Why The Fantastic Four Are Terrible People

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Welcome back, Hypertransitory readers! Today’s episode concerns an issue that has plagued humankind for far too long. Namely, exactly why the Fantastic Four are such horrible people.

Who are the Fantastic Four?

I think most people have at least a passing familiarity with the Fantastic Four. If you really don’t know, they’re a super-hero team created and published by Marvel Comics. They first showed up on the scene way back in 1961.

The Fantastic Four are awful people

In order to beat the Russians into space, Reed Richards, his pilot friend Ben Grimm, his fiancé Susan Storm and her younger brother Johnny steal a rocketship. In the doing, they fly into an intense cosmic ray storm, which irradiates their cells and mutates them into the Fantastic Four. Reed’s entire body became elastic, Ben transforms into a super-strong rock creature, Susan gains the ability to become invisible, while Johnny is able to light himself on fire and fly.

At the time, the characters were a breath of fresh air. No one had seen anything like this. The team seemed to have deep-seated problems with one another, and even sometimes came to blows.

It’s been said by some that the Fantastic Four are Marvel’s royalty, while the Avengers are the varsity squad. I don’t know what this makes the X-Men…

Fantastic Four #208 was one of the first comics I ever read in my life, and I do have to give it some credit for setting me on the path of drawing and creating my own comics. As the years went by, though, I came to realize that I liked these characters less and less, and in some cases, flat out disliked them.

That said, I’ve bought well over 100 issues of FF over my comic collecting career. Considering that about 12 issues publish per year, that would mean I bought over 8 years worth of Fantastic Four! Pretty stupid, right?

Well, yes. However, in my defense, most of the time I was buying them were back in the 80′s, when I was still a kid, living at home with disposable income. Hey, I didn’t have to pay that mortgage! All I had to worry about was getting some new Nike’s and my weekly comic fix. Besides, I really liked the artwork at the time, and even if the team itself was boring me, I could still get something out of the art.

So, even though I wasn’t enjoying them like I used to, I still bought them because I always had. It wasn’t until I got to college and money became scarce that harsh cuts had to be made.

Still, if you read any of the mainstream Marvel stuff or participate in any comic forums, you can’t help but “keep up” with the team. Even just browsing around in the comic store I might pick up a few issues to see what’s going on (note: I’m actually a “package customer” at my local comic shop -meaning I order a set amount of books and spend a certain amout each month. Normally you can’t just go in and start reading all the comics if you don’t buy).

I just don’t like these guys…

In the late 90′s there was a company-wide crossover called Onslaught. Essentially, the X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four and whoever else were around had to stop this powerful creature named Onslaught.

I had bought the trade paperbacks, so all the issues were combined already. It really hit home with me that I didn’t want to read those Fantastic Four issues of the crossover. They were so damn boring. That’s when the truth began to reveal itself to me. The Fantastic Four sucks.

That said, the only one who’s mostly bearable is The Thing. I own close to 75 issues of solo Thing stories, made up of his own series, and also his team-up series “Marvel Two-In-One” where each issue he teamed up with a different character. It was really fun stuff. Too bad none of his solo books ever lasted. He always wound up back with the team, though so he was usually always in print somewhere.

I’ll go through the FF main team members from best to worst, and I’m going to try to keep my observations grounded within the story. Meaning that yes there are marketing/sales decisions and issues with the creative team at Marvel sometimes that cause a character to commit certain acts, or there may be business-related issues preventing certain plot elements from ever being realized -but I won’t be acknowledging those.

So now it’s on! I’ll start with my (and likely everyone else’s) favorite – The Thing.

The Thing

Ben Grimm, A.K.A. The Thing is the team strong-man. Well, he’s strong, but still gets beaten up most of the time. Also, since he’s made up mostly of rock, he’s semi-invulnerable, but not really all that invulnerable. He’s kind of like a poor-man’s Hulk (despite the Hulk actually debuting a year later). It’s become a matter of note in the comics world that Ben is never really ever able to best the Hulk in a fight.

Ben’s signature line is It’s clobberin’ time! – which is usually a precursor for him getting beat up within the next few panels. I’ll tell you guys this much, Ben has heart, he’s like the everyman you can relate to. He (usually) doesn’t quit no matter what the obstacle. One of my first Thing solo issues was Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7.

The Fantastic Four are awful people

In this issue, a space boxer shows up and challenges the strongest guys on Earth to a boxing match. Although many are technically stronger than Ben, he hangs in there longer than anyone else, actually getting beaten to a pulp and ending up in the hospital. I was pretty impressed by his character in this one, and it made me follow more of his solo adventures.

Tragic Figure

The crux of this character is that he’s trapped looking like a hideous rock creature, despite the best efforts of his genius friend Reed to turn him back. Over and over again, potential cures fail, or work for a time and then he reverts back to the Thing. As it turns out, it’s fear of losing his girlfriend that stops him from being cured.

Wait.. Girlfriend?? Looking like that? Yes, love is blind…and so is his girlfriend, Alicia. Anyway, Alicia is a sculptress (yes, a blind sculptress) who is actually the daughter of a longtime FF foe The Puppet Master. So Alicia falls for Ben, and really doesn’t care what he looks like.

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Ben comes to depend on this love, but secretly worries that if he were to change back to plain old Ben Grimm, then she wouldn’t love him any longer. This is a question that he doesn’t have to ever face, because he’s permanently stuck as the Thing, right?

Well, in the mid-80′s came the Secret Wars. Pretty much all Marvel super-folk were rounded up and shipped off to another planet (Battleworld) to fight a war with their opposite number, a gang of super-villains brought to the very same planet. On this planet, The Thing is able to revert back to being human Ben Grimm.

Even after the last battle is done and everyone is heading home, Ben stays behind to enjoy being human and sort some things out. Namely his feelings for Alicia.

