The Virtues of being Fantastic #04: the Villains
This will be the last of the fittingly four-art series we’re doing with the Fantastic Four but certainly not the last time we’ll talk about them; there’s always a reason to write more about the Kirby-Lee creation. And given that we’ve focused on the team in the previous installments of this humble appreciation for Marvel’s First Family, we think it is right about time we talked about their nemeses.
It’s always been a widely accepted truth that a hero is only as good as its villain. If that’s the case, then the Fantastic Four are indeed worthy to be called some of the greatest heroes there are. Yes, Batman has the Clown Prince of Crime; Superman has Lex Luthor; Spider-man has the Green Goblin; and Thor (or just Odinson, if you’ve been following the series these past few years) has Loki. The Fantastic Four, on the other hand, has a whole host of foils that are equally as iconic as one another. We know, we know: all those heroes we’ve mentioned earlier do have their own gallery of dastardly rogues that are as entertaining as they are sinister, but the point we’re trying to make here is that those characters are more often than not associated with one, singular arch-nemesis. That’s where Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben are different: you can’t really point out a single archenemy they have; every villain they’ve faced are just as appealing, interesting, and ultimately wonderful as they are. Now, before you sneer and hop on your geeky high horse, let us remind you that Doctor Doom isn’t really the Fantastic Four’s arch-nemesis; the Latverian Sovereign has become such a powerful presence in the Marvel Universe that he’s actually one of those rare characters in the roster that’s ever y hero’s greatest threat: a kind of status he shares among the likes of none other than Magneto and the Devourer of Worlds himself, Galactus, among very few others.
This says very huge things about the Fantastic Four as a series, if you haven’t noticed yet. First, the miscellany of villains that the four heroes have faced only shows their range and versatility when it comes to the stories they appear in. They’ve faced New York’s under-dwelling Mole Man in one of the pulpiest of sci-fi offerings any genre could offer; they’ve battled galactic threats in the guise of Annihilus and Terrax; they’ve even had adversaries that contained so much appeal and potential that they could cross the line from villainy to heroism depending on the demand of the narrative in the Inhumans; and hell, when was the last time any superhero battled a giant demigod who is a remnant of a dead universe and finds sustenance by eating entire planets? Ladies and gentlemen, Galactus. ‘Nuff said.
Secondly, if we go back to Doctor Doom we see how equally, if not more so, versatile these villains are. They’re not meant to be simple throwaway characters that exist to leverage the book’s main protagonists the way the Marvel movies portray most of their villains; they’re able to hold their own due to the sheer amount of staying power they have.Of course, there are so much more to be said about the Fantastic Four and their whole corner of the Marvel U, but we’ll leave it up to you to explore it if you haven’t yet. In the words of Stan the Man himself: Excelsior!