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

Top Ten Fantastic Four Fan Theories

You don't have to agree with these. But each one is thoroughly researched. Let's see how deep the rabbit hole goes!


Franklin controls Marvel Time

The problem:
Marvel characters age slowly. Sometimes they age backwards, or history is just changed. What's going on?

The solution:
Franklin Richards unconsciously controls Marvel Time, because he's afraid of growing up.

Why not? He has already shown he can create an entire universe and put all the heroes in it, and they don't notice (Heroes Reborn, in 1996).

Full details:
See Franklin's own page!


Sue is hiding a family secret: Johnny is her son

The problem:
Sue's age does not add up. As a child she lived next door to Reed, and she waited for him during World War II. But she finds the memory painful, and is very secretive about her past. Sue's age

Then years later she claimed to be much younger, and dreamed of a different childhood. What's going on?

The solution:
This and other problems disappear when we look at Johnny's age: he was born in 1945, when Reed was away, but Namor was living close by. All the evidence points to a brief affair, that produced a child... a child that Sue always pretended was her brother. This explains Sue's obsessive secrecy, her strange relationship with Namor, and much more besides.
many years
Full details:
See the notes beside FF291 for the full story.


Alicia is the strongest of all

The problem:
Some enemies are so powerful that force does not work: they just keep coming back. So what is the point in trying?

The solution:
The only person to ever decisively defeat Galactus and Dr Doom is... Alicia Masters.
Only Alicia can reach them because only she has the purest soul: only she can reach their heart.
Full details:
For Galactus, see the notes to FF50. (In later appearances Galactus was less intelligent so the battles were less decisive: see the notes to FF 274 for why.) For Dr Doom, see the notes to FF199. For the Mole Man, see the notes to annual 13. For saving the team as a whole, see the notes to FF270.


The "Overmind" referred to Nietzsche's "‹bermensch"

The problem:
The Overmind saga (beginning in FF113, to a double sized climax in FF116) was the longest story arc to that date. The Overmind was claimed to be a threat to the entire universe, a bigger threat than even Galactus. But when he finally appeared he just hid in a junk yard and showed he was more powerful than... a stray dog.

THAT is the Overmind??? Yeah, right.
So what was really going on?

The solution:
The "Overmind" was a reference to Nietzche's ‹bermensch: the danger of one man thinking he was smarter than everyone else. The Watcher was pointing his finger at Reed, who had just caused World War III, and was now messing with nega- energy that he did not understand.

The Watcher's            warning

Reed did not accept the Watcher's criticism, and needed a way to deflect it. So his friend Agatha Harkness came up with a plan...

Full details:
See the notes by issue 114.


Shall Bal never existed.

The problem:
Jack Kirby created the Silver Surfer as an ancient being, responsible for countless deaths, who knew nothing of human life or love.
the Surfer knows nothing of emotion
But Stan Lee later changed the story, saying the Surfer was human until recently, and missed his girlfriend Shalla Bal.
The solution:
Imagine if you had helped to destroy whole planets. And then you finally learned that the beings on these planets had feelings, that their lives mattered: and you had never even stopped to wonder. How would you live with that knowledge? No mind could cope. Meanwhile, Mephisto, the lord of the dead, had lost his greatest ally. So Mephisto devised the most exquisite revenge: to keep the Surfer alive with just enough false memory to give him hope, yet also to torment him to the end of time.

Full details:
See the Surfer's own page.


Reed let the Baxter Building be destroyed for the insurance

The problem:

Reed was always short of money (see FF9, 160, 222, etc.): he could not afford the things he did in Byrne's run.

buying building
The solution:
Soon after that, the Baxter Building was attacked. Reed could have prevented it but chose not to. But he did collect a very large amount of insurance, enough to build a much larger headquarters. A few months later, the valuable contents of the building magically reappeared, so Reed didn't lose anything. And Reed never had money troubles again.

Full details:
See the notes to FF 279


Only the Fantastic Four report their adventures to Marvel

The problem:
The Marvel Universe cannot make sense. There are too many heroes, and they are too powerful, and too many big things happen. So their world cannot be anything like our world.

