The Great American Novel Act 1: the danger Act 2: rising action Act 3: the ball Act 4: crisis Act 5: triumph the Franklinverse part 2, act 1:
                the new danger

Over 200 tributes to issue 1

And more about that historic cover.

For the largest available size, right click and choose "open image in new tab." To find out more about each one, right click and choose "search Google for this image" (or the equivalent in your browser). Sorry if this sounds lazy. I'd like to research them myself, but that job is at the bottom of a very long "to do" list. :)
as published
the original: click for super high res version

My favorite: treats the original as a real news event with witnesses
"the moment after FF 1" by sirandal at deviantart
"the moment after FF 1"
by 'sirandal' at deviantart
- another personal favorite,
treating the events as real
Jack Kirby by Peder Riis
Jack Kirby, by Peder Riis

John Byrne

Stan Lee as the monster, with
Kirby as the angry Ben Grimm
comic book history
Stan and jack again, but Stan is older
Marvel Masterworks
Alex Ross painted version
by Alex Ross, for "Marvels"
Joe Jusko
by Joe Jusko (note Stan Lee)
G whitmore
DC characters, by G whitmore

Alter Ego 33 - this one is DC characters, mimicking the original Brave and Bold cover
Alter Ego 104
Alter Ego 104, coverl by Ron Frenz and Joe Sinnott

the original pencils, inked by joltin' Joe Sinnott!
Dick Ayers
By Dick Ayers (inker for the early FF from issue 6)
'pido indicaciones' by 'gvznabruto'
"Pido indicaciones" (Spanish for "I ask directions") by 'gvznabruto'. It's classed as 'traditional art' and 'political' - probably one of the most interesting pieces on this page.

probably the most popular
parody of all

by Brendan Tobin
by Brendan Tobin
by Brian Douglas Ahern
by Brian Douglas Ahern

cake by Jean Schapowal
cake by Jean Schapowal

( for all these images,
right click -> open in new tab
for larger version )

by Matthew Neumann

by Pixelkitties - I love it!
Spider Ham
Spider Ham: I love it!

'supercon' variant cover by 'mynameismad'
'supercon' variant cover by 'MyNameIsMad'
Mutant X
by Jonathan Grimm
by Jonathan Grimm

by Nick Perks
Mad parody by Nick Perks
Will SIiney
by Will Sliney for the Africa comic con
Dungeons and Dragons Guy Gardner, Warrior-31
a rare DC tribute

Sonic tribute by Scott Shaw
Amazing Heroes
one of seven versions by John Byrne. Can you spot the others?
by mataiodoxia
by mataiodoxia, who writes "The monster grabbing them from the depths of the road is 'El Venizel - Megali Idea', a joke (?) onto itself.. (which is far too complicated to explain here)"

by Chris Giarrusso
like Chris Giarrusso
variant Chris Giarrusso?
Chris Giarrusso
another by Chris Giarrusso

by Paul Sizer, for an exhibition recreating every page of FF 1
Super Mario 

by "RoboTarot" at DeviantArt

Planetary is "the Fantastic Four done as though they were bad guys. The starting point for the idea was an issue Ellis has with the Marvel version of the group: they have great powers, resources and inventions but use them only to fight bad guys. There’s no attempt from the group to better mankind. [edit: I disagree] That becomes a central idea of Ellis’s Four." (source)
arrested development by 'dunlavey' on deviantart
arrested development
by 'dunlavey' on deviantart
by Winni Gerhards
by Winni Gerhards

by Fred Hembeck
another Hembeck
another by Hembeck
(slightly different)
by Giorgio Cavazzano
The Powerpuff GirlsThanks to Betty Boolean
for finding this!
by Mike Bunt
by Mike Bunt
by 'Corvin' and Tina Urban of Mugwumps
by Dana Black, Perhapablog
Mars Attacks - by
                Jeff Zapata
by Jeff Zapata
Marco D'Alfonso
by Marco D'Alfonso

