Where did it all begin?
Back in August 1961 Marvel revolutionised the comic industry with the first issue of The Fantastic Four. It was the first in a massive line of superhero titles that changed the way people perceived costumed adventurers. While relatively unsophisticated in the modern age, it was Stan Lee and his colleagues that first gave us the idea of heroes with lives, anxieties and character quirks of their own. These were pioneering, groundbreaking works for a family audience, and a legion of heroes were created: Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Avengers, The Hulk… The FF paved the way by breaking away from the square-jawed, wholesome world of rivals DC (the title was allegedly born as an answer to the popular Justice League of America) and gave us the first ugly superhero with The Thing. The Human Torch had worries about his private life more than his hero life, and Reed and Sue's relationship was often on shaky ground.
One sad indictment is that many of the other Marvel characters gradually overtook The Fantastic Four in popularity and threw Stan's modest title of "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!" into doubt. Come the mid 90s and sales were falling, as creatively and commercially the book had begun to lose its way. It was scrapped for an alternate volume, and, while the original number has often been returned to, multiple ”first issues” and volumes were tried. At the time of writing, the group’s adventures continue in the multi-crossover title Secret Wars, but their own book has been cancelled, and the 2015 movie is made by Fox, away from the rapidly-expanding Marvel Universe of movies. Although the forerunners of the Marvel comics line, they seem to have become the forgotten heroes of the company.
What struck me about the series - issues in 2003 included clear parallels of the war in Iraq - is that a historical guide could be written to the comic book, looking at how political ideology and sexual dynamics helped shape the series through six decades. Just how many overt and subvert influences were the children of the 60s really being subjected to in the name of comic book entertainment? Were the 70s behind the times and reactionary in terms of their representation of female equality? Were the 80s a Liberal side step from the normal viewpoint of the group, which was normally as malleable as their very own Mr. Fantastic?
No doubt you're thinking that such a history would be incredibly dull, and no doubt you'd be right. Which is why, alongside such musings, I've tried to mix in a healthy amount of reviews - just how good are The Fantastic Four? - and observations. To make it even more digestible, each issue gets its own rating out of five FF stars. More important than anything else, I grew up with the group, and their sense of humanity and loyalty to one another is what makes them arguably the most loveable characters in comics. If you enjoy reading the site a fraction as much as I have rereading all these great comics in order to compile it, then you'll have a great time indeed - click on the menu options above for a year-by-year look at the series, from way back in the 60s all the way through to the present day...
Where did the site disappear to for all those years?
Long-term readers may recall that the site was started way back in 2004, then suddenly went offline. In 2011 I accidentally let the .com domain name expire, and the name was bought up, effectively stolen. Disheartened, I made attempts to buy the domain name back, but I could never get a reply, and let the site remain dormant while I waited to rebuy the domain. As that looks unlikely to ever happen (and email me if you have any ideas on that matter), then I figured we’ll start afresh with the co.uk and have some fun, okay?
But didn't the site go offline AGAIN?
Errr... yes. I invested in a high-tech, interactive template that would give the site a sophisticated look and... I couldn't do it. The site has always been about content over presentation, and I've never claimed to be a web designer. But after multiple attempts to get it right, I finally threw in the (crying) towel, and restarted with this third relaunch, which is hopefully better and more navigable than any of the previous versions. And this time, it should be here to stay. Thanks for bearing with me. :)
Will there be fresh updates?
Sure. The site is now over a decade old, and I really wanted to rework it, and add more detail.. plus, tighten up some bits and pieces. I've recently reread the entire 60s run, and have updated every 1960s issue page, many of them rewritten completely from scratch.
Plus, there's some new interviews, with many more on the way...
And the copyright?
Fantastic Four and associated characters, c. Marvel. This site is for entertainment purposes only. However, the copyright of the articles and interviews is c. FantasticFourHeadquarters, 2004-2017.