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
Fantastic Four #61 to #93, Annual #5 to #7
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #94-104, Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure (2008) #1
The final issues of the classic Stan and Jack era!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #105-116
Stan’s around for a bit longer and there’s even one last Kirby story but say hello to new talent such as Archie Goodwin and John Buscema!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #117-128
More Archie and Big John plus Stan’s final arc!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #129-141
Sue’s out! Medusa’s in! Johnny’s new red costume! Quicksilver! Thundra! Featuring the talents of Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, John Buscema, Ross Andru and Ramona Fradon!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #142-150, Giant-Size Fantastic Four (1974) #2, Avengers (1963) #127, Material from Giant-Size Super-Stars (1974) #1
The F4 temporarily break up before Reed and Sue finally get back together! Plus Crystal and Quicksilver’s wedding crossover with the Avengers crashed by Ultron!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #151-163, Giant-Size Fantastic Four (1974) #3-4, Material from Marvel Treasury Edition (1974) #2
More wacky Bronze Age adventures courtesy of Conway, Roy Thomas, Len Wein and Rich Buckler- featuring a brief return of Stan (sort of). Also the first appearance of Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #164-175, Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #11, Marvel Two-In-One (1974) #20, Marvel Two-In-One Annual (1976) #1, Material from Marvel Treasury Edition (1974) #11
It’s the Roy and George Perez show featuring Rich Buckler and Big John! The return of King Kirby on covers! Luke Cage replaces The Thing because… reasons! Plus Galactus versus the High Evolutionary!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #176-191
The Roy and George era concludes, giving way to a brief “It takes a village” period before landing on George and Len Wein and another near break-up of the F4! Also featuring the second half of 70s Kirby covers!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #192-203, Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #12-13
Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard become the new regular team as Perez becomes the cover artist. The F4 reunite (again)… and just in time for their 200th issue celebration!
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.
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #204-218, Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #14
John Byrne comes on board as regular artist with stories written by Wolfman and Bill Mantlo!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #219-231, Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #15
The acclaimed Moon Knight team of Doug Moench and Bill Seinkiewicz take the F4 into the 1980s! Plus more early John Byrne on the 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.
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #308-320, Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #21, Incredible Hulk (1968) #350, Marvel Graphic Novel: Hulk/Thing – The Big Change (1987)
Steve Englehart and returning Keith Pollard are the regular creators and transform the F4 figuartively and litreally in mid-80s tales seeing a trek through the center of the Earth, the Beyonders, Cat People and a Grey “Joe Fixit” Hulk versus “Rocks to 11” Thing two-parter! Plus, horror master Bernie Wrightson!
Collects: Avengers (1963) #298-300, Fantastic Four (1961) #322-324, Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #311-313, Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #146-148, Web Of Spider-Man (1985) #47-48, Daredevil (1964) #262-263 & 265
Semi-retired family downtime in the suburbs isn’t in the cards for Reed and Sue as supernatural shenanigans has them join the Avengers for a hot second. Meanwhile, Ben and his F4 gang face villains like Graviton and Kang and stage a rescue for Mantis!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #334-341
Coming out of the Acts of Vengeance event, Walt Simonson steps in as regular writer/artist (so, of course, Thor guest-stars- so, cool…). Also guest-starring Iron Man and more of that confusing Kross-Time Kang/ Nebula story from the Avengers. But also tremendous fun…
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #342-346
More fun and adventure up and down the timestream and into the multiverse!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #347-361, Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #24, Material from Marvel Holiday Special (1991) #1
Walt Simonson finishes his run collaborating with Art Adams while the incoming team of Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan begin their tenure- starting with turning everything you thought you knew about Johnny Storm and Alicia Masters’ marriage upside down (pssst… it’s Skrulls)!
III) Heroes Return: The Waid & Wieringo Fantastic Four
Collects: Namor: The Sub-Mariner (1990) #60-62, Fantastic Four: Atlantis Rising (1995) #1-2, Fantastic Force (1994) #8-9, Fantastic Four (1961) #401-402, Fantastic Four Unlimited (1993) #11
Mid-90s crossover featuring Namor, the Inhumans and that time Scott Lang was part of the 4!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1961) #403-416, Fantastic Four: The Legend (1996) #1, Onslaught: Marvel Universe (1996) #1, Material from Tales of the Marvel Universe (1997) #1
The return of Reed… just in time for Onslaught!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1996) #1-12
The 4 survive Onslaught and relive their lives in a bubble universe reboot by Image-era Jim Lee and company!
Collects: Fantastic Four (1998) #1-15 & 1/2, Fantastic Four 1998 Annual , Iron Man (1998) #14
The 4 return to mainstream reality and try to go back to business as usual- except it’s not that easy. Featuring stories by X-alumni Scott Lobdell, Alan Davis, Chris Claremont and Salvador Larocca!
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.
