History

History

Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Susan Storm, and her brother, Johnny Storm, were forever changed during an experimental space flight that exposed them to cosmic rays, which gave them super human powers and abilities. In the aftermath of their incredible journey, the four pledged to stay together as a team. They quickly became media sensations, and their celebrity status only grew as they explored the uncharted regions of the universe and confronted evil wherever they found it. But the Fantastic Four are more than just Super Heroes—theyre the first family of the Marvel Universe.

The Fantastic Four

The Fantastic Frontier

 

During his time in college, Reed shared his dreams of space exploration with his friend, Ben. In turn, Ben pledged to fly any spaceship created by Reed. Susan was introduced to Reed when he was a house guest of her aunt, and through Sue, Richards met her younger brother, Johnny. Years later, Reed secured government financing for a new spaceship that could have potentially opened up interstellar travel for humanity.

 

However, the government pulled its funding from the project shortly before Reed completed his work. Desperate to test the ship before it was dismantled, Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny broke into the official facility and launched an unauthorized flight. Their mission was seemingly a success, but the ships shields failed to protect them from a massive dose of cosmic radiation. The vessel subsequently crashed back to Earth.

 

All four friends survived the experience, but Reed found his body had taken on elastic properties that allowed him to change his size and length. Susan gained the ability to turn invisible while Johnny attained control over fire. Tragically, Bens enhanced strength and durability gave his skin and body a rock-like appearance that robbed him of the ability to pass as human. Despite the sudden turn of events, the quartet realized the potential of their powers and chose to become a team.

 

The Fantastic Four takes to the skies

Upon their public debut, Reed took on the codename Mr. Fantastic, Susan became the Invisible Girl, Johnny claimed the original Human Torchs name as his own, and Ben adopted the Thing as his persona. The Fantastic Four made an immediate splash by defeating the Mole Man and his army of monsters. They also became the first superhuman celebrities of the modern age of heroes.

 

 

All for Four

 

Because the Fantastic Four is first and foremost a family, they dont have a traditional team dynamic. For their first few years together, Reed was the unquestioned patriarch of both the family and the group. Susan eventually chafed under Reeds authority and left both him and the FF for a time. When she returned, Susan had a more equitable say in their personal and professional lives. Over time, Johnny and Ben have also gained bigger roles in the teams direction.

 

All of the original members have served as team leaders. Outside of the founders, Black Panther and the second Ant-Man (Scott Lang) have also led their own incarnations of the Fantastic Four.

Mr. Fantastic fights Doctor Doom

Fearful Foes

 

Doctor Doom may be the worlds most dangerous Super Villain, but his greatest rivalry is with Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four. Victor von Doom has tried to destroy the team on numerous occasions, and his hatred for Reed has been relentless. Even when Doom has been forced to work with the FF, his need to demonstrate his superiority over Richards has always ultimately destroyed their alliance.

The Extended Fantastic Four Family

Extended Family

 

Although Namor and the Silver Surfer were initially adversaries to the team, they have proven to be extremely reliable resources. Alicia Masters and Wyatt Wingfoot were associated with the FF largely through their romantic relationships with the Thing and She-Hulk, respectively. Johnnys ex-wife, Lyja, was also close to the group even after she was exposed as an undercover Skrull operative who impersonated Alicia for an extended period. Dooms heir, Kristoff Vernard, became close to the team when Reed and his “father” were believed to be dead. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur were briefly substitute members of the team, while Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Hulk, and Wolverine once formed a Fantastic Four of their own when they believed the original members had perished.

 

As Reed and Susan’s children, Franklin and Valeria Richards, have assumed larger roles in both the family and on the team, the Future Foundation was assembled to surround them with other gifted children to help solve the difficult problems facing humanity. The Foundation includes Alex Power, Dragon Man, Bentley 23, Artie Maddicks, Leech, Tong, Turg, Mik, Korr, Vii, and Wuu.

 

 

Family History

 

Years after graduating college, Reed Richards kept his promise to Ben Grimm by offering him the chance to be the test pilot for his experimental spaceship. Reed gained the financial backing of the government, but the project was abandoned shortly before its completion. Reeds girlfriend, Susan Storm, and her younger brother, Johnny, volunteered to help Richards and Grimm fulfill their dream by breaking into the facility and taking the vessel for an authorized trip into space.

 

While the ship successfully reached orbit, it was almost immediately bombarded with cosmic rays. The intense radiation nearly incapacitated the crew, but Ben was able to return the vehicle to Earth without any fatalities. As the four emerged from the ship, they realized that they had been irrevocably changed by the experience and given super powers. Ben was particularly horrified by his transformation into the Thing, but he soon agreed to form a team with Reed as Mr. Fantastic, Susan as the Invisible Girl, and Johnny as the Human Torch.

