Marvel 616 Comic Book Review: Fantastic Four #6

Fantastic Four issue #6 Photo Credit: Marvel

By the sixth issue of The Fantastic Four they were a certified hit in the comics publishing industry. The books actually were flying off the shelves and although many of these issues still end up tossed in the trash once they have been read, there are some collectors out there who realize it might be more fun to hang on to these comics.

Because the book was such a hit, the action has to ramp up as much as possible every issue. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had already introduced to incredibly strong and sophisticated villains, Namor, who pre-dates the 616 universe and Dr. Doom who is the first of the greatest original villains in 616. So what could be more exciting than having those villains work together? The first real villain team up that matters happens in this issue and it is a formula for success.

At the start of the issue we see bystanders observing Johnny Storm and debating about whether or not The Fantastic Four are real. The bystanders are shocked to find out Invisible Girl was in their midst the whole time as she suddenly appears.

We follow along as she goes into the Baxter building and passes through some security measures devised by Reed Richards to keep others out. We even get a neat little diagram of the building. This will be something featured several times in these comics and as a comics reader, it’s always aa little fun to be let in on the secrets.

The family is worried because Dr. Doom has not been seen since last issue and surely he is up to no good. But before the issue gets down to business, we see Reed Richards stretch his way over to a hospital to talk to a fan. There he gives an explanation to why his costume stretches with him. “…it is woven from chemical fibers containing unstable molecules that shift in structure when I affect the change!” This must have been a good enough explanation for most folks because they stick with that for a long time.

Meanwhile, The Thing gets a letter from the Yancy Street Gang calling him out to fight. I think this is the first mention of them but they become a huge part of Ben Grimm’s life so the letter is significant in Marvel 616 history.

Out in the ocean, Sub-Mariner is frolicking with a group of porpoise and Dr. Doom is flying above the waters, on the search for aa worthy partner. He knows the FF and Sub-Mariner have fought before and he seems like an ideal partner but of course it’s all destined to go wrong.

As the two talk we get to see a little more of the background of Namor and why he hates the surface world so much. His home city of Atlantis was destroyed when an H-bomb test hit while Namor was away. In other words, he has justifiable reason to hate humans. Stan Lee was very good at humanizing certain villains and Sub-Mariner may be the best example of that. We also learn that Namor has feelings for Sue Storm and we see that Sue has a picture of Namor hidden away so there is some mutual attraction there.

Soon Doom explains his plan which involves a gadget that can use magnetism to life incredibly heavy objects. Namor is on board with plan and off and running (or i should say swimming) to New York City. There, a crowd is amazed to see him and we have bystanders referencing stories they have read about Namor, once again establishing Marvel comics as a thing in the Marvel 616 universe.

Namor easily barges into the Baxter building to have a chat with the FF but of course they don’t want to listen. Except for Sue Storm that is. While they are checking out his story, the whole Baxter building gets lifted into the air by Dr. Doom.

Namor was promised Sue Storm wouldn’t be hurt but when the building rockets toward space, he realizes Doom has betrayed him. The villain team up is now over and Namor is going to have to help the Fantastic Four. Namor is consistently a great frenemy of the group who will do the right thing but only at the last moment or at the behest of Sue Storm.

One by one each member of the FF tries to stop the rocket but to no avail. Well, to be fair, Sue Storm didn’t try anything because, well, Stan Lee was not exactly great at giving equal time for female heroics. And the Thing does realize his strength isn’t going to stop a rocket so he just tries to bash Namor.

Conveniently there is a water tower in the building so Namor can power himself up enough to stop Doom. This also establishes the fact that Doom mentions earlier in the issue, Namor is one of the few people who could put a stop to Doom’s desires of global domination.

This confrontation ends with Doom launched onto a meteor but we all know he is coming back at some point.

It’s hard to overstate the complexities that early issues like these set up not just for the FF but for all of Marvel. The way that villains are multifaceted and complex makes for great reads even in comic books and they still work in modern culture. I think it’s why the MCU is such a successful franchise. We can relate to everyone, even the villains.

