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Essential Fantastic Four Volume 5 TPB: v. 5 Paperback – 21 Jun 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics; Direct Ed edition (21 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785121625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785121626
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 3.8 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 707,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on 16 July 2006
Format: Paperback
The story has become familiar to comic book fans because it is not just about the birth of a comic book but of the entire Marvel universe. In 1961 comic book publisher Martin Goodman heard from his counterpart at DC Comics that they were enjoying success with a new superhero team, the Justice League of America. Goodman made his money in comics following trends, so he told Stan Lee to come up with a comic book about a team of superheroes. Lee's wife, Joan, suggested that for once her husband should put as much effort and creativity into a comic book as he did for all of the other writing jobs he was doing, and that maybe the time had come to write a comic book that he would actually enjoy reading. Lee worked with artist Jack Kirby to create "The Fantastic Four," consisting of Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), the Invisible Girl (Sue Storm), and the Thing (Ben Grimm). The rest, as they say, is Marvel history.

"Essential Fantastic Four, Volume 5" collects issues #84-110 of the self-proclaimed World's Greatest Comic Magazine," which brings us with issue #102 to the end of Kirby's legendary run on the series. He would come back to do some art for #108, along with both of his initial replacements, first John Romita (Sr.) on #103-106 and then John Buscema on #107-110. Filling "King" Kirby's artistic shoes is not an enviable job, as Romita full well knew having replaced Steve Ditko on "Spider-Man." I will just say that Romita draws the better women and Buscema the better men, and leave it to that, because it would take a while to get used to somebody else drawing these characters.

This collection begins as you would wish with another Doctor Doom multi-part story (#84-87).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Crawford on 6 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
This collection covers the issues in which Lee and Kirby's legendary, epoch-making creative partnership on the Fantastic Four came to an end. The comics are still good, and Kirby's art remains amazing, but as the 100-issue mark approaches one can see the originality is starting to give way, as Lee and Kirby try to work out what they can possibly do with these four characters that they haven't done a dozen times already; so there's a certain sense of deja-vu as the Fantastic Four tangle with Dr Doom (again), thwart Mole Man's attempts to invade the suface (again), and travel through space to battle the Skrulls (again). It's not that any of these stories are particularly bad, more than Lee and Kirby had already done them all perfectly well at least once before, and there was no special need to do them again...

After Kirby's departure the sense of deflation is palpable. All the energy has gone. His successors do decent work on some uninspired stories, with Namor invading the land (again!), this time with the 'help' of Magneto; but it's nothing that Kirby hadn't already done, and done much better, back in the early 60s. As if to underline the point, the FF annual (of which only the cover is reprinted here) was a reprint of Lee and Kirby's original 'Namor invades New York' storyline, presented as if it were happening immediately after his latest attempt rather than years before. In context, it reads like an admission of defeat; as if there was nowhere left for the Fantastic Four to go but back.

Anyone who's read the first four collections should get this one too, just to see things through to their end; the stories are worth reading, even if they're mostly unspectacular. But I, for one, feel no motivation to pick up volume six. Don't bother following the Fantastic Four into the 70s; instead, follow Kirby to DC, and stare in wonder at the work he did there on The New Gods...
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I. R. Kerr TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 April 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book contains the last of the hundred Stan Lee stories drawn by the late great Jack Kirby.

Starting with Dr. Doom capturing the FF on their way back from the Inhuman's refuge. Imprisoned in Latveria they are without their powers as they investigate killer robots, guest starring SHIELD.

Back home the Moleman returns and The Thing is more than a little annoyed when they set him free. Walking off he is captured by the Slaver (a Skrull) and taken to the Skrull galaxy to a planet where life is based on the US gangster era. There he is forced into Arena fights before he is able to turn the rest of the captives against the Skrulls as the rest of the FF arrive.

The Frightful Four make a brief return before Medusa, the Inhuman, turns on them to trap them. In this tale we first meet the nanny that Sue and Reed have chosen for Franklin, Agatha Harkness. Much more will be heard of her later in later stories. There's a few more quickies, Monocle tries to attack the United Nations. The Thinker and his androids pop in, then a nice tale involving a stranded alien amphibian.

It kicks back in properly with the FF facing a Kree Sentry bent on stopping man from landing on the Moon (it is 1969). Then the Inhumans return briefly as the Torch goes love crazy trying to win back Crystal.

