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Fantastic Four, also known as Fantastic Four: The Animated Series, is the third animated television series based on Marvel's comic book series of the same name. Airing began on September 24, 1994 until ending on February 24, 1996 with thirteen episodes per season, making 26 episodes total.

Overview

In the early-to-mid-1990's, Marvel Productions syndicated a new Fantastic Four animated series as part of the Marvel Action Hour weekend block, later renamed Marvel Action Universe, with the addition of another show. The first half of the hour was an episode of Iron Man: The Animated Series; the second half an episode of Fantastic Four: The Animated Series. During the first season, Stan Lee was featured speaking before each show about characters in the following episode and what had inspired him to create them.

The show also aired on Fox Kids while most recently airing late nights on weekends on Disney XD in the United States.

Season 1

The vast majority of episodes in the first season consisted of fairly accurate re-tellings and re-interpretations of classic 1960's Fantastic Four comic book stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. For instance, this series stayed true to the original comic book story that recounted the Silver Surfer and Galactus' coming to Earth in a two part episode as well as Doctor Doom's theft of the Silver Surfer's powers. But the season's cost-effective animation (provided by Wang Film Productions and Kennedy Cartoons) and attempts to add humor through the inclusion of a fussy British landlady named Ms. Forbes (portrayed by Stan Lee's wife Joan Lee) for the Fantastic Four were generally met with displeasure by fans - to say nothing of then-current Fantastic Four comic book writer Tom DeFalco, who got in trouble for penning a scene in issue #396 of the series that featured Ant-Man watching and lambasting an episode of the cartoon.

In "The Origin of the Fantastic Four", Puppet Master took control of the Thing and used him to capture Invisible Woman. Mister Fantastic freed the Thing from his control and defeated the Puppet Master. Upon returning to his apartment to reclaim his final doll, he ended up in a fight with Alicia Masters, and then he apparently fell to his death from the apartment window. The Fantastic Four weren't able to find his body and claimed that he "vanished from Earth."

In "The Silver Surfer and the Coming of Galactus", the Silver Surfer, Firelord, and Terrax fight the Fantastic Four while Galactus attempts to feed on Earth.

In "Mask of Doom", Doctor Doom captured the Fantastic Four and forced Mister Fantastic, Human Torch, and the Thing to go back in time and obtain an object for him. In the aforementioned episode "Silver Surfer and the Return of Galactus", Doom steals the Silver Surfer's powers and tries to steal Galactus' powers, only to be thwarted by the planet devourer himself.

Season 2

Both Fantastic Four: The Animated Series and Iron Man: The Animated Series were radically retooled for their second seasons, sporting new opening sequences, improved animation (as previously mentioned, the animation for the first season was done by Wang Film Productions and Kennedy Cartoons, while the second season's animation was provided by Philippine Animation Studios, Inc.) and more mature writing (the first season was primarily written by Ron Friedman, while the second season was overseen by Tom Tataranowicz), though noticeably having fewer introductions by Stan Lee, with several of the new shorter intros being used more than once. Not only that, Four Freedoms Plaza replaced the Baxter Building as the Fantastic Four's home base in season two. The season two episodes also drew upon John Byrne's 1980s run on the Fantastic Four comic (as well as John Buscema's artwork), in addition to further Lee and Kirby adventures.

In the season premier episode "And a Blind Man Shall Lead Them" (guest starring Daredevil), Doctor Doom struck at a powerless Fantastic Four and had his hand crushed by the Thing. Doom would next appear in "Nightmare in Green" where he directed Hulk to attack the team.

Wizard appeared in the episode "The Inhuman Saga, Part I: And the Wind Cried Medusa". In his appearance, he assembled Medusa, Hydro-Man, and Trapster to form the Frightful Four. On a related note, this episode aired one week from Hydro-Man's debut appearance [1] in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Wizard also used a device to control the Thing. Meanwhile, Crystal, along with the other Inhumans, Black Bolt, Gorgon, Karnak, and Lockjaw, also made their debut in the three part "Inhumans Saga" episode. After escaping the Negative Barrier, Crystal went on to become the girlfriend of the Human Torch. Seeker appears in the episode "The Inhuman Saga, Part III: Beware the Hidden Land". He was set by Maximus the Mad to retrieve the Inhuman Royal Family. After saving the Fantastic Four from an explosion, Seeker briefly shared the history of the Inhumans to them before dropping them off somewhere.

