June, 1966

In 1978, I went to my first comic book shop–ironically, a recently-opened HEROES WORLD in Levittown. (Similarly ironic, my father ended up being transferred to the bank branch in the same mall, which made access to the store–which was 45 minutes away from our home by car–a regular possibility.) 

I walked in with a stated goal of buying the oldest issue of FANTASTIC FOUR they had in stock. The oldest issue they had turned out to be #1, for which they wanted $75.00. Undaunted, I looked for the oldest issue they had that wasn’t on the wall–which turned out to be #51, pictured here.I paid $3.75.

FANTASTIC FOUR #51 is justifiably called the best single issue of the series that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ever did. It’s hard to argue the point. A tale of redemption and heroism, in which a rival scientist steals the form of the Thing in order to revenge himself on Reed Richards. Discovering that Reed is truly altruistic and self-sacrificing, the nameless scientist in the Thing’s body lays down his own life in order to rescue the doomed Mister Fantastic from the dangers of Sub-Space

2014 Note: Not my original copy shown.

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