The 100th issue sees the Puppet Master and the Thinker sending a host of androids against the FF who defeat them much too easily, it's just a way to get lots of guest appearances in for the centennial issue and once again shows why these two should never work together.

Then the Maggia appear getting control of the Baxter Buidling.

Jack's last issue is the start of the Sub-Mariner & Magneto team-up.
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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
The Lee/Kirby era of Marvel's First Family ends with a whimper. 25 July 2006
By J. A. Hazelwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It would be hard to overestimate the effect that Fantastic Four #1 had on the entire medium of comic books. It arrived on newsstands in late 1961, not long after a federal censorship crackdown had nearly destroyed the industry, and it came to life mostly because the publisher wanted to ape the success of DC's Justice League series by having some other team of superheroes. But the FF made their own unique mark by flaunting the staid conventions of the genre (It had a team that didn't always perfectly cooperate with each other, had no secret identities, and a superhero that didn't really want to be a superhero) and in fact started to overturn the stigma that comic books were exclusively "children's stories". The series' daring image was defined by its two iconic authors: Stan Lee, who gave his characters and his readers more respect than anyone at the time would have anticipated, and Jack Kirby, whose artwork conveyed an action-packed science fiction fantasy world that seemed to jump off the page. During the mid-60's, Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben were the stars of the most vivacious, imaginative tales that you could find at your grocery stores spinner rack for twelve cents; the Fantastic Four truly were "the World's Greatest Comic Magazine", as it so modestly called itself. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Kirby left the series and Marvel in 1970 after a long-souring relationship with Lee. The Essential Fantastic Four #5 is thus a very effective time capsule of the decline and dissolution of the most revered creative collaboration in the history of comics.

First, let me start with the issues that I liked. Reed and Sue hire the mystic Agatha Harkness as governess for their son, who was recently given the name Franklin, after Sue's late father. Agatha proves her worthiness to protect the potentially imperiled young boy by single-handedly routing the original Frightful Four. Then the team must defend a UN delegation from the Monocle, an eyepiece-sporting European assassin with a laser-spewing camera. Ah, 60's spy chic. There's nothing quite like it. In a topical but still enjoyable adventure, the FF oppose a Kree Sentry's plot to avert the Apollo 11 moon landing. I give it extra points for properly depicting Neil Armstrong's oft-confused axiom (That's one small step for A man...). There's the landmark 100th issue where our gang beats back wave after wave of the Mad Thinker's androids, which are in the shapes of most of their old foes (An original idea? No, but still satisfying). Immediately after that, a criminal syndicate attempts through quasi-legal means to buy the FF's building and equipment. This story is above all an example that the Four can seem at home no matter what comic book genre they're in. So, basically, I can count the number of tales in this volume that I liked on one hand (Brace yourselves, people. It's all downhill from here).

While reading this book, my concentration was marred by an unreasonable number of plot holes and gaffs. The first story in the compilation is a hopelessly convoluted four-part saga with the quartet (and Johnny's gal friend Crystal) trapped in Dr. Doom's kingdom of Latveria. The team is exposed to a gas that's meant to neutralize their powers ... until they actually try to use their powers and the gas wears off. Doom then dispatches his unstoppable robot army to destroy them, but Mr. Fantastic finds just what he needs to survive ... a huge exhaust fan that blows the robots into a really deep lake. Then Doom interrupts his dinner party with Sue and Crystal (I have no recollection of how that began) and brings out his really unstoppable weapon, a "hyper-sonic" piano that can strike down the male FF-ers wherever they stand ... but then Doom instead smites his own flamethrower-flashing lieutenant for threatening to burn his beloved art gallery. Apparently, the Piano of Death is one of those one-shot dealies, so Doom just lets the FF leave. I have two words for all of this: Oi and Vey. One issue ends with an attack on Reed and Sue's new Quonset hut-like domicile while the Thing is miles away at Alicia's home. Then the next issue starts and the ever-lovin' idol o' millions is right there being buffeted around in the melee. When Crystal returns home to live with her fellow Inhumans for some undefined reason, a heartsick Johnny actually threatens to reduce their Great Refuge to ash in a raging holocaust (I think at some point ol' Matchstick crossed the line from "being a rash hotheaded youth" to "should be in a federal prison"). Crystal still forgives him but insists that she must stay with her people for a while longer. You get three guesses as to who's sitting in the Torch's window seat in the saucer ride home on the next page. In a three-part saga, the Sub-Mariner rescues a stranger named Magneto and joins forces with him, only to later be betrayed. Prince Namor must have an oddly selective memory because a). he met the Mutant Master of Magnetism in X-Men #6 and b). Mags stabbed him in the back that time too. Speaking of the X-Men, the Human Torch pulls an "Iceman" on us by using his mastery of flame to suck all of the heat out of a room, leaving everything covered in a thick layer of frost (Gee, I wonder how many times he'll bring that trick out again). But arguably the worst offender is the one where the team comes into the service of Dr. Phillip Zolten Rambow (Sue first called him Zolten, then Reed addressed him as Phillip, so I'm forced to use the "Robert Bruce Banner" naming convention). A souped-up energy monster borne from Rambow's lab is on a rampage through Manhattan and the situation is looking increasingly bleak when Reed (I do hope you are all sitting down for this) reminds Rambow that he himself had created a failsafe device for just such an occasion and PZ runs back to his house to fetch it. Problem solved! I defy anyone to read that little number without either laughing or sobbing.

