Must-read comics are futuristic classics that shouldn't be missed. Of course, not every must-read is perfect. That's why we've rated them 1-5 on the patented "crunchy goodness" scale.

Title: Essential Fantastic Four volumes 1 - 5

Date: 2001 - 2006 (reprinting material from 1961 - 1970)

Vitals: At least those communist beatniks were good for one thing. In the desperate rush to beat the Reds to outer space, Reed Richards forgot to check the safety of his rocketship, bombarding himself, his girlfriend, her brother and his best friend with cosmic rays transforming them into the Fantastic Four - the comic that launched Marvel Comics, changed the comic industry and medium forever, and forty years later gave Michael Chiklis a reason to put on a styrofoam faux rock body suit.

Famous names: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who created the first hundred and two issues (plus occasional special editions) of the self-styled "world's greatest comic magazine" at the same time as coming up with other pop-culture icons like the Hulk, Iron Man and the X-Men.

Crunchy goodness: 4. What else?

Spinoffs/Sequels/Copycats: Too many to list, but look at the cast list of characters who made their first appearances in this series before going on to have their own comics: Doctor Doom, the Silver Surfer, Galactus, the Inhumans and the swinging Black Panther.


Design breakthrough: Kirby's dynamic distortion of the human figure and unusual page design got people so excited about what comics look like that even college students starting to read them.

Most painfully dated moment: Surprisingly not the race to outer space to beat the Communists from getting there first; when the Thing gets a Beatles wig in the mail and wears it, calling himself a living doll, then you know exactly what decade the stories came from.

Fantastic Four Plaza