Throughout the 2000’s the Fantastic Four have remained the rare Marvel property that isn’t properly beloved. Terrible movies will do that. I’m here to rectify that wrong with all the awesome Fantastic Four comics you’ll ever need.
I) Fantastic Four Launch the Marvel Universe – Lee & Kirby in the 60’s
Fantastic Four #1-30, Annual #1
The comic that started Marvel as we know it. Gotta read your Lee & Kirby if you ever want to call yourself a True Believer!
Fantastic Four #31-60, Annual #2-4
II) John Byrne Restores the Fantastic Four to Glory
Issues: Marvel Team-Up #61-62; Marvel Two-In-One #50; Fantastic Four #215-218, #220-221, #232-262 And Annual #17; Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #42; Avengers #233; Thing #2; And Alpha Flight (1983) #4
The collected issues referenced here are the ones you’ll find included in the Marvel Omnibus edition. You can certainly dig for these in Marvel Unlimited, but I’d just as soon keep to those within the Fantastic Four title.
Issues: Fantastic Four (1961) #261-295, Fantastic Four Annual #18-19, Alpha Flight (1983) #4, Thing (1983) #10 And #19, Avengers Annual #14, And Material From Secret Wars Ii #2, Epic Illustrated #26-34, What If? (1977) #36, What The -?! #2 And #10, Thing (1983) #7, Fantastic Four Roast, Fantastic Four Special Edition
Fantastic Four Vs. The X-Men #1-4
Limited 1987 series from Chris Claremont. In the wake of the X-Men’s mutant massacre.
III) Heroes Return: The Waid & Wieringo Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four #40 – 45
As you’ll note, you could start all the way back with Fantastic Four #1 as part of Heroes Return. Personally, I don’t find this period of Marvel Comics very worthwhile, but completists will want to jump all the way back. Otherwise, I’d kick off with this intriguing Jeph Loeb run as a lead-in to Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s truly excellent arc.
Fantastic Four #46 – #50, + Fantastic Four Annual (2001)
Collects Inhumans #1-4 And Fantastic Four #51-54
This is a weird trade collection, and although I own it, it’s not one I highly recommend. Nonetheless there are some major Inhuman developments here. I won’t be doing a full Inhumans reading order within the FF, but I will note that you’ll want to read Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee’s Inhumans miniseries before these four Inhumans issues.
Collects Fantastic Four #60 – #67
If you’re looking for the best modern starting place for Fantastic Four, look no further. Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo put together one of my favorite Fantastic Four runs ever, and it’s a highlight of early 2000’s Marvel. Note that the series adopts its original numbering after issue #70 for the all important issue #500.
Collecting Fantastic Four (1998) #67-70, Fantastic Four (1961) #500-502 And Material From The #500 Director’S Cut
Collecting Fantastic Four (1961) #503-513
Collecting Fantastic Four (1961) #514-524
Collects Son Of A Genius, Everybody Loves Franklin, Super Summer Spectacular, Happy Franksgiving, March Madness, World Be Warned, Monster Mash, Fall Football Fiasco!
I’m adding in here one of Marvel’s finest all ages creations, a series of Franklin Richards one-shots. Not necessary for continuity, but a lot of fun, and again, very well suited for all ages.
IV) Marvel Knights Fantastic Four
#1 – #4
If after all the fun, laughs, and joy of the previous Fantastic Four stories you find yourself wanting to see Marvel’s first family dragged through hell, well, here’s Grant Morrison & Jae Lee with 1234! This is an out of continuity miniseries under the Marvel Knights imprint, meaning it’s much darker and edgier than the reading thus far. It’s also some of Morrison at his madcap best, devising insidious torture for the Fantastic Four.
The Thing: Freakshow #1 – #4, Thing & She-Hulk: Long Night #1
A Thing miniseries written by future DC scribe, Geoff Johns.
Startling Stories: Fantastic Four – Unstable Molecules #1 – #4
Startling Stories: Thing – Night Falls On Yan #1 – #4
Human Torch #1 – #12
Solo, out of continuity Human Torch action. 2003 version of Skottie Young!
Collects Fantastic Four: Foes #1-6
Robert Kirkman gets into the heads of the Fantastic Four’s villains.
Marvel Knights 4 – #1 – #7 (Feb 2004 – July 2004)
Marvel Knights 4 – #8 – #12
Collects Marvel Knights 4 #13-18
Marvel Knights 4 #19-24
Collects Marvel Knights 4 #25-30
Fantastic Four: House Of M #1 – #3
I’d rate House of M: Fantastic Four as one of the best House of M tie-ins out there.