I would have been able to forgive nitpicks like these (OK, maybe not all of them) if the stories were at least fresh and original, but most of the issues in this book are largely, transparently cribbed from other movies and television shows of the times. Here's a list of every (ahem) "homage" that I could find:

- The team is trapped in a pleasant idyllic little town from which they can nonetheless never depart (the Prisoner).
- Our heroes are captured and replaced by soulless identical simulacra (Invasion of the Body Snatchers).
- The Thing is abducted by Skrulls who mimic the culture of Prohibition era Chicago, except that they gather slaves from distant planets to fight in a gladiatorial arena for their own amusement (The Gamesters of Triskelion and A Piece of the Action, two chronologically consecutive episodes of Star Trek).
- The FF fight the Creature from the Lost Lagoon (Creature from the Black Lagoon).

It's very obvious that the Fantastic Four, once the premiere trendsetting comic series, was around this time meekly following trends.

And so it was during this very inauspicious run that Kirby parted ways with Lee and Marvel to work for DC. There is a gaggle of rumors and hearsay as to the cause; the one that I have most often heard was that Kirby was uncomfortable with the "Marvel method" of comic making, which put some responsibility on the pencillers to write the story in addition to drawing it. I understand that the method was abolished in most series by the time of the Lee-Kirby split. The writing style of the series did seem to differ a bit from #103 on, as if Lee started to resume the role of full-time author. Although that's not to say that the stories became substantially better (the Dr. Rambow debacle happened here, after all) but they did become less episodic and more focused on long-term plots and consequences. First, Crystal is removed from the group when she falls grievously ill from exposure to modern industrial pollutants (OK, at least there is an explanation for her disappearing act this time). Then Janus the Nega-Man, a disturbed scientist obsessed with harnessing anti-matter energy, crosses over to the Negative Zone and enters unholy alliance with the native Annihilus (Oh, yes. I'd want to be pals with a psychotic paranoid alien gargoyle who aims to kill every living thing in all realities. Sign me up for that). Around this time, the Thing has just come out of the Attempt-to-Turn-Him-Back-to-Normal-that-Eventually-Goes-Awry #8, which has the added perk of allowing Ben to assume the Thing's form at will (Thing On!), although it does make him act like kind of a wad around his friends. The compilation sadly ends before he inevitably turns against the team, which I believe occurred with attempts 6 and 7, as well.

For quality comic book yarns, the fifth Essential FF misses the mark by a good margin. But for pure historical significance in the comic medium, this is perhaps a one-of-a-kind example. To many fans in the 70's, the Lee-Kirby break-up must have been as tragic as the break-up of the Beatles. Artists John Romita Sr. and John Buscema kept the series running, but it would clearly be a while longer before it could stand out on its own merits again (some would say not until John Byrne took over in the early 80's). The Essential FF #5 is thus a very poor read on its own, but with the previous four volumes it becomes a complete endearing portrait of the World's Greatest Comic Creators.

