The 'Fantastic Four' '94 Reading Guide
All the comics you'll want to read after bingeing the 1994 'Fantastic Four' cartoon on Disney+!
After about a decade-long dry spell, Marvel fans found themselves practically inundated with cartoons based on favorite comics in the '90s. X-Men and Spider-Man blazed the trail which helped set up The Marvel Action Hour, a combination of Iron Man and Fantastic Four with Stan Lee hosting!
While the first season of Iron Man went forward with mostly original stories, the Fantastic Four crew looked to the source material for inspiration. Though the team had its small screen debut in a self-titled animated series that ran from 1967-1968, followed by The New Fantastic Four in 1978, this one offered some of the most action-packed and faithful adaptations of comic masters like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Byrne and John Buscema.
In a nod to the cartoonists' dedication to bringing those classic stories to life, we've compiled a list of all the comics you may want to read after going through all 26 episodes of the show!
The Origin of the Fantastic Four, Parts 1-2
When the team debuted in 1961's FANTASTIC FOUR #1, they each ran around New York City showing off their powers as their origins came to light! Most of us know it by heart by now, but that was the first time we saw Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Ben Grimm, and Johnny Storm go into space, get exposed to Cosmic Rays and return to Earth soon to be known as Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Girl, The Thing and The Human Torch!
Instead of taking on Mole Man and Monstro as in the comic, the two-part, series premiere pits them against the Puppet Master in a story taking cues from FANTASTIC FOUR #8. One other difference? The FF didn't actually get their famous costumes in the comics until the third issue!
Now Comes The Sub-Mariner
Stan and Jack dusted off a Golden Age classic in FANTASTIC FOUR #4 when they reintroduced the world to Namor, The Sub-Mariner! As the sequential story moves along, a young Johnny Storm found a homeless man on the streets with incredible strength. After a fire-shave, the hot head found himself face to face with the king of Atlantis. Enraged at the surface world, Namor called upon the gigantic Monstro to attack the Big Apple, but the FF stopped him!
Incursion of the Skrull
The most famous shape-shifting aliens in all the cosmos debuted in FANTASTIC FOUR #2 when a group of Skrulls besmirched the good names of the team by posing as them and committing crimes! Eventually the team figured out the ploy and managed to trick the Skrull overlords into believing the planet was overrun with giant monsters and therefore not worth the effort of invasion!
The Silver Surfer and the Coming Of Galactus, Part 1-2
Thanks to some help from The Watcher in attaining the Ultimate Nullifier, and an eventual change of heart from the Sentinel of the Spaceways, the FF managed to save their planet from becoming Galactus' latest meal! The two-part TV episode used the same basic idea, but also added in Terrax and Firelord as Heralds of Galactus serving alongside the Surfer!
Enemies who can change their form are difficult enough to defeat. In FANTASTIC FOUR #18, the Skrulls upped their game by creating the Super Skrull, a soldier with all of the FF's powers in one! In both the cartoon and the comics, the aliens did this to get revenge on the Earthers who thwarted their earlier invasion attempt.
The Mask of Doom, Parts 1-3
The Fantastic Four's most nefarious and famous villain, Doctor Doom, made his first appearance in the team's fifth issue! The makers of the cartoon waited until their eighth installment, but celebrated in style with a three-parter!
On the page, Doom reintroduced himself to Richards and his new crew by stealing their home and bringing it to Latveria! He then tasked Reed, Johnny and Ben with going back in time and stealing Blackbeard's Treasure chest! During the episodes, Sue tricked Doom into recounting his origin in an attempt to give the others a chance to escape and succeed in their tasks.
Left out of the cartoon origin story, the creators got back around to Mole Man with Episode 11! FANTASTIC FOUR #1 found the nascent team using their incredible abilities to find the cause of giant holes popping up all over the planet. Eventually they tracked the source to Monster Island, a place ruled by Mole Man, a person who hated the surface world so much for ignoring him that he wanted to destroy it!
Behold the Negative Zone
The penultimate episode of the first season picked from a variety of sources when it came to putting everything together! Reed first discovered the Negative Zone in FANTASTIC FOUR #51, otherwise known as the classic tale "This Man...This Monster." Meanwhile, Annihilus and Blastaar, who both appeared in the episode, first showed up in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #6 and FANTASTIC FOUR #62, respectively!
The Silver Surfer and the Return of Galactus
The first season ended with a bang as several characters from earlier in the season came back into play: Silver Surfer, Galactus and Doctor Doom! As in the classic FANTASTIC FOUR #57 - #60, the leader of Latveria managed to steal the very Power Cosmic from the Surfer and use it to his own gains. However, in the episode, Galactus himself intervened, stripping the villain of his ill-gotten powers.
And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them
Not content to leave his enemies alone, Dr. Doom returned at the beginning of Season Two to menace them once more! This time his plan followed the events seen in FANTASTIC FOUR #39 - #40, which featured Daredevil getting mixed up with a de-powered FF as Doom attacked them! The villain even attacked them in their own building, but with the Man Without Fear's help, they staved off his attack and Thing ultimately proving that, sometimes, brawn is better than brains.
