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Fantastic Four Reading Order

On November 1961, a page of comic book history was written when the Fantastic Four comic debuted. The first issue was an unexpected success, and the public simply fell in love with the First Family. It played a massive role in making Marvel the company we know, launching and influencing the superhero comics in a new direction.

Traditionally, the Fantastic Four are Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic), scientific genius and leader; Susan “Sue” Storm (Invisible Woman), Reed’s partner and co-leader; Johnny Storm (The Human Torch), Sue’s little brother; and Ben Grimm (The Thing), pilot and best friend. They all gained superpowers following exposure to cosmic rays during a scientific mission to outer space.

The Fantastic Four are maybe the most famous superheroes in the Marvel Universe, as they chose to become celebrities instead of hiding their real identities from the public.

If the name of the team implies they are only four members, the roster of the famous ‘family’ has changed several times, and sometimes, other characters have been members. Crystal, Medusa (from the Inhumans), She-Hulk, Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Storm and Black Panther, and even Spider-Man have been at some point or other members of the team.

They fought and stop more than once the Supreme Leader Doctor Doom but also had several encounters with Galactus, Ronan the Accuser, Namor, Silver Surfer, the Mole Man, the Frightful Four, and more. They worked with the Avengers, the X-Men, and other Marvel superheroes to save the world.

This most emblematic team has lived a lot, and it’s time to explore those adventures with a Fantastic Four reading order!

Fantastic Four Comics Reading Order

Notes on collections: Marvel Masterworks is a collection of hardcover reprints of classic stories in chronological order. A premium edition with restored artwork. Since 2021, Marvel started the Mighty Marvel Masterworks, a new (smaller in size) trade paperback line. The Epic Collection line is a numbered collection of sequential issues of one title (large, full-color trade paperback), sometimes including crossovers from related titles, starting from the beginning of a character – not released sequentially.

Fantastic Four Reading Order: The FF-Menu

  1. Fantastic Four, from 1961 to 1996
  2. Heroes Reborn (aka Fantastic Four Vol. 2)
  3. Fantastic Four: Heroes Return, from 1998 to 2002
  4. Fantastic Four by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, from 2002 to 2005
  5. Marvel Knights 4, from 2001 to 2006
  6. Fantastic Four by J. Michael Straczynski, Dwayne McDuffie, and Mark Millar, from 2004 to 2009
  7. Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four, from 2009 to 2012
  8. Marvel Now Fantastic Four by Matt Fraction, from 2012 to 2014
  9. Fantastic Four Vol. 5 by James Robinson, 2014-2015
  10. All-New All-Different Fantastic Four, from 2015 to 2018
  11. Fantastic Four are back in Marvel Fresh Start, from 2018 to present

Fantastic Four Omnibus Collection

Collecting the Fantastic Four series is a massive endeavor as there are so many books, but Marvel’s Omnibus Collection offers a shortcut with multiple big volumes. The collection is ongoing and not complete for now. You’ll find more details about the series with the detailed reading orders below.

Fantastic Four, from 1961 to 1996

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the first volume of Fantastic Four went from 1961 to 1996, as the series was canceled with issue #416 (Sept. 1996). During that time, the FF learned to use their powers and dealt with their loss and regain, split up more than once, were joined by other members, had a lot of team-ups, tackled invasions from outer space, and much more! During that time, spin-offs and miniseries were also created.

Notes: For now, the first part of the reading order is built around The Fantastic Four Masterworks collection as it is the most complete for now concerning the main FF series. You’ll find later in the guide listings for the Fantastic Four Epic Collection–those ones also collect stories published in other series and are more affordable.


The Fantastic Four were so popular that the next logical step was to launch a spin-off. So The young Human Torch became the star of his own series in the pages of Strange Tales. As Marvel informs us, after a hot streak of solo stories, the Torch was joined by the Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing, and the two teammates tackled some of the wildest ne’er-do-wells of the Silver Age: the Wizard, the Sandman, the Rabble Rouser, Plantman and the one and only Paste-Pot Pete! Also features Marvel’s first fire and ice battle between the Torch and the X-Men’s Iceman and guest stars Spider-Man, Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman and a Famous Foursome named John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Those stories take place between FF#14 and FF #44.