P.S. One neat extra that I nearly forgot to mention is a circa 1969 photo gallery of "about everybody in the whole blamed bullpen". I have to say it was fun to see what all those guys in the credits of Silver Age classics really looked like back then. Stan himself is almost unrecognizable with that full beard, Roy and Jean Thomas definitely match their cameo appearances in those Avengers stories set in Rutland, VT, and Dan Turpin from the Superman Animated Series is indeed a dead ringer for "King" Kirby himself. There are also some original penciled storyboards to go along with the boards and unused covers found in other recent Essentials. I'm sure I'd buy these books even without little prizes like this but still, thanks Marvel.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
the last Kirby/Lee volume 16 Dec. 2006
By Dave F - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As I state in the title, Kirby's art stands the test of time but Lee's writing comes across as dated and simplistic (he is a great writer by the way but was overworked) but I'm now 42 and demand more complexity to characters and plot lines. Let me comment on both though starting with the art.

The departure of Kirby was devastating to Marvel and especially to the FF as each page looked like a masterpiece. Together with Sinnott's inking you could just stare at the art and wonder how they did it all in a month's time over and over again without loosing quality. It's no wonder the works sold so well and embodied for me the notion that story mixed with art is indeed a form of art. A graphic novel is indeed a graphic novel. No wonder Dan Turbin was created for Superman the Animated series. What a great way to pay tribute to Jack Kirby and the legacy he gave us. I have also heard many rumors about why Kirby left but the one that makes the most sense to me is that Kirby was simply tired of being paid so little for doing so much and who can blame him. The way back then was by the page, and whether your art was junk or fabulous did not matter. It would destroy the career of Jim Steranko who was the next Jack Kirby and invited less qualified but more productive artists such as Sal Buscema into the reins. As you notice in the volume, sweat work by John Buscema and John Romita Sr. took over from Kirby doing the best they can but as a testimony to Kirby they all fell short.

As far as writing there is no question that the prolific pen of Stan Lee was burning out as plot inconsistencies and quirky storylines were showing their age. The four part Doom series truly presents itself with that problem as Doom first uses hypnosis which suddenly wears off when ready as Doom once again fails to destroy the FF because he left too many devices behind that just so happens to save the FF. Lee took more writing duty after Kirby left but he was ending his reign and it showed. Perhaps that's why he was promoted. While he kept Spiderman strong the FF were hurting for good writing and sadly that would not happen till Byrne took over and saved their behinds.

Added features included a photo gallery (I really wanted to see Steve Ditko in that mix but he's a pretty private man as I understand it) as well as unused material that show Kirby's amazing pencils. All in all this is a fun read and for goodness sakes, the worst FF story in here is still better than the FF movie which had no plot, no story, no character motivation and no substance beyond the ending credits which felt good to see. As Stan would say -- nuff said!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Stan Lee and Jacky Kirby come to the end of their run together on the World's Greatest Comic Magazine 16 July 2006
By Lawrance Bernabo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story has become familiar to comic book fans because it is not just about the birth of a comic book but of the entire Marvel universe. In 1961 comic book publisher Martin Goodman heard from his counterpart at DC Comics that they were enjoying success with a new superhero team, the Justice League of America. Goodman made his money in comics following trends, so he told Stan Lee to come up with a comic book about a team of superheroes. Lee's wife, Joan, suggested that for once her husband should put as much effort and creativity into a comic book as he did for all of the other writing jobs he was doing, and that maybe the time had come to write a comic book that he would actually enjoy reading. Lee worked with artist Jack Kirby to create "The Fantastic Four," consisting of Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), the Invisible Girl (Sue Storm), and the Thing (Ben Grimm). The rest, as they say, is Marvel history.

"Essential Fantastic Four, Volume 5" collects issues #84-110 of the self-proclaimed World's Greatest Comic Magazine," which brings us with issue #102 to the end of Kirby's legendary run on the series. He would come back to do some art for #108, along with both of his initial replacements, first John Romita (Sr.) on #103-106 and then John Buscema on #107-110. Filling "King" Kirby's artistic shoes is not an enviable job, as Romita full well knew having replaced Steve Ditko on "Spider-Man." I will just say that Romita draws the better women and Buscema the better men, and leave it to that, because it would take a while to get used to somebody else drawing these characters.

This collection begins as you would wish with another Doctor Doom multi-part story (#84-87). At this point Crystal, the Inhuman, has taken the Invisible Girl's place in the line up while Sue is taking care of baby Franklin, with help from Alicia Masters. Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. sends the FF to Latveria to check out what Doom is up to with his new robots. But the FF is captured and Doom makes them forget how to use their powers. Fortunately, Sue shows up to help. Next up is a Mole Man story arc (#88-89), where the Richards make the mistake of buying a futuristic home in the country, which turns out to be a trap. This leads to a Skrull kidnapping the Thing to be a gladiator on an alien world (#90-93).

