The Molecule Man wields power over the very building blocks of the universe, but only wants to be left alone in peace and solitude.
The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth
Nebbish lab technician Owen Reece finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when an experimental particle accelerator tears the very fabric of the space-time continuum to allow an alien race known as the Beyonders access to Earth. The massive energy surge released by the event scars Reece’s face and endows him with incredible abilities, the result of the Beyonders possessing no containment unit for their energies at that time. In addition, the entity that would become known as the Beyonder comes into existence at that same moment from a portion of the flowing energy.
The little man reasons his new powers would make him an unparalleled opponent for the Fantastic Four and so the Molecule Man challenges their authority until the team stops his villainy with a clever strategy. From that moment on, Reece’s understanding over his amazing abilities grow, but his mind becomes unhinged in direct proportion to it.
Mighty Morphin’ Molecules
Initially, the Molecule Man believes he wields control over all molecules down to a subatomic level to transform them into whatever he desires, but as his knowledge grows, he uses his abilities to create force shields, destructive beams, and even portals to travel great distances. In time, Reece understands he possesses the power to warp reality itself and not only transform molecules, but transmutate them as well. This ability makes him literally one of the most powerful beings in the universe.
Incredibly, some of his previous human failings follow him into his new existence, including a meek personality, mental blocks, and an unstable grasp of his sanity. Despite this, his capacity for love and devotion remains strong.
In spite of his near-omnipotent powers, Owen Reece forms solid relationships with a few individuals which have seen him through turbulent times. He meets Marsha Rosenberg of Denver, Colorado during one of these times and their love affair transcends both strife and reason. Even at their lowest moments as a couple, their love allows them to maintain their bond as the world crumbles around them.
The powerful Beyonder comes into existence at the same moment Reece gains his abilities, and due to this juxtaposition the two are caught in a strange symbiosis that oftentimes defies categorization. The Molecule Man’s relationship with the heroic Fantastic Four, specifically its leader Reed Richards, AKA Mister Fantastic, can be more easily defined as one of opposition, but they do team up to save the world.
Only a Pawn
Though the Molecule Man’s faced off against many opponents over the years, without a doubt his prime antagonist answers to the name Victor von Doom, AKA Doctor Doom. The Latverian Monarch has seen Reece as little more than a pawn in his schemes, a means to an end, albeit one with nearly incomprehensible power. While Doom’s words to the Molecule Man may come across as honey, in reality they serve only to allow the villain a path around Reece’s defenses to gain control over his abilities.
More a Child than a God
Following his first defeat by the Fantastic Four, the Molecule Man was whisked away by the alien Uatu the Watcher to be abandoned on a far-flung world and unable to escape due to the limitations on his abilities imposed by his own troubled mind. Reece aged rapidly on the planet and so he fashioned a “son” of sorts to pour his power and personality into in hopes that his artificial progeny could do what he could not. The new uninhibited Molecule Man found his way off the planet and transported himself to Earth.
Emerging through the Nexus of All Realities into the swamp inhabited by Ted Sallis, AKA Man-Thing, Owen Reece’s consciousness jumped from host to host by way of a metal rod he called a wand. This body-jumping continued until Reece finally remade his original form and devoted himself to destroying the Earth. A clash with the Avengers convinced him to seek psychiatric help, but the therapy was interrupted by the Beyonder’s kidnapping him along with a clutch of Earth’s heroes and villains to the patchwork planet called Battleworld.
While the so-called “Secret Wars” there raged, Reece met an Earth woman named Marsha Rosenberg who along with other residents of Denver, Colorado found herself stranded on Battleworld. The Molecule Man threw off the undue influence of Doctor Doom to break through his mental blocks and transport himself and his new love Volcana—a now-super-powered Rosenberg—back to Earth. Once returned, the two continued their romance and Reece went to work for an atomic plant in Denver in an attempt to live a normal life.
Not long after, the Beyonder appeared on the planet in humanoid form and sought out the former Molecule Man. Reece aided Earth’s heroes in opposing the Beyonder and saved the day by siphoning the powerful alien’s consciousness into a “new universe.” Faking powerlessness, Reece sought a private existence again with Volcana, but Doctor Doom’s interference led to a merging with the Beyonder to form a Cosmic Cube. This combined status lasted only a short while until a truly normal Reece was expelled from the Cube and regained his abilities by taking them back from Rosenberg, whom he had designated as a receptacle from them before his transformation.
Around this time, Reece’s relationship with Rosenberg grew rocky and in a fit of pique he sought revenge on the Beyonder for all his perceived ills. He separated his “brother” from Kosmos, a living Cosmic Cube, and in doing so repaired his own unbalanced mind. Newly whole in body and spirit, he went about trying to win back Volcana, but was captured by authorities and incarcerated in a special cell on the high-level federal prison island called the Raft. After a breakout with other villains, Reece made his way to the small town of Dinosaur, Colorado with his sanity in question once more, and in a battle with Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin’s twisted version of the Avengers seemingly died by being disintegrated by the simple-minded Sentinel.
Still desiring the Molecule Man’s control over the cosmos, Doctor Doom managed to reform Owen Reece as a stop-gap measure in the face of universal decay and the incursion of multiple realities upon his own. Together, Doom and the Molecule Man traveled to an alternate universe to witness the beginning of a doppelgänger of Reece’s and the threads of an idea coming together: the Molecule Man’s existence as a kind-of destruct mechanism through the Multiverse. Reece, his mind stable again, recommended that every version of himself be killed.
After Doom stole the combined power of the Beyonder race and set himself up as god-king on a new Battleworld, he kept Reece sequestered as a power source to maintain the reality he’d created. Miles Morales, AKA Spider-Man, showed the Molecule Man kindness, for which Reece felt indebted to the young man and decided to turn the tide against Doom by depowering him and gifting the god-like abilities to Reed Richards. The Fantastic Four’s leader set about reconstructing the Multiverse and with each reconstituted and refreshed reality a portion of Owen Reece’s sanity returned.
Recently, the Molecule Man apparently perished once again in an attack on Richards and his family by the Griever at the End of All Things. In theory, this event only represented the loss of Reece’s physical form, not his hearty consciousness.