It was fifty years ago this day that the launch of Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, began that long-ago and fantastical era we called “the space age”. It was a time of imagination, of engineering marvels, and, eventually, of bored disillusionment.
The Sputnik programme would go on to give us exciting new ways of killing dogs, and the United States’ panicked reaction began a space race in which the Soviet Union and the USA competed to produce projects that were often dazzling, sometimes useful and sometimes monumentally wasteful. One such project was led by Dr Reed Richards.
Always remember: no Sputnik, no Fantastic Four.
And no cosmic-powered apes, either.
Fantastic Four issue 1, “The Fantastic Four!” by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, with inks and letters by Art Simek, Marvel Comics, November 1961, reprinted in Marvel Masterworks Volume 2: The Fantastic Four, reprinting Fantastic Four Nos 1-10, Marvel Comics, 1987
Fantastic Four issue 13, “The Fantastic Four Versus the Red Ghost and his Indescribable Super-Apes”, story by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby, inking by Steve Ditko, lettering by Art Simek, Marvel Comics, April 1963, reprinted in Marvel Masterworks Volume 6: The Fantastic Four, reprinting Fantastic Four Nos 11-20, Marvel Comics, 1988