Off My Mind: Did Reed Richards Doom the Fantastic Four From the Start?

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Posted by G-Man (18919 posts) - - Show Bio

The Marvel Universe may have had its beginnings with Captain America, Namor and the Invaders in the 1940s but it was in 1961 it had it's official start with the Fantastic Four. The FF were unlike other heroes as they did not have secret identities and were more of a family than a bunch of costumed heroes. With their relationship with each other, they are practically the heart and soul of the heroes of Marvel.

The origin of the team was a simple one. Reed Richards was a brilliant man and had designed an experimental spacecraft to journey to the stars. When funding and the launch was being threatened, Reed had no choice but to act. Enlisting his best friend and ace pilot Ben Grimm, along with his girlfriend Sue Storm and her younger brother Johnny, the four set out to prove the ship's design was sound. When passing through cosmic rays surrounding Earth, the four were forced to land and soon discovered they had been transformed and had gained miraculous superpowers. It was an accident and they made the best out of it by becoming heroes.

Whether or not this truly was an accident has been brought up before. Is it really possible that Reed Richards, a literal rocket scientist, could have overlooked the possibility and outcome that cosmic rays would have on those exposed to them? Was his ship flawed in not having the proper shielding or was this all part of Reed's plan to create a team of super-powered individuals?

== TEASER ==

Reed is man with a heart of gold. He loves his family and best friend. He wants nothing but the best for the world. How could he purposely expose his loved ones to potentially harmful rays? This was one of the topics in 1987's The Fantastic Four Vs. The X-Men.

Reed Richard's diary (or journal) was discovered and it had some shocking revelations. The idea that the team was accidentally created is hard to believe when considering how extremely intelligent Reed is. His journal stated his concern over the growing number of super-powered people and mutants. Not everyone that gained power would use them with the best intentions. It was Reed's plan to create his own team of super-powered heroes. Knowing that Ben, Sue and Johnny were all good-hearted people, if they gained special abilities, it was a guarantee that they would become a force of good.

This all is too hard to believe. Could it be that Reed is more deceptive than we thought? The idea that he could simply forget to consider or somehow overlooked shielding required to protect them from the harmful cosmic rays is absurd. Ben will admit he may not be the smartest person around but this was something that even he wondered over the years. We've seen the guilt that Reed has had over the years in attempting to find a cure for Ben. Perhaps this guilt is more because he knew there the chance of something bad happening and played god with the lives of his family.

Even if it was in writing, it's hard to believe. Reed claimed he didn't recall writing those entries. He could have been so overworked in those final days before the launch that he didn't realize he had written it. It's possible that the creation was part of a subconscious plan he set in motion without his rational mind becoming aware. Of course there's also the possibility that someone like Doctor Doom forged the entries in order to make Reed and the Fantastic Four doubt their entire existence.

Reed purposely taking the risk, even if the potential for good was there, is a hard notion to swallow. Even under extreme stress, Reed has managed to keep things under control. He isn't the type to put his family at risk...although taking them out on mission after mission could be a good argument against that. Reed should have taken the cosmic rays into consideration. He's the type that approaches all tasks and problems from every angle possible. Either he was under heavy stress or he's actually one of the biggest jerks in the Marvel Universe.

The Fantastic Four have saved world and universe time and time again. Who knows what would have happened if they never existed. Their accidental creation may have been the best thing that happened to their world but would that still excuse the possibility that Reed could have intentionally made the decision to risk transforming them in the hopes for the greater good? Sacrifices are sometimes necessary but the question remains. The 1987 miniseries tries to resolve this question but was it really answered? Is Reed a genius that made a mistake that worked out for the best or is he really one of the most brilliant and devious individuals in the Marvel Universe?

#1 Posted by GrandSymbiote94 (11724 posts) - - Show Bio

This would be a lil f**ked up if it was true. But I guess I could understand his reasoning. Though I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have known that Ben would have rock skin.

#2 Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt (13687 posts) - - Show Bio

wow............i never knew he did it on PURPOSE......

