Fantastic Four Omnibus 2 (Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) collects Fantastic Four 31-60 and Annuals 2-4 in 832 pages of oversized Omnibus format. Extras include Fantastic Four spoof from Not Brand Ecch (with Doctor Bloom and the Silver Burper). All three introductions to Masterworks 4-6, and additional essays: “Fantastic Four’s Golden Years” by Roy Thomas (2007), “From This Day Forward” by Jon B. Cooke (2007), “Wonderment Aplenty” by Mark Evanier (2007), “What’s in a Name?” by John Morrow (2007), and “The Start of a Revolution” by Reginald Hudlin (2007) which talks about how ground-breaking the Black Panther was for the times.
Also included are Kirby’s original Black Panther sketch, unused cover art for FF #52, house ad for Panther’s debut, FF#58, page 10 original art by Kirby and Joe Sinnott, original illustration version of FF #38 by Kirby and Chic Stone, house ad featuring the Inhumans, house ad for Kirby’s first photo-collage cover (for FF#33), covers for Marvel Collectors’ Item Classics 1-22 and Marvel’s Greatest Comics 23-43 and Marvel Triple Action 1-4 reprints of the early Fantastic Four issues, covering up to the Doomsday Saga (FF 57-60).
Not only that, but we get every letters pages (including one in #35 from Gary Hornback that really gives Stan and Jack a good thrashing over “the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” slogan). Each of these columns is a gem from history, allowing us to see the magic that early readers of the Marvel Age saw. We also get some Bullpen Bulletins and Mighty Marvel Checklists! Pure gold!
As for the issues, Stan and Jack really hit their stride during this run.
First up is FF Annual #2 with “The Fantastic Origin of Doctor Doom”. Pay no attention to the villain from the Fox Movies. Here we see the beginnings for one of comicdom’s all-time villains. Victor as a young boy in Latveria and the torturous circumstances that led to the creation of the vengeful Dr. Doom. The Annual also includes a Rogue’s Gallery from Super Skrull (#18) to Diablo (#30), pin-ups of each of the FF, including Alicia Masters. To top it off, the annual has the 25-page adventure “The Final Victory of Dr. Doom” also featuring Rama Tut.
#31 – A mysterious stranger re-enters the life of Sue Storm. What secret is Sue hiding from the rest of the team? The FF meet the Avengers while battling the Mole Man. The Human Torch has an awesome scene on page 16 where he burns through “thousands of leagues” of rock.
#32 – The Invincible Man and two Kirby Cosmic Collages in an issue called “Death of a Hero”.
#33 – Kirby Photo Collage cover. Sub-mariner and the FF fight side-by-side against Attuma! This was some of Chic Stone’s best inking of Kirby.
#34 “A House Divided” with Mr. Gideon. If that’s not bad enough, the Thing gets a package from Yancy Street.
#35 – “Calamity on the Campus” has Cyclops and Professor Xavier, the return of Diablo, Peter Parker, the Thing being tackled by the whole State U football team, and the Dragon Man.
#36 – The title says it all: “The Frightful Four”! Medusa from the Inhumans appears for the first time as a member of the evil foursome.
#37 – “Behold! A Distant Star”. A Kirby Cosmic Collage and more Skrulls than the FF know what to do with. I’ve always liked this story.
#38 – The cover shouts “Not a dream! Not an imaginary tale. It had to happen sooner or later!! At last, the Fabulous FF are — “Defeated by the Frightful Four!” This issue is a lot of fun. In the 80s, it might have been an issue of What If?
#39-40 – “A Blind Man Shall Lead Them” and “Battle for the Baxter Building” guest-stars Daredevil as the FF have to figure out how to overcome the situation they’re in from last month. Only Reed’s incredible ingenuity and Daredevil’s heightened senses can save them from Dr. Doom.
#41-43 – After last month’s events, now we get “The Brutal Betrayal of Ben Grimm”. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Frightful Four are back. Would Ben actually help the Frightful Four against his former teammates?
Annual #3 – The Wedding of Sue and Reed, guest-starring most of the Marvel Universe.
#44 – “The Gentleman’s Name is Gorgon” also with Medusa and Dragon Man. How amazing it must have been to learn about the Inhumans for the first time. Just as important, Joe Sinnott becomes the regular inker for the rest of this Omnibus and into 1981, only missing a few issues in-between. Jack Kirby’s artwork really comes to life now.
#45 – “Among Us Hide… The Inhumans”. A fantastic cover and a fantastic issue.
#46-47 – Blackbolt vs. the FF, Triton vs. the FF, the Seeker, the Dragon Man, Maximus, the Alpha Primitives in a two-issue slugfest that overflows into #48.
#48-50 – The Galactus Trilogy. The wrap-up to the Inhumans saga occupies the first few pages and then we meet the Silver Surfer for the first time as the Watcher attempts to hide Earth from the planet-devouring Galactus. Johnny meets Wyatt Wingfoot at college.
#51 – “This Man, This Monster” is one of the greatest single issues in Fantastic Four history. A sullen Ben Grimm is lured into the secret lab of a mad scientist, bent on showing up Reed Richards.
#52-53 – The debut of… “The Black Panther” and Wakanda’s high tech society hidden deep in the jungles of Africa. Prince T’challa presents a vehicle beyond the designs of the Fantasti-car to Reed to fly the FF to the hidden kingdom. Also has Wyatt Wingfoot and the Inhumans. #53 has the debut of Ulysses Klaw and Vibranium. These stories are sure to be some of the source material for the Black Panther movie slated as of this writing for 2018. Black Panther is also rumored to be in Captain America: Civil War next year.
#54 – Guest-stars galore! Black Panther, the Inhumans and Wyatt Wingfoot as they stumble across the Evil Eye.
#55 – Silver Surfer is back and Ben Grimm isn’t sure he likes it when he finds the Surfer at Alicia’s. The Inhumans also guest-star.
#56 – The Klaw returns and the Inhumans guest-star again.They’ve been in nearly every issue since their debut. Any more panels and they’ll have to share the title on the cover, fer cryin’ out loud!
Annual #4 – The Original Human Torch returns to with the Mad Thinker and Quasi-Modo, the living computer. This is an epic fight, fighting fire with fire.
57-60 – Doomsday Saga, one of the best multi-part stories in FF annals. First, we have to ignore how preposterously Dr Doom acquires his new-found powers, but after that, this one is sheer awesomeness. Sandman, the Inhumans and Wyatt Wingfoot also guest-star. This epic masterpiece has some powerful scenes and larger-than-life combat.
Any fan of Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Joe Sinnott, the FF or Marvel in general would love to get their hands on this titanic tome!