by Paul Hostetler

by 'Underburbs' at DeviantArt
masuros deviantart
by 'masuros' at deviantart
by 'Matt'
by Matt Kindt (of Mind MGMT)

these people can chalk!
by Adam Cline
by Adam Cline

by 'mariods'
Disney/Pixar's Incredibles as the FF, by 'mariods'
by Reddit user 'wondermarq'
by Gene Guilmette
by Gene Guilmette
Christian Moore
The Incredibles, by Christian Moore
by Vatinorama
Disney by 'Vatinorama'

by SuperPunch (I'm guessing you didn't like Disney buying Marvel)

more Disney, by "BabClayman"
by Michael Pumo
more Disney by Michael-Pumo,
disney's marvel on facebook
by 'Disney's Marvel' on Facebook

from the SomethingAwful forums

by David B Cooper
by 'imandarr'
by 'iMandarr'
stockton con entry by jliacademy
An entry for the Stockton convention competition entry by jliacademy
Werecat Studios
published by Werecat Studios
Avatar tribute by 'comic chic'
Avatar tribute by 'comic chic'
The Deviant Universe, by xdante619
The Deviant Universe, by xdante619
by TurkeyCreaux
by TurkeyCreaux

by 'Heck13r'
by 'routemaster'
by 'routemaster'
from 6th grade (aged 11 or 12)
BY 'bahumit12' when in 6th grade (aged 11 or 12)
by Danny Limor
by Danny Limor
by Ben Baker
by Ben Baker
by 'Rocket Stevo'
by 'Rocket Stevo'
by Albert Bryan Bigley as a child (mash up of FF1 and FF171)-says-ff1
by Albert Bryan Bigley as a child (mash up of FF1 and FF171)
by KayfabeTB
by KayfabeTB, based on his daughter's art
by 'mr_chewtoy'
combined FF1 and Action Comics 1 tribute by 'mr_chewtoy'

Jonathan Rector (pencils) and 'blade1158' (inks)
by 'Lima Hibiki'
by Lima Hibiki
by 'JohnnyRocker666'
by 'JohnnyRocker666'

Christmas card by 'The Real Tony'

Christmas card by Mark Engblom

by Danny Wall

by 'Stephen' and Randy Sargent
by 'bridgitall digital'
by 'bridgitall digital' - "somewhat loosely based on the first issue of Marvel's Fantastic Four"
by Mike Mcelwee
by Mike Mcelwee

by 'BlackRhinoRanger', DeviantArt
by Justin Peterson
by Justin Peterson'
by "clayyount" at tumblr
pencils: Jonathan Rector; inks: 'blade1158'
by "mochita chan" -  a mash up of the FF, Star Trek, Dr Who, and more (right click for larger version)
by 'RedmondJFox'
by 'RedmondJFox'
worldofagwu -Flickr
by 'worldofagwu' on Flickr:
old school low res 8 bit
'Chouette Hamster Four' by 'blackbeardpirate'
'Chouette Hamster Four' by 'blackbeardpirate
by Danny HavoK
by Danny HavoK

acrylic on canvas by 'soaringcat'
a painted reproduction: acrylic on canvas by 'soaringcat'

Atomic Cover by 'mbaker'
Atomic Cover by 'mbaker'
by 'myporcelaintears'
by 'myporcelaintears'
by Capital Capers
by Capital Capers

by Chris Uminga
by Chuck Bedard
by Chuck Bedard
from "Zig and-Zag's Zogazine"
from "Zig and-Zag's Zogazine" (I like this one a lot)
by 'bukshot'
by 'bukshot'

