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Quote1 It is the first time I have found it necessary to give the signal! I pray it will be the last! Quote2
Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards)

Appearing in "The Fantastic Four!"

Featured Characters:


Other Characters:

  • Citizens of Central City
    • Unnamed Woman
    • Cab Driver (First appearance)
    • Unnamed Shopkeeper
    • Roscoe (First appearance; unnamed)
  • CCPD (First appearance)
    • Pete (First appearance)
    • Unnamed Police Chief
    • Numerous unnamed police officers
  • Mayor of Central City
  • United States National Guard
    • Five unnamed soldiers
  • James Kreig  (First appearance; unnamed)
  • French Army
    • Pierre (First appearance)
    • Numerous unnamed soldiers

Races and Species:




  • Marvel-1 (First appearance; unnamed) (Destroyed)

Synopsis for "The Fantastic Four!"

Fantastic Four Vol 1 1 0001 Title

A shadowy figure fires a flare out of a window. The flare forms the words "The Fantastic Four!"

Susan Storm is having tea with a friend. When she sees the flare, she turns invisible, gets into a cab, and offers the surprised driver a banknote when she reaches her destination.

Ben Grimm is trying to find a coat that fits him. A clerk in the haberdashery sees the flare. Grimm bursts out of the too-small door, rips a manhole out of the street, follows the sewers, and bursts out when he thinks he has reached his destination. He is struck by a taxi which is wrecked.

Johnny Storm is working on his latest hot rod in a service station. The mechanic sees the flare, which turns into the number 4. Johnny bursts into flame and flies away, destroying his car. The authorities treat him as an enemy attack, so he reluctantly melts the jets that come after him. A nuclear heat-seeking missile locks onto him, and, just as Johnny's flame starts to fade, an impossibly long pair of arms grab the missile and throw it out to sea.

Johnny's savior is the same man who fired the flare. He greets Susan, Ben, and Johnny with the words, "There is a task that awaits us ... a fearful task!" But how did these four people become so fantastic?

To beat the Communists in the Space Race, scientist Reed Richards, sister and brother Sue and Johnny Storm, and pilot Ben Grimm sneak aboard a rocket; Ben had warned the others about needing sufficient shielding for cosmic rays, but Sue challenging his courage persuaded him to fly. In space, the four are bombarded by cosmic rays. The auto-pilot lands the ship back on Earth, where they find themselves physically transformed and possessing remarkable new abilities. Sue can turn invisible. Ben has transformed into an orange, muscular "thing" with super-strength. Reed's body became highly malleable, allowing him to stretch into any shape. Johnny's body bursts into flame, and he can fly. They decide to use their abilities to become the super-team known as the Fantastic Four. They give themselves the individual names Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, Human Torch, and the Thing.

Fantastic Four Vol 1 1 Chapter 2 Title
Monster Isle from Fantastic Four Vol 1 1 001

Monster Isle

Atomic plants in the Soviet Union, Australia, and South America have been mysteriously attacked by cave-ins. Another attack occurs in Africa, where a huge monster burrows out of the ground but is recalled by a human figure. The Fantastic Four travel aboard their private jet to Monster Isle, which Reed has deduced is the same distance from each attack. There, they are attacked by a giant three-headed monster. Reed stops the monster, but a cave-in separates Reed and Johnny from Ben and Sue. Beneath the island Reed and Johnny land in the Valley of Diamonds, which temporarily blinds them. The Mole Man appears, revealing he is responsible for the attacks.

Fantastic Four Vol 1 1 Chapter 3 Title

The Mole Man explains his origin. Having been ridiculed by humanity, he went off alone in search of the legendary land at the center of the earth. Eventually, he washed ashore on Monster Isle. Making his way through a cavern, he was caught in an avalanche and rendered almost blind. However, due to his other heightened senses taking over, he mastered the subterranean creatures and built himself an underground empire.

Meanwhile, on the surface, Ben wrestles a rock monster. Ben and Sue find their teammates listening to the Mole Man's plan to invade the surface world. He sends his monster army against the Fantastic Four. Whilst Johnny distracts the biggest one, the team flees through a tunnel, which Johnny seals shut behind them. After the Fantastic Four escape in their jet, Mole Man destroys the island so the surface world cannot trouble him again.


Continuity Notes[]