The Fantastic Four versus The Mole Man

For the Fantastic Fours first trial by fire, they were forced to battle the Mole Man and his army of monsters from the underground realm of Subterranea and Monster Isle. Soon after, the FF encountered the Skrulls for the first time and tricked an advance scout team into changing their bodies into cows before forgetting their true selves. The group didnt attempt to hide their identities, and they embraced their public personas when the team relocated to New York City and moved into the Baxter Building.

 

Like many families, the FF had several conflicts with each other. Johnny and Ben developed a rivalry long before they became friends. While cooling off from one of his arguments with the team, Johnny encountered a vagrant who looked remarkably like Prince Namor, the Sub Mariner. Although Namor had no memory of his previous life as a prince of Atlantis and a World War II hero, Johnny sparked his memory by burning his excess hair away and dropping him in the ocean.

 

Johnnys stunt spectacularly backfired when Namor discovered Atlantis was in ruins and he declared war on the surface world in retaliation for his loss. The Sub-Mariner became one of the FFs first recurring foes, even though he clearly had romantic feelings for Susan. However, Namors threat paled in comparison to the emergence of Victor von Doom. Reeds college rival returned as Doctor Doom and forced the team to travel back in time for his plans. Although the FF defeated Doom in their initial encounter, he went on to become their most enduring enemy.

Thing fights Doctor Doom

Doom and Namor teamed up to destroy the Fantastic Four, but the Sub-Mariner ultimately sided with his rivals when his would-be-ally betrayed him. The FF made a lot of enemies during their early adventures, including Red Ghost and the Super-Apes, Rama-Tut, the Impossible Man, the Molecule Man, and the Puppet Master. Alicia Masters, the Puppet Masters blind stepdaughter, was used as a pawn in his first strike against the team. However, Alicia formed a bond with the Thing and a romance slowly bloomed between the two.

 

Wizard, Sandman, the Trapster, and Medusa formed the first Frightful Four as a dark counterpart to the FF. But Medusa had no memory of her Inhuman heritage and wasnt evil like her companions. Reed and Sues relationship continued to advance and they got married in the Super Hero social event of the season. Even Doctor Dooms attempt to overrun the wedding with Super Villains couldnt completely disrupt the Richardsbig day.

 

The Inhuman known as Gorgon eventually located Medusa and attempted to reunite her with the rest of the royal family. Johnny quickly became infatuated with Medusas sister, Crystal, although Black Bolt and the remainder of her royal relatives disapproved of their burgeoning relationship. The FF and the royal family ultimately united against the threat of Black Bolts brother, Maximus the Mad. In the aftermath, the Inhumans were cut off from the outside world, leaving Johnny and Crystal separated and heartbroken.

 

Soon after, Uatu the Watcher went to great lengths to hide the Earth from Galactus and his herald, the Silver Surfer. When the FF confronted the Surfer, they were unable to prevent him from summoning Galactus to devour the world. Alicia befriended the Surfer as he recovered from the Things attack and allowed him to see the good in humanity. Meanwhile, Uatu sent Johnny on a mission inside of Galactusship to retrieve the Ultimate Nullifier, a weapon powerful enough to annihilate even the cosmic giant—and the Earth itself.

 

Inspired by Alicia, the Silver Surfer turned against his master and acted in defense of the Earth. In response, Galactus banished the Surfer behind an impenetrable barrier that prevented him from returning to the stars.

The Fantastic Four versus Galactus

Galactus also agreed to leave the planet in exchange for the Nullifiers return.

 

King TChalla, the Black Panther, invited the Fantastic Four to his previously hidden nation, Wakanda. This turned out to be an elaborate test of their powers, as the Panther easily beat the team during one-on-one encounters.

The Fantastic Four test their strength against the Black Panther

When the test was over, TChalla explained that he needed the FFs help in order to defeat Ulysses Klaw and force him out of Wakanda. During the subsequent battle, Klaw used his sonic converter on himself to transform into a being of living sound. Despite his newfound powers, Klaw was overcome and imprisoned by the heroes.

 

Johnny subsequently met the original Human Torch, whose android body was revived by the Mad Thinker. The two Human Torches battled at the Thinkers command, but the artificial Jim Hammond rebelled against his control and sacrificed his life. The FF left the original Human Torchs body behind, and it was subsequently duplicated by Immortus before Ultron used it to create the Avenger known as Vision.  

 

Black Bolt and the Inhumans eventually escaped from their imprisonment, just in time to lend their aid to the FF and rescue Reed from the Negative Zone. Johnny and Crystal renewed their relationship, and it brought their respective families together. When Susan became pregnant with her first child, she temporarily stepped down from the team. Crystal was the natural choice to serve as the Fantastic Four's first replacement member.

