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Fantastic Four Masterworks Vol. 2
Regular Edition Cover

Vol. 6: Fantastic Four
Variant Edition Cover

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From Nov. 61 to today! Every issue is noted at the ultimate FF checklist website!

Lots of great comics reviews about the original Marvel foursome!



Original 27

  • First print: 10/88
    Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four Volume 2

    Reprints: Fantastic Four #11-20 and Annual #1

    (Vol. 6 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)


    • Unused cover for FF #3
    • Unused cover for FF Annual #1
    • Stan Lee's 2 page typewritten pitch for FF

    Current In Print Edition: Second Edition, First Print
    Release Date: July 30, 2003

    REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-0980-3 • List Price: $49.99
    VARIANT EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1275-8 • List Price: $54.99

    295 Pages

    Scripted by Stan Lee

    Penciled by Jack Kirby

    Foreword by Stan Lee


    It was unlike anything you could have seen before. The first volume of the Fantastic Four Masterworks reprinted the comics that introduced readers not only to Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm, but to a new kind of super hero series. They wore no masks, had no secret lair or identities and- at times- didn’t particularly like one another. Comics fans weren't ready to draw any stark conclusions about this new comic magazine they looked forward to at newstands, but they seemed to have a sense that something a momentum was growing. They hadn't seen nothin’ yet.

    Where the first volume ran all over the map in art style and story tone, here the bugs have been worked out. Dick Ayers had settled in for a long inking run so the character of the book's art looks more uniform. Jack Kirby had settled on his character designs, making the Thing more rocky and Johnny’s "flame on" state more human. And Stan Lee had found the direction for the plots of the book, steering them towards ‘new science’ ideas over big monsters, and good natured ribbing over bitter dysfunction. In essence, this book looks a lot more like the FF we’d know for the next forty years. But still, a lot would change, inside the book and out.

    That’s because by this point, Stan and Jack weren’t just creating a comic book, they were creating a universe. In the first volume, the Fantastic Four lived in a vacuum, as the rest of Marvel’s output consisted of westerns, soap operas and monsters. But by 1963, most of the major titles in the Marvel Universe had been launched, and many of them set just a few miles from the Baxter Building. So the FF, Marvel’s flagship title (nee, the World's Greatest Comic!,) had to recognize that fact and quickly! Both Ant-Man and Hulk (struggling in their own series at this point) made guest appearances, with issue #12 showcasing the first of many fisticuffs between legendary Marvel strongmen the Thing and the Hulk. And in the first FF Annual, Stan takes a scene from Amazing Spider-Man #1 and expands on it, so Peter Parker gets a bigger spotlight on the Fantastic Four’s stage.

    But these ten issues have their own contributions to make the expanding universe. The Molecule Man makes his first appearance, as does Rama-Tut, who the Avengers will later get to know as their arch-enemy Kang. We get our first glimpse of the Micro-World, a sub atomic universe that would later spawn Psycho-Man. The Red Ghost and his Super-Apes are created as strange doppelgangers to our fantastic foursome, and the issue that introduces those villains also introduces us to the Watcher, an enigmatic character that would make his presence known across the Marvel Universe, from Uncanny X-Men to What If?.

    Stan and Jack were both smart guys, and they knew what worked, so Dr. Doom and Sub-Mariner, the most popular of the rogue’s gallery so far, each return for two appearances. And the Skrulls also reappear but top themselves with a villainous far less wimpy than your standard, run-of-the-mill Skrull- the Super-Skrull! The FF's battle with this superpowered alien leads to their best and most epic fight yet!

    Volume 2 has its share of clunkers. “A Visit with the Fantastic Four” is cute but by breaking the fourth wall so early, it undermines the serious, epic tone Stan and Jack would eventually strive for. The Impossible Man is a blatant copy of DC’s Mr. Mxylptlk, another irritating character. The Mad Thinker and his Awesome Android appear for the first time in an issue named by the Jack Kirby Collector as the worst Fantastic Four story ever (and they’re a good judge of Kirby stories!) But somehow, every issue still conveys the same sense of fun and discovery, and every story adds to the rapidly expanding Marvel Universe that writers and artists are still exploring today.

    The Marvel Age, newly born, continues onward!

    -- by Jonathan Clark, aka doesitmatter, with Gormuu

    -- panel images provided by Jonathan Clark

    Issues Reprinted
    Fantastic Four #11-20 and Fantastic Four Annual #1


    FF #11

    FF #12

    FF #13

    FF #14

    FF #15

    FF #16

    FF #17

    FF #18

    FF #19

    FF #20

    Ann #1


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