Fantastic Four: Replacement Roundup
When one of the core four can't make it, they invite someone new to join the team!
Marvel’s First Family may be the Fantastic Four, but while there are four core members -- Reed and Sue Richards, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm -- there have been numerous close friends and associates that have filled in as one of the official Four, usually on a temporary basis, and sometimes a more permanent one. In FANTASTIC FOUR #3, available now, it looks like there will be one big family reunion!
Though the team always eventually returns to those four family members (plus Franklin and Valeria Richards), here are some of the heroes (and villains!) that have been members of the Fantastic Four over the years.
When: FANTASTIC FOUR #81
When Sue first became pregnant with her and Reed’s son, Crystal, of the Inhuman Royal Family, joined in Sue’s stead for a time. As the Fantastic Four aided this mysterious and secretive race of superhumans on numerous occasions, the FF and the Inhumans were very close. And none were closer than Johnny and Crystal, who had crushes on one another. Naturally, Johnny was quite enthusiastic about Crystal filling in for Sue. This wouldn’t be the last time Crystal would join the FF -- she joined the team again in FANTASTIC FOUR #305, when Reed and Sue took a leave of absence to take care of their powerful and unstable son, Franklin.
When: FANTASTIC FOUR #132
Sue quit the team again around this time when a love triangle developed between Sue, Reed and Namor the Sub-Mariner. On the verge of divorce, Sue left rather than be around her husband. Medusa, the queen of the Inhumans and heroine of the prehensile hair, filled in briefly until the couple could reconcile. Much later, when the team formed a four-person replacement group, Medusa became a founding member of that team along with She-Hulk, Ant-Man and Darla Deering.
When: FANTASTIC FOUR #168
Periodically, Ben Grimm would gain his greatest wish, losing his powers and returning to the normal Ben Grimm. During one of those times, and having no powers to himself, Ben quit the team. Stepping in was good friend Luke Cage, also known as Power Man, ably filling in the tank role. Unfortunately, Luke fell under the Puppet Master’s spell almost immediately and ditched the team, not before accidentally altering the past and sending the FF on a time-travel adventure to World War II to fix it. (It’s complicated.) Reed managed to whip up a Thing exoskeleton for Ben to use instead, until an encounter with Galactus restored his powers.
When: FANTASTIC FOUR #238
The Human Torch’s serious girlfriend Frankie Raye was, in actuality, the stepdaughter of Phineas Horton, the man who created the original Human Torch android. Frankie possessed flame-based powers of her own. She joined the team officially with no other members leaving, leading Reed to consider a name change to Fantastic Five. Tragically, this larger team was short-lived, as a visit by the hated Galactus led to Frankie choosing to become his Herald, sparing the Earth once again but sacrificing her humanity (and relationship to Johnny) to find Galactus planets to consume.
When: FANTASTIC FOUR #265
During the original Secret Wars, the Thing chose to stay behind on Battleworld because he was able to turn to Ben Grimm and back and wanted to be left alone. In his stead stepped in long-time Fantastic Four ally and close friend Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk. She stuck around for numerous adventures with the Fantastic Four until Ben finally came to his senses and returned to Earth, reuniting the original Foursome once more. Jennifer would return some time later as a member of the replacement team.
When: FANTASTIC FOUR #306
During Reed and Sue’s aforementioned leave of absence to better handle Franklin’s uncontrollable psychic powers, Sharon Ventura, a former wrestling pal of Ben’s, joined the team as the new Ms. Marvel. A similar rocket ship accident befell Sharon and Ben as the one that gave the Fantastic Four their powers. Cosmic rays mutated Ben into a more hideous form and turned Sharon into the She-Thing. Her new form’s monstrous visage messed with Sharon’s head, and she eventually quit the team.
When: FANTASTIC FOUR #384
Hyperstorm, the villainous grandson of Reed Richards from an alternate future, appeared to kill Reed after a pitched battle, in reality sending him deep into an alternate reality along with Doctor Doom. While Reed was presumed dead, Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man, joined in his place until Reed was found. Later, after the Fantastic Four formed a replacement team, Scott Lang rejoined.
Storm and Black Panther
When: FANTASTIC FOUR #543
Reed Richards didn’t come out of the first Civil War between the heroes with his hands clean. Because he took the side of pro-registration, and built the Negative Zone prison that housed both villains and unregistered heroes, Reed and Sue left the FF until they could patch things up with the public and with each other. Joining the team in their place was newly married couple Ororo Munroe, aka Storm, and T’Challa, aka Black Panther, who led the Fantastic Four along with Johnny and Ben.
When: FF #1
After Johnny Storm appeared to sacrifice himself to close the Negative Zone just before Annihilus and his Annihilation Wave struck, Johnny’s best friend Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, joined the team. Except it wasn’t the Fantastic Four anymore, as Reed decided to retire the name upon Johnny’s death. This new team was the Future Foundation, and it quickly grew to encompass many super-powered individuals, usually young, intelligent heroes like Alex Powers, all sporting new white costumes.
When: FANTASTIC FOUR (Vol. 4) #2
Johnny Storm was dating a pop star named Darla Deering. When off in space on an extended cosmic adventure, each member of the Fantastic Four picked a replacement member. Johnny, naturally, picked Darla, and one Thing exo-suit later, Darla Deering became Miss Thing.
FANTASTIC FOUR #3 is now available online and at your local comic shop!
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