Collects: Uncanny Avengers (2015B) #1-6, Material from Avengers (2015) #0
In addition to hooking up with Medusa, the Human Torch also joins Old Man Steve Rogers’ Avengers Unity Squad alongside Rogue (whom he also had a relationship with at some point??)
Collects: Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #6-10
The Thing and the Guardians stage a breakout on a Badoon prison planet!
Collects: Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill (2016) #1, Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha (2016) #1, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2016) #3-4, Uncanny Avengers (2015B) #7-8, All-New, All-Different Avengers (2015) #7-8, New Avengers (2015) #8-10, Captain America: Sam Wilson (2015) #7-8, Illuminati (2015) #6, Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2015) #6, Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega (2016) #1
The Torch and the Unity Squad get caught up in S.H.I.E.L.D. prison town gone wrong!
Collects: Uncanny Inhumans (2015) #5-10
When Johnny and Medusa’s relationship goes public, Crystal is not happy!
Collects: Uncanny Avengers (2015B) #7-12
The Torch and the Unity Squad encounter the Hank Pym/ Ultron hybrid! (Also contains Standoff tie-in issues)
Collects: Uncanny Avengers (2015B) #13-17
Johnny and the Unity Squad get involved in the escalating events of Civil War II before (Hydra)Cap officially dissolves the team! Meanwhile, Ben and the Guardians return to Earth to talk sense to Captain Marvel before it’s too late! Johnny and the Unity Squad are on the run and trying to clear their names!
Collects: Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #11-14, Material from Free Comic Book Day 2016 (Civil War II) #1
A closer look at Ben and the Guardians during the hero versus hero turmoil!
Collects: Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #15-19
When Civil War II leaves the Guardians stranded on Earth, the Thing becomes Ben Grimm, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
X) Marvel Legacy Fantastic Four
Collects: Infamous Iron Man (2016) #1-6
Inspired by Tony Stark, Victor von Doom attempts “heroism” as a very different type of Iron Man. Investigating him is Agent Ben Grimm…
Collects: Uncanny Avengers (2015B) #18-23
Johnny and the Unity Squad are still on HydraCap’s disavowed list when the long-standing plotline of the Red Skull possessing deceased Professor X’s brain finally comes to a close!
Collects: Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) #1-6, Material from Free Comic Book Day 2017 (Secret Empire) #1
Johnny finds his way into BFF Spidey’s title as series regular by Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert!
Collects: Infamous Iron Man (2016) #7-12
Victor encounters The Maker- the evil Reed Richards of the Ultimate Universe while Ben and Johnny have an awkward reunion…
Collects: Secret Empire: United (2017) #1, Secret Empire: Underground (2017) #1, Secret Empire: Uprising (2017) #1, Uncanny Avengers (2015B) #24-25, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy Annual (2017) #1
Tie-ins featuring more of Johnny and the Unity Squad in NY during Secret Empire! Johnny and the Unity Squad fight the good fight as Manhattan is plunged into the pitch black Darkforce Dimension while Ben becomes a fixture in the Underground’s fight against Hydra! Also featuring a new twist on the old Hulk versus Thing fights!
Collects: Uncanny Avengers (2015B) #26-30
Reinstated after Secret Empire, the Unity Squad tie up some loose ends!
Collects: Marvel Legacy (2017) #1, Marvel Legacy Primer pages, FOOM Magazine (2017)
The Thing hopefully sends out the Fantasti-flare as Valeria Richards narrates the whole special from somewhere out deep in the multiverse. The first glimpses that the family may be returning soon…
Collects: Marvel 2-In-One (2017) #1-6
Ben, Johnny and Doom as the Infamous Iron Man go venturing into the Multiverse looking for the Richards family!
Collects: Marvel 2-In-One (2017) #7-12, Marvel 2-In-One Annual (2018) #1
Part 2 of the multiversal search and the fateful reunion!
Collects: Avengers (2016) #675-690
Johnny has one last Avengers adventure!
Collects: Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) #297-300
Johnny continues to guest-star on through to the 300th issue special!
Collects: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2015) #25-30
Ben and Johnny team up with Yancy Street’s smartest new sensation, Lunella Lafayette!
Marvel Fresh Start: Return of the Four
Collects: Fantastic Four (2018) #1-4
Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli relaunch Marvel’s First Family!
Collects: Fantastic Four (2018) #5, Fantastic Four Wedding Special (2018) #1, Fantastic Four (1961) #8
Ben and Alicia Masters finally get married!
Collects: Fantastic Four (2018) #6-9
Doom tries to merge Galactus into a mountain and steal his resources for Latveria! Like 10 seconds after the Thing’s wedding!
Collects: War Of The Realms (2019) #1-6, War Of The Realms: Omega (2019) #1
The 4 help defend Manhattan from Malekith’s invading forces during Marvel’s 2019 event, War of the Realms!