Team ups are one of the most classic tropes in comic book storytelling. In all superhero comics, one team-up in particular stands out as perhaps the greatest. In Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four: Silver Rage we get a glimpse at exactly why.
Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four first met in the very first issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Ever since then the two franchises have been tightly linked. In 2007, the heroes teamed for a series that was very much a departure from the normal sort of superhero team-up. The series was written by Jeff Parker, drawn by Mike Wieringo (in his last work before his passing), inked by Wade Von Grawbadger & Andy Lanning, colored by Pete Pantazis, and lettered by Nate Piekos.
It’s a story we’ve seen before. A mysterious starship arrives and an alien visitor descends from it. However from there, the story changes as the alien invasion takes a much different form than anyone expected. The Four and Spider-Man have to race against time to stop these unusual aliens from taking over the planet and ruining everything that makes Earth unique.
Now, this series is most notable for being Mike Wieringo’s last work. After the popular artist made his name at Marvel with Sensational Spider-Man and Fantastic Four (as well as runs on The Flash and Robin at DC) this was a natural fit for him. The series is full of his trademark high energy cartooning, and, with his inkers, made the new threat fit right in with the Marvel Universe as a whole.
However, this story should be more well known than it is because it’s simply a great Spider-Man and Fantastic Four story. Parker creates a threat that’s more than something they can punch. The alien invaders are as benevolent as invaders can be (though they are incredibly malicious), taking over the planet with manipulation and empty promises. The H’mojen are creepy in how they take over, and Parker does some great things with the concept. This is about a group of adventurers, scientists and explorers solving a problem, not superheroes punching a bad guy.
This is a hidden gem of a story that not enough Marvel readers and fans talk about. It’s an artistic gem, showing off why Wieringo is still so beloved. However, it’s an exploration of what the title characters actually mean, and shows what they can do beyond “punch bad guy make joke.”
Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four: Silver Rage is out of print, but available digitally on Comixology.