#3 Posted by ArtisticNeedham (2267 posts) - - Show Bio

In the original comic the FF traveled into space, where no one had ever journeyed.  And once out of Earth's atmosphere they hit space which was made of cosmic rays.  It was implied, I think, that no one could have predicted this because no one had been there.  It would be like the first mission to Mars or beyond.  Also didn't they steal the rocket?  I mean wasn't it not his but he had to take it for his experiment? 
But have they changed that story in the comics since?
To me Reed Richards is a genius who is so focused on his experiments, theories, and inventions, that he looses sight of everything else.  In the early comics they tried to show that Reed was so focused that he neglected Sue even once they got married.  He came off, to me, as mean, but I think they were trying to imply that Reed looses all sense of time, space, and the rest of reality, once he starts working on his science stuff.
But I think the idea of him being a manipulative mastermind is very interesting and keeping with the characters at Marvel like Fury, Xavier, and others, being leaders, having power, and being manipulative.
But even if he did he sort of only doomed Ben.

#4 Posted by dondasch (921 posts) - - Show Bio

Reed Richards has been, and likely will continue to be, a devious and deceptive person.  This was evidenced in clarity within the pages of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk.  I will always consider him to be evil, and not that far away from being akin to Dr. Doom

#5 Posted by Deadcool (6755 posts) - - Show Bio

I wouldn`t be surpriced, in all the realities Reed Richards is the bad guy, just in the 616 universe is a "good guy"...

#6 Posted by Orider (83 posts) - - Show Bio

Reed Richards is rather well known for being a dick when it is for the "greater good".  That time he took over Latveria, he became sort of crazy trying to make the country better.  Though, I will admit it was said that it was dooms armor that did that.  But then there is also the civil war; he built that prison in the negative zone.  Since it wasn't on Earth, regular laws did not apply to it and its inmates and he knew that.  And then there are all those Richards from other dimensions.  They had no problem sacrificing the few for the many, and our Richards almost picked them over his family.  I won't say Richards is a bad guy, but he is a tad arrogant, always thinking he knows best and hurting people in the process of proving it.

#7 Posted by CanucksXVX (53 posts) - - Show Bio

Reed Richards= total douche nozzle dick 
yet i still understand his reasoning, agreed he always has been devious, but cmon, would you be pissed if he took you to space, and you even got superpowers? granted bens arent the greatest but still it would be cool.
#8 Posted by Osiris1428 (1347 posts) - - Show Bio

You actually just made me interested in the FF, G. I always found them boring, but the possibility that Reed did this on purpose...okay, waitamintue, back up here a moment. When did this "possibility" stop being considered, and why? Why would any of them let Reed of the hook for something like this?

#9 Posted by The Sadhu (848 posts) - - Show Bio

WOW... is it true? 
 
Why hasn't this been addressed since?
#10 Posted by Teerack (7457 posts) - - Show Bio

To be honest looking at Reed's past it seems a lot more likely he'd cause the radiation exposure on purpose.

#11 Edited by JonesDeini (3501 posts) - - Show Bio
@ArtisticNeedham said:

In the original comic the FF traveled into space, where no one had ever journeyed.  And once out of Earth's atmosphere they hit space which was made of cosmic rays.  It was implied, I think, that no one could have predicted this because no one had been there.  It would be like the first mission to Mars or beyond.  Also didn't they steal the rocket?  I mean wasn't it not his but he had to take it for his experiment?  But have they changed that story in the comics since? To me Reed Richards is a genius who is so focused on his experiments, theories, and inventions, that he looses sight of everything else.  In the early comics they tried to show that Reed was so focused that he neglected Sue even once they got married.  He came off, to me, as mean, but I think they were trying to imply that Reed looses all sense of time, space, and the rest of reality, once he starts working on his science stuff. But I think the idea of him being a manipulative mastermind is very interesting and keeping with the characters at Marvel like Fury, Xavier, and others, being leaders, having power, and being manipulative. But even if he did he sort of only doomed Ben.

Yeah the Marvel writers have a hard on for retconning characters into being assholes. Just look at the crap they've done to chuck in the past 5/6 years. After reading Hickman's Four run and seeing the other Reed's from parallel dimension I can totally see this being the case. But if the original origin is still the "cannon" origin then this does't hold water for me. Especially considering that Reed Richard's intellect has exponentially increased in comics since the 60's and there was no way 60's Reed could've predicted the events. An "unknown unknown" so to speak.  
 
