One of my favorite moments from the early years of Marvel's Fantastic Four series is Reed Richard's accidental discovery that his classmate Victor Von Doom's calculation in a fateful experiment experimenting on matter transmutation and dimension warps with the aim of combining sorcery and science in a bid to contact the nether world was "off a few decimals in some places." The interaction between the two of them at that moment helped define both of them and plant the seeds for a large swath of Marvel comic book history in the process. It's one of my favorite Marvel comic book moments, and it first appeared in Fantastic Four Annual #2 (1964) in a Doctor Doom origin story which defined the character and greatly expanded on the information that appeared in his Fantastic Four #5 debut. There's a Fantastic Four Annual #2 (Marvel, 1964) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages among several other early issues of Fantastic Four up for auction in this weekend's 2021 October 10-11 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122141 from Heritage Auctions.
The Fantastic Four's signature brand of superheroic science has fascinated me since I was a kid. For example, I always wondered what was behind the weirdness of the Mad Thinker's Awesome Android in Fantastic Four #15. Upon a fresh re-read, a seemingly throw-away moment early in that issue captures my attention. Reed explains an experiment in progress and reveals something that's startling on the face of it — he has succeeded in creating a primitive form of artificial life. The payoff for this tidbit comes a short time later, when the team encounters the Mad Thinker's Awesome Android, which Reed recognizes as "a form of artificial life" and "a living android". The concept and controversies of science's quest to create artificial life had begun to build in mainstream conversation over the previous several years, while the notion of an android had been thrust into the mainstream by a 1959 tv movie called Murder and the Android, which was based on the 1954 story Fondly Fahrenheit by Alfred Bester.
We could go on with the subject of the intersection of science and the Fantastic Four at length. It's a pretty fair bet that the Skrulls of Fantastic Four #2 were inspired by Soviet Space Monkeys, for example. Much more on such topics another time, but for now there's a Fantastic Four Annual #2 (Marvel, 1964) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages among several other early issues of Fantastic Four up for auction in this weekend's 2021 October 10-11 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122141 from Heritage Auctions.
Fantastic Four Annual #2 (Marvel, 1964) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages. First detailed origin of Doctor Doom. Jack Kirby cover and art. Features 11 pin-up pages by Kirby. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $138. CGC census 10/21: 46 in 5.5, 351 higher.