While the characters may bear resemblance to their normal Marvel Universe counterparts, they differ in many aspects. The origin of their powers is different and the team is much younger. The series revolves around the adventures of Reed Richards, siblings Susan and Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, who get engulfed in a malfunctioned teleporter experiment and get super powers: Reed can stretch, Susan projects force fields and makes herself invisible, Johnny becomes a human torch and Ben a superstrong stone giant. The series takes place in contemporary New York.
The title was created by Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar and Adam Kubert. The series debuted in early 2004, and has a monthly publishing schedule. It is currently written by Mike Carey with art by Tyler Kirkham.
In the Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol. 1 hardcover edition, Millar and Bendis write about the somewhat odd circumstances of their collaboration. Foremost, virtual communication was the only method available as Millar lives in Glasgow, Scotland, and Bendis in Portland, Oregon. Secondly, they both had considerably different writing styles, as Millar's stories are typically fast-paced and widescreen, while Bendis' output is more dialogue-heavy and slow-paced and both writers feared it could wreck the project. It was agreed that Millar would write the plot and Bendis finalized the scripts based on his plots.
Millar completely rewrote the origin for the protagonists because he was not satisfied with the original 1961 story, in which the four team members steal a space craft to beat the Soviets to the moon. He said: "Four guys hijacking a space-rocket trying to reach the moon to beat the communists wasn't going to fly." In their version, Millar and Bendis wrote a story in which Reed Richards is a child prodigy, protected by his burly friend Ben Grimm from bullies, and a genius who had invented a method of teleportation in his youth. He is discovered by government official Willie Lumpkin, and subsequently recruited into a child prodigy think tank/school located in the upper floors of the Baxter building. There he meets Professor Storm, who leads the project, and his children, bioengineer Susan Storm and her younger brother Johnny. Reed also becomes the rival of Victor Van Damme, a fellow student. When Reed becomes 21, he plans to teleport an apple into a parallel universe (the "N-Zone"), but Van Damme claims Reed's calculations are wrong and changes the setup at the last minute. The five students get teleported through the N-Zone, and when they rematerialize, they return heavily mutated. After the Fantastic Four return to the Baxter building, they must soon face their first opponent, Mole Man.
The material strayed far from the original stories, almost completely bypassing the original stories by Stan Lee. Also notable was the fact that the characters were changed. The character of Reed Richards, in the mainstream Marvel Comics super-intelligent and a true leader, had his previous role split, with the character of Professor Storm taking up his leader traits, while the 21-year old idealist Reed retains his super-intelligence. Reed no longer automatically assumes leadership of the team in demanding situations, a role more often filled by Sue Storm. She was little more than a damsel in distress in the early comics, but in this version, she is the most head-strong and assertive member of the team, and has a gift for biochemistry and bioengineering. Ben Grimm, no longer Reed's college friend but his grade-school friend, is not as intelligent and has to have science explained to him, providing an opportunity for plot dumps.
In the end, both writers were satisfied with the results. Furthermore, Millar and Bendis stated that they had many more ideas, but in the end, massive scheduling problems forced them out. Instead, they persuaded Warren Ellis to continue the series. Ellis wrote the next arc, "Doom", centering on Victor Van Damme. He wrote Van Damme as a descendant of Dracula, a boy whose childhood ended when he was 10, formed by his severe, authoritarian father. Ellis also fleshed out the hard science fiction element behind the FF, namely writing that they gained their powers because the teleportation changed their "phase space condition" into something from an alternate universe; in laymen's terms, there are multiple conceivable states of an object, a 'phase space' of all the possible ways they could be. While in the N-Zone, each one of them mutated into another form that they could've been.
It was also explained that Reed's metabolism functioned because his cells were replaced with "pliable bacterial stacks," single cells which duplicate most of the larger functions of the human body and does not rip or tear when he extends. The next arc "N-Zone" has the four traveling on the spaceship Awesome (a name of Johnny's choice) to the exact dimension where they got their powers. They encounter an alien named Nihil whose dimension has only a few hundred thousand years left before succumbing to an entropic heat death, and wishes to escape from his world to ours.