Tales Of The Thing #1 – #3
Collects Fantastic Four: Books Of Doom #1-6
A personal favorite detailing the rise of Victor Von Doom. From Ed Brubaker, writer of Captain America: Winter Soldier and Joker: The Man Who Laughs (or Criminal, Velvet, Fatale… he writes a lot of good comics).
The Thing #1 – #8
Really underrated solo Thing series (the Thing was HUGE in 2005!) from current Spidey scribe, Dan Slott.
V) Civil War Hits The Four
Fantastic Four #525 – #535 (April 2005 – Feb 2006)
I’m of the opinion that you can basically jump past this portion of the Fantastic Four to the Civil War tie-ins, but do you!
Collects Fantastic Four: First Family #1-6
Look back at the very first moments of the Fantastic Four’s superpowered transformation.
Collects Fantastic Four #538-543
Naturally, if you want to see how these issues fit in with the rest of the event, you can check out the Civil War reading order guide.
Collects Fantastic Four: The End #1-6
Out of continuity look at the final Fantastic Four story!
Collects Fantastic Four And Power Pack #1-4
Inessential but fun all ages Fantastic Four and Power Pack team-up.
Collects Fantastic Four #544-550
Dwayne McDuffie takes over Fantastic Four duties following the team shake up of Civil War. Lots more Black Panther and Storm in these issues, which are quietly very solid.
Collects Fantastic Four #525-526, 551-553
Collected edition includes earlier McDuffie work on issues #525 and #526, but obviously you can just keep on rolling with Fantastic Four #551
Collects Fantastic Four #554-561 (Feb 2008 – Nov 2008)
Strangely, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch – the duo behind the Ultimates – didn’t do much to launch the Fantastic Four to new heights. Don’t worry, we’re nearly in Hickman range.
Collects Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #1-3, And Fantastic Four #300 And #357
And of course, check out here for the rest of the Secret Invasion reading order.
Fantastic Four True Story #1 – #4
Collects Fantastic Four #562-569 (Ends July 2009)
VI) The Jonathan Hickman Fantastic Four Era
Collects Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1-5
Sub-Mariner: The Depths #1-5
Darn right I’m throwing in an awesome Marvel Knights Sub-Mariner book.
Collects Dr. Doom & The Masters Of Evil #1-4
Collects Fantastic Four #570-575 (Aug 2009 – Jan 2010)
Fantastic Four #575-578
Fantastic Four #579-582 (Ends Aug 2010)
Collecting Fantastic Four #583-588 (Sept 2010 – Feb 2011)
Doomwar #1 – #6
This mini event is not a part of the Hickman saga, so buyer beware.
Ff #1 – #5
The series reloads to just “FF” after the “Three” story arc. Issues #1 through #11 of FF will count as Fantastic Four #589 through #599. Don’t freak out when those are “missing” in Marvel Unlimited!
You can also read the Fear Itself: FF one-shot here.
Fantastic Four 600-604
Fantastic Four 605.1, 605-611 (Ends Oct 2012)
VII) Marvel NOW Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four 1-3, Ff 1-3
I highly enjoyed Matt Fraction and Mike Allred’s work on FF, and I actually think the Fraction and Bagley Fantastic Four is semi underrated. I’m not saying it’s the best work on the team, but semi kinda underrated.
Collecting: Fantastic Four 4-8, 5Au
Collecting: Fantastic Four 9-16
Ff #4 – #8
Collecting: Ff 9-13
VIII) The End of Fantastic Four
Collecting: Fantastic Four 1-5
Collecting: Fantastic Four 6-10
Hard to describe how much I dislike these Original Sin tie-ins. Ugh.
Collecting: Fantastic Four 11, Annual 1, 12-14
Collecting: Fantastic Four 642-645
Secret Wars is effectively a Fantastic Four event, and marks the end of Hickman’s story arc on the Fantastic Four. Highly recommended for fans of the run.
IX) All-New All-Different Fantastic Four
Members of the Fantastic Four make appearances in the following comics following Secret Wars.
Uncanny Inhumans Vol. 1: Time Crush (Uncanny Inhumans #0 to #4)
The Human Torch becomes an ongoing regular with long-time Fantastic Four collaborators, the Inhumans.
Guardians of the Galaxy: New Guard Vol. 1: Emperor Quill (GoTG #1 to #5)
Less expectedly, the Thing shoots back in to space, as Benjamin J. Grimm becomes the latest Earthling to join the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Ultimates: Omniversal Vol. 1: Start With the Impossible (Ultimates #1 to #5)
Although it’s my favorite Marvel Comic of 2016, Ultimates doesn’t have a particularly direct FF connection for most of its run. Nonetheless, it’s where we get the clearest glimpse into what the Richards family is doing after Secret Wars.