Long story short, he’d had the ability to revert to human the entire time, but it was his own fear of losing Alicia that was stopping him from doing it. Once he began to think about letting Alicia go, he started changing back to Ben Grimm more and more frequently. It seems a bit weak-willed, but I guess guys have been doing stupid things to themselves for the love of a good woman for centuries…

The Fantastic Four are awful people

So, it took a lot of painful struggling before he came to this realization for himself -and as he did, he also ruined his chance to ever turn back to Ben Grimm. Of course, his friend Reed had known this for a good long time, now – but chose to keep it to himself.

Right now in present day FF comics, Ben can turn back into his human self for one week each year. It’s a bit ridiculous, but it seems like they desperately want to hold onto some level of tragedy for Ben.

Civil War

I had a lot of respect for The Thing, but I lost most of it when the Civil War crossover happened.

In Marvel’s super-hero Civil War, a Super-Human Registration Act is proposed, requiring all super-powered vigilantes to register with the government, thus revealing their names and their abilities. This happened after young heroes The New Warriors failed in an attempt to capture a band of supervillains, causing the deaths of over 600 civilians and most of their team. To make matters worse, the team was filming a reality tv show as the did it. The resulting backlash split the super-hero community down the middle. Heroes needed to pick a side, but in a shameful display of cowardice – Ben leaves the country and goes to France.

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Damn, Ben.

Everyone else can pick a side, people with far more personal stakes and lots more to lose, but not Ben. He’s angry at the heroes of both sides for fighting. The only thing is at least they’re standing up for what they believe in. Now that I think about it, this is par for the course with Ben. He runs away from his emotional problem with Alicia for years, and when confronted by another crisis that requires him to make a tough decision, he still can’t make it. This time he physically runs away.

Super-Hero relations

Ben’s the only one of the team who seems to get outside of the usual Fantastic Four/Avengers world on a regular basis. Sometimes you could see him off playing cards with the X-Men, and in his own series’ he’s had many adventures with all sorts of heroes. That was one of the best parts of Marvel Two-In-One, just who is this guy gonna run into next??

So even though the Thing is a bit of an also-ran character, he’s truly the best the Fantastic Four have got.

Going Solo

I’ve bought many an issue of Thing’s solo series and Marvel Two-In-One. He’s the only one I would buy and the only one with the personality to maintain a solo comic. That doesn’t mean they always work out, but at least they have a shot. Ben Grimm is a popular character mostly because he’s the only one you’d really want to know.

The Human Torch

The “next worst” team member is Johnny Storm, A.K.A. The Human Torch. He’s already a knock-off of the original (android) Human Torch, and it doesn’t get any better from here.

Fire is something of a lame power – most of the real villains would have learned to counter it by now, and even if they haven’t, he always has to hold back to avoid burning someone to a crisp.

At the limits of his power, the Torch has the ability to generate a “nova” level burst of heat. As you can imagine, this isn’t very useful in the super-hero game. He can’t really haul off and let loose because he might incinerate his allies and everyone else in New York. Also, by the time he’s facing an adversary that warrants lethal, star-exploding force, you can bet they’re already so powerful that it won’t stop them anyway.

Even worse than his lackluster power is his terrible, immature, arrogant personality. He was a young teenager when he first got his powers and after 50 years he hasn’t grown up yet. He’s one of those guys that you hate because they were handed everything in life, and don’t seem to have a care in the world. Not much has been done to soften this persona.

He relentlessly torments Ben about his appearance, plays practical jokes on him all the time. Even though Ben is obviously deeply emotionally troubled by this, Johnny doesn’t have enough depth to him to stop doing it. And many times it’s been said, even by Ben himself, that Johnny is just doing it out of love. But damn, Johnny…how about not doing it out of love and not kicking smoeone when they’re so down? I guess that’s just too much for him.

As a young celebrity, he acts like an irresponsible, womanizing douchebag. Even going so far as to sleep with Ben Grimm’s girlfriend Alicia when Ben was doing his soul-searching on Battleworld (this later turned out to be an alien Skrull -but he didn’t know that, so it still counts).

The Fantastic Four are awful people

For years he’s benefited from his sister’s relationship. Not only flying into space with her boyfriend, but becoming a celebrity, living presumably rent-free with no obligations but to go on space-time bending field trips, date super-models and fly around the city without a care in the world.

What has he done to earn any respect from anyone? I can’t see that he has anything to offer. He enjoys a higher status of celebrity and respectability than other heroes who have done more to deserve it, including the X-Men and even the Avengers. Remember -the Fantastic Four are royalty…sheesh. That actually makes me like them even less.

Somehow, the Torch is good friends with everyone’s favorite Marvel hero, Spider-Man. Although the two are of similar age, it’s a bit of a wonder why they’re friends. Peter Parker is actually a good person, who not only had nothing handed to him, but never really caught a break in his entire life.

The Fantastic Four are awful people

It can be argued that gaining his spider powers was a big break, but those same powers have been the cause of unending anguish for Peter. Meanwhile, Johnny just tags along with his sister, gains flashy powers and lives a charmed life, adored by millions.

(To be fair, Peter Parker’s willingness to literally make a deal with the devil in the controversial One More Day story arc displayed a cowardly unwillingness to own up to and live with the consequences of his actions. A decision that could place him morally well below the Torch, even with Johnny having 50 years of douchebaggery under his belt).

Civil War

At the outset of the super-hero Civil War, Johnny Storm is doing what he always does -namely being a huge asshole, when the people of New York decide to teach him a well-deserved lesson. Essentially he gets his ass beat by an angry mob of normal joes and ends up in the hospital. At the time I remember thinking “I’m surprised this never happened before.”

