The Great American
                Novel Act 1:
                the danger Act 2: rising action Act 3: the ball Act 4: crisis Act 5: triumph the Franklinverse part 2, act 1:
                the new danger

Why Mr Fantastic was
      Mr Fantastic                                                                                    
This is about the original Reed Richards not the post-1989 Reed.  The original Reed was a true hero, and a man's man. In this scene for example has no super powers, and no technology, yet defies Annihilus himself with nothing more than a burning stick! This is why we call him Mister Fantastic!

Reed is a natural introvert, but thanks to the draft he was forced to become a leader of men.

Once Marvel Time made the draft impossible, it no longer made sense for Reed to have military experience. The modern Reed lost a vital dimension to his character and was left as just a geek. This page is about the old Reed, the hero, and there was nobody braver:


The most inspirational hero of all

Below: perhaps the best way to understand Reed is through those who know him best. His friends would gladly die for him, and his enemies - when they realize the nobility if his soul - have actually done so, more than once. Below: many comic fans would call Doctor Doom one of the greatest characters ever. Doom was always in the shadow of one man, his only superior: Reed Richards.


How often has Reed saved the world?

  1. FF2: the Skrull invasion. This is the big one, the basis of their fame. The public were not aware of this invasion, but the authorities were: between FF2 and FF113 the authorities supported the FF (this support was crucial in defeating the Impossible Man in FF11).
  2. FF20: the Molecule Man
  3. FF21: the Hate Monger. Due to mind control is is uncertain whether others appreciated this.
  4. FF24: the Infant Terrible
  5. FF64: the Sentry
  6. FF108: the Nega Man
  7. FF141: Annihilus
  8. FF186: Nicholas Scratch
  9. FF200: against Doom. Note that this was a major victory, but also a temporary one.
  10. FF212: the Sphinx. This was a huge gamble, as it involved inviting Galactus to destroy the Earth and then stopping him.
  11. FF230: from the Ebon Seeker
  12. FF235: against Ego, the living planet (by getting the team there, then removing the power pack). 
  13. FF271 (flashback, before they gained their powers) against Gormuu.
Reed also saved two other worlds: Planet X (FF7) and Sub-atomica (FF16). That's once per year, as he measures time. The list does not include battles where...
  1. ...somebody else did most of the work (e.g. Alicia defeating Galactus in FF48-50)
  2. ...he partially caused the problem in the first place (e.g. the war against Atlantis in FF102-104) - in those case he usually fixes his problem.
  3. ...less than a city was saved (e.g. against the Puppet Master in FF8). These events make him a hero, but are not world changing.
  4. ...very few lives (if any) were endangered (e.g. the Mole Man lowering cities in FF1). The Mole Man is a good example: his real motives are discussed on his own page.
  5. ...he is only protecting his own family (e.g. against Doom in FF5): super powered beings spend most of their time trying to prove they are greater than other super powered beings.
  6. ...the long term danger was only theoretical at the time (e.g. FF18, against the Super Skrull)
  7. ...the enemy could have been stopped more easily if another member of the team was in charge (e.g. FF57, the cosmic powered Doom, or all appearances of Galactus after the first). Obviously this last category is highly controversial and is open to debate.
  8. ...he could destroy the world" is probably hyperbole (e.g. FF164, the Crusader: he just needed counseling). 
  9. ... he saved the world, but immediately put it in danger again (e.g. FF187, where he defeats the Molecule Man but then picks up his wand)
  10. ...he merely saved them from massive but temporary inconvenience (e.g. power outages in FF221). Obviously the seriousness of each threat, and what constitutes "the world in danger" is open to debate.
  11. ...the world was saved by luck (e.g. FF231, from Stygor)
All of Reed's struggles and human weaknesses must be seen in this context. The world owes him everything. He is the hero's hero.

Reed versus Doom

Reed fills the page!

The post 1991 Reed tends to stand around and talk most of the time. Frankly, he is dull. But the original Reed Richards is larger than life - he fills the room!

Reed versus an


Reed's story

Like a Shakespearian hero, he has one fatal flaw: he finds it hard to relate to others or see their (different) talents.
Reed's hubris

The twenty seven year story shows Reed rise to ever greater glory. But as the stakes continually rise he needs his team mates more and more.
But he treats them like children. This weakens the team, and finally they can't take it any more and they leave. Reed's confidence and health is destroyed.
the others leave

Being a genius and a proud man he tries to solve his own problems on his own: he defeats his greatest enemy in hand to hand combat (FF200), he creates the perfect house for his family (FF265), and has crazy secret schemes to fix everything (see commentary to FF251 and FF279). But nothing helps, the situation gets worse and worse, until finally he realizes... perhaps it was his own fault. Then the healing can finally begin.
he realizes 

Reed represents American confidence. He is sincere and genuinely cares, but sees himself as separate and apart from others. He thinks he is the beacon of freedom, the world's policeman. But the learns that parochialism never solves anything: success or failure comes from the community, not from one person forcing their will on another. This reflects the cold war, the period covered by the Fantastic Four: the Soviet Union could only change from within, and the only enemy that can defeat America is America, when the nation forgets that all men are created equal.

Reed's rise, fall and eventual self knowledge can be summarized as a graph:

Reed graph

The face of confidence

Reed's pliable face reflects his long-term confidence. At the start he looked like he did before the space flight, but as he gained fame and glory he took on a heroic look.
Reed's face

Finally, toward the end of Act 4, Reed's confidence has gone. He still acts the hero, like nothing is wrong. but you can see the struggles inside. It's all there in his face and body. His weakest period is when he abandoned his child and apparently attempted suicide, taking the team with him.

Reed's face

And finally, was Reed's intelligence increased by the cosmic rays? You decide. This is from FF 225.

'nuff said.

The Great American Novel