Legend has it in 1961 Timely publisher Martin Goodman was playing a round of golf with rival publisher Jack Liebowitz of DC Comics. Goodman heard of the success that DC had recently been having with Justice League of America a new title that featured a team of well known super-heroes. Goodman decided that his company should begin publishing their own series about a team of super-heroes. He gave the order to writer Stan Lee who was recently finding the medium of comic books restrictive. Intending to leave the medium, Lee and artist Jack Kirby produced a ground-breaking book featuring a family of super-heroes who were far more fallible and human than anything seen in the medium to date. The intended swan-song was phenomenally successful. Lee and Kirby stayed together on the book and began launching other titles together from which the Marvel Universe grew.
The Fantastic Four acquired their superhuman abilities after their experimental rocket passed through a storm of cosmic rays. Scientist Reed Richards, who took the name Mister Fantastic gained the ability to stretch his body into nearly any conceivable shape. His fiance Susan Storm became able to transform herself into the Invisible Girl (later the Invisible Woman), as well as project force fields. Her younger brother Johnny Storm was given the incendiary powers of the Human Torch. Finally, pilot Ben Grimm was transformed into an orange-skinned, craggy monster. Filled with self-pity he dubbed himself the Thing.
In 2005 the Fantastic Four would become the subject of a self-titled feature film, bringing the characters to an even wider audience.