In "Think Tank" the team meet Rhona Burchill (a re-imagined Mad Thinker), who captures them and attempts to sell them to the highest bidder. In "Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual 1" they meet Crystal of the Inhumans, and as a result of trespassing on their home destroy it, forcing the Inhumans to move to a new one. "Crossover" has them encountering zombie infected versions of themselves and every other hero of that world. With the help of that world's Magneto the Fantastic Four manage to escape with the few survivors. "Tomb of Namor" has the Four encountering Atlantian criminal Namor who only leaves when he gets a kiss from Susan Storm. In "Super-Skrull" Reed Richards goes back in time to the teleportation accident to ensure it doesn't go wrong. There is dispute amongst the team to whether this is the right course of action. However, after a cruel prank played by Johnny Storm on Ben Grimm, the team realize just how depressed Ben is being trapped inside 'The Thing'. Reed goes back and makes the experiment a success. We then see how the time-line has been altered. Everyone on the planet except Ben has superpowers thanks to the Skrull pill given to them by the Skrulls and the leader Super-Skrull. The Skrulls however have tricked humanity and the still-human Ben Grimm is their last hope. In "Frightful", Johnny is infected with an illness only Doctor Doom can cure; it also features the escape of the Frightful Four. In "God War," alien terrorists attack Reed, who is looking for a seed while also facing a powerful enemy. The next arc "Devils" introduces Diablo who kidnaps those close to the four as bait; he intends to get immortality by using Reed's sister as a power source.
Attending the Nevada desert testing of Reed's N-Zone dimensional teleporter, Sue was transported a mere three miles into the desert by the device's malfunction. She was discovered by former Baxter Building instructor Dr. Arthur Molekevic, who took her to his underground facilities below Manhattan, calmed her, and helped her gain control of her new abilities, while he sent a "monster" to the Baxter Building to retrieve three who had been transformed by the N-Zone experiment. In the company of those three, Susan fled Molekevic and used her invisible protective force field to take them back to the surface.
Making the study of herself and her three partners her new life's work, Sue spent months investigating their abilities and charting their powers while improving her own understanding of herself. She has deduced the nature of both Reed and Johnny's changes, though her own powers remain unexplained and she is unable to penetrate Ben's skin to determine any more detail than his internal fluid pressure. Sue continues to develop her control of her force fields, using them to create pressurized environments at the bottom of the sea, plugging her own throat to prevent swallowing poison gas, and creating "cushions" to catch falling people and objects. Damage to her force fields also causes her mental strain or, in extreme cases (Ultimate Power 5), to black out.
Susan has proven capable of standing her own, and after the team went public, she assumed the codename "Invisible Woman." Her force fields have been the Four's ace in the hole, saving their lives when Nihil dumped Reed and Ben into the near-vacuum of the N-Zone and single-handedly stopping the time-traveling Chrono-Bandits. She co-created the chrono-tunnel with Reed, and has conducted biological studies of the Kree alien Mahr Vehl and extra-dimensional life in the N-Zone.
Though her new found fame has brought her unsought attention from the likes of billionaire playboy Tony Stark and the Atlantian criminal Namor, she remains romantically attached to Reed despite her concerns about his over devotion to science. As it was shown on Ultimate Secret #2, she's also more sexually forward than her original counterpart.
Sue has the power to render herself and others invisible to the naked eye. She also has the power to generate nearly impenetrable invisible force fields. Sue can manipulate her force fields in a variety of ways, including levitating herself and others, firing destructive force-blasts, and causing objects to explode by projecting and expanding force fields inside them.
However, the events of the N-Zone arc required that the military fashion a public image for the four. The Crossover story arc began in medias res, with the four already a public team known as The Fantastic Four, each of them possessing codenames identical to their 616 counterparts. Their jumpsuits remain largely unchanged, save for the added '4' insignia.
In The Ultimates it is made clear that the Fantastic Four were already in existence before the Ultimates roster was completed when Nick Fury remarks that their landlord is trying to evict them.
There are inconsistencies with the appearances of Doctor Doom and Latveria in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up. The current position by Marvel is that Latveria (which is mentioned often in the series) does exist, is a dictatorship, but has nothing to do with Doctor Doom. Latveria also places the highest bid on the Fantastic Four when they are captured by the Ultimate Mad Thinker.
The continuity issues in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up are due to the pictures of Doctor Doom on the walls of the Latverian Embassy in issue #14 and the appearance of a much older Fantastic Four in the Super Special. It has been theorized that the man is not Doctor Doom but someone in Wallachian armor as stated by Doom in issue #7. This older Fantastic Four is mentioned in Ultimate Spider-Man #33, along with the "Reed Richards Science Center," which is mentioned both later in that arc and in the Ultimate Spider-Man video game.
