My pal Dennis De Pues dropped in last week and was hunting down some old Fantastic Four issues. I had to listen to him talk about how great the title was in the 60s, I might have yawned once or twice. Somehow though he did get his message across to me because here I am writing this post.
I’ve been caught countless times on these posts claiming that the Amazing Spider-Man is the most collected run in the hobby and I still think that is true. For this post I’ll limit the term “run” to the Silver Age as it is the best time bucket for comparison sake, X-Men #1-66 fits nicely in here as does Tales of Suspense #39-99, Tales to Astonish #27-101 and Strange Tales #101-168. For Spider-Man this era is probably best encompassed in the #1-74 run (the 12 cent issues) though most collectors will say they go to #100 or #129, again though for this post we’ll compare apples to apples and stop at #74.
It makes sense that Amazing Spider-Man is collected the most, there are plenty of key issues, so many that after you’ve collected the two dozen or so keys have a nice portion of the run already built. Spider-Man is peppered with 1st appearances of villains, girlfriends, heroes and a whole assortment of characters that have caught on and are now pop-culture fixtures. On top of all that Spider-Man is a mega property, triple A list hero with legions of fans.
Which brings me to the enigma that is the Fantastic Four run. The Silver Age Fantastic Four run, #1-88, defies all logic, it is one of the most fruitful seven years runs in comic history and the number of key issues and mega key issues it holds within its run dwarfs even the much-lauded Amazing Spider-Man run.
Oh my god, you get Fantastic Four #1, the book that started the revolution, #2 the Skrulls and the birth of Cosmic Marvel, #4 the return of Sub-Mariner that allowed Captain America to follow shortly after, #5 and the mighty Doctor Doom, who’s nicely poised to reclaim his spot among the top villains in the MCU, #6, #12 with the cross over format that ended but being such a big reason for Marvel’s future success, #13 gave us the Watcher, #21, 27 and 28 gave us more 1st cross overs, #25 gave us the start of everyone’s favourite bromance, #36 key and then came that streak of winners like no other, #45-47 with the Inhumans, #48-50 Galactus and Silver Surfer, #51 storytelling at its finest, #52, 53 Black Panther, #66, 67 Him/Warlock. I’ve left out a bunch of good books but I’ve mentioned enough for you to get the picture, the Fantastic Four title was a titan, an absolute beast and well deserving of its “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” tag.
The problem is that collectors pick away at the FF’s keys and generally opt not to collect the whole run, I mean you have more people collecting the X-Men from this era, I can always sell an Amazing Spider-Man #56 and an X-Men #48 but I always have a hard time moving a Fantastic Four #68.
Funny how the FF run, the heavyweight of all Silver Age run suffers this way, the fact that it outweighs the rest by so much and yet its non-keys go relatively unwanted must be frustrating to its true believers.
Is there anything that can ignite the Fantastic Four non-key issues? Will a new movie make this team the A-listers they once were?