@Deadcool said:
I wouldn`t be surpriced, in all the realities Reed Richards is the bad guy, just in the 616 universe is a "good guy"...
I think calling them bad is a stretch and a rather huge one at that. They've all done great things and vastly improved their individual universes in untold ways. You can say they're unemotional and utilitarian, that I'll wholeheartedly concur with, but calling them "bad"? Just doesn't jive, folk. Sure they're the current antagonist of this FF arc, but I wouldn't say they're bad. They're just singularly focused on the the greatest amount of good for the most amount of people. They're willing to sacrifice an earth to save infinite earths. Whittling the situation down to something as simplistic as a cartoonish heel vs face wrestling match truly doesn't do Hickman's story or the layers within it justice in my opinion. 
#12 Posted by Blastov (23 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm not so sure that Reed was such a genius before the accident, and even if he was I wouldn't rule out absent-mindedness in him-just look at Einstien as a prime example of goofy genius. 
 
I think the cosmic rays would have made him smarter as well; I heard that the more wrinkles your brain has, the smarter you are. So in theory, his elastic powers could reshape his brain to make himself more of a genius. Therefore, I would not support the "if he was so smart, he should have known before and ergo is the plotter" theory.
#13 Posted by hitechlolife (193 posts) - - Show Bio

Most Marvel heroes have some kind of tragedy at the core of their origins. I don't mind this take on it at all. 

#14 Posted by Enzeru--defunct (2893 posts) - - Show Bio

I hate Reed Richards because he is the only one who knows what Sentry's last words in his diary were!

#15 Posted by ddaann1985 (125 posts) - - Show Bio

Wow a classis tale... I read that when i was 10 in 1996 or so in the Dutch comic ....but still remember most pictures and the story.
Good comics back then :)

#16 Posted by jkuc316 (11 posts) - - Show Bio
This says that it WAS Doom who forged it
#17 Posted by oldgum (323 posts) - - Show Bio

Doom and Reeds are best friends all alone.

#18 Posted by The Mighty Monarch (2137 posts) - - Show Bio

At leash he's not as bad as The Chief. Dude straight up BRAGGED to Cliff that he DID create the accidents that created him, Larry, and Rita. Plus he wanted to do the same thing to THE ENTIRE WORLD.

#19 Posted by SupremoMaximo (202 posts) - - Show Bio

I say the cosmic rays are forgivable...  What's inexcusable is that haircut of Johnny's.   
 
Seriously? Did he want the Guy "Douche" Gardner look? 

#20 Posted by azza04 (1492 posts) - - Show Bio

Thats a good plot twist for the FF4.

#21 Posted by Jake Fury (19256 posts) - - Show Bio

This was a good little mini back in the day.
#22 Posted by BuNKiTZ (177 posts) - - Show Bio

That SOB! :))

#23 Posted by GundamHeavyarms (695 posts) - - Show Bio

I think Doom forged that book, but it wouldn't surprise me if Reed did that on purpose.
 
Reed's always been arrogant in the sense that he thinks that he and only he knows how the world works and everyone should just do as he says.  That people are like numbers that can just be put into a formula and he can figure them out that way.

#24 Posted by wdchefdave (135 posts) - - Show Bio

Reed Richards has always been a bit of a jerk and very close to madness! It just happens when you are the smartest man on Earth.  I HATED the storyline that cast suspicion on Reed's motives for the first flight!  I thought that the writer was just DIGGING for a storyline. It just kills the original "journey into the unknown"... brave crew... loyal friends and family... absolute CORE origin of the Fantastic Four.
Some things should be sacred... and Bucky should still be dead. (Stan Lee promised!)

#25 Posted by jubilee042 (1345 posts) - - Show Bio
@Avenging-X-Bolt: me too
#26 Posted by jubilee042 (1345 posts) - - Show Bio

wait wasn't it in the end of the story sue confronts doom and finds qou that he wrote the journal and nit reed in order to break the FF just saying