Unfortunately, a few lines from UFF #5 suggested that The Ultimates were already in existence before the team officially went public as "The Fantastic Four". Writer Mark Millar, who wrote the plot, claims that he did not intend this to happen and gently laid the blame on Brian Michael Bendis, who handled the dialogue chores.
Covers the origin of the Ultimate Fantastic Four, including how they gained their powers, and their first battle with the psychotic Mole Man.
This arc introduces Ultimate Dr. Doom, who attempts to kill Reed along with the rest of the four using tiny insectoid robots manufactured from cell phone parts.
While exploring the N-Zone via their spaceship Awesome (named by Johnny Storm), the Ultimate Fantastic Four encounter the bizarre and sadistic alien Nihil.
Returning to the Baxter Building after their adventure in the N-Zone, the Fantastic Four are attacked and kidnapped by Rhona Burchill, also known as the Mad Thinker.
The Four run into the rogue Inhuman Crystal, whom Johnny instantly claims he loves. They then attempt to break up Crystal's arranged marriage to Black Bolt's brother. This was the first Ultimate appearance of the Inhumans.
Reed receives contact from an older version of himself from an alternate dimension. After crossing over, Reed discovers he's been duped and that the entire world is infested with cannibalistic, zombified versions of the regular Marvel heroes, looking for their next meal on another world.
While joining an excavation of Atlantis with Mary Storm (the previously thought dead mother of Sue and Johnny,) the four unearth the tomb of an ancient Atlantean named Namor, who may not be exactly who he seems.
Using time-travel, the Fantastic Four attempt to erase the accident which gave them their powers, but with unintended consequences.
The escape of the Frightful Four, Johhny has one week to live, and only Doctor Doom can help him.
The four once again face Mole Man.
The team faces powerful alien foes while trying to find a dangerous weapon.
The team faces the madman Diablo and his plans to permanently change mankind's past, present and future.
Reed Richards destroys the barriers of a thousand universes and right through the middle of them falls The Ultimate Silver Surfer.
Susan is headed toward a conference in Siberia when her helicopter is shot down for reasons unknown. With her survival in doubt, Reed Richards must abandon his completion of the Cosmic Cube at its most crucial time to confront the Crimson Dynamo.
The interplanetary war that the Fantastic Four have been involved in and around has dragged them back in once more as Thanos attempts to finally claim the Cosmic Cube from Reed at any cost.
Ultimate Fantastic Four has been collected in the following trade paperbacks:
|Volume 1: The Fantastic||Ultimate Fantastic Four #1-6||ISBN 0-7851-1393-2|
|Volume 2: Doom||Ultimate Fantastic Four #7-12||ISBN 0-7851-1457-2|
|Volume 3: N-Zone||Ultimate Fantastic Four #13-18||ISBN 0-7851-1495-5|
|Volume 4: Inhuman||Ultimate Fantastic Four #19-20;|
Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #1
|Volume 5: Crossover||Ultimate Fantastic Four #21-26||ISBN 0-7851-1802-0|
|Volume 6: Frightful||Ultimate Fantastic Four #27-32||ISBN 0-7851-2017-3|
|Volume 7: God War||Ultimate Fantastic Four #33-38||ISBN 0-7851-2174-9|
|Volume 8: Devils||Ultimate Fantastic Four #39-41;|
Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #2
|Volume 9: Silver Surfer||Ultimate Fantastic Four #42-46||ISBN 0-7851-2547-7|
|Volume 10: Ghosts||Ultimate Fantastic Four #47-53||ISBN 0-7851-2898-4|
|Volume 11: Salem's Seven||Ultimate Fantastic Four #54-57||ISBN 978-0-7851-2447-4|
Ultimate Fantastic Four also has been collected in the following hardcovers:
|Volume #||Material collected||ISBN|
|1||Ultimate Fantastic Four #1-12||ISBN 0-7851-1458-0|
|2||Ultimate Fantastic Four #13-20;|
Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #1
|3||Ultimate Fantastic Four #21-32||ISBN 0-7851-2603-1|
|4||Ultimate Fantastic Four #33-41;|
Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #2;
Ultimate X-Men/Ultimate Fantastic Four;
Ultimate Fantastic Four/Ultimate X-Men
|5||Ultimate Fantastic Four #42-53||ISBN-10 0785130829|
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