Next up on the reading list we’re getting micro once again as we go back to Tales to Astonish #35 and check in on Ant-Man!

Marvel 616 Comic Book Review: The Fantastic Four Issue #5

The Fantastic Four Issue #5, Photo Credit: Marvel
The Fantastic Four Issue #5, Photo Credit: Marvel

There are some villains so memorable that they define the heroes they fight against. It’s nearly impossible to imagine Batman without The Joker as his arch-nemesis. What would Superman be without the deadly threat of Lex Luthor? In the fifth issue of The Fantastic Four, the villain that will be the biggest threat, the most dangerous rival, the most influential villain against Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Ben Grimm, and Johnny Storm, is introduced. He will come to define the team in many ways and will be a significant presence in the Marvel 616 continuity permanently.

The beginning of the issue starts with some mystery as to whom Dr. Doom could be and what he wants. However, he hates the group from his opening panels.

Once we enter the FF’s headquarters, we get another nod to the Marvel 616 universe containing Marvel comics as we see Johnny Storm reading an issue of The Incredible Hulk. Marvel isn’t the first company to have made what we now call Easter eggs, but they have always been masters of it.

Right from the outset, Doom is a threat. He starts off the issue by trapping the team in their Baxter Building headquarters. He tosses a net that is electrified and fireproof. Johnny can’t burn through it, The Thing can’t break it, and Reed can’t stretch past it. Doom demands Sue Storm be given to him as a hostage. Reluctantly, the team agrees to let Sue go to prevent Doom from causing harm to anyone.

Before that happens, Reed takes us on a flashback to his college days and reveals that he knew Victor Von Doom in college. At that time, Doom was obsessed with both science and the supernatural. He tended to conduct science experiments that were forbidden. During one of these experiments, Doom was disfigured and has covered his face ever since. We don’t see what the test was, but it’s evident it was not an innocent one. Doom gets expelled but continues looking for secrets in black magic and sorcery.

As soon as Reed realizes who has trapped them in the building, he understands what a threat Doom is. Doom’s demands are somewhat strange. He takes them back to his fortress and demands that The Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic and The Thing all travel to the past to get the treasure of Blackbeard, the pirate. He gives them forty-eight hours to bring back Blackbeard’s treasure chest. Doom obviously wants something inside the chest but he doesn’t phrase the request that way.

The story gets a little silly as the three heroes have to disguise themselves as sailors. They even equip The Thing with a black beard. There’s a bit of fighting, and soon it turns out to be the case that The Thing is Blackbeard, the pirate. This means the group is not actually stealing anything from anyone. Also, The Thing considers staying because he is seen as a regular, if intimidating, human in this era. Ultimately, the group does go back, and they do present Doom with Bleackbeard’s treasure chest. Since Reed is the smartest man in the world, he puts chains into the chest, thus fulfilling Doom’s request of getting the treasure chest but not giving Doom the ability to increase his powers. Doom tells the group the gems belonged to the ancient magician Merlin, which sets up the possibility of magic existing in the 616 universe. Johnny is also pretty quick to realize the gems are at the bottom of the sea and could be deadly in the hands of the Sub-Mariner.

Doom is outraged that he has been tricked, and a fight breaks out. We find out here that Doom is an intelligent foe. He has created a robot replica of himself, so he is in no danger of harm from the three heroes. This is the first instance of a Doom-bot showing up, but it will be used over and over to fool heroes in the future consistently.

For all his intelligence and arrogance, Doom is not infallible. He forgets about Susan Storm, and she destroys his machinery and frees the rest of the group from the room Doom has trapped them in. The group escapes and manages to force Doom out of his own fortress. He makes his escape with a rocket-powered jet pack and flees in order to fight another day. The issue sets up Doom as a repeat threat, and he will certainly deliver on that threat in years to come.

