The Fantastic Four — Marvel's original superteam and First Family — made their long-awaited return to the pages of their own comic book series earlier this month, after years in which the team was divided and off on their own separate adventures. While the return of the Four is still so fresh that we can't really be sure what form it'll end up taking as a story, the occasion was so momentous that it got us thinking about the great Fantastic Four stories of the past.
There are a lot of those, to be sure. The team's been around since 1961, when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby launched their comic and, with it, the Marvel Universe, building a world full of heroes, villains, and other oddities over the course of more than 100 issues. In the decades since, the Fantastic Four have attracted some of comics' greatest talents to their stories, and the history of the FF is often the history of the best Marvel Comics has to offer.
With that in mind, if you're new to the Fantastic Four and feel a bit daunted by their long history, it can be a little hard to know where to start. Do you just read the entire Lee/Kirby run (yes, you should absolutely do that if and when you feel up to the task) and move on from there? Do you start with a modern creator whose name you recognize, like Jonathan Hickman? Do you dig back into the recent past with Walt Simonson's run? Do you just pick a random story?
Well, we're here to help clear up a little of that confusion with the latest installment in our 7 Essentials video series, focusing on seven stories that helped define Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Human Torch, and the Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing as a team over the course of their nearly six-decade history. These are by no means the only essential Fantastic Four stories out there, but they are our picks for the most vital, and they'll likely give you a little inspiration for further reading.
Check out our picks and let us know your favorite Fantastic Four stories in the comments.