Concerning Marvel Essentials: Fantastic Four Volume One, Covering issues 1-20 and Annual 1
As heroic as the FF were their opponents, the antagonists, the villains were just as “larger than life” as our heroes. These “bad guys” were than just moustache twirling villains ala Dick Dastardly and Muttley. Many were just as tragic too, here is a quick look at the five of my favorite antagonists from the first 20 issues:
What makes a lot of Marvel villains great characters is that they are just as if not more tragic than the heroes. I get Magneto because if I had been through what he had been through my reaction might very well be the same and that is what makes him work.
Mole Man is the same, shunned by everyone around him he retreats underground where no one can hurt him anymore. People suck so I kind of root for MM when he is at bat. His monsters don’t care what he looks like but the damage has been done. He has festered underground and let his inner Gollum out and Precious, he wants revenge.
The Skrulls (and Super Skrull) were perfect in the era when Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) was only five years old at the time so it was fresh. McCarthyism had died down the Cold War was still red hot. Enter these shape shifting simpletons that are not to be trifled with. These BEMs have the pointed ears and green skin of any alien of the era but what really works are those grooves in the Skrull chin. AND not only could these guys look like us they can look like anything living, your cat, your dog, your mom, your teachers, whatever.
Then if that wasn’t bad enough let’s put one on super power steroids that can mimic the powers of your heroes! The whole concept of the Skrulls has been a key element to many plotlines in the Marvel Universe and they started here, in a water tower shaped spaceship.
Rama Tut‘s back story is all over the place and has been ret-conned and re-ret-conned and re-re-retconned again that he could also be a Doctor Who villain. He may or may not but eventually does (but maybe doesn’t) become the Big Time Avengers baddie known as Kang the Conqueror. Then it starts to get really confusing.
Not really a villain but not a hero either, Namor is Namor, the King of Atlantis with roots that go all the way back to Marvel Comics Number One. I am willing to bet that the idea of the love triangle between him, Sue and Reed is from Stan. Since then Namor has been hero, villain, King, Avenger, X-Man and maybe the founder of a great seafood restaurant in the Florida Keys and the inspiration of the Jimmy Buffet song “A Pirate Looks At Forty.” This Bill Everett creation has some sea legs. Eh? See what I did there? What is great is that they waste no time in teaming him up with…
His first appearance got a little goofy with Ben Grimm travelling back through time, putting on a pirate costume and becoming Blackbeard. I would say you can’t make this stuff up except that they made this stuff up.
Doctor Victor Von Doom is more than a “villain,” though sometimes he is just that. Once Upon a Time no Marvel comic series or character/team was considered to have “arrived” until they put in their time versus the not-so-good Doctor. To say a lot will be done with the character is an understatement because not only is he the FF’s arch-arch villain he also fills that role for the entire Marvel Universe.