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Johnny Storm being a douchebag…

The Fantastic Four are awful people

After this, he follows his sister AGAIN -this time to go off with Captain America’s resistance forces. Dude – cut the cord, already! At least he was on the right side of it (in my opinion), despite how he ended up there.

In recent years, the Torch gave his life to stop an incursion from the Negative Zone. Although this may seem like a valiant act, he lacked the common decency to stay dead (like many other rude comic characters). Even though he was supposed to be a changed person following this traumatic experience, he’s pretty much back to the same jerk he always was.

I think it’s safe to say that the Torch has few redeeming qualities. He’s a flat, shallow character that likely wouldn’t bother to save lives if he wasn’t with his sister and going along with the whole super-team idea.

Going Solo

At this point, I can’t think of any writer/artist team or proposed storyline that would ever get me to buy a solo Human Torch issue or series. There’s not enough substance to the character to really make you care about him. I hope he stays well contained inside the Fantastic Four comic so I don’t accidentally stumble upon him in something I actually read.

The Invisible Woman

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Susan Storm Richards, A.K.A. The invisible Woman’s powers are a bit of a clusterf*ck. Invisibility by itself is fairly lame. How many scenarios will actually call for a power like that?

Her ability to project invisible force fields are where her true power lies. It took legendary writer/artist John Byrne to develop new and creative ways for her to use the forcefields.

Previously, she had been played mostly for a damsel-in-distress, but Byrne came along and recognized that, with what she could do, she was actually the most powerful member of the team. Of course you could say that Johnny’s nova blast is technically more “powerful”, but she’s the most powerful useful member of the team. How many times have their butts been saved by a timely invisible force field?

However, even though those fields are powerful and handy in a pinch, for the most part they make no sense at all.

Consider that when she puts up the field, you can still see her (unless of course she turns invisible, too). That means light is getting through that field. You can still hear her, so sound is getting through (should other kinetic energy make it through?) She can still breathe, so air is getting through. Wait, what exactly is this field blocking??

To be fair, I do recall stories where they try to demonstrate that Sue can make the field more opaque to block lasers and other light-based attacks, or she could make the field more or less porous to stop gas and water attacks, etc. In fact, she’s been seen to render foes unconscious by surrounding them with a force field and depriving them of air. Still, this is rarely done in a consistent manner, so most of the time based on the art and the story, it makes no sense that those force fields work for their intended purpose at all.

If second-tier enemies like The Wizard can get through her field, Dr. Doom should be through that thing in a heartbeat.

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Sue’s personality has evolved into the wet blanket of the team. Unfortunately, this is a natural position for her to assume. With her brother and the Thing constantly bickering, plus Reed forever losing himself in his lab, not to mention two young kids underfoot, she always has to be the one to put a stop to whatever immature shenanigans are going down.

This is completely reasonable, but it doesn’t make me want to read about her.

Side Dish

For some reason, Namor, The Sub-Mariner has a thing for Susan. Even as a kid, I couldn’t understand why. Why would a monarch like him want a stuffy stick-in-the-mud housewife like her? Again, I know the FF is supposed to be Marvel’s “royalty”, but no -they really aren’t.

Admittedly, back in the days the female characters were used as bait and plot devices to get the men to fight or run to the rescue. Namor was a Tarzan alpha-male who was going to claim Sue as his prize, forcing the intellectual Reed to step up for her.

Nevertheless, Sue and Namor have shared quite a few kisses/make-out sessions over the years. Sue, you should not be kissing some other guy, especially when it’s been stated many times that she does have feelings for Namor. He seems to be able to swoop in, put her in a liplock, they both enjoy it and then it’s like “’til we meet again, baby…” At which point she’s back with Reed like nothing ever happened. As far as I know, she’s never full-on hooked up with Namor, but damn -respect your marriage.

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Oh, it’s like that, Sue? Well ok as long as it’s only this one time…

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Dammit, Sue! You did it again!

Yes, it takes two to tango. Namor is at fault, too, but he’s intentionally being an ass, since he doesn’t respect Reed anyway. Namor is a royal, elite bastard, that’s a big part of his character. Sue should be letting Namor know “Ok, you snuck that kiss, but this doesn’t happen again, understand?” Plus, with her level of power, she could teach him a real solid lesson if she wanted to.

I’ve never been married, but I have to believe that those of you who are would have a problem if your spouse is constantly sharing kisses with some other person who she has genuine feelings for, even if they don’t do anything more than that.

Civil War

As mentioned before, the FF was ripped apart by the events of the super-hero Civil War. Sue earned a lot of respect from me when she sided with the side I agreed with – the rebels.

Initially, she was willing to go along with the law (requiring all super-heros to register and work under supervision of law-enforcement agencies), but after she witnessed a murderous clone of Thor, created in part by her husband, go berserk and kill Bill Foster, A.K.A. Black Goliath, she stepped in to help the rebels escape, then took off to join them later, after giving Reed a verbal thrashing in a long goodbye note.

The Fantastic Four are awful people

So, unlike Ben Grimm, who punked out on making a choice, Sue was willing to sacrificed her marriage to do what she considered to be the right thing.

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Still, it’s funny that the whole Civil War started over a disagreement about the Super-Human Registration Act. The X-Men and other mutants had been living under the threat of the Mutant Registration Act for years, and Sue was happy to let them fight their own battle then.

Mutant Affairs

Alas, although she gained a lot of respect from me for her Civil War actions, I still have to take most of it back because of her treatment of Marvel’s mutant community.

I tend to judge many of the Marvel characters based on how they interact (or don’t) with the X-Men and the rest of the X-crew.

You’re probably thinking “isn’t this a bit harsh?” or “what the hell has Susan Richards ever done to the mutants??”

Well, Sue hasn’t done anything to the mutants, and sure as hell hasn’t done anything for them, either. I consider this to be unforgivably disgusting apathy on her part, since her own son, Franklin Richards, is a mutant!