Susan Richards as Malice appeared in the episode "Worlds Within Worlds". Malice's appearance was the result of Psycho-Man using his powers to make Susan turn against her Fantastic Four teammates. Eventually, Susan was freed of Psycho-Man's influence and defeated him.

The Black Panther appears in "Prey of the Black Panther". He lures the Fantastic Four to Wakanda to see if they are worthy enough to help fight Klaw. Like the comics, Klaw's history of killing T'Chaka is included as well as T'Challa using Klaw's weapon on his right hand.

In "To Battle the Living Planet", the Fantastic Four ask Galactus to help in confronting Ego the Living Planet. Thor meanwhile guest stars in two episodes. In "To Battle the Living Planet", the Fantastic Four help him fight Ego the Living Planet even when they enlist Galactus' help. In "When Comes Galactus", he and Ghost Rider both help the Fantastic Four fight Galactus. Also in "When Calls Galactus", Nova volunteers to replace the treacherous Terrax as Galactus' herald. Like the comics, Frankie Raye ends up getting her powers when she accidentally got doused in the chemicals that gave the android Human Torch his powers.

Franklin Storm appeared in the episode "Behold, A Distant Star". Just like the comics, Franklin Storm lost his wife in an accident and an altercation with a loan shark led to an accidental murder. When Invisible Woman had shrapnel in the lower part of her brain after a recent Skrull attack (Lyja by the way, is shown as a commander to the Skrull army), he had to come out of hiding to perform the surgery. He turned himslef over to the arriving cops. After being freed from his volcano prison, Super-Skrull replaced him in prison and took on the guise of Invincible Man who broke out of prison and went on a rampage on the city and ran afoul of the Fantastic Four. They soon realize that Franklin Storm is Super-Skrull in disguise. Warlord Morrat had a concussive energy beam projector attached to Dr. Storm's chest. The projector was set to go off the moment he saw the Fantastic Four. When Storm appeared, he warned the Fantastic Four to stay away and rolled over on the floor, taking the full force of the deadly concussive blast on himself.

In "Hopelessly Impossible", Lockjaw helps the Human Torch get the Impossible Man to The Great Refuge and away from Super-Skrull.

In what turned out to be the series finale, "Doomsday", Doctor Doom acquired the Power Cosmic. He once again tries to go after Galactus only to hit the barrier that prevents the Silver Surfer from leaving Earth.

Proposed season 3

According to season two supervising producer Tom Tataranowicz, had there been a third season of Fantastic Four: The Animated Series, he would've wanted to go into the whole Sue Storm pregnancy story arc. In Tataranowicz's eyes, this would've given the production crew a chance to do their own take on Namor, the Sub-Mariner (who only appeared in season one), as he played into the arc in Fantastic Four issues leading up to and around issue #100. Tataranowicz also wanted to bring Medusa and She-Hulk into the mix as part of the Fantastic Four while Susan Storm was on maternity leave.

Cast

Main cast

Actor Role
Beau Weaver Mister Fantastic / Reed Richards
Trapster
T'Chaka
Admiral Koh
Lori Alan Invisible Woman / Sue Storm
Chuck McCann Thing / Ben Grimm
Brian Austin Green Human Torch / Johnny Storm
(Season 1)
Quinton Flynn Human Torch / Johnny Storm
(Season 2)
Neil Ross Doctor Doom / Victor Von Doom
(Season 1)
Puppet Master
Krang
Super-Skrull
(Season 1)
Simon Templeman Doctor Doom / Victor Von Doom
(Season 2)
Pauline Arthur Lomas Alicia Masters