  • This issue is considered the start of the Marvel Universe. It was first coined as Earth-616 in Daredevils #7, however as Marvel began incorporating super-hero stories from their predecessors Timely and Atlas Comics, the first appearance of Earth-616 has been retconned back to Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 which featured the first appearance of the Sub-Mariner.
  • The cab driver that drives Sue early on in this story is seen again in Fantastic Four #160.
  • Johnny says in Fantastic Four #400 that the four knew that they had to launch immediately, because the project would be canceled.
  • Prior to their rocket flight, Reed and Sue were pulled forward in time to the future of Earth-60166 where they met numerous versions of their future selves who were gathered by their Earth-60166 counterparts to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary as seen in Fantastic Four: The Wedding Special #1. When Reed and Sue are returned to the exact moment that they were taken from, they retained no memory of the festivities.
  • Sue admits in Fantastic Four #400 that calling Ben a "coward" was an "obvious ploy" on her part, but Ben says that he would not have disappointed Reed, his best friend.
  • Marvel uses a Sliding Timescale to slow down the advance of time in the Marvel Universe. (Galactus in Ultimates (Vol. 3) #5 specifically cites the creation of the Fantastic Four as a key event that the sliding timeline affects.) This is to prevent aging characters in real time and update dated plot concepts, generalizing real-life events or dates that are mentioned in stories. Thus all such references should be considered topical references. When Fantastic Four Vol 1 1 was published in 1961, Reed's spaceship is specifically referred to as a rocket, and his intentions for his mission is to beat the Soviet Union in the space race. Contextually, the story was published during the height of the U.S./Soviet Space Race, which saw both countries competing to see which one could develop manned space flights. Since then, many retellings of the Fantastic Four's origin have changed the details of Reed Richards' space flight, updating concepts so that they were not considered dated by more modern readers. Such as:
    • Fantastic Four #2 states that Reed was attempting to reach Mars. Other stories since then have generalized where his destination was supposed to be.
    • Fantastic Four #236, the origin of the Fantastic Four was updated, it was stated that Reed's experimental ship was intended to travel to the edge of the solar system and while it needed a rocket booster to reach escape velocity from Earth's atmosphere it relied on a Star Drive to reach its destination. This tale also goes on to expand on how the quartet was mutated.
    • Fantastic Four #358 published in 1991 states that the "Star Drive" was intended to bring them into hyperspace in order to visit other solar systems.
    • Fantastic Four #543 stated that Richards was testing faster-than-light space travel.
    • Fantastic Four (Vol. 6) #14 names the craft as Marvel-1, which Reed plans to use to visit a habitable planet he has discovered.
  • There are conflicting accounts as to where the Fantastic Four's ship crashed. First it is stated that the crash site of the Marvel-1 (Reeds' rocketship) is identified as North of Ithaca, New York in Fantastic Four #245 and Thing #10. Fantastic Four #296 states that the ship crashed in Stockton, New York. Fantastic Four (Vol. 3) #13 depicts the Fantastic Four crash landing on an island out on an unspecified ocean, while Fantastic Four (Vol. 3) #60 states that they crashed outside of Central City, California.
  • What caused the Fantastic Four to mutate and gain their powers has also been expanded upon over time. Fantastic Four Vol 1 1 simply states that it was cosmic rays that caused the mutations. Other interpretations are:
    • Fantastic Four #197 goes on to state that it was not just cosmic rays that caused the Fantastic Four to get their powers. It states that sunspot activity caused flaring through the Van Allen Belts causing an increase in neuron activity. The combination of this and the cosmic rays caused the mutations.
    • Fantastic Four #529-532 posits that the cause of the cosmic ray storm was a message being transmitted by Entity to communicate with other intelligences. Reed travels back to the dawn of the universe, and his views of himself and his teammates were ingrained on the original cosmic rays that would eventually imprint the Fantastic Four's unique abilities.
    • Fantastic Four (Vol. 6) #17-18, Reed learns that he had not miscalculated the safety of the spacecraft; Revos admits that he used the cosmic radiation around Earth to try to stop it.
  • Fantastic Four #286 establishes that the solar flare in X-Men #100-101 that seemingly transforms Jean Grey into Phoenix is the same kind of cosmic radiation that transforms the Fantastic Four. The "TAC TAC TAC" sound effect is used in all three stories.
  • Events surrounding this issue have also been expanded outside of retelling how the Fantastic Four got their powers. Fantastic Four: First Family #1 tells what happened to the Fantastic Four from the moment they crash landed and were taken into government custody to Reed Richards beginning to set up the Fantastic Four prior to their battle with the Mole Man. The rest of the series happens between Fantastic Four #2 and 3
  • The Mole Man's origins were expended in Daredevil (Vol. 3) #10 and Marvel Universe #47.
  • The monsters of Monster Isle were revealed as having been created by the Deviants as per Marvel Universe #7.
  • Although Monster Island appears to be destroyed in this story, it actually endured the blast as it was later visited by the X-Men on three occasions thereafter in X-Men First Class (Vol. 2) #23 and X-Men First Class Special #1, and X-Men: The Hidden Years #22. Marvel Universe #7 specifies that the monsters that live here were also created by the Deviants centuries earlier.

Chronology Notes[]

The origins of the Fantastic Four have been revisited many times. Each instance has added additional material or told stories in-between the events in this issue. This all affects the chronology of the following characters:

Mister Fantastic:

Invisible Girl:

Human Torch:


Publication Notes[]


  • Roscoe, Johnny's mechanic friend, was first mentioned in Fantastic Four (Vol. 6) #36.
  • Marvel and many Marvel fans have often referred to this issue as the start of "the Marvel Age of Comics".
  • In late 1961, no one in the U.S. really knew how conditions in space would affect a human being, since the first man in space was a Russian, Yuri Gagarin, in April 1961. (The first American, Alan Shepard, went into space in February 1962.) That is why it was retconned in Fantastic Four (Vol. 6) #18 that the alien known as the Overseer was the one responsible for the team gaining their powers.
  • The Fantastic Four's private jet bears the same style "4" on its fuselage as would be incorporated into their uniforms two issues later. At this point, the Fantastic Four had no official uniforms or gear that bore this logo, including the flare on page 6.
  • Reed is drawn with two left arms on page 18, panel 3.

See Also

Links and References