Inhumans Saga, Parts 1-3
Though readers didn't know it at the time, the Inhumans were actually seeded in FANTASTIC FOUR back in #36 with the introduction of a villain named Medusa working with the Frightful Four. We eventually learned that she was not just a member of the mysterious society, but also a member of its royal family! That all came out as the Fantastic Four met more and more natives of Attilan in FANTASTIC FOUR #41 - #47, including her husband Black Bolt, his brother Maximus the Mad and others like Gorgon, Karnak, Crystal, and Lockjaw, all of whom also appear in this three-parter!
As in the comics, this marks the beginning of a relationship between the Human Torch and Crystal.
Worlds Within Worlds
In the episode "Worlds Within Worlds," Reed discovered a new element, one that Psycho-Man wanted to get his hands on. He failed in that task, but unleashed it on the team, driving them to attack each other! Later, Malice, an evil version of Sue attacked Ben and the others! Psycho-Man first appeared in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #5 and then caused more trouble for the team in #76 - #77, which also featured the FF traveling to his home dimension, the Microverse, to confront the villain! However, the evil Sue Storm known as Malice came about decades later in FANTASTIC FOUR #280 - #283 by John Byrne!
To Battle the Living Planet
In FANTASTIC FOUR #234 - #235, the team flew into space and came face to face with Ego , who had been getting too close to Earth for comfort, eventually succeeding. "To Battle The Living Planet" uses that same basic plot structure but throws in the God of Thunder himself as a nod to Ego's debut in THOR #132 - #133! For an added layer of cosmic craziness, the toon team turned to one unlikely person for help: Galactus!
Prey of the Black Panther
When it came to introducing Black Panther to the Fantastic Four animated universe, the creators turned to the character's first appearance in FANTASTIC FOUR #52 - #53! T'Challa sent for the team, and then tested them upon arriving in Wakanda. From there, the Black Panther recounted his troubled history with Klaw and asked his new friends for help in stopping the villain's attacks on Wakanda!
When Calls Galactus
Johnny Storm met a girl just like him in "When Calls Galactus." Frankie Raye could also burst into flame thanks to a connection to the original Human Torch, a story recounted in FANTASTIC FOUR #238. That's when Terrax, the rogue Herald of Galactus, showed up, captured them, and told them they needed to destroy the Devourer, just like in FANTASTIC FOUR #242 - #244. Both stories also end with Frankie deciding to become the new Herald Nova, in exchange for keeping Earth safe.
Nightmare in Green
This episode hinges on one of the all time best grudge matches in Marveldom, the one between Thing and Hulk! The duo threw down in a park briefly while Dr. Doom watched! Banner and his green alter ego were in town to help Reed find a cure for Ben's rocky physique. But, Doom wanted to use Hulk as a weapon against the FF! Not a direct adaptation, this episode plays on themes established in issues like FANTASTIC FOUR #12 (the first battle between these two titans) and Dr. Doom controlling the Jade Giant in INCREDIBLE HULK #143 - #144.
Behold, A Distant Star
This episode takes its name directly from FANTASTIC FOUR #37, but it also draws from #32. In the earlier issue, Super-Skrull took the place of Johnny and Sue's imprisoned father Franklin. He then escaped, turned himself into Invincible Man and fought the team. In the later issue, they went to space to confront Morrat, a Skrull who wanted to take control of his peoples' empire!
This far into the second season, Johnny Storm had been separated from his girlfriend Crystal and could hardly stand it. So when, a seemingly magical creature by the name of Impossible Man dropped in his lap, he offered to help the alien get away from Super-Skrull if the newcomer would help reunite him and his lady! The Impossible Man's been causing all sorts of cosmic trouble for Storm and his family since his first appearance in FANTASTIC FOUR #11.
The Sentry Sinister
The second-to-last episode of the entire series actually split its time between two distinct stories. On one hand, Sue, Reed and Ben headed off to an island for some rest and relaxation only to discover a Kree sentry there. Meanwhile, Black Bolt realized that he can break the barrier keeping the Inhumans away from the world, specifically Johnny from Crystal!
The grand finale, which called back to "The Silver Surfer and the Return of Galactus," also looked to the seminal FANTASTIC FOUR #57 - #60 as Doom once again decided to steal the Cosmic Power from the Silver Surfer who had been trapped on Earth by his former master. Doom succeeded this second time around and would have taken to the space-ways himself, but he forgot one important thing: Galactus forbade it. Which he discovered when Doom attempted to cross the invisible sphere he placed there to keep the Surfer in!
And there you have it! If you're curious about all the groundwork Stan Lee and Jack Kirby laid down in those early days, check out any issue of FANTASTIC FOUR up to #102 as well as the first six annuals. To read John Byrne's streak on the title, which was also very influential on the animated series, he ran from #232 - #295!
Subscribe to Marvel Unlimited to read these comics—and over 25,000 more—right now!
The Hype Box
Can’t-miss news and updates from across the Marvel Universe!