I recently started re-reading this and decided it would be fun to view it as a project of sorts. The modern Marvel Universe has its beginnings here and I find it fun to revisit it from time to time. I'm at FF 17 now and may finish the volume today (it's a day off for me). Some thoughts:

- Reed is clearly the big brain of the group, but early on is also a man of action and has a sense of humor. The overlong speeches, explaining things with words the others probably don't understand, is not there yet.

- Sue is taken hostage far too often, is scared far too easily, her powers are only defensive AND she has trouble controlling them. At the same time, though, she is sometimes shown to be clever and even feisty. She is the center of two love triangles - first with Reed and Ben (this is dropped almost right away) and another one I'll mention in a bit.

- Lee and Kirby seem to want to make Johnny the star of the book, but I just don't buy it. He keeps saving the day and his powers keep expanding. He gets the girl and drives cool cars. I kept wishing Ben could have pasted him one just once.

- The Thing is scary, especially early on. I never found the smooth rocky appearance to be scary - it just looked like a type of body armor to me. He's hideous to look at in these stories. Before Alicia Masters comes along in issue 8, he seems to be on the verge of turning on humanity at any moment, and it doesn't help that Reed, Sue, and Johnny don't call him Ben, only "The Thing".

- The Mole Man may not be a great villain but he worked well enough that they kept bringing him back. He's the first bad guy out of the gate and you can't help but feel sorry for him - a woman says he's too ugly to date, and a businessman says he's qualified to work for him, but he'd scare the other employees away. Harsh.

- Unless the Miracle Man is a mutant, the story in issue 3 just doesn't work. He has to be using minor hypnosis on the entire city.

- Issues 4, 5, and 6 are true classics. We get the first modern appearance of Namor, the first appearance of Doom, and their subsequent teaming. The Reed/Sue/Namor love triangle adds a lot of angst to the series. Doom's character is spot on from the get-go; he is chillingly evil in a way that the Silver Age Lex Luthor never was. Ben's courage in strapping a bomb to his back makes the reader want to cheer for him, maybe for the first time. These three issues, imo, are the first signs of true greatness of the series.

- The next five issues, unfortunately, are clunkers. Issue 7 features a highly advanced scientific world that is doomed to destruction, sort of like Krypton, except the leaders of the planet have lots of notice. They don't construct rocket ships to get away because they were never interested in space travel. Umm, ok. Issue 8 is the debut of the Puppet Master, whom I have never liked. Issue 9 is the very convoluted story where the FF are broke, Subby buys a movie studio to make a movie about them and will pay them for being in it - but he really isn't making a movie, just trying to get Reed, Ben, and Johnny out of the way, so he can have Sue. Reed and Johnny escape their deathtraps, and collect Ben, who was beaten by Namor (but only after he transformed back to Ben Grimm). They are about to fight, but Sue prevents it, and Namor agrees to put a movie together, even though he never meant to in the first place, and what he cobbles together becomes the sensation of the nation - solving the FF's money woes. Issue 10 features Doom in full mad scientist mode, worse than Lex Luthor ever was, and also features the deservedly forgotten Ovoids. The story requies Sue, Ben, and Johnny to act dumber than they ever had been before or since. Issue 11 features the debut of the annoying Impossible Man, whom Lee and Kirby would not re-use (and seems to almost be a potshot at Mr. Mxyptlyk) and the awful, awful, awful comparison of Sue to Abe Lincoln's mother.

- Issue 12 features a guest appearance by the Hulk. Some parts of the story haven't aged well (good thing the bad guy carried "a membership card in a subversive Communist-front organization" ... in his wallet ... on a U.S. Army base ... but I digress) but overall it's pretty enjoyable, being the first modern MU crossover. There's really no way to square this story with Johnny reading a Hulk comic is issue 5, but that's a minor quibble. Oh, and remember what I said about Sue being feisty? She saves the day here, stopping the bad guy before he can kill Ben. If only Lincoln's mother had been at Ford's Theatre.

I have a lot more I want to say but this has been a fairly long post and I've only covered about half of the Volume. I'll wait and see if any of you want to chime in with your thoughts before I make more comments.

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Ben himself chose the name though.

Self loathing issues. They could have told him to choose something positive and/or heroic. It would have been ironic had it been "the Rock" or "Rocky" (cf. Rocky Davis of Challengers of the Unknown).

Reed chose to call himself "Mister Fantastic" though the others never called him that!

