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“Beaulactacus: Eater Of Burgers, Drinker Of Beer.” Art by Flint Henry
by beau Smith
The original Silver Age run of The fantastic Four, was known for a lot of groundbreaking things in the new world of superhero comic books. They didn’t wear masks, or even uniforms at first. The fantastic four acted like real family and friends; they argued, they fought, and they loved each other. They, like their other contemporary, Spider-Man, were characters the readers could relate to.
The fantastic four comic book was also THE place for new characters to springboard into superstardom. In the Silver Age, marvel wasn’t yet the corporate, global powerhouse that they are today. They were combating to put out 12 books a month. Stan Lee was writing practically all of them. Stan, and co-creator, Jack Kirby had thousands of ideas and characters that they wanted to get out there, but only a limited number of books, so they did the next best thing, they used their flagship book to introduce new characters. It was a fantastic strategy that really paid off and was low risk. If the character took off, then they hoped to eventually spread them out into the growing marvel universe and, maybe one day, earn a series of their own. in some cases it worked, in others it didn’t. I’m pleased to report that they succeeded much more than they failed.
As a kid and comic book reader of the 1960’s, I was always hunting down issues of The fantastic four at various drugstores, supermarkets, and newsstands so I could see what new character Stan and Jack would spring on me next. It was always the best 12 cents that I could spend.
As a writer and a reader, I wish not only mainstream marvel Comics and DC Comics would set this practice back in action with their flagship books. I think it would give the readers a chance to test NEW, original characters and it would also save the publishers from saturating the market, making it hard for direct market sellers and readers as well.
Marvel Comics in the 60’s had to do this, marvel Comics today ought to choose to do it.
Fantastic four Omnibus Vol. 1
After going over my fantastic four Omnibus volume One and volume Two, I picked a few standout characters that were introduced within the pages of The fantastic four that not only made my day as a kid, but made comic book history. keep in mind, these characters are of my own choosing; some you may agree with and some you may feel need to be off the list in favor of others. Please feel totally free to leave a comment with your thoughts. I, along with all the other students of Beauology 101 would love to read your opinions.
Let’s not waste any much more time, here’s my list. (In no particular order)
Doctor Doom and His Words Of friendly Advice
Doctor Doom. Victor Von Doom, very villain supreme. Leader of the country Latveria. He has battled just about every major and minor hero in the marvel universe at one time or another. When I think of the ultimate, Alpha villain of the marvel Universe, I think doctor Doom. He made his first appearance at marvel within the pages of The fantastic four #5. The world hasn’t been the same since. Doom, Reed Richards, and Ben Grimm all went to college together. Can you imagine what a fraternity party that should have been? seems that Doom is still wearing the toga from that one.
Fantastic four #4-The Sub-Mariner
Namor McKenzie-The Sub-Mariner. He wears numerous hats; hero, misunderstood villain, the first mutant/Hybrid, ruler of Atlantis, CEO, Nazi fighter and on top of all that, he suffers no fools. Johnny Storm, The Human Torch found Namor wandering around as a homeless man with amnesia. Johnny helped bring back Namor’s memory, and when he did, a whole new can of sea-worms were opened. Namor has been semi-ticked off ever since. If you’ve earned Namor’s trust, then you worked hard for it. Namor was great in The fantastic four for his ability to make the relationship between Reed Richards and sue storm a real love triangle. Soap Opera sells comics.
The Watcher, Galactus, and The Silver Surfer.
The Silver Surfer-Norrin Radd. first appeared in The fantastic four #48. The Silver Surfer was the former herald of the planet eater, Galactus (also debuting in issue #48). The Surfer was also Stan’s chance to put his love for Shakespeare to use in a character. Without a doubt, The Silver Surfer defined the word angst long before the teen soap operas of today.
Galactus. As discussed above, Galactus made his first appearance in the marvel universe in issue #48. He was big, bad, and ready to burp your world up. The earth was nothing but another item on his intergalactic buffet. Galactus did find out the hard way that earth wasn’t going to go down without a little heartburn. Bring a big purple pill with you next time, tall boy.
The Watcher-Uatu. Big, bald, toga wearing (If you wear a toga in comics, you are not only fashion challenged, but you are a major man as well) extraterrestrial with a secret heart of gold for Earth. This man was always broken between what he should do and what he wanted to do. The fantastic four and The Silver Surfer always seemed to tilt the big man their way and make for a pleased ending. like doctor Doom, The Watcher ended up meeting practically everyone in the marvel universe at one point or another.
Fantastic four #45-The Inhumans.
The Inhumans. This diverse group of hidden people first made their way into the marvel universe in issue # 45 of The fantastic Four. The royal family of Inhumans sure had Jack Kirby’s fingerprints all over them. Their extreme diversity no doubt came from a Jack Kirby daydream. Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak, Gorgon, Triton, Crystal, and the much loved Lockjaw made up this core group that made their impact on the pages of The fantastic four known, feared, and respected.
Fantastic four #52-Black Panther
The Black Panther. (T’Challa) ruler of the country Wakanda. Made his first appearance in fantastic four #52. As a kid, The Black Panther always amazed me with his very cool composure and fearless style of fighting. I was very stoked once he showed up regularly in The Avengers. I feel we, as readers, really got to know him there. This man is a real warrior.
The Yancy street Gang
The Yancy street Gang. first showed up…kinda…in The fantastic four #15. I loved these guys. They were primarily shown off panel and they could really get under The Thing’s rock hard skin. You just loved that about them. They also were the first to back Ben Grimm when real trouble came. They were of the mindset that nobody picks on their thing but them! In much more recent years, The Yancy street Gang was exposed much more than they should’ve been in storylines. It was my opinion that they were created perfectly and ought to have always been in the shadows and faceless from the readers. They top my personal list of favorite characters introduced in The fantastic Four.
Honorable Mention: Wyatt Wingfoot. first showed up in fantastic four #50 as Johnny Storms’ college best friend and star athlete. Wyatt was always a favorite of mine because he had no very powers, yet he could hang with the fantastic Four, and later She-Hulk, and hold his own. It was a dream of mine as a kid to one day write a few Wyatt Wingfoot stories. I still may have that chance. I’m not scared to pester a publisher.
That’s my list and as I said earlier, I’d love to hear yours. post up here and let us all know if I left anybody else off the list or if anybody ought to be taken off. Be nice; I’m sensitive and fragile.
The flying Fist Ranch