#27 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29510 posts) - - Show Bio
@jkuc316 said:
This says that it WAS Doom who forged it
#28 Posted by The Mighty Monarch (2137 posts) - - Show Bio
@wdchefdave said:
Reed Richards has always been a bit of a jerk and very close to madness! It just happens when you are the smartest man on Earth.  I HATED the storyline that cast suspicion on Reed's motives for the first flight!  I thought that the writer was just DIGGING for a storyline. It just kills the original "journey into the unknown"... brave crew... loyal friends and family... absolute CORE origin of the Fantastic Four. Some things should be sacred... and Bucky should still be dead. (Stan Lee promised!)
You could say they were, 'Challenging the Unknown.'
#29 Posted by All_Around_Nerd (58 posts) - - Show Bio
@wdchefdave: but bucky is dead
#30 Posted by Oghmata (21 posts) - - Show Bio

Just because Doom had actually forged the journal doesn't mean that Reed couldn't have done it on purpose. 
Plus "doing whatever it takes for the greater good of the many" is what every dictator in History has always said they were doing. (I've never been able to forgive him for what he did to the Hulk...)

#31 Posted by Kairan1979 (16926 posts) - - Show Bio

We already saw that Reed Richards is far from saint during the Civil War.
So the idea that he deliberately put his family at risk to create Fantastic Four makes sense.

#32 Posted by PhoenixoftheTides (3631 posts) - - Show Bio
@jubilee042 said:
wait wasn't it in the end of the story sue confronts doom and finds qou that he wrote the journal and nit reed in order to break the FF just saying
If I recall that issue correctly, Doom was also claiming to be the only one to be able to heal Kitty of her molecular instability (she couldn't stop phasing and was becoming gaseous) - he was using this to manipulate the X-Men into siding with him against the Fantastic Four. 
#33 Posted by AlKusanagi (652 posts) - - Show Bio

I'd buy it. Reed is kind of a dick.

#34 Posted by Wolverine0628 (369 posts) - - Show Bio

That might actually make him more interesting.
#35 Posted by Thunderscream (1807 posts) - - Show Bio
@jkuc316 said:
This says that it WAS Doom who forged it
You beat me to it, it was all a forgery by Doom
 
although, Reed's such a douche I wouldn't put it past him to have done such a thing...and neither did the rest of the FF since they immediately jumped down his stretchy throat.
#36 Edited by sladewilson30 (207 posts) - - Show Bio

Well then tell me this, why is he with the Council of Doom? And it wasn't the cosmic rays that gave them they're powers, they already had them(Because of the Celestials experimenting on humans during the Stone Age, giving birth to the Eternals, Deviants, Mutants, and others having abilities locked away in their DNA to be unlocked later by some means), the cosmic rays just unlocked them, as the abilities merely layed dorment in their genetic code.
#37 Posted by Aronmorales (9304 posts) - - Show Bio

Y'know, I've never really cared for the Fantastic Four, but that might just be because of Reed.

#38 Edited by DarthStorm (132 posts) - - Show Bio
@Tony 'G-Man' Guerrero 
Wow Tony, you really don't like Reed do you? 
Understandable the guy created a Thor clone with Stark that killed Goliath. He also shot Hulk into space with made him come back even stronger and destroy half of New York City.
#39 Edited by RedheadedAtrocitus (6836 posts) - - Show Bio

For some reason, the conspiracist in me wants to say that it was Victor von Doom that wrote those entries.  I just don't think Reed would have been conniving enough to do something like this. He's far too much a good guy.  It sure would make for interesting reading though to say he would. And after looking at some of the comments as well as looking at the miniseries itself, it seems to be so that Doom did it.

#40 Posted by FalcomAdol (113 posts) - - Show Bio

Pretty sure this was collected in one of the Essential FF Volumes (maybe the story was printed in an annual?), I'll try to go back tonight. I am certain that the conclusion was that Doom faked it.

#41 Posted by fodigg (6136 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't buy it. I'm guessing time traveling head-screwing by some villain.

#42 Posted by BlackDove (375 posts) - - Show Bio

Wouldn't be shocked.
#43 Posted by Toastalchemist (169 posts) - - Show Bio

It is an interesting plot twist to the classic story. They should do it again. Maybe as a What If? story. Any info on where we can find the issues?

#44 Posted by labarith (669 posts) - - Show Bio

Given Reed's father, and a whole bunch of time traveling do-baddies, I could definately see this being a hoax.  As it should be.

#45 Posted by Talyn (16 posts) - - Show Bio

I have to admit it is an interesting possibility 

#46 Posted by The Impersonator (5620 posts) - - Show Bio
#47 Posted by m0nk3y80y (7 posts) - - Show Bio

Reed Richards has been and will always be evil.