by Katie Cook (for trading cards)
I don't normally include foreign reprints, but this Australian one has crazy colors, and a nice Thing corner icon on the opposite side to normal. Such reprints illustrate just how far the FF's fame spread.
by Alejandro Rosado
By Alejandro Rosado, who described this as a Kirby "homage-tribute".
on plastic
Redrawn by hand on plastic
by Legacy Brand Comics inc
Tetrorganic Tetrad by 'Gizmo_Tracer' - the first photographic tribute!
Tetrorganic Tetrad by 'Gizmo_Tracer' - the first photographic tribute!
amazing world of gumball by waniramirez
"amazing world of gumball"
by waniramirez'
by Rus Wooton (
by Rus Wooton (
Fat Furry Freak Brothers
More than one kind of "underground" :)
Defective Comics
Sinnott again! For FF645

by "jbinks" (JB Sapienza) at DeviantArt>
A variant is titled 'Comics Appeal" with slightly different text

by 'Johnnyism'
my least favorite
by 'MenziesTank'
(note the text box from FF1, so yes this counts as a homage)

a rare side view, by '8 bit blanka'

I love this one!
In 3D acrylic, by 'fmoll10092'

Star Wars, by 'm7781' on Deviantart. This is superb!!
by Willie J Smith II
by Willie J Smith II

'The Fowl Tempered Four'
(Angry Birds!)
By 'AngusMctavish'
Bob's Burgers
Bob's Burgers, by TheMuchoMan
roller derby poster by 'punkrockphil'
roller derby poster by 'punkrockphil'
jayoh83 of HeroesOfTheWorld
by 'jayoh83' of 'HeroesOfTheWorld'
by psychoslaughter
by 'psychoslaughter'

by "JDH" at statueforums

by Dave Gutierrez
Power pack
'Power Pack vs the bogeyman'
by '_by_onyxswami'

by Paul Shinn
Phileas Flash: made with balloons
Phileas Flash:with balloons
by Brendan Tobin
by Brendan Tobin
'Lost Souls' tribute by 'DoomsdayPicnic'
"Lost Souls" tribute by "DoomsdayPicnic"

by Frenz and Curiel
by Frenz and Curiel, from the Pineapple Thing period (circa FF310-320): note that this is underground
The original redrawn, by *TigerArtStudio on deviantArt

by Craig Rousseau
Dara from ferret press
by dara from Ferret Press
Matt Feazell
by Matt Feazel (from memory)

by Christopher Burdett
based on Very Near Mint
'Fantastic Rhino' by Ivan Fiorelli
'Fantastic Rhino' by Ivan Fiorelli
by c21 of              deviantart
by "c21" at deviantart
'the supavillian' by 'BrianBuster'
'the supavillian' by 'BrianBuster'

by Mark Rand
by Laurence DuCheny
by Laurence DuCheny
ayelid-deviantart by 'ayelid' on deviantart

rare 1994 fanzine by jkcarrier
by Lucifer Sims
 by Lucifer Sims

by Karl Kesel (he should be writing AND drawing the FF!)
by Joseph Morris
by Joseph Morris
by Gary Lee
by Gary Lee

parody lecture by Chad Carlson

by 'ajdiChart'
Rainer Engel
by Rainer Engel

2021 and later. (No attempt to organise these: it takes too long!)
the Three Stooges
the Three Stooges
Alien Queen by Joshua Cassara
Alien Queen by Joshua Cassara
Charley and Humphrey
Charley and Humphrey
by Tom Ryan
by Tom Ryan
by Fernando Ruiz
by Fernando Ruiz
by Scottie Young
Love this one! (Scottie Young)
Rick and Morty by 'DemonigoteCamis'
Rick and Morty by 'DemonigoteCamis'
Hannah Barbera's Galaxy Trio
Hannah Barbera's Galaxy Trio

What? You want more? OK...


from the 1994 cartoon, season 2

from the 2006 cartoon, season 1, episode 13

The ending to The Incredibles: see below


by Art Adams: see model, right ->

<- see cover, left

these models by Hasbro

by Heroclix


Marvel Heroes
From the 'Marvel Heroes' game
superhero squad game
From the Superhero Squad game
Champions/Heroes role playing game
Champions/Heroes RPG guide


