic Four Meet The Mole Man" and "The Moleman's Secret").  I recently learned that this was, apparently, because the 1st chapter was reprinted in FF ANNUAL #1 (but not the 2nd & 3rd-- isn't that just nuts?????).

As of my last count, the books' been reprinted 13 times. (as of 2003)

I think the contents of FF #1 have been discussed somewhat recently here.

And if I recall, some shrewd person noticed that the tale appeared to have had some major surgury done to it to make it into what we now know and reprint as FF #1.

It seems to me that it was concluded rather quickly, with Reed lassoing the Mole Man with his arm, and the team running for cover.  Someone calls off-panel that the Mole Man has escaped, and to run for their lives.  This abrupt end was either due to a page count mismatch, or the combining of two or three stories into one major length feature.

 

As I recall, the story opens on the splash with Reed firing the smoke gun, and then letting his mind wander back to their origin.

The Origin is able to stand alone. 

But then there are several "Chapters" that could have been a second adventure that was shoe horned into the first issue.

I don't recall the evidence for all this, but the author of this theory presented some pretty good points of plot threads and points that get lost.   I agree that the chapter lengths, being very unequal, also point to some surgury as well.

 

However, my first exposure to this story was the Golden Record LP reprinting that started in B&W on the inside front cover, and ends in B&W on the inside of the back cover.  So, I can't speak to other reprintings or versions of this.


Yes, I can understand an annual reprinting just the first origin chapter without the rest...but I can't see reprint the rest of the first issue without the first chapter.  That's nuts!

My copy of FF ANNUAL #7 had no cover. I got it from the corner store who sold 'em like that.  (10 cents apiece, or, 3 for a quarter.)  So my first view was that big green monster and the words "The Fantastic Four Meet The Mole Man!"  And I immediately realized, "Hey, this is the FIRST story with the guy, the one BEFORE the two they did on TV!"  I think the 1st episode of the show that was run, "Menace of the Mole Man" (adapted from "Return of the Mole Man") may be the single BEST episode of the show. It's so good on so many levels.  But I could never figure out, WHY did they start with the sequel, instead of the first one?

If memory serves, the Annual also had "The Origin of Dr. Doom" and "The Final Victory Of Dr. Doom".  Pages were cut in the 25 cent books at some point,so instead of 2 whole issues, they reprinted 1 and 2/3rds.

It's kinda like how IRON MAN ANNUAL #1 had 4 episodes (a part 3 and parts 1-3) while ANNUAL #2 only had 3 episodes (a 1-parter and parts 1-2 of 3).  You can see how idiotic THAT was.  The 1st was continued from another book, the 2nd continued into another book.  I suppose some wiseguy thought this made for good "marketing".  "If they buy THIS, they'll HAVE to buy THAT, too! Heh heh heh..."

So I finally read the 1st chapter in THE ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS. Wasn't too impressed.  The origin I knew (from the TV episode "The Way It Began", which also contained Dr. Doom's origin as well).  But the NYC sequence seemed... weird.  Like they were going out of their way to prove a point or something, like "Hey, kids-- look! These AREN'T your typical heroes!!"

The book doesn't really pull together until The Mole Man chapters. I LOVE that story. If I were doing an FF movie, I'd adapt FF #1 as the movie. Dr. Doom shouldn't even come in AT ALL until the 2nd film.  I'm serious. Actually, the way so many superhero movie sequels have 2 (or more) villains would dovetail PERFECTLY here.  The 2nd FF movie should adapt FF #4-6, verbatim.  They wouldn't need to write it.  Jack Kirby already did!!!

...I was halfway thinking that that might be the case , Henry , but I decided to keep my writing less watered-down/more direct by not saying that I wasn't sure , thinking that someonme could correct me...The old hip-hop radio DJ from the 80s Mr. Magic had a line about " learning from OTHER people's mistakes..." even if that may appear , on the surface , to not be relevant here...

Henry R. Kujawa said:

FF ANNUAL #7 (1969) skipped the 1st chapter of the story, and only printed the 2nd & 3rd ("The Fantastic Four Meet The Mole Man" and "The Moleman's Secret").  I recently learned that this was, apparently, because the 1st chapter was reprinted in FF ANNUAL #1 (but not the 2nd & 3rd-- isn't that just nuts?????).

As of my last count, the books' been reprinted 13 times. (as of 2003)

...BTW , the Milestone I read had only two " chapters " (No markings/numberings , and early Marvels would ,sometimes , have as many as 5 in a book-lengther !!!!!) , the origin , and the MOLE Man - sort of replicating the way the lettering for the origin spaces out his name , in the body of the story itself it is always " Moleman " , one word , not two - are the only " chapters " of it .

...Kirk , the time that passes between the origin and the beginning of the story - which is stated as the first time that the FF get together as a team - could be one of those " interstirtals " !!!!!!!!!!! ( Am I using/spelling that right ??????? )

I've been thinking about this style of story telling...and also the way that the Hulk stories were busted up into chapters. And how the first two Spider-Man issues contained two "stories". I'm thinking this is a hold-over from how the monster comics from the pre-hero period were formated in only three to five pages each. Very short, each with a twist or a pay-off, and if you look for it, there is usually a reveal, a scene change or something that creates a "splash-page" effect at the start of the next chapter.  Other than these three titles, can you find any other instances of this type of "chapter-story-telling" at Marvel?

 

(Now that I'm thinking of this, the I, Colossus story from Strange Tales #14 is this way...also by Jack Kirby, and if I don't miss my guess, Thor in Journey into Mystery also had chapter headings as well...also by Kirby, right?)
It seems to me that this chapter-practice was common in DC comics well into the 60s...in Batman, Superman, JLA, etc.

The chapters format of the early FF could have been a holdover from the monster books, but the early Justice League stories also followed the chapter format.


As for Spider-Man, I understand that the four stories spread over the first two ASM books were originally designed to appear in Amazing Fantasy 16 thru 19, with Ditko backup weird stories, before they knew he would have his own book.

Kirk G said:

I've been thinking about this style of story telling...and also the way that the Hulk stories were busted up into chapters. And how the first two Spider-Man issues contained two "stories". I'm thinking this is a hold-over from how the monster comics from the pre-hero period were formated in only three to five pages each.

...The longer of the Marvel Monster stories were in multi-chapters too .

Kirk G said:

I've been thinking about this style of story telling...and also the way that the Hulk stories were busted up into chapters. And how the first two Spider-Man issues contained two "stories". I'm thinking this is a hold-over from how the monster comics from the pre-hero period were formated in only three to five pages each. Very short, each with a twist or a pay-off, and if you look for it, there is usually a reveal, a scene change or something that creates a "splash-page" effect at the start of the next chapter.  Other than these three titles, can you find any other instances of this type of "chapter-story-telling" at Marvel?

 

(Now that I'm thinking of this, the I, Colossus story from Strange Tales #14 is this way...also by Jack Kirby, and if I don't miss my guess, Thor in Journey into Mystery also had chapter headings as well...also by Kirby, right?)
It seems to me that this chapter-practice was common in DC comics well into the 60s...in Batman, Superman, JLA, etc.

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