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Fantastic Four Masterworks Vol. 4
Regular Edition Cover

Vol. 21: Fantastic Four
Variant Edition Cover

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Original 27

  • First print: 11/92
    Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four Volume 4

    Reprints: Fantastic Four #31-40 and Annual #2

    (Vol. 21 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)

    Current In Print Edition: Second Edition, First Print
    Release Date: November 26, 2003

    REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1183-2 • List Price: $49.99
    VARIANT EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1286-3 • List Price: $54.99

    272 Pages

    Scripted by Stan Lee

    Penciled by Jack Kirby

    Foreword by Stan Lee


    Everything old is new again.

    Mark Waid, current writer on Fantastic Four said the book in the sixties was “where the new happened." And as we’ve seen in the last three volumes (not to mention the next sixty issues), Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s book set the tone for the Silver Age while still being ahead of its time.

    But we’ve all seen comics where ideas are thrown at you so fast, you can’t fully absorb them (look at Jack’s later career, or Grant Morrison for some examples which are great comics in their own right). To be a truly great idea, it has to be explored, tested, and held up to great scrutiny before you can truly appreciate its genius.

    That’s what this fourth volume is all about. Several of Stan and Jack’s great ideas are revisited here but they are deeper, tighter, and stronger than the first time around. Dr. Doom arrives in the annual but for the first time, his origin is explained. The FF go once more into the ocean to grapple with Namor, but now we meet Attuma and learn the political structure of the undersea dwellers. The Skrulls return but we now see their world and their own power struggles. And in maybe the most brilliant move, Stan takes some “B-list” villains- two from the Human Torch’s solo series, one from Spider-Man and a new character (her potential barely even portended in these early apperances)- and turns them into a true match for our team: the Frightful Four!

    In Annual #2, Dr. Doom is given the floor for a twelve page origin spectacular that helps flesh out thenooks and crannies of his past in a way that no villain in the Marvel Universe had previously been afforded.Jack's stark imagery of Dr. Doom standing on a windswept hill overlooking his parent's gravesites is chilling in its own way, as is the new dimension to his character- that he is ruler of a kingdom called Latveria. To think of Doom as a legitimate leader of a foreign nation, beyond the rule of normal man andwith access to protections and able to conceal his dark plans behind national borders, only adds to theepic scope that Stan and Jack created for Dr. Doom's villainy. They even bring up the somewhat cornyconcept of "diplomatic immunity" for Dr. Doom, a device that was surely put in place to keep Doom comingback for more mischief and misdeeds over time.

    The returning villains show more about the Fantastic Four themselves, especially the Skrull tale, which opens up a whole new chapter for the Storm family. Sue and Johnny's father, Dr. Franklin Storm, is introduced, and his fate quickly sealed at the hands of the Skrulls, in a style reminiscent of Peter Parker'sUncle Ben. And, when Dr. Doom returns for the final story arc, it gives Stan and Jack an excuse to show Marvel’s First Family in a way we’ve never seen them before. The team-up with the brave and noble Daredevil in the final two issues reprinted in this volume stand asone of the more harrowing tales Jack and Stan had told to date. It's a tension packed epic that builds toa fateful climax by the last page. It's a totally gripping self-contained story, but with repercussions thatwill extend far beyond the last panel.

    Jack Kirby’s art just gets stronger and stronger but he has yet to find a full time inker on the book. Chic Stone carries the bulk of the book and his heavy line makes Kirby’s characters really pop (he also reproduces very well!). Vince Colletta inks the final issue and all critiques of his style, and its ‘shortcuts’ are best left to the Thor volumes, where he does the bulk of that run.

    Let’s go visit some old friends!

    -- by Jonathan Clark, aka doesitmatter, with Gormuu

    Issues Reprinted
    Fantastic Four #31-40 and Annual #2

    Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.


    Ann #2

    FF #31

    FF #32

    FF #33

    FF #34

    FF #35

    FF #36

    FF #37

    FF #38

    FF #39

    FF #40


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