The Virtues of being Fantastic #03: The Dynamic
We previously talked about Marvel’s first Family’s resident blue-eyed brawler in this series, but now let’s look at perhaps one of the most revolutionary innovations in comics that the Fantastic four gave the whole industry: the team dynamic.
It has never occurred in comics prior to the release of Fantastic Four #1 in the 1960’s that there were actually any group of characters that were created for the sole purpose of actually being a team. No, you can’t count the Justice Society of America or the Justice League; these are titles that were published as a sort of ensemble series that made the biggest stars of DC Comics appear in one adventure, which then in turn was based on boosting sales for the publisher through that same title and at the same time showcasing each character that appears in the book. In doing so, readers will be enticed to purchase solo titles where their respective favorites appear. However, that is not the case for the Fantastic Four. As we mentioned earlier, they’re the first group of characters that were meant to exist and be written as a group. To put it differently, you could say that they’re the first of their kind when it comes to characters whose sum is greater than their parts. Now, you might be skeptical about this, so allow us to give you a bit of an example of what we mean. Imagine if one of the original members of the Fantastic Four appeared on a solo title; something will most likely feel out of place: it just doesn’t feel right seeing Reed without Sue, Ben, and Johnny. Sure, the Thing appeared on semi-solo adventures back when Marvel was publishing their Marvel Two-in-One titles and the Human Torch had some 14-pagers on Strange Tales, but that just proves the point that there is really something missing when one of the F4 members stand alone (or partnered with another Marvel property in some cases). Additionally, it’s just so natural for the original Fantastic family members to appear together that it’s very rare to think of one of them without associating them with the team. Look at it this way: when you think of Batman or Superman, there’s a huge chance you don’t immediately think that they’re members of the Justice League; you know them as independent heroes standing on their own. We mean, come on, each of the Justice League’s members can hold a solo book on their own. The Fantastic Four, on the other hand, are more at home on a team book. And that is not a bad thing at all. On the contrary, it’s very wonderful that this kind of inseparable quality exists between the characters.
And to further the point we’re making here, just look at the roster changes that the F4 have occasionally undergone. At one point, they had the Inhuman princess, Crystal, and there was even that time they had Wolverine in the team. And they all, great characters they may be, just felt out of place in the Fantastic Four. As we said over and over again, you simply can’t replace the original four; they’re like the Beatles in that regard.