Those stories were also collected in Marvel Masterworks: The Human Torch Volume 1 and Volume 2.


 Crystal from the Inhumans joins the team in issue #81, during Sue’s leave of absence.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s run on the FF came to an end around here, after more than 100 issues. Kirby left Marvel in the mid-70s and Lee stopped writing comic books in 1972 to be a publisher. His last issue on FF was #125. Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Len Wein, and Marv Wolfman became regular writers, working with artists John Romita Sr., John Buscema, Rich Buckler, and George Pérez.

Crystal leaves the team in FF #105.

Invisible Girl leaves the group in #130, Medusa takes her place in the line-up in #132.


After The Human Torch, it’s time for The Thing to have his own series, Marvel Two-in-One. This is a Team-Up book where Ben Grimm is teaming up with a different character in each issue, such as Moon Knight, Adam Warlock, Scarlet Witch, The Guardians of The Galaxy, The Inhumans, She-Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man. It lasted 100 issues and the title is right now released in the Masterworks line:

Marvel also started collected the series in Epic Collection:


Medusa leaves the group in #159 and returns to the Inhumans. Also in #159, Invisible Girl is back on the team as a full member.

Luke Cage is hired by Mr Fantastic to be a member in FF #168. He stayed only three issues.

The Fantastic Four Epic Collection

As announced earlier, the Fantastic Four Epic Collection is not complete yet and it’s harder to organize a reading order around it. However, they are for most the preferred way to read the stories as the books go beyond the FF main series. Here are the ones available up to that point:

The next Fantastic Four Epic Collection books available come after John Byrne’s run on the series.

John Byrne joined the FF as an artist with issue #209, before writing his first story with #220-221. At the time, it was supposed to be a promotional comic for Coca-Cola but was rejected as too violent. John Byrne’s run as writer, penciler, and inker began with issue #232. He revitalized the title, before leaving in the middle of a storyline, with issue #292 being his last.

Note: These Fantastic Four by John Byrne stories are also collected in the omnibus collection.

From issue #239, a longtime ally of the team, Frankie Raye (later Nova) aids the team as another Human Torch before leaving at FF #244.

After #248, The Fantastic Four are forced to be part of the Marvel Super Hero Contest Of Champions, the first Marvel event miniseries.


It’s Ben Grimm – the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing – on his own for the first time, in his solo series, simply titled The Thing! As John Byrne wrote the first 22 issues, the title runs alongside the FF.  Afterward, Mike Carlin took over as the main writer for the rest of the series. The whole series will be soon available in Omnibus form!

  • The Thing Omnibus
    Collects Thing (1983) #1-36; Fantastic Four (1961) #274, 277, 296; Secret Wars II (1985) #7; West Coast Avengers (1985) #10; Questprobe (1984) #3; Marvel Tales (1964) #198; Marvel Graphic Novel: Hulk & Thing – The Big Change (1987); material from Marvel Fanfare (1982) #15, Marvel Super-Heroes (1990) #5.

Secret Wars! Takes place between #264 & #265. Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes and villains are set against one another by the mysterious and all-powerful Beyonder. It’s a 12-issue miniseries collected in Secret Wars Omnibus.

Following this event, She-Hulk officially joins the Fantastic Four as Ben’s replacement.

  • Fantastic Four Masterworks Vol. 25
     Collects Fantastic Four (1961) #269-277, Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #18, Thing (1983) #19, 23, material from Epic Illustrated (1980) #26-34.
  • Thing Classic Vol. 2
    Collects Thing (1983) #11-22 and Fantastic Four (1961) #274.
  • Fantastic Four Masterworks Vol. 26
    Collects Fantastic Four (1961) #278-285 and Annual #19, Avengers Annual #14, Marvel Graphic Novel #18: The Sensational She-Hulk and material from Secret Wars II #2.

