- This is the series that built the Marvel Universe. Keep in mind that Marvel Comics was financially struggling and nearly bankrupt when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby took a crack at creating their own superhero team in 1961, knowing full well that they probably wouldn't get another chance if it flopped. Not only was the book a success—silencing the naysayers who assumed that superhero comics would never be popular again after the Interregnum of the 1950's—it kicked off an entire line of equally popular and beloved superheroes who all got to play in the universe that Stan and Jack created with Fantastic Four. Spider-Man? The X-Men? The Incredible Hulk? The Avengers? Doctor Strange? It's unlikely that any of those heroes ever would have seen the light of day if not for Fantastic Four's success. Every hero and villain in the Marvel Universe—from Ant-Man to Baron Zemo—owes their existence to this book.
- When The Comics Journal decided to celebrate the New Millennium by naming the Top 100 Comics of the 20th Century, Lee and Kirby's original run on Fantastic Four was one of just five mainstream superhero comics to make the list note —and it was the highest-ranked superhero comic on the list, at #30. Mind you, The Comics Journal didn't just base their choices on books' popularity and level of recognition, but also on the level of artistic and literary merit demonstrated by the contributions of individual cartoonists and writer-artist teams (which is likely why Superman and Batman weren't honored). So Fantastic Four was honored on the same Top 100 list as Calvin and Hobbes, Li'l Abner, Pogo, Maus, and the cartoons of Al Hirschfeld. It's just a shame that Jack Kirby didn't live long enough to see his life's work honored like that.
- Despite his general uselessness, Reed Richards has his moments of awesome all the same.
"My name is Reed Richards. And these are my toasters." *curbstomp*
- He has another when he manages to defeat Diablo, an immortal alchemist capable of summoning the four elements who had just beaten the entire team single-handedly, by calmly stating the equation for calculating gravitational force. Diablo, who had been levitating for the past few issues as a demonstration of his increased power, crashes to the floor in horror, his powers completely gone.
- A slightly more unbelievable instance occurred during Chris Claremont's run on the series, where Reed managed to beat Annihilus, Terrax, and Blaastar with his bare hands.
- In the Marvel Adventures universe, Reed Richards once defeated a giant robot that had just administered a smack-down to the rest of his family. With a pair of toasters.
"Of course, I could be totally off-base about all of this...."(The door behind him opens)"But I doubt it."
- Walt Simonson's "Into the Time Stream" arc featured Reed shouting angrily at the Black Celestial, goading it to follow his team(including Iron Man and Thor) through time and space, finally tricking the Celestial into diving into a black hole created by Galactus. All this while he believed that his wife had just died.
- During the "Jersey Devil" two-parter in Marvel Knights, he infiltrates an alien spaceship to rescue a couple of amateur film-makers, only for all of them to be sealed inside. While the guys he was trying to rescue panic, Reed remains completely calm, and proceeds to explain exactly how Ben and Sue (Johnny wasn't around) are going to rescue them, (predicting that Ben would ignore Reed telling him to stay back earlier). Ben stops the initial takeoff, and Sue creates a forcefield above the ship, forcing the aliens to stop and negotiate before their engines overheat.
- Of course, other people sometimes get one when opposing Reed, especially if they use magic, which Reed's incredible mind just can't comprehend. When confronted with Mephisto, Marvel's answer to the Devil, Reed's mind seizes up. He assumes that the Devil is little more than another supervillain to be defeated by the FF, explaining away the demon's demonstrations of power as 'tricks'. Mephisto responds with hysterical laughter and further demonstrations of how magically powerful he is.
- Ben Grimm is notorious for these, mainly because, in his own words, he's just too dumb to know when to quit. Notable examples include:
- Crushing Dr. Doom's hands in battle, dealing the megalomaniac a defeat he would obsess over for years.
- Refusing to yield in battle against the Champion of the Universe, a superhuman alien with nigh-unlimited strength. The Champion was so moved by Ben's spirit that he declared him the victor, despite the fact that even Ben's strongest punches barely fazed him.
- Speaking of the Hulk, Ben has stood up to him on numerous occasions, despite the fact that he's never won a single fight against him. During World War Hulk, when Hulk was more angry and powerful than he'd ever been, Ben still went toe-to-toe with him. Informed that he couldn't possibly win, Ben responded "People been tellin' me that all my life, fella. But Mama Grimm's blue-eyed boy never walks away when it's clobberin' time."
- Claremont's run included a skirmish between Ben and the then current team of Avengers. Ben managed to disable the entire team, including Thor, within minutes, though he later admitted that both sides were holding back considerably.