#48 Posted by RichyRich (55 posts) - - Show Bio

Ive never liked reed. And now I reeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllyyyyyy cant stand that. Plus on a related note, stretch powers are kinda...gross
#49 Posted by Pizawle (1073 posts) - - Show Bio

Marvel is quite morally ambiguous.
 
A lot of the heroes can be fairly viewed as villains.
 
It is all about perception.

#50 Edited by Knightwraithe (39 posts) - - Show Bio

OK... 
 
1) Even the smartest people make mistakes on some details (e.g. - Doom comes to mind) - especially if they are going out into the unknown (space in 1961).  

2) As has been mentioned in their introduction in 1961 the idea of shielding in space (or even effectively going into space was a totally new idea - the first person into space Yuri Gargarin had only gone into space in April of 1961 and the FF went up into space in November...so keep in mind that "culturally" here in America there was a genuine drive to "beat the Russians" into space - hence why we were the first to go to the moon - and when you rush you are more likely to make mistakes (see point #1 above). 
 
3) Even in the X-men/FF team up cited here it was revealed that Doom had manipulated Reed to once again try to "break" him - the only thing good about that revelation is the confrontation between Sue and Doom. (and I agree that this story and it's premise that Reed was a manipulative bastard was a writer reaching for a mediocre story - mostly to create a "fight" between the X-Men and the FF).
 
4) Even in 1987 the idea of Reed being concerned about the growing proliferation of superpowered people is stupid since the FF started the "Marvel Age of Comics"!...so the basic premise of the story is flawed from the start. (Yes Xavier and Magnus were around...but both had not yet revealed themselves - in fact it wasn't until around X-men 60 that the "confirmation" of the existence of "Professor X" was exposed, and even then the fact that is was Charles Xavier was still not revealed - and the ret-conned created Sentry is just a Marvel created hype for a second string Superman wannabe! - I'd rather Marvel had somehow ret-conned Hyperion than created the incredibly lame and unnecessarily convoluted character of Sentry). 
 
5) Doom creating a "journal" to undermine Reed is soooooooooo beneath Doom...Doom is epic...journaling is cowardly! I'll say it again - Doom is EPIC! 
 
6) Anyone who has regularly read the FF over their history KNOWS that Reed has come up with cures for Ben that have worked/would work - EXCEPT - that Ben in his heart really does like/want to be the Thing (sometimes the motive is to be a hero...sometimes the motive is to protect those important to him...sometimes the motive is because Ben was afraid that Alicia fell in love with him as the Thing, and if he wasn't the Thing she'd not love him anymore...bottom line...Ben psychologically worked against any of Reed's cures...so ultimately those cures were unsuccessful/ineffective). 
 
7) Lastly...I am SO SICK TO DEATH of Marvel's destruction of their characters! Yes Marvel has always attempted to be more "reality" based (hence why their characters are in NYC and not Gotham)...but their characters were "reality" based to make them more identifiable in their personal struggles - Stan Lee had a gift for "romantic angst"! However many of Marvel's characters were patterned after real people. 
 
Charles Xavier could only be more Gandhi if he had glasses and was born in India! Instead of a visionary exemplar of a peaceful ideal Charles has become a mind-raping pedophile.  
 
Tony Stark cold only be more Howard Hughes if he kept his pee in jars in the corner. Instead of an eccentric, but charismatic visionary inventor, Tony has become a back-stabbing petty and unlikeable bastard.   
 
Reed just needs the wild hair on his head to be Einstein.  Again, though, instead of a practically minded visionary humanistic scientist, Reed has become as inconsistent as his body shape.   
 
I could go on, but you get the idea.  
 
The greatness and visionary core of Marvel's characters has been abandoned and replace by "heroes" who are worse than the villains.
 
Marvel has made their characters such schmuks that they are no longer likeable/interesting - I was hoping that with the "Heroic Age" Marvel's hereos would be..well...heroic again...but alas, they are still inglorious bastards - and as a fan, I am so disgusted by the Desparate Housewives soap opera  sensationalism that defines Marvel now that I cannot bring myself to buy their books...and that is truly depressing.  

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