 

Susans pregnancy was not without its complications. To save his wife and unborn child, Reed led the FF into the Negative Zone to retrieve AnnihilusCosmic Control Rod. Reed and Susans son, Franklin, was successfully delivered. However, Franklins vast powers drew Annihilusattention, and he attempted to draw those abilities into his own body. Reed took the drastic step of shutting down his sons mind to save his life, which caused a rift with his wife. In response, Susan once again left the team and took Franklin with her. Johnnys relationship with Crystal also came to an end, as she began a romance with Quicksilver.

 

This time, Medusa stepped up as Susans replacement on the roster. The Invisible Girl eventually returned to the team, and Franklin was restored during a battle with Ultron at the wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver. The Thing briefly lost his powers and regained his human form as Ben Grimm. Luke Cage took Grimm's spot on the team until Reed provided Ben with a Thing exoskeleton that mimicked his old form and powers. During a battle with Galactus, Ben was once again transformed into the Thing. Johnny also began dating Frankie Raye, the stepdaughter of Professor Phineas T. Horton, the creator of the original Human Torch.

 

The Fantastic Four was once again drawn into conflict with Doctor Doom as the citizens of Latveria rose up against him. Prince Zorba of the Latverian royal family teamed up with the FF to depose Doom, and the aristocrat reclaimed the country for his people while the despot was imprisoned. Unfortunately, Zorbas reforms were short lived and his sanity quickly eroded. The FF were put in the awkward position of teaming with Doom to retake the country from Zorba. In the end, Doom seemingly killed Zorba and expelled his enemies from Latveria as he retook control.

 

As her relationship with Johnny progressed, Frankie gained Human Torch-like powers of her own thanks to an accident that happened when she handled her stepfathers chemicals as a child. Soon after, a greatly weakened Galactus attacked the Earth before he was soundly defeated by the FF and the other assembled heroes. Reed realized that Galactus was dying and attempted to save his life. Frankie offered herself to Galactus as his new herald, and she was transformed into the cosmically powered Nova. Johnny was heartbroken by Frankies decision and her subsequent departure from Earth.

 

During a battle with Galactusrenegade herald, Terrax, Doom was seemingly killed. However, the tyrant successfully transferred his mind to an innocent bystander before he was annihilated. The FF soon discovered that Reed had been kidnapped and placed on trial for his role in saving Galactuslife, although he managed to convince the alien court that his actions were justified. Susan became pregnant with her second child, and thus was not with the team when they were transported by the Beyonder to Battleworld for the first Secret Wars. 

 

On Battleworld, Thing discovered that he could transform to Ben Grimm at will and decided to remain on the planet after the Secret Wars came to an end. Ben asked She-Hulk to take his place on the FF, and she returned to Earth with Reed and Johnny. Reed reunited with his wife while Johnny broke the news about Bens departure to Alicia. Susans pregnancy took a turn for the worse, and Reed attempted to recruit Doctor Octopus to save her and the baby. However, tragedy struck when Reed and Susans daughter was stillborn.

 

After various misadventures on Battleworld, the Thing returned to Earth and discovered that Johnny and Alicia were dating. Feeling betrayed, Ben decided not to return to the FF. A short time later, the Beyonder came to Earth and kicked off the second Secret Wars. At the same time, the Psycho-Man trapped Susan and Alicia before using his powers to transform the Invisible Girl into Malice, the self-proclaimed Mistress of Hate.

 

As Malice, Susan harshly defeated and hurt her teammates, even with Daredevil providing a much needed assist. Reed eventually goaded Susan into breaking through the brainwashing, and she sought revenge on the Psycho-Man. The team confronted the Psycho-Man and defeated him, while Susan embraced a new heroic persona as the Invisible Woman. Shortly thereafter, Doom was able to return to his own body.

 

The Thing returned to the team just in time for the marriage of Johnny and Alicia, as She-Hulk rejoined the Avengers. Reed and Susan decided to retire and give Franklin a more normal childhood, so they left Ben in charge of the team. Crystal once again joined the FF as her marriage with Quicksilver crumbled, and Thing also recruited the second Ms. Marvel, Sharon Ventura, to fill out the roster.

 

Sharon and Ben began exploring their romantic feelings for each other, but their exposure to more cosmic rays transformed her into a She-Thing while giving Ben an even more mutated appearance. Sharons sanity was sorely tested by the experience, and she displayed manic episodes of depression. Reed and Susan eventually returned to the team, and Thing became Ben Grimm once more while facing the Frightful Four while Sharon remained trapped as the She-Thing.

 

A renegade Skrull subdued the FF while impersonating Susan, and she convinced Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Hulk, and Wolverine to form a new Fantastic Four while she pursued her own agenda. The Skrull attempted to manipulate Reed into helping her as well, but he tricked her into exposing her true agenda and freed the rest of his team. A short time later, Sharon accepted a devils bargain with Doctor Doom to regain her human form just as Ben purposefully transformed back into the Thing to be with Sharon.