The Whitechapel forum invited artists to create their own cover of Fantastic Four 1, as if they had never read the comic but just knew it was about four astronauts gaining super powers. Here are just a few of the many responses:

by Chris G
by Chris G
by Paul Sizer
by Paul-Sizer
by mrmcdaniel
by mrmcdaniel

And of course
the entire
Marvel Universe
is a tribute
to FF 1

Single panels

from 'Franklin Richards, Sons of Geniuses' 1
Marvel Zombieverse

from Defenders 12

from sketch comics

from Exiles 67
Vision issue 4
from Vision 4
FF unlimited
from FF Unlimited 6
(dialog is from the cover of FF1)


Another issue 1 cake!
Thanks to Karl Disley
for spotting this

1966 audio production of issue 1
Maximum FF
Maximum Fantastic Four, a coffee table sized tribute to issue 1: every frame becomes a full page
The pop-up book: the perfect format for the image!

"Nearly everything about Giant-Size X-Men #1 is a familiar echo of FF1: the Magnificent Seven-like gathering of the team, the dysfunctional bickering, the mysterious island to which they are summoned, even the dramatic escape by plane as the island explodes behind them." - Sean Howe, Marvel Comics p.155

The best known FF homage

The Incredibles

"The best FF movie and story was The Incredibles"
(Matt Fraction, FF writer)

"The Incredibles was little more than a thinly-disguised FF rip-off"
(Dial B for Blog)

"You’d have to be blind to miss the Fantastic Four references in Pixar’s The Incredibles."
(Gamma Squad)

"Pixar’s Fantastic Four homage"
(The Comics Code blog)

"The best Fantastic Four movie ever made. 'Nuff said."
(Furious Fan Boys')

Q: "What non-marvel book, movie or tv show have you seen that you would consider the most like a marvel comic?"
A: "It's all right if I say The Incredibles now, right?"

(Tom Brevoort, FF editor and Executive Editor at Marvel. Comment made after Disney bought Marvel.)

When Pixar made The Incredibles they did not have the rights to the Fantastic Four. So they made it different enough to get past the lawyers. But it's closer to the comic than any of the official movies. "Incredible" and "Fantastic" mean pretty much the same thing. This infographic by "CrowMaiden" at DeviantArt points out some of the parallels:

More parallels:

Core concept: A family of four fantastic / incredible superheroes (plus baby), led by Mr Fantastic / Incredible.
Mr Fantastic:
Mr Incredible. Stretching powers switched to the Sue character.
Invisible Girl:
The girl. Who becomes invisible. And has Sue's distinctive invisible forcefields.
The Thing:
Mr Incredible has the same power, size, and personality (long-suffering but enjoys clobbering). He even has a notable forehead. Note that the Thing did not become rocky at first, but simply had a monstrous hide. We see that briefly at the end, with his son Jak Jak.
The Torch:
The blond hot headed kid brother with super-mobility. Once again actual torch power is transferred to Jak Jak (seen at the end, and prominently in the "Jak Jak Attack" short.)
Baby Franklin:
Jak Jak, the baby with vaguely defined all-purpose power like Franklin. "Jak-Jak" may be a reference to Jack Kirby.
Plain primary color, black cloves and collar, symbol in circle on chest. The early costume in flashbacks was shown to be blue. (Note that the original Human Torch, and the new one briefly, wore red.) Even the masks are the same, though these were dropped from the comic before publication.
Main enemy:
Syndrome. Though modern readers think of Dr Doom as the FF's main adversary, the Wizard was the first to decisively defeat the Fantastic Four. Syndrome has the same power: he's a non-powered guy who's great at inventing things. He has the same envy and need to prove himself, the same extra large head, the same purple and silver colors, the same wonder gloves, the same specialism in anti-gravity, etc. Though Syndrome does have Dr Doom's cloak: an important plot device in the movie.
The Mole Man:
The Underminer (the last image instead of the first: don't want to make it too obvious!)
Silver Surfer:
Frozone: just look at the pictures of him on his ice board, e.g. in the movie poster.
Main themes:
Mr Incredible/Mr Fantastic loses sight of what matters most.
1960s vibe: optimism, excitement, secret government agencies who are good guys with crazy technology, etc.
Time moves forward.

