This is one for any collector who cant afford or is not able to find a first edition fantastic four comic now reporinted it is available for a much lower price on Amazon in the USA and worth every penny.
I won’t bore you with how the Fantastic Four comic was perceived as being different from the contemporaneous fare offered by other comic books, or how the characters acted with the pretense of adult sensibilities, or how the creators eschewed the usual superhero tropes like secret identities, or how they shunned the usual collegial admiration between the good guys and added conflict and bickering or how they rejected setting the stories in amalgam’s of New York City and the like and simply had the action take place in a more “real-world” setting. You’ve probably read about that before.
Further, I did not read these stories when first published, so I cannot speak firsthand of how revolutionary these stories felt to the comic book readers of the early 1960’s. As (mostly) a child of the 70s, the revolution was well underway by the time I found these stories in reprint form. However, what I will tell you is that I have read most of these stories as a child, a teen, an adult and now a middle-aged old fart and I have found them infinitely readable, more so as a kid, a little less so as a teen and, now, as an adult, with great admiration. Certainly, these days, I must admit that nostalgia probably plays a role in that, so take my admiration for these stories with a grain of salt, but, I believe these stories offer something to the modern reader that I often find lacking in Marvel’s more recent fare, and that something is fun and gobs of it.
Many of the earliest stories read like the giant-monster epics and the drive-in-movie-like science fiction fantasies that regularly appeared in Lee’s comics in the late-1950’s and early 1960’s, but with the superhero element added to the mix. The pages of these episodic stories pop with colorful action and the self-contained stories often have the tenor and pace of modern-day action movies.
However, with issues four and five, things begin to change. In issue four, Lee and Kirby began mining Marvel’s Golden Age characters (something they would continue to do from this point forward) by reintroducing Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Issue five introduces Doctor Doom, perhaps the duo’s most iconic villain. The stories remain episodic, but they start to feel more connected as what happens in one issue begins to affect what happens in the following issues (again, this was something new at the time, but something modern-day readers take for granted). Then as Lee and Kirby get a better understanding of the characters and their own styles, you get to watch as the stories become not only more creative, but complicated and the “adult sensibilities” of the early issues start to develop into the patented Marvel soap operas that made readers want to keep up with the ever growing cast of characters that Lee & Kirby were inventing.
However, let me make one thing clear, while these stories are the beginning of the Marvel Age, neither Stan Lee nor Jack Kirby have yet to become “the Man” and “the King” of superhero comic books, but they are in the process of doing so. These stories have more than their share of goofiness and early Cold War Era propaganda (“We’ve got to beat the Reds into space/to the moon.”) that one can’t help but smile at as naive and quaint and let there be no doubt that the best is yet to come. Also, as creative as the stories were and as good as the artwork was, there remains a crudeness to them that had yet to be worked out. Regarding the art in particular, save for one early issue, Kirby had yet to be paired with the one inker , Joe Sinnott, who was, without doubt, the best polisher of Kirby’s dynamic but often rough pencils. Instead we get a series of inkers, pros all, whose quality of work varied, sometimes from story to story ( deadline pressures certainly played their part in this).
As for the Omnibus itself, it is a weighty tome, indeed, and it is a pleasure to have all these stories, 800-plus pages (including the original letters pages, which are a kick to read, and a few essays reprinted from other reprint editions), in one volume. The paper and the printing are excellent and the coloring is bright, clear and not too modern as to be inappropriate for the era these stories were originally published so it really makes the artwork shine (I know some people prefer their Silver Age comics to look rough and that they pine for the ben day dots and the smell and feel of old paper and I respect that, but that, to my mind, is not what the Omnibus editions are for). Enjoy.