Introduction to Fantastic Four
Few forms of entertainment are as iconic or as widely loved as comic books, especially superhero-themed comic books which essentially began with the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics #1 published in 1938. There are many companies that publish comic books, including historical leader DC, home to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and many other superheroes. But the company that has received the most public attention in recent decades is Marvel.
Marvel started as Timely in the late 1930s, then became Atlas in the late 1940s, before settling as Marvel in the early 1960s. At that time, Marvel's lineup of comic titles included supernatural, science fiction, western, romance, and humorous themes, but total sales lagged appreciably behind the historical leaders DC and Dell. That all changed in 1961 with the introduction of Fantastic Four #1.
Brief History of Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four was created by comics legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Lee providing the scripts, Kirby the cover and interior story art for the first 101 issues spanning over eight years. With over 600 issues and multi-movies to their credit, The Fantastic Four is an immensely popular series. Even more impressive, the success of the series inspired Marvel to create many more popular characters and titles, such as The Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, the revival of WWII hero Captain America, and dozens of others. Fantastic Four #1 was Marvel's first sustained Silver Age superhero title, and is now a highly prized collector's item, currently ranked #3 on Overstreet's Top 50 Silver Age Comics list, with high-grade copies valued in six figures! Even a reprinted version that came out in 1966 accompanied by a vinyl record consistently sells for $200-$500 in high grade.
Fantastic Four #2 introduced the Skrulls, an advanced, shape-shifting, extraterrestrial race. Issues #3 and #4 set up the superhero team with a headquarters, a vehicle known as the Fantasti-car, and introduced their now-iconic costumes. Fantastic Four #4 also re-introduced a popular Timely-era character, Namor, better known as the Sub-Mariner, who becomes a frequent antagonist of the Fantastic Four and other Marvel superheroes. The second most valuable issue in the run is Fantastic Four #5 which introduced Doctor Doom, one of comics' all-time super-villains. The first 67 issues of the series introduce one iconic character or team of characters after another - it's truly one of the great runs in the Silver Age. Some of the more key (and generally more valuable) issues are Fantastic Four #12 (first battle between the Hulk and the Thing), #45 (first appearance of the Inhumans), #48 (first appearances of Galactus and the Silver Surfer), #52 (first appearance of the Black Panther) and #66-67(Adam Warlock makes his debut).
Characters from Fantastic Four
The original team consists of Reed Richard (scientist and leader), Ben Grimm (WW II pilot and Reed's buddy), Sue Storm (Reed's fiance'), and Johnny Storm (Sue's brother). Along the way, the team has swapped out members from time to time. The Inhuman's Crystal, Power-Man, Thunda, She-Hulk, and even Doctor Doom have all been on the team but they always seem to come back to the original four.
Plot Summary of Fantastic Four #1
The sky fills with writing "The Fantastic Four". People of Central City stare in wonder. We meet the members of the Fantastic Four as they assemble to take on the first mission they had sworn to uphold. But how did they come to be?
Interlude: The four are arguing, Dr. Reed Richard wants to take the rocket he designed into space before the commies get there. After some wrangling, they sneak on to the military base. Taking off and heading into space, it turns out pilot Ben Grimm was right in worrying about cosmic rays, they didn't have enough shielding. After a brief but tortured return to earth, the foursome is relieved to walk away from the crash unscathed. Suddenly, Sue Storm quickly disappears and reappears. Then Ben falls to the ground whereupon he turns into this monstrous "thing". Angered, Ben tries to attack Reed who simply stretches out of the way and then wraps himself around Ben in order to subdue him. Johnny Storm feels himself heating up and before he knows it, burst into flame. But he's not burning. With little effort he takes flight being lighter than air. Returning to earth, the four realize they are greater than anyone on earth and must use their powers for good.
Back to our story. Reed summoned everyone to find out why atomic plants are disappearing from the earth, or more succinctly into the earth. Reed triangulates the epicenter to Monster Island! The gang hopes on a plane and after battling a couple of monsters (what else) they are in the presence of The Mole Man. And typical of megalomaniacs of the day, Mole Man explains how he came to be and his plan for world conquest. Do the Fantastic Four thwart his plans or are we now living under the thumb of the Mole Man? I'll let you figure that out.
How much is Fantastic Four #1 worth?
According to the 2019 Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide a 9.2 copy is valued at $180,000. Fantastic Four #1 is ranked 3nd on Overstreet's Top 50 Silver Age Comics.
What is the most expensive Fantastic Four #1 sold at auction?
Way back in 2011, a copy of Fantastic Four #1 in CGC 9.4 sold for $300,000.
What Fantastic Four issues are expensive?
Fantastic Four was the petri dish of new ideas for Marvel Comics. Here are some first appearances.
Fantastic Four #4 Value
You might find yourself underwater trying to pay for Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner 1st Silver Age appearance when this CGC 9.6 copy of Fantastic Four #4 that sold for $81,000 is 2019.
Fantastic Four #5 Value
The Curator CGC 9.4 copy of Fantastic Four #5, featuring the 1st appearance of Dr. Doom, sold for $65,725 in 2012.
Fantastic Four #52 Value
The Black Panther first storms onto the scene in Fantastic Four #52 and saw a CGC 9.8 copy sell for $65,725 in 2016.
Fantastic Four #48 Value
Selling in 2018, the 1st appearance of the Silver Surfer and Galactus helped propel a copy of Fantastic Four #48 to a sale price of $37,200 in CGC 9.8.
Fantastic Four #45 Value
The Inhumans made their debut in Fantastic Four #45 and a Rocky Mountain Pedigree CGC 9.8 copy sold in 2016 for the inhuman price of $36,000.
Fantastic Four #1 Cover Art
The cover art for Fantastic Four #1 is done by their co-creator Jack Kirby. This art has never surfaced.
Other valuable Fantastic Four art:
- The splash page to Fantastic Four Annual #2 by Jack Kirby and inker Chic Stone sold in 2019 for $288,000.
- Also from FF Annual #2, page 11 sold for $180,000 in the same Heritage auction.
- 2019 also saw the sale of Fantastic Four #70 cover by Jack Kirby and inker Joe Sinnott sell for $156,000.
- Kirby and Sinnott team-up to produce page 3 from Fantastic Four #55 to reach a then-record price of $155,350 in 2012.
- The unused cover to Fantastic Four #52 garnered a cool $131,450 in 2016.
- There are more examples of Kirby FF art that exceed $100,000 but we are not here to bore you.
How rare is Fantastic Four #1?
Over 1,500 copies of Fantastic Four #1 have been certified with a Universal grade so finding one shouldn't be hard. However, like most early Marvels, finding a high-grade copy may be difficult. Only seven are 9.2 or higher.
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- World record for comic artist Robert Crumb - Fritz the Cat Cover, $717,000.
- The world record for comic artist Frank Frazetta - Egyptian Queen, $5.4M
- World record for comic artist Neal Adams - Batman #251 Cover, $600,000
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