The case against the Incredibles

Some people say that "The Incredibles" owes a lot to "Watchmen" or "Dark Knight Returns:" It's about alienation from the public. Yet this was the dominant theme of the early FF issues: see the commentary to issue 2. Watchmen and Dark Knight have superheroes retiring because the public no longer want them. This happened first in the Fantastic Four: In issue 114 where they're in court for the damage they caused.
in court

In FF160 the FF incorporate, and the main reason (implied though not stated) is the legal costs of being sued for property damage after every battle. In Byrne's run the team move to a suburban house and take secret identities, and they retire completely (and Reed hates being retired) in Englehart's run. But more important, the big theme in the Fantastic Four and the Incredibles is the need to put family first,a nd find the right balance between work and home. And unlike the Watchmen or Dark Knight, the Incredibles is fundamentally bright and optimistic. Its message is that life is great if you focus on the family. It's the message of the Fantastic Four.

Why the Incredibles was better than the official movies

"Take away their powers and this could have been any ordinary family; which was exactly the same reason why Marvel’s Fantastic Four had worked so well for years in the comics, as this was how they were day in day out, with the same set of dynamics, just applied to a different set of characters.  The reason they failed to match this on the big-screen whilst The Incredibles did, was because the family dynamic was used to fill in the gaps of the story, instead of being the focus." (source)

To see how far the modern FF has fallen from the original vision, read the debate over who would win in a fight:

"I also think F4 would win. But that's because The Incredibles is more grounded on reality."

and "I always had the impression that The Incredibles was a 'family' version of the Fantastic Four."

Read that and weep, old time Fantasti-fans. The original Fantastic Four was defined by realism and family. Oh how times have changed. How are the mighty fallen. But "The Incredibles" is proof that the original Fantastic Four concept is as strong as ever: ground the story in reality! Make the story work even if you took away the powers! Make them fallible, but above all bright and optimistic! What worked in the 1960s can work again. Come on Marvel, just do it. Bring back the original Fantastic Four.

Inspiration for the original cover

Fantastic Four 1 is a mix of Jack Kirby's Challengers of the Unknown (four heroes fight a monster bursting up from the deep) with the "monster bursting from the ground" from Amazing Adventures, and Journey Into Mystery 58.

precursorsJourney Into Mystery 58

Liberty and the underground

This one is controversial, and it definitely wasn't conscious. But think of how Kirby drew that first cover, the desperate state of Timely comics at the time, his determination to create something amazing and inspirational, the theme of alienation and idealism in those first issues... work with me here.

There were earlier underground monsters, but this was the first one to have the classic Statue of Liberty pose, with the green color and statue of liberty spikes. This is most obvious when comparing the Zombie versions:

Alex Ross painted version

This was not deliberate. But it fits the zeitgeist of 1961: see the discussion of alienation in the notes to issue 2.

The idea of a buried statue of liberty was not new, and not restricted to comics:

Statue of Liberty
1979 art instalation
1979 art installation in Wisconsin

The Statue of Liberty is a repeated theme in the Fantastic Four universe. The Human Torch meets Spider-Man at Liberty's Torch every Christmas, and at other times when they need to talk. The practice began in Strange Tales annual 2.
Torch and spidey

Liberty was already a mainstay of the comics before 1961. When Prince Namor first declared war on America (in Marvel Comics 7, then renamed Marvel Mystery Comics) he made the Statue of Liberty his base.