With all the fear, distrust, outright hatred and bigotry towards mutants on display every day in the Marvel Universe, you’d think Sue would say to herself “This is my SON they’re talking about” You’d think she would be the first person out there to get involved, to use her public and respected position to try to promote the peaceful dream of X-Men founder Charles Xavier.

After all, when the pitchforks and torches start waving, and the (possibly government sanctioned) mob starts hunting people down, they’re going to come looking for Franklin, too.

Obviously, the combined power of the Fantastic Four would have to be overcome in any attempt on Franklin, but if the X-Men can be taken down, so can the considerably less-powerful Fantastic Four.

Decimation

After the events of House of M – an event that spanned the entire world in which Magneto and his family rule the Earth, another event occurred. This one was called Decimation, or “M-Day”, and it was the fallout from the House of M storyline that devastated the mutant community.

The consequences of Decimation were that the majority of Marvel’s mutants lost their powers. Where once there were millions of them, now there were only approximately 200 left.

This put the X-Men in an extremely tough spot. In the past, although they were feared and hated, to take any kind of mass-action against them would be suicide -or at the least start a very long and costly war. There were just too damn many mutants. But now with their numbers almost completely diminished, the X-Men were at long last in a vulnerable position. The government wasted no time in making their move.

They immediately surrounded the X-Mansion with giant (human operated) Sentinel Robots, which they claimed were there for the protection of the Mutants, but were really there to keep them penned in, concentration camp style. The robots followed the X-Men wherever they went, and the government began to demand that the X-Men ask for permission to come and go, or otherwise log their comings and goings.

So what does any of this have to do with Susan? Well, nothing, because as I said, she and the rest of the Fantastic Four (and the Avengers -I didn’t forget about them) shamefully sat on their asses and did jack shit to help the beleaguered X-Men -who had just got finished helping them to restore reality! Talk about ungrateful.

The point here is that her son would have just as easily found himself penned up in a tent on the lawn of the X-mansion if not for the celebrity position of his family.

But Susan apparently feels no kinship or empathy for her son’s fellow mutants.

The worst part of all is that her son Franklin is easily the most powerful mutant of all time. Outclassing all of the X-Men combined, even the much-feared Phoenix Force (which is not innately a mutant power, but it always seems drawn to mutants). Franklin’s abilities include altering reality itself -he was able to create an entire separate universe for his parents in order to prevent their deaths.

Cosmic entities like Galactus and the Celestials have a healthy respect for Franklin’s power levels. So while even cosmic deities are worried about the untrained child who could possibly destroy them all, the government (and public opinion) of the U.S.A. thinks the real threat is lurking in the X-Mansion!

It would be nice if, as Spider-Man swings around Manhattan, you’d see a tv spot or some sort of subway poster or billboard or something with Sue or Reed on it that says something to the effect of “Mutants are people, too!” Or some sort of public-service-announcement like ads in the backgrounds of Marvel comics in general.

Dear X-Men, Good Luck with all that…

Neither Sue nor the rest of the FF or Avengers get involved when the desperate X-Men, attempting to stave-off extinction are searching for the first mutant baby born since the Decimation in the Messiah Complex X-Men event. The baby is possibly the hope of the entire mutant race, but the FF and Avengers say “to hell with those guys”.

(To be fair, I don’t remember a point where the X-Men actually “ask” for help, but really, the FF and especially the Avengers make it their business to butt into everything, so where were they?? Whole towns were being massacred, and no Avengers show up?)

If you think that’s bad, what’s worse is how the FF and Avengers sat on their asses during the X-Men’s Second Coming event.

In this one, the diminished X-Men are set upon by one of their most destructive enemies, the mutant-hunting AI called Bastion, who also hunted down and captured many mutants back in the 90′s.

Backs against the wall and desperately fighting a last-stand battle, one which results in the maiming and deaths of characters, the X-men are even closer to death than ever. Neither the FF or the Avengers bother to come help, even though this time the final battle is actually televised.

Sue, COME ON, these are your son’s people! What is she teaching him? “Those people are just like you, but they’re on their own, son. I hope they survive, but if they don’t…eehhhhhhhhhh.”

Going Solo

The Invisible Woman is another character who really only works as part of the team. This is another situation where I can’t imagine for any reason buying a comic that was solely about her adventures. I’d love to be surprised by a great concept for an Invisible Woman series that made me want to buy it every month, but I don’t think it’s possible. Being a married mother of two in the public eye, I don’t think she has enough “alone time” to have her own series.

Then again, Wolverine seems to be able to be on multiple X-Men teams, the Avengers, star in multiple solo series and run a school all at once, so maybe it can be done…

Mister Fantastic

For you Community fans that thought Britta was the worst…well, no. I can sssure you that Reed Richards, A.K.A. Mister Fantastic is definitely, absolutely, positively the worst.

Reed’s powers allow him to stretch and reshape his body as if he were elastic. Even though this turns out to be more useful than you might think, it’s still pretty lame. After all, he can only reshape himself within reason. He’s still fundamentally human, and isn’t a real shape-changer.

This makes him a lot less powerful than someone like Plastic Man, who can turn into any shape and can’t really be harmed or destroyed by any conventional weapons.

Reed’s go-to move is usually to wrap his body around an enemy like a boa constrictor to try to restrain them. After which he’ll be electrocuted or burned, or simply punched away by the bad guy, at which point a hero with some actual power might step up to help out.

Much has been made of the limits of Reed’s elasticity in recent years, as writers try to find new ways to use his rather limited power set. It’s been shown that Reed can’t be cut or punctured by someone like Wolverine because his elastic body simply gives way to the knife and doesn’t actually get sliced. I don’t quite buy this, but you know…whatever. If they say so.

