Marvel Masterworks – The Fantastic Four – Volume 6

Pros: Amazing all around. Dr. Doom vs. FF and Thing vs. Silver Surfer

Cons: Minor pacing issues

Thing wanders the streets of NYC in a state of depression  because of his grotesque appearance. Either due to instinct or some unseen force, he’s drawn to a mystery man whom wants to kill Reed Richards for personal reasons. He tricks the Thing then proceed to carry out his plan. -summary

After the Coming of Galactus story line that took place in Fantastic Four issues 48 – 50 which featured the first appearances and conflict with The Silver Surfer and Galactus. The Fantastic Four title began to really get good. The stories were interesting and fun before that point to be fair, but by this time they were moving with a full head of steam and it’s no wonder Marvel’s First Family was indeed the best team book out there. This batch of stories continues with the greatness and manages to provide reasons on why Dr. Doom was Marvel’s premier villain and why the cosmic powered charged Silver Surfer deserved his own title in which he eventually earned. This TPB collects The Fantastic Four issues 51 – 60 & Annual #4.

This group of stories contains plenty of content worth going crazy about, and is easily the best Fantastic Four trade at this point. First the reader will be treated to a pretty exciting story where a man jealous of Reed Richards soon learns what kind of man Reed really is, and the flow of the story along with its unexpected ending should be one of the high points of Stan Lee’s writing career. When I first read it more than 25 years ago it didn’t mean much to me, but now I can appreciate it as a brilliant work of art. Later on the Black Panther makes his first impressive appearance and the super villain master of sound known as Klaw, will be introduced later in a really good battle against the FF. Afterwards due to a huge act of jealousy, Thing battles the Silver Surfer in one of Marvel’s greatest battles of all time.  Then the FF are forced to battle a supremely powerful Dr. Doom, as he returns deadlier than ever.

These stories are not only awesome because they’re so action packed, but also due to Stan Lee’s character development. He makes these first appearances something to remember. In regards to older characters, despite his stubborn attitude that can make someone want to punch him. The Thing is someone a reader can’t help to feel sorry for because it seems all too obvious he will never be human again, which provides a real good reason behind his inferiority complex; but once this book makes it to issue 57 which takes up the remaining issues with a conflict against Dr. Doom, he simply steals the show and proves to be evil incarnate. The Silver Surfer also delivers a nice, showcase of power capable of making mere mortals tremble.

The only flaws these stories may have comes with the frequent appearances of the Inhumans, whom are trapped in some form of dome. Even if I considered myself a fan of the Inhumans, I think Lee milked their dilemma for far too long.  It gave off the illusion there was progress but it really felt like it was dragging feet, and this thing could have been wrapped up issues earlier. At times it hurt the pacing and it did distract from the climax.

Jack Kirby was also carrying out writing duties for Thor in Journey Into Mystery and his art was really good there, yet these stories are written around the same time and his work feels more complete. The sci-fi element has some nice moments as Reed Richards attempts to visit sub space. Plus the imagination in the action panels are something else. The issues featuring Klaw would have someone believe he was at least capable of being a  B-list villain; plus the battles with Black Panther, later on Dr. Doom, and even Human Torch vs. The Original Human Torch are simply amazing. The Torch battle features the two engulfed in flames in the backgrounds. It just looks great.

It’s really hard for me to even think about lowering this book’s rating even due to the minor pacing problems, because every issue is very good overall. The action, artwork, dialog, and overall heart put into it is hard to ignore. I definitely recommend this TPB to comic fans for its excitement, and also due to how newbie friendly it is.

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