Fantastic Four Week: Monsters and Superheroes Don’t Mix

Posted: August 3, 2015 in Comic Book Breakdowns
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Welcome back true believers to Day 2 of Fantastic Four week! Today, I thought we’d look at the behind the scenes origin story for Marvel’s super hero team, the one most people usually don’t talk about or aren’t aware of. It’s a known fact that the Fantastic Four’s origin involves going into space/teleporting through the Negative Zone, being bombarded with some type of radiation, then winding up back on Earth with strange powers. But did you know that the team was actually composed of monster fighters too?

At least, that’s what Marvel wanted their distributors to think. Legend has it that in 1961, Stan Lee was tasked with creating a superhero team in a comic book that could rival that of DC’s Justice League book. Seeing as it was around the time he planned on leaving anyway, Lee was talked by his wife into crafting characters more like real life people than idyllic and all powerful super beings like DC. Thus was born the Fantastic Four!

However, according to NerdSync, the team also had to act somewhat like chameleons in their first couple of issues, hiding their superhero nature through not wearing costumes, using fancy gadgets, etc. This was namely because of two reasons. The first is that superhero comic sales were on the decline by the 1960s, and sales of the Fantastic Four comic could have dropped as a result of readers finding yet another superhero title. The second is that the distributor of the Fantastic Four comic at the time, Independent News, were owned and operated by National Periodical Publications, the parent company of DC.

Believe it or not, DC actually distributed Marvel comic books for a time. It’s interesting when you really stop and think about how, if they made one slight move or a delivery truck “accidentally” stopped delivering the comic, that DC could have actually ended their competition right then and there in the 1960s. Then again, maybe we wouldn’t have had to deal with the horror of a rubbery-armed Mr. Fantastic a few decades later.

What do you think about the true origin of the Fantastic Four? Too shocking to believe, or is it entirely plausible? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or maybe you could send me a tweet with that widget on the left. Better yet, like the Comic Books vs The World Facebook page, and subscribe to the official Youtube channel. Be sure to stick around for the rest of Fantastic Four week!

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