We then have a return visit by the Frightful Four (#94), who have to deal with Franklin's new nanny, Agatha Harkness, and her cat Ebony (you know, there is something familiar about that cat...). We then have a Cold War story involving a man named Monocle (#95), the Mad Thinker and His Androids of Death (#96), the Monster from the Lost Lagoon (#97), and a timely story in which the FF makes sure the Moon walk goes okay in July of 1969 (#98). The Inhumans show up for #99, to set up issue #100 when the group have to deal with Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Doom, the Sentry, Dragon Man, Sub-Mariner, the Red Ghost, the Wingless Wizard, the Trapster, the Sandman, and almost, but not quite the Hulk. This might seem like overkill, but you have to understand who is really beyond all of these attacks.

Kirby sticks around for two more issues, an assault on the Baxter Building (#101), and a rematch with the Sub-Mariner (#102), that continues with Romita as Magneto shows up and takes both Sue and the Lady Dorma hostage, which leads Namor to team up with the FF (#103-04). Then Crystal collapses, which might be a break for the Thing to become Ben Grimm again, which makes the monster that shows up terribly inconvenient (#105-07). We then end this collection with the Mega-Man (#108), Annihilus in the Neutral Zone (#109-10). There is a nice ending point here when the Thing quits and Reed starts ranting he could become their enemy. Ah, the joys of comic book hyperbole.

Granted, the stories after Kirby leaves are not on the same level as the others, but in retrospect it seems clear Lee and Kirby were trying to show off before their fabled creative relationship came to an end. In the history of Marvel comics I cannot think of another writer and artist who worked together on over a hundred straight issues, let alone from the start of the book (Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan were getting close on "Tomb of Dracula"). I know that Dave Sim did 300 issues of "Cerebus," but that was his only comic book for most of that run and Lee was also writing several other titles and Kirby was also drawing "Thor" and "Captain America." The only possible complaint at the end is that while returning to Doctor Doom, the Mole Man and the Inhumans, then did not come up with anything significantly new to rival the likes of Galactus and the Silver Surfer. Still, Ben Grimm as a gladiator was a decent little mini-tragedy and the Doom story along is enough to justify rounding up. You might not proceed beyond this point, but you have to have the first five volumes of "Essential Fantastic Four" to have the complete Lee & Kirby run on the FF.
The FF at their peak 23 Mar. 2014
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book contains the Fantastic Four issues #84-110 where they battle most of their toughest and most relentless foes. In general the stories are several (four) issues in length, allowing them to be developed in depth. There are titanic battles with Dr. Doom, the Mole Man, Ben Grimm is taken by a Skrull to serve as a slave to fight and die in an arena, the Frightful Four return, and there is a battle with the Submariner as well as a few other worthy opponents.
The most interesting story is told in issues #90 - 93, where Ben Grimm is captured by a Skrull slaver and taken to a planet where he is to battle to the death in a gladiatorial arena. What makes it interesting is that the planet is modeled on the Chicago gangster subculture of the 1920's. It is very similar to the episode in the original Star Trek series called "A Piece of the Action."
Despite the very advanced technology used on the planet, the structures and vehicles are modeled on 1920's Earth. The men tote weapons that look like machine guns and the gang bosses talk like those that appear in movies about gang bosses. Since these issues appeared in 1969, one year after the Star Trek episode first aired, it is clear that Lee and Kirby pilfered the idea from Star Trek. This is another example of the adage "Good artists copy; great artists steal."
Reproduced in black and white, these comics featuring the original Fantastic Four along with the inhuman Crystal take you back to the time when Franklin Richards was a newborn and the FF was the best superhero group in the world of comicdom.
the last of jack and stan 13 Mar. 2014
By what - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
well true believers this is the last of jack and stan and they go out with a bang...the FF takes on the mole man and Dr Doom then the skrulls kidnap the thing and sell him off the a cosmic gladiator games followed up by rare appearance of magneto in the FF mag first teaming up with sub mariner the old subby joining the FF the fight magness.....even though jack and stan gave thier farewell to the marvel universe's first family they marched on with john buscema and john romita sr gave great adventures also.... so for around $20 you can't go wrong
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