Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s run on the Fantastic Four is widely considered to be one of the greatest creative collaborations in the history of comic books. Over the course of more than 100 issues, Lee and Kirby created a sprawling epic that revolutionized the medium and set the stage for the many other iconic characters and franchises that would follow.
The Fantastic Four, first published in 1961, was unlike any other superhero team that had come before. Rather than being a group of invincible heroes with god-like powers, the Fantastic Four were a flawed and dysfunctional family of scientists and adventurers, each with their own distinct personality and abilities. This groundbreaking approach to characterization helped to make the characters more relatable and human, and it set the stage for the many other complex and nuanced characters that would follow in the Marvel Comics universe.
One of the most notable aspects of Lee and Kirby’s work on the Fantastic Four was their ability to balance action and drama with humor and pathos. They created a sense of scale and grandeur that was unmatched in the industry at the time, with each issue featuring epic battles against otherworldly threats and high-stakes conflicts that tested the limits of the team’s powers and abilities. But at the same time, they never lost sight of the characters’ human side, and they infused the series with a sense of humor and emotional depth that set it apart from other superhero comics of the era.
Over the course of their run, Lee and Kirby introduced many of the concepts and characters that would become synonymous with the Marvel Comics universe. They created the concept of the Negative Zone, a parallel universe of anti-matter that was home to many of the team’s most dangerous enemies. They introduced the Inhumans, a race of superpowered beings who would go on to become a major part of the Marvel Comics mythos. And they created Galactus, the planet-eating cosmic entity who remains one of the most iconic villains in the medium.
Perhaps most importantly, however, Lee and Kirby’s work on the Fantastic Four helped to establish the Marvel Comics universe as a rich and complex tapestry of interconnected characters and storylines. They laid the foundation for many of the crossovers and events that would become a staple of the industry, and they helped to establish the idea of a shared universe that would allow for endless storytelling possibilities.
Some of the most notable issues of their run include:
These and many other issues of the Lee and Kirby run on the Fantastic Four have become beloved classics of the medium, and they continue to be reprinted and celebrated by fans and creators alike.