Secret Wars II Reading OrderSecret Wars II! #282, #285, #288 And #316-319 are part of the Secret Wars II crossover event. See the reading order to know more about it.

 

Marvel M LogoFor now, the Masterworks Collection stops here. The Fantastic Four Visionaries collection continues before the Epic line takes over for the last part of this volume.

From here to the end of the first volume of The Fantastic Four, everything has been collected in the Fantastic Four Epic Collection.

In issue #305, Crystal returns to the FF to take the place of Sue and Reed for a time, as they take a leave of absence. And in issue #306, Ms. Marvel (alias Sharon Ventura) joins the FF–she leaves the group in issue #354.

X-Men Reading Order - X-LogoFantastic Four (1961) #322-324 are also collected in X-Men: Inferno Omnibus as part of this X-Men event.

Ant-Man (Scott Lang) is part of the team during FF #384-408 (then acts as a supporting player until issue #416) and Lyja (Alicia Masters) joins the team for a short stint, from #403 to #408.

The new series Fantastic Force started around here and lasted 18 issues.
Only #7-9 have been collected at this date in the trade below:

X-Men Reading Order - X-LogoOnslaught! Fantastic Four #414-416 are part of this Marvel event, leading us to a new Marvel era…

  • X-Men / Avengers: Onslaught Omnibus
    Collects Wolverine #104-105; Cable #32-36; Uncanny X-Men #333-337; X-Force #55, #57-58; X-Man #15-19; X-Men (vol. 2) #53-57, Annual ’96; X-Men Unlimited #11; Onslaught: X-Men, Marvel Universe, Epilogue; Avengers #401-402; Fantastic Four #415; Incredible Hulk #444-445; X-Factor #125-126; Amazing Spider-Man #415; Green Goblin #12; Spider-Man #72; Iron Man #332; Punisher #11; Thor #502; X-Men: Road to Onslaught #1; material from Excalibur #100, Fantastic Four #416.

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Heroes Reborn (aka Fantastic Four Vol. 2)

With the Onslaught Saga (see full reading order for more details), the Marvel Universe was… changed. Following the apparent deaths of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and Doctor Doom, Marvel asked the Image Comics founder to come back to relaunch their heroes. This led to the Heroes Reborn era.

Here is the official synopsis: Marvel’s greatest heroes, revamped and reborn! Featuring Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, the FF, and more — on a whole new world, boldly reimagined by the hottest creators of the 1990s! Steve Rogers takes on the mantle of the Sentinel of Liberty, gains a brand-new sidekick, and faces down the Red Skull! Cap, Hawkeye, Vision, Swordsman, Hellcat, and more form the Avengers, but can they awaken Thor and defeat the devious Loki? The Fantastic Four face old threats for the first time, from the Mole Man to Doctor Doom! The newly forged Iron Man takes on Hydra and the incredible Hulk! But can these reborn heroes save the Earth from the hunger of Galactus?

 

  • Heroes Reborn: The Original Epic Omnibus
    Collects Heroes Reborn (1996) 1/2, Captain America (1996) #1-12, Avengers (1996) #1-12, Fantastic Four (1996) #1-12, Iron Man (1996) #1-12, material from Incredible Hulk (1968) #450.
  • Heroes Reborn: Fantastic Four (Only The Fantastic Four material)
    Collects Heroes Reborn: Fantastic Four #1-12.
  • Heroes Reborn: The Return
    Collects Heroes Reborn: The Return #1-4; Heroes Reborn: Doomsday, Ashema, Masters Of Evil, Rebel, Remnants, Young Allies And Doom.

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Fantastic Four: Heroes Return, from 1998 to 2002

Like other Marvel heroes, The Fantastic Four make their return to the Marvel Universe — with Scott Lobdell, Chris Claremont, Alan Davis and Salvador Larroca! And old enemies lie in wait, including the Mole Man, the Red Ghost, the Trapster, Ronan the Accuser, the Frightful Four, Terminus and Crucible!