Namor in the statue of liberty

Liberty features prominently just after the landmark issue 200, which was all about equality and the end of the American Dream (see the notes to that issue). Here in FF 203 the team must face alternate versions of themselves, in a battle on Liberty herself.


On the cover to FF1, the Human Torch is shown flying from where Liberty's torch would be, and Reed is "yearning to be free". But what is the significance of the monster holding Sue instead of the torch? Sue is held up as the light that the team must follow: cooperation, not conflict,

Questions about the cover

Why is Mr Fantastic tied up?

Many have asked who tied Mr Fantastic up, and why The Invisible Girl thinks that turning invisible will help. The answer is that this is a symbolic cover: the event never happened in exactly this way in the story, but it serves to introduce all the main concepts. Yen4zen observed that if the event actually happened like that, no doubt the team were demonstrating their powers to onlookers (hence the ropes) when the monster quickly burst through the road. There is also the possibility that this was originally designed with non-super powered people in mind: perhaps the foreground originally showed something different.

"I can't turn invisible fast enough"

Why would invisibility help? The cover is in movement: the Torch is moving, Reed is feeing himself quickly, and fragments of the car are shattering. So we must conclude that Sue is in the process of just being grabbed. Sue clearly hoped to surprise the monster the moment he lunged for her, making him miss her. But she was a split second too slow. It is also possible that being invisible allows her to more easily slip between objects: in issue 1 she slips easily between people in a crowd. This may be the first hint of her forcefield.

"Together for the first time"

This implies they had appeared before. And they had, in all the ways that matter.

  1. The Human Torch character was well known from the golden age.
  2. Characters like the Thing were well known from monster comics (and sometimes with that exact name).
  3. "The Invisible Man" was well known, as were other invisible characters.
  4. It was easy enough to recognize the name "Mr Fantastic" as meaning a particular type of person (male, confident, having amazing abilities to defeat bad guys, etc. His powers were similar to Timely's "Thin Man" from 1940.

True, these precise individuals had not appeared before, but the character tropes were familiar. In the same way, if the comic said "Batman of Earth 2" you could say you had seen him before as "Batman of Earth 1" even though they were technically different Batmen. They were the same super identity even if the alter ego was different.

Why does Ben smash the car?

Ben is pushing the car out of the way. Everything about the issue indicates speed: every split second counts. Sue was almost certainly standing in front of Reed, being grabbed, when Ben arrived. He had to push the car out of the way for speed.

The secret to Marvel's history is all there on the cover

The three technical symbols on the cover give the real world business reasons why the Fantastic Four exist:

Comics Code
Comics were blamed for juvenile delinquency in the 1950s. Sales collapsed, and the comics only survived because they voluntarily created the "comics code" to guarantee morally safe stories. But one result of the collapse in sales was that Marvel (then called Atlas) lost its distributor, and the company almost shut down.

These comics are distributed by "Independent News", owned by rival comics publisher National (now better known as DC). After Marvel lost its distributor it had to rely on its rival and was only allowed eight books per month, instead of the previous fifty or so. This led to more attention on each book, and to Stan Lee's thought of leaving comics, leading him to take more risks. it also led to the first issues looking like monster comics: clearly Marvel did not want to annoy DC by suddenly producing their own version of the Justice League.


This is where the name "Marvel Comics" came from. The name was a convenience for advertisers: advertisers would buy space in a group of magazines, and this group of comics was classes as the "Marvel" group, after the name of the popular comic that introduced Namor and the Human Torch in 1941. The official name for the comic was different almost every issue: look in the small print at the bottom of each splash page. The ever changing name was probably for legal reasons: comics operated on a shoestring and this made them hard to sue. After sales increased it became necessary to have a  stronger corporate presence, and so "Marvel Comics" became the preferred name.

Changes in the original cover

The original cover art was changed before publication. Reprints tend to go back to the earlier version.
Coloring changes with almost every printing.


The Great American Novel