A Stretch to Survive
Genius Reed Richards impressed his parents with inventions that made them wealthy, but lost his mother at a very young age. At fourteen, he began to collect doctorates at multiple colleges and dreamed of designing and building a starship, a project pilot Ben Grimm promised to help him fulfill. Richards earned the eternal wrath of fellow student Victor von Doom and the love of his landlady’s niece Sue Storm while at State University and after graduation worked for the U.S. military overseas, which put him in the perfect position to see his dream come true.
When the government cut Richards’ funding to the starship, the restless genius gathered Grimm, Sue Storm, and her brother Johnny for an illicit test flight of the craft. Unfortunately, he failed to figure for proper shielding to repel cosmic rays while in space and the four found themselves bombarded by the unique radiation. The ship crash-landed back on Earth, and Richards and the others discovered they’d been mutated by the rays, each of them gaining special abilities. Realizing they could use their powers for the benefit of mankind, Richards founded the Fantastic Four.
Altered by cosmic rays, Reed Richards’s entire body can stretch and expand in multiple ways, as well as condense and compact. He may form various shapes with it, as well as become ultra-thin and ultra-dense, the latter helping him to use his fists, for example, as battering rams and the like. On some occasions, Richards has contained explosive material with his body by stretching himself around it and even altered his features to disguise himself as a different person. All of these features of his abilities create stress on his body and the greater the lengths he stretches to, the more it takes its toll.
Richards also stands as one of the world’s highest intellects, if not the highest. He’s adept in nearly all scientific fields known to mankind, as well as certain extraterrestrial disciplines. His specialties of study and actual work lay in such fields as robotics, aviation, and quantum physics, and he holds thousands of patents for his inventions and discoveries. Perhaps one of his greatest achievements, so-called “unstable molecules,” aids the Fantastic Four in particular through the uniforms that allow each team member to utilize their specialized abilities.
Though often times seen as cold and aloof, Reed Richards prizes family above all else and formed the Fantastic Four into one of the greatest examples of a working family unit ever.
Sue Storm Richards represents his touchstone, a partner in all things and the love of life. The couple has seen many hard times through the course of their marriage, but they always return to what’s most important: their children, their teammates, and their mission. While deep in a project, Richards sometimes forgets the simple, daily things, but Sue realizes and acknowledges how his mind works and makes concessions to keep their family together and strong.
Ben Grimm stands as Richards’ oldest and best friend, though the genius often reflects upon his responsibility in Grimm’s mutation into the monster known as the Thing. The two possess vastly different personalities and backgrounds, but like Sue, Grimm knows how his friend’s mind works and offsets it with always having his back. Richard’s relationship with his brother-in-law Johnny Storm as sometimes been heated, owing to Storm’s fiery disposition, but the bond between the two is strengthened by their connections to Sue and the Richards’ children. All together, the Fantastic Four live and fight as a family, more so than any other heroic team on the planet.
Reed Richards loves his two children Franklin and Valeria without measure, but often stands back in awe and wonder at their own abilities. Par for the course with the Fantastic Four, he doesn’t always conduct himself as a typical father to the two, but they love and respect him all the same.
Respect for Mr. Fantastic throughout the heroic community is strong, particularly among those who’ve worked closely with him. Richards’ intellect makes him a good partner for other inventive geniuses such as Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and T’Challa of Wakanda.
The be-all and end-all of enmity for Reed Richards exists in the form of Victor von Doom, Latverian tyrant and super villain. Doom’s hatred of Richards stems from an incident while the two attended college together, a disastrous experiment of Doom’s to contact the spirit world through technology which literally blew up in his face, scarring him. The young man blamed Richards for his own failure and still carries that loathing to this day. Over the years, Mr. Fantastic and Doctor Doom’s battles have become legendary, two intellects constantly at war, though most often instigated by Doom and his shattered pride.
Though the Fantastic Four’s fought many a foe as a team, a few individuals hold a special dislike for Reed Richards himself. These include the Wizard, the Mole Man, and most especially Namor the Sub-Mariner. Namor’s longtime love for Sue Richards exists as a bone of contention between the sea king and the Fantastic Four’s leader, one that appears from time to time as a reminder of their shared history. Sue, never seeing herself as a damsel to be fought over, has tried many times to bring the two together to bury the hatchet, but too often to only a temporary truce.