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Fantastic Four by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, from 2002 to 2005

You can always count on Mark Waid to give you a great modern entry point for new readers! And his run with Mike Wieringo on Fantastic Four (part of our 25 Best Marvel Comics to read) is no exception to the rule! Learn more about the First Family and their enemies in a run full of fun and adventures.

Waid & Wieringo’s run is collected in omnibus.

 

Fantastic Four by Waid & Wieringo Ultimate Collection

Quite popular, Waid & Wieringo’s Fantastic Four run has been collected in an Ultimate Collection.

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Marvel Knights 4, from 2001 to 2006

Launched in 1998, the Marvel Knights Imprint featured standalone material set within the Marvel Universe (Earth-616). Despite that fact, the first Fantastic Four story published under this label in 2001 is considered out of continuity. But we’re still putting it here, as it is Grant Morrison’s take on the First Family, putting them through hell during four issues.

Published between 2004 and 2006, Marvel Knights 4 was published concurrently with the primary Fantastic Four series, with writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Steve McNiven telling different stories with the First Family. The first twelve issues take place between FF #516 and #517.

Those next issues occur between FF #526 and #527…

Things are a little bit more complicated for the last collection. Marvel Knights 4 #25-27 mostly occur before FF #527, Marvel Knights 4 #28 should be read before FF #533, and finally, the last two issues take place after FF #537.

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Fantastic Four by J. Michael Straczynski, Dwayne McDuffie, and Mark Millar, from 2004 to 2009

From the mid/late 2000s came the often forgotten runs from J. Michael Straczynski, Dwayne McDuffie, and Mark Millar as we also enter a period full of crossovers with House of M, Civil War, and Secret Invasion.

 

It’s The Civil War! The U.S. Government proposed the Superhuman Registration Act, intending to register all super-powered beings as living weapons of mass destruction and requiring all costumed heroes to unmask themselves before the government and subject themselves to federally mandated standards. Heroes had to choose between rallying behind either Iron Man’s pro-registration forces or Captain America’s opposition. The Civil War began, go to the reading order.

In #544, Reed and Sue take a leave of absence, and Storm and Black Panther join the group as their replacement for a story arc.

The following stories were written by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch and were also collected in one omnibus.

The Secret Invasion begins with a brutal battle between the New Avengers and the Hand—one that claims the life of Elektra and reveals that she was a Skrull! What does this mean for Tony Stark and his Mighty Avengers? How about the Illuminati? go to the Reading Order!

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Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four, from 2009 to 2012

As we entered the Dark Reign era, Jonathan Hickman took over Fantastic Four and produced one of the most celebrated runs of modern Marvel comics. For a reading order issue by issue (and in trade paperbacks), see our dedicated Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four reading order.

During that period, we saw the creation of the Future Foundation (Fantastic Four #579), a philanthropic organization created to better serve humanity’s future. It’s also the name of the team after a tragedy, with Spider-Man as a member of the group.

 

Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four run is also available in the omnibus collection.

Be afraid of Fear Itself! A 2011 crossover Marvel Comics event written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Stuart Immonen. It’s not from Bendis, but it affected all of the Marvel Universe, including the Fantastic Four of course. The entire planet has been seized by Fear and only chaos reigns. The Serpent, Asgard’s most ancient evil, has awakened and is feeding off the fear of Earth’s populace. Don’t be afraid, the Reading Order is here.

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Marvel Now Fantastic Four by Matt Fraction, from 2012 to 2014

When you’re the First Family, your vacation is more cosmic than the ordinary mortal! This is Matt Fraction’s run on the Fantastic Four who send the family on holiday through time and space, with artist Mark Badgley.

But no worries, the Earth is not left without protection, as they have formed a new team to guard the planet, comprising of Ant-Man (Scott Lang), She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters), Medusa (from the Inhumans), and Ms. Thing! They are the FF, penciled by Mike Allred.

Matt Fraction’s Fantastic Four run is also available in the omnibus collection.