Next on the reading list is Amazing Fantasy #15 (A story), potentially the most significant Marvel comic book ever to be printed. This is the one that introduces us to a certain teenager who has quite the reaction to a little spider bite.

If you’ve been enjoying these posts and want to read some comics yourself, click on the link below. Note that I am an Amazon affiliate and will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Read more about The Fantastic Four on Amazon

Marvel 616 Comic Book Review: Fantastic Four Issue #4

Fantastic Four Issue #4, Photo Credit: Marvel
Fantastic Four Issue #4, Photo Credit: Marvel

In the fourth issue of The Fantastic Four, the Marvel 616 Universe gets a whole lot bigger and a whole lot older.

The start of the issue finds Reed, Sue, and Ben arguing over finding Johnny Storm who abandoned the team at the end of the last issue. There is a flashback to the last issue to set the scene. The three remaining members of the team split up to search the city to see if they can find Johnny. And while Kirby’s artwork has heavily hinted that this story is placed in New York, Lee’s text finally confirms it in this issue. This issue also establishes that every member of the Fantastic Four is famous across the country. Although some people at this point still think Reed and company are made up, thus implying people in the 616 are reading about Reed in Marvel comics.

Despite Ben and Johnny constantly bickering, or maybe because of it, they know each other well. The Thing knows Johnny will be working on cars in an old garage and he confronts Johnny. In this scene, Johnny demonstrates that he can control his powers effectively because he can have his heat at the right temperature not to ignite the gas where he is. Also, in this issue, for the first time, Johnny says his famous catchphrase, “Flame on!”

Also, once again, The Thing changes back to human form albeit for only a little while. This further establishes Reed Richards could find a cure for him. It’s something Reed is going to work for years on to no avail.

After Ben and Johnny have their fight, Johnny goes to the neighborhood known as The Bowery and finds lodging for the evening. Here we get another meta-reference in Marvel 616. Johnny is reading an old comic book from the 1940s about The Sub-Mariner. The Sub-Mariner is a character Timely comics, the predecessor of Marvel debuted in 1939. He is Marvel’s equivalent to DC’s Aquaman. Making this reference even more interesting is the fact that Sub-Mariner used to be one of Timely’s top three characters, the other two being Captain America and the original Human Torch. It’s perfectly fitting then that Johnny Storm, the most famous Human Torch is the one to find Sub-Mariner. Sub-Mariner is in a cheap hotel along with Johnny but seems to have lost his memory. The crowd at the hotel turns on Sub-Mariner but Johnny steps in to defend him. He then shaves Sub-Mariner and realizes this is the Sub-Mariner.

With the introduction of this character to Marvel 616, or maybe more accurately, re-introduction, the universe can now be dated back to at least 1939, although the Sub-Mariner’s adventures from that time period do not necessarily count in 616 continuity.

Johnny Storm knows Namor’s (aka Sub-Mariner) power comes from the sea. Johnny does what he thinks is the smart and merciful thing and tosses Namor into the sea. Namor certainly gets his power back. He quickly discovers his underwater home has been destroyed by Atomic testing.

This is a theme that will come back again and again in 616 stories. Atomic energy drives both good and evil depending on who uses it and how it is used. This is extremely relevant considering the cold war that continues for decades. Atomic energy is so important in these stories that the mutants in the X-Men comics will be given the title of, “Children of the Atom”. Sub-Mariner was able to give voice to those who could see the dangers of Atomic energy in the world at the time. Sub-Mariner will also become the most powerful and famous “frenemy” of The Fantastic Four.

After realizing his home is destroyed and the surface world is responsible, Namor calls upon a gigantic sea monster to attack the city and get revenge. At this point, Johnny signals the rest of the team by writing a giant 4 in the sky. This isn’t the first time the team has been signaled in the sky, but it is the first time that Johnny does it.