Anyway, as you can see, his powers are really nothing to be excited about. Even so, it’s his great intelligence that is really his greatest weapon. The only thing is…well…the guy is kind of a dick…

SMART ASS

I just did a bit of quick searching and it didn’t take long to find that others shared my view of this pompous egghead. Click the images to check out their respective posts

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17-reedrichards-jackass

The Fantastic Four are awful people

The Fantastic Four are awful people

What an arrogant bastard.

SCREW THE WORLD!

One of the very worst things about Reed is that he’s so smart, the most intelligent guy on the planet -smarter than many advanced aliens and future societies, etc. He can figure it all out.

Here’s the only thing wrong with this: If we allow that this is all true within the context of the story, then why hasn’t he applied his intellect to fix many of the energy/water/health/food problems going on in the world of Marvel? At the very least help with the convienient stuff, make some better commercial products. Oh, wait, he won’t do that:

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Yes, Reed, it’s a real shame you took the money and ran, you sell-out. So…he’s already being paid off to stay out of the market. Obviously, at some point, the money matters more to him than providing humankind with the benefits of his knowledge. Yes it was an early-stage iPad in the example, but what other potentially game-changing discoveries has he been paid to sit on?

He sets up himself and his family as these champions of humanity, but instead of applying his real talents toward the betterment of mankind, he decides to spend his time exploring the freakin’ Negative Zone! COME ON, man! People are starving, and dying from diseases that he could possibly cure. People are homeless! He has this great intellect, but he never seems to proactively solve any problems. Sure when a super-throwdown occurs, he’s right there with some device to win the fight, but how about figuring out a way to shore up the old electrical grid, Reed? Thanks, bro.

What about the Hulk? There’s a brilliant man out there, trapped in the body of this creature. As it stands in the Marvel Universe, Bruce Banner may be the only guy on the planet with Reed/Dr. Doom level intelligence, and he’s not in a position to cure himself. Dr. Doom surely doesn’t care about some creature roaming the American southwest destroying things. But Reed, knowing full well he could probably solve this, just allows the creature to continue to destroy not only untold amounts of property, but the life of a fellow scientist.

And THEN, when the Hulk problem finally makes it’s way onto his desk, he votes with the rest of his Illuminati partners not to actually help the Hulk, but to exile him into space!!. Needless to say, I felt pretty good about the much deserved ass-kicking Reed took when the Hulk came back.

The question at hand, though: is every smart person responsible for solving every problem? Of course not, but Reed is the one who put himself and his family out there as people who were here to help mankind.

THINGS CLOSER TO HOME

But forget the Hulk, speaking of monsters, the number one all time awful move by Reed is transforming his best friend into a rocky orange monster (even though he KNEW they hadn’t shielded properly for cosmic rays), and then leaving him that way for YEARS -even though he knew how to fix him!!!

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Above, I mentioned that Ben wasn’t strong enough to overcome his doubts regarding his girlfriend Alicia Masters. Well, isn’t this a time for a good friend to stage an intervention? Wouldn’t you think? Why not call Professor X?? He IS a psychiatrist, and even though forcing Ben to change back isn’t Xavier’s style, I bet he could have figured out how to help him.

Although I gave Ben a hard time, I still can’t truly blame him for this. When you’re deep in the middle of this emotional turmoil (and you’re not a trained psychologist/psychiatrist), then of course you can’t really see the forest for the trees and psychoanalyze your own emotions.

But Reed is trained at these things. Or at least he obviously figured it out. The guy is a scientific polymath, shown many times to be adept at pretty much all fields of science (although he does consult with those who specialize in certain fields). So, although he knows that Ben has a psychological block preventing him from changing back into Ben Grimm, he keeps it to himself.

Really, though…if you suspect your friend is voluntarily remaining as a hideous rocky monster, which obviously pains him greatly emotionally, just so he can keep a woman around who may only be with him because he’s such a tragic figure -wouldn’t you at least float the idea past him to see if it helps him out even a little? Maybe you would, but Reed sure wouldn’t.

What an asshole.

Civil War – Reed the hypocrite

The official FF tally for the super-hero Civil War is as follows:

Then we get to Reed. He sides with the “pro-registration crowd”, allying with Iron-Man against Captain America. At which point he appears to be the chief engineer of the mentally damaged Thor clone, which of course went on to kill one of their longtime allies.

Not only this, but he also agrees to sign off on the use of the murderous criminal super-team The Thunderbolts, who are later seen hunting down Spider-Man (with extreme prejudice) when he attempts to defect from Reed’s side over to Sue’s.

He also begins locking up super-criminals (some of his former allies now counted as super-criminals) in the aforementioned Negative Zone! That’s cold, man. Real cold.

The whole time he’s saying that people need to follow the law, and that he’s done advanced social projections and calculations that show how necessary it all is. Well, Reed, was it really necessary for you to steal a ship from the U.S. Government in order to beat the Russians into outer space?

It’s just interesting how way back when, the government was telling him one thing, but he felt he knew better so he went against the government, stole (and destroyed) their property, and condemned his friend to a life of grotesquery and mental anguish all so he could be first.

Flash forward to the Civil War, and anyone who does this is consigned to prison in an anti-matter universe!

Johnny Storm, in a fit of rational thought, even reminds Reed that the Fantastic Four topple alien governments and dictators every other month. Now he says they can’t go up against the U.S. Government whether they’re right or wrong??

Examine the following pages and the discourse between Reed and Robbie Baldwin (the hero Speedball, blamed by America for the tragedy that killed over 600 people and started the Civil War).

The Fantastic Four are awful people

What about panel four, where Robbie says “I want to go back in time and stop this from happening…”. Waitaminnit, this is actually something that is within Reed’s power!

