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

Meet the family

The FF is a family.  They bicker and fall out, but the love runs deeper


"Prior to The Fantastic Four, the family unit was never explored within the comic book genre." (Simcha Weinstein)

This image was used on sweatshirts in the story's early days. It sums them up.


Everyone knows them by their first names, not their superhero titles. They are people first.

The super powers and their Fifth Avenue home are just details. They make the story memorable.

Baxter Building

The four are friends. They naturally do things together.

at the start

This is Reed Richards, genius scientist and son of a billionaire. He likes to tinker with alien technology.


Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny were friends before they were a team.

before the powers

Johnny Storm loves to have fun.

After his father was jailed, Johnny was raised by his sister, Sue.

Johnny and Sue

And Ben Grimm? The 28 year story tells how he lost everything, then eventually found himself...

...with the help of his long suffering girlfriend Alicia


The 28 year story also follows Crystal as she grows up

But it starts with the four friends. 

the team


This is their golden age: days never to be forgotten.

baseball etc.

Sue expects a baby.


Reed plans to give up their career and put the child first. But will he? That is the question, the heart of the family saga.

This drama is not really about superheroes, it's about a family. To emphasize the point, from this moment until the end of Act 3, the team is often seen relaxing in civilian clothes.

Sue was always more able to solve major problems. The child, when he arrives, will have the power to solve all their problems. But will Reed see it?

Or will he continue to sideline others, believing that he has to do everything himself?


The child is born.

birth of Franklin

This is a happy time. Crystal joins the team. Reed and Sue look for a new house.

baby at home

They are ready to move on. This is a major turning point. They are stepping into a new life.

the house

But somehow work becomes more important again.

Yet they still love each other.


The child is growing, but still they want to act like single people.

it goes wrong

They refuse to grow up, and they each pays the price.

  1. Johnny is too immature to keep his soul mate, Crystal.
  2. Ben acts like Reed's child and loses his self esteem.
  3. Reed still tries to be fantastic at everything but the cracks begin to show.
  4. Sue realizes that Reed will never change.

the end

Families grow. Families change. Children arrive, they grow. People move in, people move out. A small family becomes several connected families. Teenagers become adults, adults marry, new children are born. But the Fantastic Four refuses to grow like a real family. They lose their direction. The family is in crisis.


for rent

Eventually, through great tragedy, Reed realizes that he must put his family first.

the end

And that is the story of the Fantastic Four, from 1961 to 1989. It's a metaphor of the family called America, from the first man in space (1961) to the end of the cold war (1989), as America becomes the world's first undisputed superpower.

This is a parable of America, of a family with super power. This is the Great American Novel.

The Great American Novel