The team converges to stop the threat. This allows The Thing to strap a nuclear bomb to his back (again with the Atomic energy as both hero and menace) and enter into the mouth of the giant sea creature known as Giganto. The Thing has to fight a couple of creatures inside Giganto but he makes his escape.

While Johnny, Reed, and The Thing have some success fighting Namor, it’s The Invisible Girl who saves the day in this story. She is able to steal the horn Namor used to call the sea monster. Namor catches Sue while she is invisible and she decides since she is caught she might as well drop the invisibility. Namor falls in love with Sue Storm instantly. This sets up the first real rival to Reed Richards for Sue’s affections. Namor tells Susan if she will be his bride, he will give up his anger towards the human race. Sue Storm, of course, is willing to sacrifice herself for the good of the world. Namor realizes that she is consenting not out of love or attraction. He thought he was offering her marriage as an extension of honor and quickly rescinds the offer, although it is clear he still finds her attractive.

The team has to fight Namor to save the world. Johnny, realizing Namor’s power is bound to the water, creates a vortex of air that lifts Namor away from the water so he is weakened and deposits him far out into the sea. Namor again swears he will have his revenge and the setup of a decades-long relationship between him and the Fantastic Four has been set.

While the events described above are truly enough to be of major significance to the 616 universe, there is one other detail in this book I have not yet mentioned. Sprinkled throughout the issue every few pages is what surely must have been a mysterious yet exciting tease for something to come. Every few pages we see a question. “Who is the Hulk?” And we are told, “You’ve never seen anyone like the Hulk!”

To this day we are still trying to get the true answer to the question “Who is the Hulk?” The statement is a little less true but we’ll get into why that is when Hulk finally makes his 616 debut.

But before we get there we have a couple of short Tales to Astonish stories to discuss.

Next on the reading list is Tales to Astonish #29 (A Story).

Marvel 616 Comic Book Review: Fantastic Four Issue #3

Fantastic Four Issue #3, Photo Credit: Marvel
Fantastic Four Issue #3, Photo Credit: Marvel

The third issue of The Fantastic Four introduces us to a few things that will come to define the team in the future. We are introduced to the Fantasti-car, a flying car that can separate into four sections and is docked at the top of a towering building in the city. While it is not named in the issue, this tower will be what is later known as the Baxter Building, and Reed and the team own it. Reed, the genius that he is, is able to build a dock on the roof that will hide the car so that no one knows who lives there. Also, Sue Storm designs the first costumes for the team. While Sue and Reed’s uniforms make perfect sense for them, Ben can’t stand most of his and The Thing goes on to fight mostly in the blue bottoms of the uniform. Johnny is shown in his costume but of course, it is not explained in this issue how this costume does not burn up when he flames on.

Also, we see the bickering between The Human Torch and The Thing increase. The antagonism gets so bad that by the end of the issue, Johnny Storm quits the team. This is the first time in the 616 universe anyone quits a superhero team but it will most certainly not be the last.

The issue itself deals with a rather forgettable villain by the name of Mister Miracle. He seems to be able to do all kinds of miraculous feats including taking a punch on the jaw from The Thing and making a movie monster come to life. Reed Richards figures out that Mister Miracle is simply an excellent hypnotist who can make a crowd think he is doing the things it looks like he is doing. Forgetting the fact that this is not at all how hypnotism works, we do get some scenes where the team gets to show off their powers. There is also another flashback to the origins of the team. This is the third issue and the third time we see the origin of the team. Lee and Kirby did an excellent job of making sure that no one could forget how this team started. We also get some hints of conflict to come. Ben is jealous of Reed for the fact that Sue is in love with Reed. Ben and Reed both blame Reed for the accident that gave them all powers. Reed tries to look on the bright side that at least they can help humanity but Ben would trade it all away to be normal again.