He could easily travel back in time and either warn the New Warriors about their mistake, stop them completely from attempting it, or else help them himself to safely corral the super-villains. Does Reed even consider this? Preventing all this tragedy? Of course he does -he’s the smartest man in the world.

Years later, in the pages of All New X-Men, founding X-Men member Hank McCoy (The Beast) travels back in time to bring the original (teenage) X-Men forward to our present. It’s an act of desperation meant to prevent potential loss of lives.

So the lives Hank is trying to save have not been lost yet. In Reed’s case, 600 people have died horribly. Maybe he should fire up the time-machine really quick, hop back there and prevent it?

I know…where does it end? If you start messing around with the timestream, pretty soon you’re trying to rewrite every disastrous event in human history. Still, Hank thought it was necessary to potentially save lives, whereas Reed (and Tony Stark) didn’t even consider the option to re-unite people with their loved-ones.

You can bet that if it would have been Sue who got killed, he’d flip the switch on the time-platform and have her alive again in less than an instant.

Mutant Affairs

For this section let’s repeat pretty much everything I wrote in Sue’s section above, except all this goes double for him.

Not only does he sit on his ass and let people just like his son suffer through years of fear and persecution, but the situation is even worse with Reed, because he and Professor X (the founder of the X-Men) have a fairly celebrated friendship.

Reed seems perfectly comfortable holing up in his lab, inventing useless crap, taking accolades from the scientific and celebrity community and taking millions of dollars from Sony not to bring his inventions to market. Meanwhile his friend Charles Xavier has dedicated his life to rescuing scared, sometimes traumatized children from around the world, training them to use their powers and represent the best in the mutant community, all in an attempt to integrate into society and better all of mankind.

But whatever. You know, as long as Reed can take a trip to the Microverse, jaunt around the universe with Galactus, or invent some kind of crazy thought projector helmet or other gizmo then who cares about the people who are trying to make a better world for his son?

Again, he’s the smartest guy in the world, so at some point this has crossed his mind, but he obviously feels it’s something beneath his notice. What a great dad.

Going Solo

While I would never buy a Mr. Fantastic solo series, you really can’t escape from him if you’re reading the Marvel Universe. He’s bound to show up sometime. Every criminal scientist (and some of his allies) are constantly trying to measure up to him or supplant him as the world’s top mind.

I still think only The Thing can hope to carry a solo series, and even he can’t seem to do it successfully.

Wretched Offspring

Two more solid reasons not to like the Fantastic Four are Reed and Sue’s two awful, awful children.

Where the aforementioned Franklin is almost omnipotent, their young daughter Valeria, has an intellect that already rivals her father -even though she’s only a toddler.

So essentially you’ve got one kid who can literally do anything he can dream up, and the other one, while not omniscient, is certainly smarter than you. Just what I need – all-powerful, know-it-all brats.

Fantastic Four Facebook Follies


Reed Richards

Hello everyone. NYC mayor just called, they’re throwing a parade tomorrow to celebrate us saving the world yet again. Let me know who can make it so I can get back to him.

2 hours agoCommentLike

 

Captain America

Yeah we got that call, too, over at Avengers HQ. As far as I know we’re all in except for Black Panther. He had to fly back home, so he’s gone already.

2 hours ago

Reed Richards

That’s probably for the best, him being black and all.

2 hours ago

Captain America

I agree.

2 hours ago

Johnny Storm

Hey guys, isn’t it great to have the love and respect of the general public, not to mention having the red carpets rolled out to us by most governments around the world?

2 hours ago

Tony Stark

Not to mention all the women.

2 hours ago

Johnny Storm

Yes, Tony Stark, the CHICKS!!

2 hours ago

Susan (Storm) Richards

Don’t be a pig, Johnny Storm.

2 hours ago

Ben Grimm

Hey, for once the kid has a point. We deserve the praise and admiration of the public for all the good we do. We almost died last week so a parade is the LEAST people can do.

2 hours ago

Captain America

Very true, Ben. We work hard to help people, and a little recognition doesn’t hurt.

2 hours ago

Reed Richards

I concur, everyone. You know, life really isn’t half bad at all :)

2 hours ago

Professor X

Hello, everyone.

2 hours ago

Reed Richards

Oh. Charles. Hello. I actually forgot I added you as a friend.

2 hours ago

Professor X

That’s ok. What’s this about a parade? I didn’t hear anything about this. What time should the X-Men be there? Since we were right there with you, helping to save the world and all.

2 hours ago

Captain America

Ahh. Listen, Charles, I’m not sure if tomorrow is a good time for the X-Men to be front and center in New York.

2 hours ago

Professor X

Why not? You aren’t ashamed to be seen with us, are you?

2 hours ago

Reed Richards

What?? NO! Of course, not. That’s not it at all. It’s just for your safety is all.

2 hours ago

Tony Stark

Yeah we just want to make sure you guys are safe since there’s not that many of you.

2 hours ago

Professor X

Oh ok, I see. I understand.

2 hours ago

Susan (Storm) Richards

So Charles, how are you? How are the X-Men after last week?

2 hours ago

Professor X

As well as can be expected, I suppose. An anti-mutant hate group tried to burn down our mansion the other day.

2 hours ago

Susan (Storm) Richards

My God, that’s terrible! Is everyone ok?

2 hours ago

Professor X

Yes. Iceman put the fire out. So it’s fine.

2 hours ago

Professor X

So aside from that, and the whole decimation of our race thing…everything’s fine.

2 hours ago

Ben Grimm

Hey, Chuck why do you always go there with it, huh? Every time it’s always about the decimation!

2 hours ago

Professor X

I’m sorry it’s an uncomfortable topic for you, Ben Grimm.