As for the Thing, I agree with Dandy. Stan Lee may have wanted the "Monster" connection, just in case but realistically, no one would perpetuate it. I think referring to him as "Grimm" was descriptive enough before they turned him into a walking cartoon.

BTW, Reed and Sue were usually just "Reed and Sue" but Johnny loved being the Human Torch!

As a kid who up to that point had only read DC comics, primarily Superman titles, I admit to being thoroughly confused by the use of first names along with references to their hero IDs in the FF. I remember wondering why the monster-like character wasn't named Rock Man as he likely would have been in a DC book.

Chalk it up to not knowing exactly what direction to take the comic in yet...  I consider the lack of costumes to be the same thing...this was a monster adventure that got grafted onto  to create a superhero team book, and doesn't really become what it will become until issue #3 and the torch's departure, however brief.

Dandy Forsdyke said:

I often wonder why the FF even bothered with their code names if they had no secret identities to protect. Calling Ben 'Thing' is unforgivable when they could have chose 'Rock' or something.

Quite a few 60s sitcoms had women talking about how they hoped to meet Rock Hudson one day, so Marvel probably picked it up from TV.
 
George said:

One amusing aspect of the early FF (and other Marvels from that era): the references to Rock Hudson as every woman's dream man. Little did they know ...

How could Ben not get annoyed with Reed going around telling everybody he was fantastic? "Greeting, I am Mr. Fantastic, and this is my friend, Thing!" I wonder how many people in the 60s asked Ben why he wasn't just a hand inside of a box?
 
Kirk G said:

Chalk it up to not knowing exactly what direction to take the comic in yet...  I consider the lack of costumes to be the same thing...this was a monster adventure that got grafted onto  to create a superhero team book, and doesn't really become what it will become until issue #3 and the torch's departure, however brief.

Dandy Forsdyke said:

I often wonder why the FF even bothered with their code names if they had no secret identities to protect. Calling Ben 'Thing' is unforgivable when they could have chose 'Rock' or something.

Sue sort of did. She said "He's turned into a...a...some kind of a thing!" And when they formed the team, he said "I ain't Ben anymore. I'm what Susan called me."
 
Mark S. Ogilvie said:

Ben himself chose the name though.

Are you still planning to do a re-read of the Kirby Fantastic Four, John? I was considering doing one but I've been having trouble getting reprints of some of the oldest issues, and I wouldn't want to start a project somebody else was planning.


 
John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

Reviving this as a followup to the FF reprints thread I started a few weeks back.  I'm going to do an entire re-read of all of the Kirby issues.  I'll do my best not to get too repetitive on this thread (I know I was guilty of this on the reprints thread) .... what I'll try is a brief comment or two or each issue in this volume.

Fantastic Four #1 - One thing that jumped out at me was right on page one - Reed says "It is the first time I have found it necessary to give the signal!  I pray it will be the last!"  Talk about your throwaway lines!  There isn't anything else in the issue to refers to any reluctance to use their powers, and as we all know, the FF were true adventurers, thrill-seekers even; Mark Waid (I believe) even coined a term for them - "imaginauts".  The only thing I want to add was how much I love the panel on the last page with all of the monsters advancing.  You can tell Jack had fun with that one.

I've covered 1-16 in this thread.  I have plenty on my plate right now with the four I am doing, so if you want to continue with one from there, or even start a new one from the beginning, that would be fine with me.

A fat bald man resembling Krushchev also turned up around 1960 as the form a shape shifting Skrull-like alien took on to infiltrate Earth and prepare an alien invasion. The guy finding his diary was going to warn everyone but when he saw who the alien had become he said it was already much too late.

I believe it was before the Wasp turned up in Ant-Man, unless he was the one that ordered Maria's death in Jan's debut story. Wasn't it a picture of Krushchev that the Gargoyle shook his fist at just before he killed himself?
 
Kirk G said:

I remember SEEING that image in the comics. 
Not only is a fat, balding man refered to as "Commrad K", (probably in Iron Man)

but he is also seen pounding his shoe on the desk in at least one or two scenes.

(One might be when the Submariner adresses the U.N. in FF Annual #1...

the other might either be in Ant-Man or in Iron Man or maybe even in The Hulk.)

Stepmother actually. His mother died during an epidemic of bad milk when he was a child. Lincoln stated in one of his speeches that everything he was, he owed to his stepmother.
 
Doc Beechler (mod-MD) said:

There were a lot of fans at the time who wanted Sue dropped from the team. Stan defended her in the letters pages, likening her to Lincoln's mother - support for a great man. Kind of a backwards defense.

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