Once again, this issue is different from other comics on the stand at the time because the team fights among themselves. Ben sees his powers as a curse rather than a blessing. And with Johnny walking away from the team, Reed realizes Johnny would be a huge threat if he turned against the Fantastic Four. Other comics at the time were not posing the question of what would happen if one of their own turned against them. This is a uniquely Marvel trait and it works on so many levels that it becomes a staple in comics from then on. At one point or another, every member of the Fantastic Four will walk away from the team. They do come back but with this issue, the reading population would be left to wonder if Johnny was really serious and if he might even become a villain. It was groundbreaking in the fact that a hero could become evil and groundbreaking that Reed recognizes this as a fact.

While the most important things in this issue are more to do with the visual aesthetic, the costumes, the building, the radio transmitter the team uses to communicate, and the fantasti-car, the dynamic of the team arguing with one another is what propelled the universe forward. The story was not afraid to have conflict not only with the villain but with the team members. I can’t overstate how important this is to Marvel 616 comics. It’s what defines them. It’s so effective that in Marvel movies and movies like The Incredibles they don’t work if the team doesn’t argue with each other at some point in the movie. Next on the reading list is Fantastic Four #4

Marvel 616 Comic Book Review: Fantastic Four Issue #2

Fantastic Four Issue #2, Photo Credit: Marvel
Fantastic Four Issue #2, Photo Credit: Marvel

While the first issue of the Fantastic Four birthed the Marvel 616 universe, issue two began to refine it. The issue starts with what looks like each member of the Fantastic Four committing a crime. The Thing destroys an oil rig. Susan Storm steals a diamond worth ten million dollars. Johnny Storm destroys a priceless statue and Reed Richards turns off all the power in the city. Of course, our heroes didn’t do any of these things. This is the work of the Skrulls from outer space. They are a group of villains that will be vital in the years to come. Skrulls are even in movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so they are still relevant.

These aliens are shape-shifters who through their natural abilities and with a little help from technology fake the crimes described above. The Skrulls wish to invade earth but because of the now-famous Fantastic Four, they know it will be no easy task. They have to stop these four humans before the invasion. They plan to get the authorities after the FF and then once they are dead, enter the planet with no resistance.

Newspapers show headlines of the Fantastic Four as declared enemies. Two of the papers will be staples in Marvel 616. They are the Daily Globe and the Daily Bugle. They become much more important in other series but this is where they are established in 616 for the first time.

The FF have hidden out in an isolated hunting lodge and are trying to figure out just what is going on. The Thing is angry and lashes out. It seems like he is full of anger and could become a danger to the human race if his power goes unchecked. Reed of course, still blames himself for Ben’s condition. We are treated to a flashback of the origins of the FF. This will happen over and over again in the early issues. It makes sense because so often these comic books were thought of as disposable. This gave the benefit of filling up pages, reusing artwork, and allowing new readers to understand the whole story.

While Reed is musing about the past, a group of soldiers captures the group. They are separated and put into cells. Sue Storm turns invisible and escapes. This is the issue that Johnny Storm meets his own kind of kryptonite – asbestos. Yep, that’s right. In those days asbestos was seen as a somewhat miraculous substance because of its ability to fireproof a room. It was not yet seen as the dangerous substance it is and so it appears in a lot of comics alongside Johnny Storm. Despite being put in an asbestos-filled room, Johnny finds an air vent and can escape through that. The group gets into a helicopter and escapes.

Back at a hideout of theirs, the FF argues about how to figure out who is impersonating them. Johnny and Ben fight with each other and this further establishes the dynamic that will exist between the two characters for years to come. Johnny goes to where Reed has assumed the next impersonation will happen. The FF captures the aliens and decides to go aboard the Skrull ship to tell them that Earth is just too hard to capture. Reed Richards shows the captain of the Skrull ship pictures of what he says are real pictures from Earth. This is where we get the first Marvel 616 meta-reference. Reed shows pictures from Strange Tales and Journey Into Mystery. These are both titles that Marvel produces. This means that Marvel comics do exist in the Marvel 616 universe. Reed effectively tricks the Skrulls on the ship but there are still four of them left on Earth to deal with.

