The one that started it all, “Fantastic Four” #1 (by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, George Klein, Christopher Rule, Stan Goldberg, and Artie Simek), is first on the list of comics to read, and for a good reason.

The debut issue introduces Marvel’s First Family to readers, recounting the story of how a group of scientists snuck aboard a rocket during the Space Race with the Soviet Union and were exposed to cosmic rays, granting them incredible power — an origin that’s remained largely intact to this day. The team bands together (without costumes, which they didn’t receive until their third issue) and travels to Monster Isle, where they take on one of their most iconic villains (no, it’s not Doctor Doom), Mole Man. Shunned by the world, the Fantastic Four foe makes the island his home and plans to use the monsters who live underground to get revenge on humanity.

“Fantastic Four” #1 sets the tone for the superteam’s science fiction-themed adventures, introduces their power sets and personalities, and establishes Mole Man as one of their most notorious and long-lasting villains. While Kirby and Lee probably didn’t realize it at the time of the issue’s release, the comic set in motion a new age of heroes. Now, more than 60 years later, the Fantastic Four remain as relevant and influential as ever.

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