WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Fantastic Four #14 by Dan Slott, Paco Medina, Jesus Aburtov and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
From the events of such classic issues as Amazing Fantasy #15, Fantastic Four #1 and Journey Into Mystery #83 to the modern releases of today, the Marvel Universe has a rich history that it's always honored, even as its moved forward and evolved.
But while longtime fans might think they know everything there is to know about the past of the Marvel Universe, every now and then, the publisher will add a new layer or a new revelation to make its tapestry that more complete, richer, and even more meaningful. That's what happens in Fantastic Four #14, which features the first chapter of the “Point of Origin” storyline.
The issue by Slott and Medina revisits the origin of Marvel’s First Family, and it finally reveals something we never knew — and never realized was missing: the name of the rocket that carried Reed, Ben, Sue and Johnny were in when they got their powers back in 1961.
Every great ship has a name. Whether it’s the Saturn V rocket that carried Apollo 11 to the moon or Atlas V, which carried the Curiosity rover to the planet Mars, the spaceships launched by man have always beared a significant name. Therefore, it would only make sense that the fateful rocket that took Reed Richards, Ben Grimm and Sue and Johnny Storm out into space in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #1 would have one as well. And yet, one was never given in the original issue, or in the subsequent decades.
Now, after 58 years, we finally learn that the rocket's name when the Fantastic Four donate it to the Smithsonian. During the inauguration ceremony, the name of the rocket is revealed to be the Marvel-1.
Before now, the only time a name was given to the rocket was in the 1995 Warren Ellis-penned Ruins miniseries, which gave the rocket the name Astrea. However, the miniseries took place in a dark alternate world where the origins of Marvel heroes turned them into monsters instead of heroes.
While the Marvel-1 name might seem a tad on the nose, it's the most obvious, perfect name for the rocket that, in many ways, started the modern Marvel Universe.
In this rocket, the Fantastic Four were hit by cosmic radiation that gave them superpowers and transformed them into the Fantastic Four. As the first Marvel heroes to debut in the '60s, the Lee and Kirby's FF kicked off the so-called "Marvel Age of Comics" that included the introduction of Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men and laid the groundwork for the Marvel Universe as we know it today.
The Marvel-1 name not only reflects this, it also honors its fathers, Lee and Kirby. It calls back to the early, wondrous days of the Marvel Universe, when a family of four looked up to the stars, eager to go on an adventure that would not only change themselves, but an entire universe.