- First arc of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's run - while the Fantastic Four lose their money, the narration shows everyone trying to adapt: Mister Fantastic becomes "Reed Richards. Stay-at-home father", Invisible Woman becomes "Susan Richards. Substitute teacher", Human Torch becomes "Johnathan Storm. Struggling actor". The Thing applies for a job in construction, and is about to be turned down... when there's an accident, and he rushes to help the workers. He gets referred to as follows:
- Benjamin J Grimm. Test pilot. Godfather. "Idol o' millions". 100% hero.
- Let us not forget Doctor Doom. Special mention goes to Triumph and Torment, where he managed to save his mother's soul by manipulating both Mephisto and Doctor Strange. Simultaneously. Or the time he got one over Reed Richards — by saving his wife, his daughter and his teammate when Richards couldn't do anything. And then rubbed it in his face by naming the newborn child.
- Sue Richards has her big moments too. Like taking out the most recent incarnation of the Frightfull Four by herself. If there was any doubt about her being the strong member of the team then it has vanished after that.
- In an issue of the Marvel Knights FF run, after the Four have seen their assets wiped out and are forced to move into a hotel and find jobs, Sue gets a job teaching an unruly, supposedly uncontrollable class of teenage students English. After a couple of them try their luck, Sue gently reminds them that she has the power of forcefields - by lifting the entire class by their chairs and into the air. She also gently reminds them that she has the power to turn objects invisible - such as clothing. Their clothing, to be precise. They get the message.
- Toward the end of Grant Morrison's "1234" FF mini-series, as Doctor Doom attempted to "regain control of the board" after his attempts at manipulating the FF failed, Sue conked him on the head with a candlestick, shouting, "Shut up!" She then berated him for wasting his intellect on revenge schemes, "when you should be curing cancer or taking your people to the stars," and then warning him that if he tried anything like that again, she would use her force fields to give him an aneurism. Not many people can force Doom to live through a Humiliation Conga, but Sue pulled it off.
- Another, and one that is surprisingly early, takes place during the storyline in which Dr. Doom gains the power of the Silver Surfer. One point near the end of the climactic battle Sue rushes out to meet the dive bombing Dr. Doom in the middle of an opening. She then ducks and Dr. Doom smashes into something. It's not one of her walls but a friggin' mountain she had been keeping invisible. She even goaded Doom into anger so he would forget about it. It's one thing to have him crash into one of her fields, it's another to flat out trick Dr. Von Doom into hitting a mountain. It almost makes up for all of Sue's fake action girl routine from previous issues. Almost. That shows how bad ass it is.
- There's also a brilliant moment for Sue in one of the issues of FF set right after the Civil War, in which she confronts Reed about his reasons for taking the pro-registration side in the war and why he didn't tell her the real reasons behind it. When he says, as Reed always used to do, that he did it in order to protect Sue, she proceeds to extrude an invisible force column all the way through the Baxter Building, both above and below her, and says something along the lines of "Do I look like I need 'protecting'?" Two things go through Reed's mind after she leaves: 1) how much money it's going to cost to repair the damage (we get to see him calculating that), and 2) how he will never, ever say those words to Sue again (we don't get to see that, but honestly...would you ever say it again?).
- In the 80's when the X Men were fighting the FF in one issue, everything winds up okay and they all have a celebration dinner - at Victor Von Doom's penthouse. Doom postures, making an offhand remark telling how easy it would be to destroy them here, where he has had time to set up defenses. — If he weren't peaceful — You can hear a pin drop as the tension hits the roof. Sue breaks the silence with "Victor, you shouldn't be so careless. You know a lioness is at her most dangerous when she is protecting her family. How do you think it would go, if I were to use my force fields the way you use your technology? At killing intensity." The tension rises even higher. Doom's reaction "My technology versus your force fields. An interesting proposition." And promptly drops the subject. She has made it very clear EXACTLY what would happen in that instance.
- The iconic Silver Surfer gets one during John Byrne's legendary run. Tyros, a former herald of Galactus and wielder of the 'Power Cosmic', launches an attack on the Fantastic Four wrecking much of Queens, New York in the process . The Fantastic Four, minus Reed Richards who is MIA, are on the verge of defeat when the Silver Surfer swoops down from low Earth orbit. Then the Surfer, the first herald of Galactus, grabs Tyros off his feet by the beard:
Silver Surfer: I know you have boasted yourself to be the most powerful herald of our former master, Tyros - let us now put that boast to the test!
Silver Surfer: Though I fear for you it will be a test unto destruction!