2 hours ago

Professor X

Reed, that reminds me, I was hoping I could get you and some of the Avengers to go on record and try to infuse some positivity into human-mutant relations? Some endorsements and good PR from you guys could go a long way.

2 hours ago

Reed Richards

Say what? Oh, um Charles I don’t know if I would do much good for your cause.

2 hours ago

Professor X

Of course you would! You and your wife, especially. Your own son Franklin is a mutant. If you were to speak out publicly it could save a lot of mutant lives.

2 hours ago

Captain America

Yeaah, Reed. That’s riiight. Your son IS a mutant…

2 hours ago

Johnny Storm

Oh, come off it, Professor X! You make it seem like you guys are being hunted down to the ends of the Earth!

2 hours ago

Professor X

Johnny Storm they don’t have to hunt us anymore, there’s only 200 of us left after most of my fellow mutants were de-powered. Now we’re penned in at my estate in a mutant concentration camp. They have us surrounded by giant killer robots to prevent us from moving around freely.

2 hours ago

Tony Stark

Damn. That’s rough, man.

2 hours ago

Professor X

Tony Stark, yes it is. I don’t suppose you all could help us defeat the robots and persuade the government that we deserve basic human rights and that we should be treated with dignity?

2 hours ago

Ben Grimm

Hey, don’t drag us into this man!

2 hours ago

Captain America

Reed Richards so back to your mutant son…isn’t he a pre-teen? How do we know he’s a mutant, again?

2 hours ago

Reed Richards

Well, Captain America, as it turns out, Franklin is extraordinarily powerful, perhaps the most powerful mutant, if not most powerful PERSON ever. He’s so powerful that his mutation appeared well before puberty, and in fact we had to place mental blocks into his mind to prevent his powers from manifesting and killing us all.

2 hours ago

Captain America

Yeah. About that…so the public is worried about the X-Men, yet you guys are sitting on the worst mutant threat ever?

2 hours ago

Susan (Storm) Richards

Steven Rogers! How can you say that about Franklin??

2 hours ago

Captain America

I guess I just can’t believe you’re capable of producing a mutant like that, Sue.

2 hours ago

Susan (Storm) Richards

So now you’re repulsed by me? Last night you said I was the “sweetest, hottest piece of ass ever!”

2 hours ago

Captain America

SUE!! Delete that, quick!

2 hours ago

Susan (Storm) Richards

I will not, Captain Hypocrite! Captain LIAR!

2 hours ago

Reed Richards

WHAT?? Sue, you were with Captain America last night? I thought you went out for coffee??

2 hours ago

Susan (Storm) Richards

It started as coffee…I’m so sorry Reed. We need to talk.

2 hours ago

Tony Stark

I’m DISGUSTED. Black Widow’s been throwing it at you for months, Cap, and you go for Susan?!

2 hours ago

Susan (Storm) Richards

Hey! What is that supposed to mean?

2 hours ago

Reed Richards

My heart is breaking. My whole world is ending. I’m dying, I can’t live without your love, Susan.

2 hours ago

Professor X

Reed not to be insensitive, but before you die could you possibly work in a public service announcement or maybe say something "Pro-Mutant" at the parade tomorrow?

2 hours ago

Ben Grimm

For pete’s sake, Xavier! Can’t you see the man is going through a terrible tragedy!

2 hours ago

Professor X

Somehow I think Reed will survive, but if I don’t get rid of these giant killer robots on my front lawn, the mutant race may not.

2 hours ago

Ben Grimm

Sigh. that’s the thing with you mutants…always me me me…

2 hours ago

The Wrap Up

While there’s no doubt that back in 1961 these characters were quite a shock to the system, these days I really wouldn’t touch ‘em, because despite all Marvel does to try to shake them up from time to time, you don’t get much more mainstream than the FF.

Even so, the comics are so tightly connected you can’t help but learn some unwanted Fantastic Four news from time to time.

I’m not what you would call a “crossover completionist” (someone who dutifully buys all the unnecessary spin-off titles that go along with a major crossover event), so I don’t feel bad skipping any FF crossovers if I happen to be into whatever big event is going down. More and more I’m not, these days, so those FF issues stay on the shelf when I hit the comic shop.

I did grab all the “Civil War” issues, mostly because Reed ended up being chewed out by someone on every other page, so I felt it was worth my money.

In a way, it’s too bad I don’t keep up with the FF anymore, because I’m sure they’re living up to my expectations and doing some really horrible stuff as usual. Still, to get me to read it, you’d have to make so many changes to the characters that it wouldn’t be them anymore.

Coincidentally, that’s why I buy the the “FF” comic every month. The premise here is that The Fantastic Four leaves Earth for awhile, and four different characters step in to be the Fantastic Four while they’re gone. So that was my cue to drop in on the Baxter Building and see what was going on. Also it doesn’t hurt that Mike Allred is doing the art. Can’t resist…

The Fantastic Four are awful people

Obviously, many people still like the Fantastic Four. I have no idea what the sales numbers look like, but I’ll assume that if it wasn’t making money for Marvel it would be cancelled.

If you’re one of those people who’s still a fan of the Fantastic Four then let me know your reasons in the comments, I’d love to hear it. Otherwise I’m gonna go ahead and get out of here, for now. See you guys next time!

Thanks for sharing!

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  1. Thaddeus Howze
    Twitter: ebonstorm
    (Reply)
    on May 8, 2013

    Okay, smart guy, you hit every nail on the head. Written the way the Fantastic Four has been over the past six decades makes them all terrible people. But given the potential of superheroes of the Marvel Universe, we can basically say that most of them are terrible people.

    Between Tony Stark, Charles Xavier, T’challa, Hank Pym, Henry McCoy, Reed Richards, Valeria Richards, Victor Von Doom, Peter Parker, Bruce Banner and half a dozen other highly technical supervillains, there would be no problem on Earth they couldn’t resolve.