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Fantastic Four Vol. 5 by James Robinson, 2014-2015

With writer James Robinson and artist Leonard, Marvel’s first family heads towards their darkest hour, and the Marvel Universe towards its end…

 

The 2015 Secret Wars! Written by Jonathan Hickman, this is a Fantastic Four event. The interdimensional Incursions have eliminated each and every alternate universe one by one. And now, the Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe have collided…and been destroyed! All that exists in the vast empty cosmos is a single, titanic patchwork planet made of the fragmented remains of hundreds of devastated dimensions: Battleworld! Go here to find the full reading order of the event

  • Secret Wars
    Collects Secret Wars #0,#1-9, Free Comic Book Day 2015.

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All-New All-Different Fantastic Four, from 2015 to 2018

Since their launch in 1961, Fantastic Four always headlined their own title… until now. Following Secret Wars, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and their children disappeared. In this Marvel relaunch, Human Torch appeared in Uncanny Inhumans, but also joined the Unity Squad in Uncanny Avengers. The Thing became part of the Guardians of the Galaxy for a short time, before becoming an Agent of Shield in a supporting capacity in Infamous Iron Man.

Civil War II - Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan Reading OrderEvent Alert! It’s time for Civil War II. When a new Inhuman emerges, with the ability to profile the future, the ramifications ripple into every corner of the Marvel Universe. To know more about it, a full reading order is here

Secret Empire! Captain America is living a lie! The Cosmic Cube has remade him into a secret true believer in the cause of Hydra! Now, Steve Rogers makes Hydra’s ideals a reality—and changes the landscape of the world dramatically! For more, go to the Secret Empire Reading Order.

This is the Fantastic Two! Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm are reunited in a quest to find their family in Marvel Two-in-One by Chip Zdarsky, with other side adventures!

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Fantastic Four are back in Marvel Fresh Start, from 2018 to present

The Fantastic Four reunited at last! Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny are brought back together, under the creative team of writer Dan Slott and artist Sarah Pichelli. This is a Fresh Start for the First Family of Marvel.

Empyre Reading OrderEmpyre! An Avengers/Fantastic Four event. Old allies make a distress call to the Avengers with news of a terrible enemy that could wipe out humanity itself. The Celestial Messiah has returned – but is Earth ready to hear his message? Meanwhile, in the most unlikely of places, the Fantastic Four witness the final conflict of the Kree/Skrull War…and a long-hidden Elder of the Universe stands revealed! With the Kree and the Skrulls united under a new emperor, their war fleet charts a course – for Earth! Here is the full reading order.

A cosmic saga years in the making! Before the Kree, Skrull or Shi’ar Empires…before the emergence of Galactus…before the birth of Asgard…there was the First War. The greatest conflict to ever rage across the Multiverse. Today, it is reignited. This…is the Day of Reckoning! And all that stands between all of reality and revenge from the dawn of time are the heroes of Earth – and the mind of Mister Fantastic! This special Fantastic Four event marks the end of Dan Slott’s run on the title.

Avengers & X-Men Logo Reading OrderA.X.E.: Judgment Day! This is an Avengers/X-Men/Eternals event, but it’s also Judgment Times for the Fantastic Four in the next two issues. For more information about this story, see our Judgment Day Reading Order.

  • A.X.E.: Judgment Day Companion
    Collects A.X.E.: Eve Of Judgment, A.X.E.: Judgment Day Omega, A.X.E.: Death To The Mutants #1-3, A.X.E.: Starfox, A.X.E.: Iron Fist And Fantastic Four (2018) #47-48.

It’s the start of a new era for the Fantastic Four with writer Ryan North and artist Iban Coello. Of course, the FF are already in trouble! This new run starts with our favorite family caught in a time loop that’s been going on since before they were born…

More Fantastic Four coming soon…


Note: The limited series The Thing: The Next Big Thing by Walter Mosley has not been placed in this reading order, as I’m not sure where to put it. Don’t hesitate to make suggestions in the comments.

Last Updated on June 5, 2024.

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