Guest cast

Actor Role
Robin Sachs Silver Surfer
(Season 1)
Edward Albert Silver Surfer
(Season 2)
Gregg Berger Moleman
Mary Kay Bergamn Princess Anelle
Jane Carr Lady Dorma
Rocky Carol Triton
(First voice)
Mark Hamill Triton
(Second voice)
Maximus the Mad
Kree Sentry
Dick Clark Himself
Jim Cummings Slasher Curtis
Bill Clinton
Votan
Keith David Black Panther / T'Challa
Michael Dorn Gorgon
Tony Jay Galactus
(All appearances)
Terrax
(Season 1)
Ron Feinberg Terrax
(Season 2)
Ron Friedman Blastaar
Brad Garrett Hydro-Man
George Gee Himself
Dan Gilvezan Warlord Morrat
Benny Grant Rick Jones
Richard Grieco Ghost Rider / Daniel Ketch
Jess Harnell Super-Skrull
(Season 2)
Impossible Man
Jamie Horton Psycho-Man
Charles Howerton Ulysses Klaw
Kathy Ireland Crystal
Green Jelly Themselves
Clyde Kusatsu Annihilus
Karnak
Kay E. Kuter Ego the Living Planet
Joan Lee Ms. Lavinia Forbes
Stan Lee Himself
Kerrigan Mahan Seeker
Leeza Miller McGee Nova / Frankie Raye
Richard McGonagle Franklin Storm
Katherine Moffat Lyja
Iona Morris Medusa
Alan Oppenheimer Firelord
Uatu, the Watcher
Gary Owens Himself
Ron Perlman Hulk / Bruce Banner
Wizard
Riff Regan Melinda
John Rhys-Davies Thor
Robert Ridgely Skrull Emperor
Bill Smitrovich Daredevil / Matt Murdock
Gina Tuttle Female TV Reporter
James Warwick Namor, the Sub-Mariner

Reception

As with the case with it's sister show on the Marvel Action Hour, Iron Man: The Animated Series, the first season of Fantastic Four: The Animated Series was poorly received by fans and critics. Many criticized the first season for it's campy tone and silly acting in the show. And as previously mentioned, the show was revamped for a second season in 1995, with revamped characters, more complex stories, and a more mature tone. However, despite mixed-to-positive reviews from critics and fans, ratings still dropped, which led to the show's cancellation.

Episodes

Season 1

  • The Origin of the Fantastic Four, Part One
  • The Origin of the Fantastic Four, Part Two
  • Now Comes the Sub-Mariner
  • Incursion of the Skrulls
  • The Silver Surfer and the Coming of Galactus, Part One
  • The Silver Surfer and the Coming of Galactus, Part Two
  • Super Skrull
  • The Mask of Doom, Part One
  • The Mask of Doom, Part Two
  • The Mask of Doom, Part Three
  • Mole Man
  • Behold the Negative Zone
  • The Silver Surfer and the Return of Galactus

Season 2

  • And a Blind Man Shall Lead Them
  • The Inhumans Saga, Part I: And the Wind Cries Medusa
  • The Inhumans Saga, Part II: The Inhumans Among Us
  • The Inhumans Saga, Part III: Beware the Hidden Land
  • Worlds Within Worlds
  • To Battle the Living Planet
  • Prey of the Black Panther
  • When Calls Galactus
  • Nightmare in Green
  • Behold, a Distant Star
  • Hopelessly Impossible
  • The Sentry Sinister
  • Doomsday

Connections to Spider-Man: The Animated Series

In pilot episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Night of the Lizard, Spider-Man mentioned the Fantastic Four while crawling through the sewer.

In the episodes Return of the Spider Slayer and The Sting of the Scorpion, Spider-Man mentioned the Fantastic Four, Human Torch, and the Thing.

Scarlet Spider made a brief cameo in the episode, Nightmare in Green.

The Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom made guest appearances in the Spider-Man: The Animated Series episodes, Secret Wars, Chapter I: Arrival, Secret Wars, Chapter II: The Gauntlet of the Red Skull and Secret Wars, Chapter III: Doom.

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