    When these comics were being created, when these ideas were being first dreamed up, no one ever imagined they would last so long, have so many adventures and after a time become so powerful there would literally be no problem beyond their scope.

    They have had the capacity to alter human evolution (High Evolutionary) wipe out any form of genetic disease (Henry McCoy, Moira McTaggart), have enough physical labor to take on any task (Jamie Madroxx, the Multiple Man), create a means of interaction with alternate dimensions filled with free energy, discovered by Reed Richards and Doctor Strange) create technologies which could run on fusion or fission or sunshine or kittens if they wanted (Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Victor Von Doom).

    It is difficult to reconcile their universe with our own, because it is so easy to see what needs to be done from our perspective. I think we are supposed to assume that being human, even where they live means they spend the bulk of their time as selfish, self-centered asses, too busy with their own superhuman drama to be concerned about the ants they crush beneath their feet on a regular basis. It may simply be their world is as far beyond our ability to understand as it seems their problems are beyond their ability to resolve.

    Nonetheless, your analysis calls them to the carpet and rightfully so. But more importantly it calls the writers/editors to the carpet and forces them to see their characters as less than perfect. (Which Stan Lee always did indicate he preferred them as “godlike with feet of clay.”) By that definition, heroes of the Marvel Universe are right where they’re supposed to be, lumbering along, trying to get it right.
    Thaddeus Howze recently posted..Within Arms Reach (1)My Profile

  2. JG
    Twitter: johngarrettx
    (Reply)
    on May 8, 2013

    Thaddeus! Good to see you over here, man.

    You’re right, that at some point, these guys could combine and pretty much wipe out any number of serious difficulties we have in the real world.

    Of the heroes, I’d remove Xavier and Banner from reproach because one is occupied trying to teach his people to *survive* and be a benefit to mankind, while the other can barely help himself the majority of the time. But the rest should really be put on blast. Excepting the villains, who of course, are selfish.

    Although I tried to avoid the “real life” issues behind the actions of the characters (namely the writers, the acceptable “zeitgeist” of the times, and the marketing decisions that interfered with them), it would behoove the writers to make sure they don’t go too far with the “flaws”.

    It’s true that Marvel heroes were not perfect, shining examples of law and order like their DC counterparts, but at some point the flaws of the Fantastic Four ceased to be endearing, or even acceptable within the confines of the story.

    I’m not saying it’s easy to do. I wouldn’t want to be tasked with making these characters like-able, but someone might want to look into shaping these guys up, because as soon as the original Fantastic Four get back from wherever they are and “FF” is cancelled, I’m out.
    JG recently posted..Giant-Sized Cyborg Zombie Steve JobsMy Profile

  3. Mitch Mitchell (Reply) on May 11, 2013

    First, I read all of this even though I haven’t kept up with the comics in decades, so I deserve a cookie. lol

    Second, you’re killing me! The thing is that if I base it off what you’ve written about the comics I’d totally have to agree with you. And yet, because I know that all comics, these and DC, are a far cry from my memories, I can’t identify with any of these folks anyway; they’re not my generation’s heroes.

    So, I can only go with what I know, which is the past and the movies. In that regard I have to say that I’ve enjoyed the Fantastic Four movies, the 2nd one more than the first, although I still think Jessica Alba was miscast in the part, hot as she is (I mean, she looks ridiculous with blue eyes).

    And to add this, I think Thaddeus is correct; in the Marvel world, almost every hero could be seen as a jerk in some way. In this regard the FF don’t stand apart as much.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted..Don’t Be Bullied About Your Blog Or Web SpaceMy Profile

    • JG
      Twitter: johngarrettx
      (Reply)
      on May 11, 2013

      Yeah I know it was pretty long, so thanks for hanging in there! I tried to spruce it up with as many scans as possible just to keep it interesting.

      The thing about those FF movies was that I enjoyed them much more than Spider-Man 3, but I think that’s because the bar was already so low that I wasn’t expecting anything from those movies anyway.

      Jessica Alba didn’t bother me because obviously I don’t care much for the characters anyway, so it was hard for me to take issue with it. I knew the movie wouldn’t be great lol.

      And even though most heroes these days, especially Marvel’s, tend to go dark a lot, I don’t cut the FF any slack because they’re in a unique position to do a hell of a lot more than they are doing. They just sit around living the life and letting other more deserving heroes suffer.

      I mean, take the Avengers -even though I don’t have *that much* respect for them, either. You have Tony Stark, who went through a terrible trauma to become Iron-Man. Ant-Man went through a terrible trauma, Hulk went through a terrible trauma, so did Captain America. Then you have Thor, who truly has zero reason to help anyone on this planet except that he feels like he should. All these guys band together to put themselves in harm’s way to save lives. Meanwhile the FF is off having afternoon tea and exploring some pocket dimension Reed discovered while screwing around in his lab.

      So yeah, you can make a case for almost any hero, but not as good as the case for the FF being awful people.
      JG recently posted..Giant-Sized Cyborg Zombie Steve JobsMy Profile

  4. Peter
    Twitter: bonooobong
    (Reply)
    on May 12, 2013

    You’ve just ruined a myth… btw I don’t like mr fantastic’s solo series at all…
    Peter recently posted..Die umweltfreundlichste Fertigungsmethode der ZukunftMy Profile

  5. Zaphod Rowsdowr (Reply) on Nov 17, 2013

    Haha, wow Reed Richards is a dick! His “Not a fool, Sue… merely a female!” line is pretty unbelievable. He also looks like Michael Shannon with a birth defect in that last panel there: http://hypertransitory.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/19-reed-dickery-500×228.jpg
    Zaphod Rowsdowr recently posted..Breaking Bad Alternate Ending Starring Bryan Cranston as HalMy Profile


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