If I had to come up with of two words that embodied the sixties, they would be ‘Cosmic Consciousness’. Kirby and Lee’s Fantastic Four, conceived in 1961 at the dawn of the space race, certainly shared in that zeitgeist, but actually ended up in the forefront of the Cosmic movement. The Fantastic Four began their adventures by attempting to journey into space, but, altered by Cosmic Rays they brought space back to earth with them. The team continued to explore intergalactic sci-fi themes in its early years. An intriguing character known as the Watcher was introduced. This benevolent huge headed creature was from a race of beings that could only observe and not interfere. Kirby and Lee toyed with various conventionally villainous bug eyed aliens before bringing us a creature that was so far off the scope of power that he was like unto a god.
Galactus, monstrous consumer of planets was so awesome that the cover announcing his appearance did not even feature him. The cover of Fantastic Four #48, dated May, 1966, showed the shock and awe of our heroes as the Watcher pointed upwards at approaching doom. We could only imagine what could inspire such trepidation.
The story begins in the completion of the previous issue’s tale, as the FF attempt to return to normal life after their encounter with the Inhumans in their Great Refuge. This is not to be. The doorway to weirdness has opened and there is no going back. A small panel at the bottom left of page 7 opens a window to the vista of the infinite cosmos. This is followed by our first view of the Silver Surfer as he zooms towards earth. The camera does not linger. It changes Point of View again to another observer, as the speed trail of the Surfer’s board leads our eye to the nefarious Skrulls who are watching the herald’s approach with dread.