Solution 1:
Although we know the Fantastic Four report their adventures directly to Marvel Comics...
the FF report to Marvel
... other comic characters do not. How could they? Most of them have secret identities! So most of what we read in other comics is made up!

The other characters do exist, because they sometimes appear in the Fantastic Four. But the powers they display in the FF are less than the powers they display in their own comics.

Full details:
See the page on realism for general principles.

Solution 2:
There is a much bigger, more complex explanation, based on the references to magic. We know (from Dr Strange) that there are higher magical beings who are more powerful than any regular superheroes. These beings act in secret. There is evidence that they influence everything. Nothing is quite as it seems. Nathan Adler, in his Fanfix blog, argues that mystic forces are central to the X-Men, and mutants are not what they appear to be. And in the FF we know from Agatha Harkness and Nicholas Scratch that there is a link between the mystic realms, the negative zone, and Franklin's mind. Elsewhere on this site I have noted that most or all higher dimensional beings are linked. There is more to these stories than we think...


After FF 333 we've been following a different team

The problem:
Everything about the team changed after 1989. They have completely different histories, and different personalities.

Ben fought in        WWII
The solution:
After 1989 it's a different team.

Full details:
See the page on the different FF for details. See the notes to FF 333 for how it might have happened.


The Great Reboot

The problem:
Marvel Time cannot work: how do you fit sixty years into ten? How do you keep track of seventy titles a month? How do you keep track of history when the writers only read a very small part of it?

Continuity is a mess.

The solution:
The solution was given back in 1990: between the years 2010 and 2025 the entire Marvel Universe will reboot. And it's happening now, just as foretold.

Chaos War        foretold

Full details:
See the Great Reboot page!


Reed was a Skrull who hated war?

The problem:
Let's face it, if we're going for the simplest possible explanation then the FF is still a mess. Franklin can do anything? How does that satisfy Occam's razor? And where did the powers come from? And a thousand other questions that must be papered over. If only there was a single fact that could explain them all.

The solution:
Ever noticed how Reed's face changed even before the accident? If Reed was a good Skrull living in hiding then that explains absolutely everything.
Full details:
Why do we only see one Skrull in FF 91?


Bonus material
  1. Did Dr Doom really die in FF 200? And since then his mind has jumped between Doombots? (See the notes to annual 15)

  2. Who is Kristoff? (See FF 247)
  3. Did the Beyonder turn a Doombot into the "real" Dr Doom? (See FF 288)

  4. Was the negative zone "holiday" really a suicide attempt? (See the notes to FF 251)

  5. Did Reed really die in FF290?

  6. Is Nathaniel Kristof's father? (It was strongly hinted in DeFalco's run.)

  7. Does Spider-Man have exactly the powers as Paste Pot Pete? (See the notes to FF 218: Spider-Man fans might want to skip that one!)

  8. Is the Microverse story really about drugs? And is that cameo by The Stranger? (See FF 76)

  9. Why did Ben and Johnny share a bed that one time? (See FF64-65, the love issues )

  10. How did Maximus summon Galactus, and why did the Watcher have to protect Earth? (See FF 48)

  11. Who was the Miracle Man, and what happened to the Fourth Skrull? (See FF2)

  12. Why did the Mole Man first attack, and what was Reed's role in the atomic bomb program? (See FF1)

  13. Why did Reed ever trust Agatha Harkness? She nearly always puts Franklin in danger! (See FF142)

  14. How did the Puppet Master survive his original dramatic death? (See the notes to FF14)

  15. Did the Molecule Man really have a son? (See FF187)

  16. Who is Luna's real father? (See FF 240, and scroll down)
  17. For more fan theories, covering other Marvel Comics, visit "How Would You Fix" at !


The Fantastic Four is a big story.

Really big.

It works on multiple levels: as a fun kids story, but also as complex plots and real world themes.

And that's just what we expect from The Great American Novel.

The Great American Novel