On the way back, the ship passes again through cosmic rays, and Ben Grimm for a moment is turned back into a human. Alas, this is only temporary, but it does establish that there could be a cure for Ben’s condition. Reed will dedicate a lot of his life going forward to figuring out that cure.

Once they land the army is ready to take the FF into custody once again but Reed promises to explain the situation if they go back to his apartment. Of course, the Skrulls attack and the army sees that the Fantastic Four are innocent. Reed and company defeat the Skrulls and the only problem left is to decide what to do with the aliens from outer space.

Reed hypnotizes them and tells them they have to change into what he says for the rest of their lives and they are good with that as long as they get to have a peaceful and contented existence. So what do they change into? Cows.

This is a significant and important development in years to come, so way down the line when I have reviewed a lot more of these, don’t forget that there are Skrull cows.

I’m guessing Reed didn’t tell the Skrulls that beef is one of the most popular foods in the country.

The issue ends with a pin-up page of The Thing. Probably a lot of kids did rip this page out and pin it up. That means that any issues with this page intact are going to be much more valuable than those without.Next on the reading list is Tales to Astonish #27.

Marvel 616 Comic Book Review: Fantastic Four Issue #1

Fantastic Four Issue #1 Photo Credit: Marvel
Fantastic Four Issue #1 Photo Credit: Marvel

Let me set the scene for you. The year is 1961. The cold war is raging and it’s unclear who is going to get to space first, the United States, or The Soviet Union. At this time, Americans are obsessed with the idea of space, what might be out there, if we can get there, and what might happen if communists get there first. There is more than a hint of paranoia in the air and the ideal value at the time is the nuclear family. Some groups are constrained by society to an unacceptable degree including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ community.

In comic books, there are heroes and certainly teams of heroes. Some heroes have all of the same types of powers that the Fantastic Four have but none of them will enjoy the enormous success that Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, and Sue Storm will.

On the eighth day of November, a comic book that will change the entire entertainment industry forever is released. Most people will read this issue and throw it away after. There will be some mothers and fathers who will throw away their kids’ comic books after they have been sitting on the living room floor for too long. Some of those stacks will include the first issue of The Fantastic Four. This will turn out to be an unfortunate decision for the people who lost this issue because it is a majorly significant event in comic books. This issue is the birth of the Marvel 616 universe. This is where superheroes begin to grow up.

Now imagine, not knowing any of this, and reading the issue. What is in it? Why is it important? I have some answers for you.

Stan Lee, the writer, Jack Kirby, the artist, and Christopher Rule, the inker come together to create what will become known as “the first family of superheroes”. Technically this nickname is incorrect. There had been families of superheroes before. Superman and Supergirl are related. There is the Marvel family in DC comics that includes Billy Batson as Captain Marvel (no not that one and we’ll get into this in a later review) and his family. The nickname will mean something closer to “The First Lady” or “The First Gentleman” as it relates to the American presidency. And this first family has something that no other family in comic-dom has at the time. Arguments. That’s right. They don’t all get along and they don’t all revel in the enormous power they come to wield and that is what makes them different and appealing. Their power to disagree makes this comic book more appealing and more successful than Stan, Jack, and Christopher could have expected.

Another thing that sets this book apart is the dynamic and appealing artwork of Jack Kirby. The action virtually leaps off the page at you in a way that no other comic book at the time could achieve. From the monster like appearance of The Thing to the frenetic energy and boyish exuberance in The Human Torch’s flight, Kirby incredibly engaged the reader.

As far as what happens in the issue the story itself isn’t anything we hadn’t seen in comics before. There were threats in other comics dealing with atomic energy. There had even been strange villains who had chosen to make their lairs underground before. But the way the story is executed is revolutionary in the world of comics.

