This collection is not so much a "best of" as a sampling of the series and characters at various points in their over forty-year history. While it does contain some excellent stories, there are also a few that are mediocre at best.
The volume starts off with several Stan Lee/Jack Kirby collaborations, but most of them aren't their best. This first is Fantastic Four #1 -- often-reprinted as it is, but probably a given -- which presents the team's origin story and their first encounter with the underground menace of the Mole Man. It's followed by Doctor Doom's origin story, from an early annual. After that, the selections become a bit questionable. There's a two-part story in which the FF lose their powers and must rig up artificial ways of emulating them, lest they fall victim to a foe hoping to find them helpless. The ideas they come up with are silly and wouldn't fool a blind man, let alone the general public. In fact, they don't fool a blind man, as Daredevil shows up to help them out as if they were all feeble. Couldn't they have just laid low for a few days until they were able to use the deus ex machina Reed whips out in the second half of the story? What about all the other gadgets they have lying around? It just doesn't make any sense. Nor does the next story, which has a rival scientist stealing the Thing's powers and taking his place on the team. When the real Ben Grimm shows up and tries to explain, they brush him off, thinking he's the imposter because "the Thing isn't exactly an easy man to imitate." What? If anyone should know better, it's these people. At least the villain gets a nice shot at redemption at the end, which gives it a little bit of pathos. After this story, the FF slugs it out with several of their greatest (and not-so-great) enemies...sort of. It's nothing special, and just seems like a lame way to shove a bunch of guest-stars into a #100 issue.
In a story by Archie Goodwin and John Buscema, the FF confront the Over-Mind, an alien entity with "the might of a billion brains," and must seek help from an unlikely source in order to defeat it. Vast improvement in writing and art here; pity we only get the concluding chapter of the story. Classic 1970s Marvel, though.
The Impossibly Annoying Man--sorry, the Impossible Man--returns in a story by Roy Thomas and George Perez. The Impossible Man is best described as a dangerous nuisance; a mischievous but powerful shape-shifting alien, he likes to cause trouble whenever he visits our "boring" planet. There's even a comment in-story about how readers didn't like Impy when he was first introduced, so why bring him back? Who knows.
Now we get to some really great stuff with John Byrne's 20th anniversary story. The FF suddenly find themselves living as normal people in a world that seems strangely familiar yet wrong. The first half of this story (before things are revealed) has a wonderfully eerie, Twilight-Zone atmosphere. If any story besides the first one deserves to be here, it's this one. In fact, almost any issue from John Byrne's 1980s run on the book wouldn't be inappropriate, so we get another that spotlights Mr. Fantastic, as he desperately attempts to acquire assistance in dealing with his pregnant wife's radiation poisoning.
There's a cute and funny story by Barry Windsor-Smith in which the Human Torch includes the Thing in his April Fool's Day "celebration." Then we jump ahead quite a bit to some more recent work, including a story that sheds light on the Thing's childhood (with nice art by Stuart Immonen), a "day in the life" piece, and one in which Mr. Fantastic's understanding of human nature proves just as important as his superhuman powers.
It's an uneven collection in terms of quality, but it's almost monotonous when it comes to content. None of their cosmic adventures, either to space or to the Negative Zone, are represented here, although they are occasionally seen returning from one. Doctor Doom appears far too often, and only two of those appearances here are worthwhile. While it would be impossible to fit every significant issue into a single volume like this, far better choices could have been made.
I don't really recommend this book for collectors, as they will probably have the better stories already, and they'll probably want something less scattershot. (Go for the Marvel Masterworks for the early stuff, the Visionaries for John Byrne's amazing run, or Fantastic Four, Vol. 1 for something more recent.) However, I think it would make a good gift book for someone getting into comics, especially younger readers. When I was a kid, there were few reprint collections out, and they were hard to come by. I would have loved something like this.