Road Trip Reads: Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 1

20 issues of the series that launched the Silver Age, plus the first annual are collected in this volume. In 1961, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby changed the world's perception of what a super-hero was by creating the Fantastic Four, a family of heroes with real human problems. Meet the monstrous yet lovable Thing, the hot-headed and impetuous Human Torch, the compassionate Invisible Woman, and the dashing scientist known as Mister Fantastic. While their inter-personal conflicts reflect real world problems and concerns, their rouges gallery is a cast of wonderfully overstated characters.

Dr. Doom is monarch of an Eastern European country with a metal mask and a penchant for mixing scientific gizmos with the dark arts; The Puppet Master, father to the Thing's main squeeze Alicia Masters, molds mind-control puppets out of radioactive clay; and Namor (my personal favorite), king of Atlantis, whose contempt of humanity is only outmatched by his love for the Invisible Woman.

Non-stop, non-ironic fun for all ages is available for that long summer road trip. As Stan Lee would say: Excelsior!