The Fantastic Four are the first family of Marvel Comics. Created in 1961 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (apocryphally, the result of an edict by Marvel publisher Martin Goodman to tryout a superhero team, a la rival DC Comic’s super-successful Justice League) and heavily inspired by the monster comics Marvel was publishing at the time, their tremendous popularity and success is responsible for launching Marvel’s Silver Age superhero renaissance, transforming a middling publisher of romance and sci-fi comics into one of the “Big Two” publishers of superhero adventure stories, leading to the creation of some of pop culture’s most enduring and beloved characters. Without the Fantastic Four, there would arguably be no Spider-Man, no Hulk, no X-Men or Avengers. Fantastic Four #1 is, simply, the Big Bang of Marvel Comics.
Despite the somewhat stately pace of the season premiere “Monsters Among Us,” the sheer inanity of the action happening onscreen created an off-the-wall vibe. Whether it was the special talents afforded by Jimmy’s syndactyly, Ethel’s beard and bizarre accent, or Elsa singing a song that wasn’t released until 20 years after the show’s setting, Murphy and Falchuk made it clear that, in true “freak show” fashion, spectacle would be given precedent over logic. In this week’s episode, “Massacres and Matinees,” the bonkers factor is raised a notch, as is the fun.