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FANTASTIC FOUR CHECKLIST
Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four Volume 7
Reprints: Fantastic Four #61-71, Annual #5
(Vol. 34 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)
Current In-Print Edition: First Print
REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1584-6 • List Price: $49.99 304 Pages Scripted by Stan Lee Buy From:
Current In-Print Edition: First Print
REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1584-6 • List Price: $49.99
Scripted by Stan Lee
"Why are Stan Lee and Jack Kirby the most honored creative team in all of comicdom? This Marvel Masterwork willgive you a few clues!"
Gee whiz...could there be any better way to kick off this essay for thefeature page to FF Masterworks Vol. 7 than that blurb from the splash page of Fantastic Four #69? That question is essentially rhetorical as we look back on what Stan and Jack accomplished from the vantage point of today! But even back then, in the midst of 1967-era Marvel Mania, it was clear to all that Stanand Jack were "it", baby! The treat for those folks reading FF #69 was that they still had a few dozen more new stories to look forward to from comicdom's greatest creative team. And the treat for us folks today is to be able to look back at the legacythey left behind. And this book is an essential piece of that experience, bunky! So let's take a quick glance at whatyou're missing if you don't own FF Masterworks Vol. 7!
The stories of this era at Marvel start to really stretch out, with big-panelled action moving from page to page,stories going from issue to issue and many subplots taking many months to settle out. And just like FF MasterworksVol. 6 ended on a four-part Dr. Doom/Surfer epic, this book reprints a raft of comics which is just as epic, if notdealing in the high-profiles of characters like Doom and Norrin Radd.
FF #61-63: In this three-parter, the new Sandman is revealed, with a trippy new costume and newly-developedarsenal of weapons and doodads. There's also a two-page collage splash in FF #62, which shows Jack's conceptionof Reed Richards hurtling like a meteor through the Negative Zone! The high-tension drama of Reed's brush with deathis so thick it can't be ignored- these are truly emotional high-points of the whole Kirby/Lee run. As Reed is suckedinto the Negative Zone, Sue and the others are left to watch his impending death on a giant video-screen, and Stan and Jack are in top form in delineating the stark and raw emotions of the major players.
We also see a star-turn for Triton, perhaps the most obscure of the family of Inhumans, in these issues, as he is the onlyone deemed capable of rescuing Reed Richards! (Thanks, Triton!!!) And the Inhumans, themselves, are set loose in theMarvel Universe after finally being freed from the confines of the Great Refuge. They must wander the world, lookingfor a place to call their home.
Also in this run, we get to meet Blastaar, the Living Bomburst! The first denizen of the Negative Zone revealed to the eyes of Marvel fandom is a guy you DO NOT want to get into a scrape with! In his first go-around with the FF, he teamsup with the Sandman to take it to the team for all they are worth.
FF #64-65: Stan and Jack introduce the Kree mythos to the Marvel Universe, as the FF stumble onto a secretspaceport outpost hidden in the Polynesian Islands, used by the alien race that would later produce Captain Marvel. But in these issues, the FF have to battle the Sentry robot installed to protect and monitor the island; and later, Ronan, the Accuser, a special envoy of vengeance sent by the Kree Supreme Intelligence. His mission: to exact punishment on thosewho merely tried to defend themselves against a giant Kree robot! The FF can't win! (Or can they?!?!)
FF #66-67: Perhaps the all-time classic to be found in this Masterworks, Alicia Masters is cajoled intohelping a quartet of scientists bent on building a benevolent new world order, with them as fascist rulers supreme!What is her disability becomes their only hope at helping stop a great power of their creation that has gone out of control-the menace of HIM! But who is HE? And can the FF come to her rescue in time? As the question asks- What Lurks Behind theBeehive? Well, here's a hint- Adam Warlock fans will want to know!
This storyline reveals better than most just how "out there" Stan and Jack could take these stories. Instead of justturning out a collection of stand-in-place beat-em-ups, they were constantly reinventing the settings in which our heroeswould find themselves. In this case, it's a battle plane found in the catacombs of the Enclave, fighting forces they canbarely comprehend. The vision of Dr. Hamilton and Alicia walking through walls under the power of his "Bracelet to Nowhere"and the incredibly bizarre splash with Alicia approaching Him inside his cocoon are clear indications that these comicsare transmissions straight from the hyper-aware creative ids of our creators, especially Jack Kirby!
FF Annual #5: This single issue is a great way to understand how the Fantastic Four helped explode the Marvel Universe; how it was the "big bang" centerpiece of all we hold dear about the MU. The World's Greatest Comic Magazine took greatstrides in introducing many characters to the universe and allowing them the chance to breathe. In the case of this annual, the story doesn'teven really feature the Fantastic Four at all! In their place is an ad-hoc super-team that must fight the wicked Psycho-Man in the stead ofthe FF. Over the main story's 30 pages, we witness a titanic collection of heroes band together: Thing and Human Torch from the FF, Black Panther, and Medusa, Karnak and Triton, led by Black Bolt of the Inhumans. This "super group" never getsthe honor of a name, but the seven of them spend the whole comic kicking butt (with a timely save from Gorgon late in the proceedings!) And it goes to prove how far the FF had taken the Marvel Universe, and how Stan and Jack were clearly ableto provide comics content that could so far depart from the name on the masthead and get away with it! (Check outJack's clear correlation between Black Bolt leading the Inhumans through the wasteland to Moses leading the Jews, withBlack Bolt "parting" the sea to the Psycho-Man's hideout as the capper!)
Also in the annual is the three-page zany classic "This Is A Plot?", which features the first scripted pages of Jack Kirbyin a Marvel comic. And after a senses-shattering collection of pin-ups, there is the 11-page Surfer solo story that waspreviously reprinted in Silver Surfer Masterworks Vol. 1.
FF #68-71: The Mad Thinker sets in motion a series of calamities that bring Ben Grimm to the brink of madnessand total, overcoming rage. The villain manages to corrupt the Fantastic Four from within, enacting a plan thatreveals him to be a truly despicable man of evil. Check out his dialogue in FF #70, as scripted by Stan Lee. Coldlycalculating the murder of Dr. Santini, the man who he has been posing as to gain entry to the Baxter Building,Stan articulates in the Mad Thinker's dialogue some of the most viscerally charged language of Marvel's Silver Age!And the Mad Thinker gets to unleash his small army of Killer Androids on our Favorite Foursome, including a giant onethat is almost beyond destruction, as the FF finds out in issue #71.
This is just a snapshot of the glories to be found within the hardcovers of this book. The true fun is in actually reading them! In this book, we can see Stan and Jack are now in the act of burnishing the luster on the greatness of the FF. Enjoy the developing relationship between Johnny and Crystal, watching the Inhumans and their struggle for a place in the world, and thrill with the announcement of a baby on the way (and keep your eyes open for a quick cameo from Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson!)
If you want to know what's so great about the Marvel Universe, this Marvel Masterworks will give you a clue!
-- by Gormuu
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FF ANN #5
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