franklin reed

anonymous asked:

I'm in the middle of Spider-Man but I want to start f4, can you give some must-reads for those comics? I want to the hang of the lore

So I don’t usually recommend people start with Fantastic Four from the beginning, but if you’re reading for lore that’s a totally different story because Fantastic Four sets the groundwork for so much of the Marvel universe as we know it. Broadly, I’d recommend both the Lee/Kirby and Byrne runs, but to pick out some important moments:

Fantastic Four (1961) #1: The team’s origin story and the introduction to the Mole Man. For extended takes on the origin, see Fantastic Four v3 #11-12 and Mythos: Fantastic Four.

(A related read: Fantastic Four v3 #60, where Reed reveals why he chose to make the Four celebrities.)

The Mole Man would next return in Fantastic Four #22, in which it’s discovered that Sue can turn objects invisible and create force fields.

Fantastic Four #2 introduces the Skrulls to the Marvel universe for the very first time. The Skrulls are able to shapeshift, but have to use technology to duplicate the Fantastic Four’s powers, unlike the Super-Skrull, who first appears in Fantastic Four #18.

Fantastic Four #4 features the return of Namor, who Johnny finds in a flophouse when he becomes the first member of the team to dramatically quit. He’d later menace the Fantastic Four by teaming up with Victor Von Doom in Fantastic Four #6, take advantage of the Four’s bankruptcy by inviting them to star in a film in #9 – yes, Namor had a Hollywood film studio at one point – and kidnap Sue to his underwater kingdom in #14.

Speaking of, Doctor Doom appears for the first time in Fantastic Four #5.

He had a tiger back then, because the Silver Age is great. Doom later switches his consciousness with Reed’s in #10 and shrunk and captured the Fantastic Four in #16-#17.

Fantastic Four #8 introduces Phillip Masters, the Puppet Master, and his step-daughter Alicia, who would become Ben Grimm’s on-again, off-again girlfriend and the person who is probably closest to the family.

Fantastic Four #12 features the first of many fights between Ben and the Hulk. They’d later face off in Fantastic Four #25-26, a fight that also involved the Avengers.

Fantastic Four #19 is the first appearance of Pharaoh Rama-Tut, a time traveler who would be known as Kang the Conqueror, while Diablo the Alchemist makes his debut in Fantastic Four #30.

Fantastic Four #31-32 contain a lot, featuring the Mole Man, the Super-Skrull, and the fate of Sue and Johnny’s father, Franklin Storm. Sue and Reed get engaged in Fantastic Four #35, but the celebrations are quickly crashed by the first appearance of the Frightful Four (and the first appearance of an Inhuman, the mysterious Madam Medusa) in Fantastic Four #36. Speaking of the engagement, Sue decides she can’t marry Reed until they get revenge for her father, and the team goes to the Skrull planet in Fantastic Four #37. (Damn, Sue.) Reed and Sue get married in Fantastic Four Annual #3.

Fantastic Four #44-47 explores the Inhumans, introducing important characters like Black Bolt, Crystal, Gorgon, and Maximus the Mad. The saga concludes in Fantastic Four #48, which launches us into The Coming of Galactus (Fantastic Four #48-50), and features the first appearance of the Silver Surfer and Galactus. (#50 is also the first appearance of family friend Wyatt Wingfoot, because after traveling across the cosmos to save the planet, Johnny still has to attend college orientation.)

The Negative Zone appears for the first time in Fantastic Four #51. Its ruler, Annihilus, first appears in Fantastic Four Annual #6, which also features the birth of Sue and Reed’s son, Franklin Richards.

Fantastic Four #52 marks the first appearance of T’Challa, the Black Panther, and the country of Wakanda. The Fantastic Four remain in Wakanda until Fantastic Four #54.

Honestly, I could probably pull Fantastic Four issues all day, but in terms of must-reads for lore, those Lee/Kirby issues are my top picks. To skip forward some 150~ issues, I have mixed feelings about John Byrne’s run but I do feel it’s important, lore-wise, and I generally really like its Ben and Johnny. I don’t think any other run has looked at Johnny’s longing to be in love quite as well. Also, it has She-Hulk on the team, which is always a plus. Rather than pulling out individual issues, here I’m just going to gesture vaguely at the entire run – Fantastic Four #232-295. If you can get your hands on the Fantastic Four Visionaries trades, it’s the best way to read it since they include other related issues Byrne wrote from series like The Thing, X-Men, and Marvel Team Up, but looking at amazon they are kind of pricey. 

I also recommend Strange Tales #101-134, which stars Johnny and introduces a lot of huge Fantastic Four villains, such as the Wizard and the Trapster (aka Paste Pot Pete). Continuity-wise, it runs alongside the early issues of Fantastic Four before Sue and Reed were married, when Johnny and Sue still lived in Long Island.


The Birth of Franklin Richards (Fantastic Four Annual #6, 1968)

Such a genuine, heartwarming moment. I feel no shame in admitting I got a little misty-eyed when I read it for the first time. From Ben, Reed, and Johnny’s initial shock to their immediate elation. They all just look so…happy. It was such a wonderful honest moment. It proves that you don’t need cosmic radiation or futuristic technology in order to qualify something as fantastic.