An epoch in comic book history

Every time I see this image, I remember the awe I felt gazing at the cover of Fantastic Four #39 at age 12, only partly because it was finding old friends after too long a wait. We had moved to a town with no comic books, and it had been 15 months between the story of the Infant Terrible (#24) and rediscovering the F.F.

And here they were, powerless, uncertain, and with Doctor Doom looming over them in the background as Daredevil went first, the only blurb on the cover a title: “A Blind Man Shall Lead Them.”

We rejoined the story just as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were starting a most amazing and creative year on Fantastic Four. From this iconic start through issue #52, a baker’s dozen of stories brought us a definitive comeback victory over their greatest foe, Dr. Doom; a three-part series where beloved Benjamin Grimm left the group and turned on his friends; a magical introduction to a race of Inhumans; the coming of Galactus and the Silver Surfer; a heartbreaking classic one-act story, “This Man, This Monster”; and finally the introduction of Black Panther. What a run!

I have become an old man in his old easy chair, not yelling “You kids get off my lawn” but rather “Why can’t anybody make a decent movie out of the world’s greatest comics magazine?!” Sam Raini trusted his source material and Spider-Man changed the movie industry. (OK, X-Men went first, but OMG that first Spider-Man movie …)

The director who mines these 13 issues of Fantastic Four — like the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies did — and is true to the spirit of the characters — like the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies are — could finally create the Fantastic Four movie that longtime Marvelites like me have been waiting for.

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