- Then the Surfer carries Tyros high into the air on a winding flight and hurls him to the ground:
- Pompous, melodramatic, and 100% pure awesome.
- Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men (1987)
Doom: A fascinating theory, madam. Have you any proof?Sue: Have you, Victor, ever considered how deadly my force field can be — if I decided to fight by your rules?Doom: Is that a challenge, Susan — your will and natural strength, versus my technology?Sue: Be careful, Victor. A lioness is most dangerous... defending mate and cub and den.
- Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) is losing molecular cohesion and will soon die. The X-Men turn to Reed for help because he invented a machine that might help, but he says it won't work so they turn to Dr. Doom who says he can replicate Reed's research.
- Dr. Doom had planted a diary that made it seem like the accident that granted the FF powers was actually a cold calculated plan by Reed, making him doubt himself. Reed must face his demons internally and wins the struggle, eventually doing the calculations in his head to save Kitty's life when Doom's computer fails.
- Sue Storm figures out it must have been Doom behind the diary which leads to this awesome confrontation at the victory party when Kitty's saved:
- She usually uses her powers to protect or hide, but if you think about it, she could project a force field inside Doom's head and expand it to make it pop like popcorn.
- The "Unthinkable" arc by Mark Waid.
- The first few issues are Doctor Doom's. After acquiring magic armour made from his childhood sweetheart, he proceeds to beat on the FF while belittling Reed Richards.
- Reed Richards acquires a magic weapon powered by his ability to admit his own shortcomings. He proceeds to physically beat on Doomsy while verbally beating up himself.
- Doom loses Mister Fantastic for a second, giving him the time he needs to use the magic weapon to summon the rest of the team. Doom demands he say where he says, and he steps of the shadows.
Doctor Doom: Unacceptable! REVEAL HIM!(Human Torch goes visible again, flamed on, ticked off, and in melee striking distance of Doom)Human Torch: Done.
- In the ensuing fight, Invisible Woman manages to hide Human Torch, just before Doom muzzles the other three. Doom realizes what must have happened.
- The climax to Jonathan Hickman's Mad Celestials saga is absolutely stuffed with these. In roughly chronological order there's:
- Doom facing off against the Celestials and slowing them down sufficiently for the rest of the plan to work.
- The way Johnny announces his return just as Ben is about to give in to the Despair Event Horizon he crossed due to Johnny's "death".
- Sue taking a full on blast from one of the Celestials while remembering the warning future Val gave her.
- Future Franklin and Val pulling a Big Damn Heroes and arriving immediately following the above. So awesome, in fact, that they did it twice once in F.F. from young Franklin's perspective and again in Fantastic 4 from Sue's.
- The battle between future Franklin and the Celestials especially "To me, my Galactus."
- To give this all a sense of scale, here's what's going on: Doctor Doom, having actually helped the FF, is lost in space and time. Reed, Ben, Johnny, Spidey and the kids are down for the count. A Celestial is about kill Reed just for existing. Then Sue stands up, tells the Celestial where to stick it—and then Future!Val and Future!Franklin show up. Future!Franklin also tells the Celestials where to stick it. And with the help of Galactus, Franklin kills the Celestials. Every last one of them. The narration seals the deal:
- ''They marked the sky victorious—the Earth stood, her heroes the difference. They had endured together. Old friends. New ones. And the generation to follow. They watched until the second sun flickered out...the light extinguished. The sign of the abandoned. The left behind...and the lost. But it also meant a second chance. It singaled a new day—a future...regained. For if we live, there is hope. And if we hope, there is tomorrow. And if tomorrow...then...forever.
- In the animated series episode "Super Skrull", after the title character has just defeated Reed, Sue, & Johnny...
Super Skrull: With you three defeated, I-
- Another moment of Reed Richards not being useless comes from the 2nd issue, where the Skrulls first made their appearance. How did he convince the leader of the Skrull invasion fleet not to invade Earth? By showing him photos that were clipped out of Strange Tales and Journey into Mystery, two Marvel comics still in circulation at the time, and passing them off as photos of "Earth's most powerful warriors (a group of monsters), hidden space mines, and an army of giant, monstrous insects (really, just super-sized ants)." The leader of the Skrulls, convinced, asked Richards to go with them, but Richards stayed behind voluntarily, an action that earned him a medal commemorating his bravery. After capturing the three Skrulls that still were on the loose, he managed to convince them that they would be happy living their lives off as cows. And they did so, without any argument (though that would come back to bite Reed later when their milk and meat ended up in the food supply...).