We start with the citizens of Central City (later to be Manhattan) seeing a mysterious message in the sky that simply read “The Fantastic Four”. This is a message sent out by none other than Reed Richards. He is signaling Susan Storm, Benjamin Grimm and Johnny Storm. One by one we see each of them using their marvelous powers. Susan can turn invisible. Ben is massively strong and does some property damage on his way out of a clothing store and in the street heading towards Reed. Johnny lights on fire, melts a car, and streaks into the air. He has to defend himself from the military and accidentally melts a couple of government planes. He does make sure the pilots are safe before leaving the area though. A missile is launched at Johnny and just when it looks like there is no escape, the fantastically stretchy arms of Reed Richards wrap around the nuclear warhead to stop it. Reed now has the team together and tells them they must stop a threat to the world.

All this might be standard fare in other comic books. With a different creative team, that might have been the entire story, other than to deal with the bad guy. But Stan Lee makes the smart decision to tell us the origin of the Fantastic Four in flashback form. And here is where a lot of the Marvel 616 universe begins. Reed wants to fly a spaceship to outer space. Ben Grimm is against the idea because there are cosmic rays in the atmosphere that no one has studied or understands. Sue Storm, who also happens to be Reed’s fiance, comes to Reed’s defense and immediately tells Ben they have to go through with the flight “unless we want the commies to beat us to it!” and calls Ben a coward. Ben is of course no coward and changes his mind. Sue is along for the ride because she is Reed’s fiance and Johnny comes to protect his sister.

This little scene sets up a lot of the family dynamic. For years, Sue will demure to Reed. For years, Ben will be seen as stubborn and will on occasion blame Reed for his troubles. Johnny is always impulsive and hot-headed. And Reed will consider himself the leader of the group due to his superior intellect.

As you might expect, the cosmic rays do affect the group. Their ship crashes and they are all transformed. Susan sees Ben turn into a rock-like creature that she calls a “Thing”. Johnny gets hot under the collar, and then all over and declares himself, “The Human Torch”. This is not the first character in comics to be called by that name but Johnny Storm will be the most memorable. Susan suddenly disappears. She dubs herself “The Invisible Girl”. It’s a sign of the sexist times that although she is a full-grown adult woman, the name Invisible Girl instead of Invisible Woman was given to her. The only name that doesn’t make a lot of sense is that of Reed Richards. He dubs himself the egotistical moniker of “Mister Fantastic.” This does not describe his powers or appearance in any way. This kind of arrogance does define Reed as a character in years to come. He is the smartest man in the world and is well aware of that fact which can at times lead to a rather inflated ego and some poor decision making.

No one on this team asked for their powers. Ben wishes it had never happened. Johnny is thrilled he can fly and at his new powers. Sue doesn’t seem to say a lot about her powers one way or another. Reed doesn’t seem too troubled by his newfound ability to stretch in incredible ways.

Someone or something is threatening the entire world. The FF go to an island to investigate. A fight with a monster separates the party. Johnny and Reed fall into a tunnel after a cave-in. They have been imprisoned in a land filled with blindingly bright diamonds by a man who calls himself The Moleman.

The name is silly and his powers are that of a mole, more or less. He also controls and releases the monsters that have been fighting on the surface world. We learn that he is evil because humanity hated him for his appearance and he wants his revenge. Moleman will become a repeat villain who harasses the surface world more than once. Also, this starts a trend in 616 in which a large number of individuals have powers relating to or caused by animals. Spider-man will be the most famous of these but there is a large catalog of this type of character in the Marvel comics.

Of course, using their fantastic powers, the Fantastic Four defeat Moleman. He is buried underground thanks to Johnny’s causing a rock slide. The team hopes they have seen the last of him, thereby ensuring that he will return.

This first issue does a lot of heavy lifting to establish things in Marvel going forward. Some things change and are wrong. For example, the city is called Central City instead of just placing the team in New York City like they will become known for. All in all, though, it’s an incredibly compelling and dynamic issue and if you read it, it’s obvious why it is seen as the birth of the Marvel universe.

Next on the reading list is Fantastic Four #2