 

The Puppet Master returned and exposed Alicia as a fraud. When cornered, “Alicia” confessed that she was secretly Lyja, a Skrull agent who was sent to impersonate Masters and spy on the team. Lyja claimed that her feelings for Johnny were genuine, and she helped the FF rescue the real Alicia from the Skrulls. This proved to be complicated for Ben, as he had already emotionally moved on from his relationship with Alicia. Lyja was seemingly killed during the rescue, but she was healed by Paibok the Power Skrull, her former lover.

 

Months later, Lyja joined Paibok on his quest for revenge against Johnny and the Fantastic Four, but she ultimately sided with her ex-husband and unofficially joined the team. Reeds father, Nathaniel Richards, kidnapped Franklin and claimed that his powers were a threat to the world. Nathaniel successfully eluded the team and transported Franklin to the future. Moments later, Franklin returned to the present as a teenager, who called himself Psi-Lord. The FF, and Susan in particular, didnt trust that Franklin was who he said he was. But he eventually won them over and formed his own Fantastic Force.

 

When the alien entity known as the Hunger invaded Latveria, the FF raced to defend its people and aid Doom in the battle. Doom seemingly suffered a fatal injury, and he took the opportunity to kill himself and Reed at the same time. Susan was devastated by Reeds apparent death, although she refused to fully accept it. In Reeds absence, Namor and Ant-Man unofficially joined the team, as did Kristoff Vernard, Dooms adoptive heir.

 

Months later, the Fantastic Four discovered that Reed had been banished to the past by Hyperstorm, the son of Rachel Summers and Franklin Richards from an alternate timeline. Hyperstorm had also spirited away Doom and held him prisoner. The FF eventually found Reed and confronted Hyperstorm, but not before he changed Franklins personal timeline and once again returned him to his original age.

 

Reed barely had time to adjust to his return before the team was drawn into the battle against Onslaught, the malevolent psychic entity created by the fusion of Charles Xavier and Magnetos minds. Onslaught kidnapped Franklin to use his powers, but he was defeated by the combined forces of the FF, the Avengers, and the X-Men. To prevent Onslaught from reforming, the Fantastic Four and most of the Avengers seemingly sacrificed their lives.

 

Thanks to the incredible powers of Franklin, his parents and their allies were not lost forever. Instead, they found themselves on an alternate Earth where they experienced a bizarre remix of their histories before discovering the truth about their fate. The Fantastic Four and the Avengers were then able to return home and resume their lives.

 

Much to the surprise of everyone, the FF soon encountered Valeria von Doom, a young woman who claimed to be the daughter of Susan and Doctor Doom from the future. She proved to be a valuable ally in the battle against the cosmic entity known as Abraxas. The team soon learned that Valeria was actually the daughter that Reed and Susan who had been lost years before, and she was miraculously saved by Franklins intervention. Somehow, the older Valeria was returned to Susans womb in the present. This time, she was successfully delivered thanks to the efforts of Doom himself, who named her Valeria, after his lost love. 

The Fantastic Four gather around Susan Storm holding the baby

Dooms kindness was simply a means to an end. He tracked down Valerias namesake and ruthlessly took her life to gain enhanced mystical powers. Doom then used Valeria herself as his familiar to strike at the FF through dark magic. The attack left Franklin deeply traumatized and Reeds face physically scarred beyond his ability to hide or heal. Angered by the assault, Richards took the opportunity to dismantle Dooms regime in Latveria. Reed even rescued Doom from Hell in order to place him in an even more inescapable prison. 

 

Reeds plan failed when Doom used his ability to hop between bodies. Their ensuing battle left the Thing fatally injured. The subsequent fallout fractured the team and nearly destroyed them. Reed became convinced that Ben wasnt truly gone, and used a variation of Dooms afterlife machine to find his best friend’s spirit alongside Susan and Johnny. The FF encountered Ben and their creator, who sent all four of them back to Earth. The Thing lived again, and Reeds face was restored.

Reed saves Susan, sacrificing himself in the process

This period of peace didnt last long. Reed was soon drawn into the Super Hero Civil War alongside Tony Stark and Hank Pym. Richards favored the registration of super humans, while Susan and

Johnny sided with the resistance led by Captain America. Only the Thing abstained from the conflict, before returning for the final fight.

The team returned from their ordeal and ejected Osborn and his men with a severe warning.

Valerias mind proved to be on par with her fathers intellect even at her young age, while Franklins powers began to once again grow exponentially. When the Cult of the Negative Zone invaded the Baxter Building, the Richards children once again proved to be a vital part of the team. However, Johnny was forced to sacrifice his life to protect the kids and Thing. Johnny made sure that they were safe before making his last stand against Annihilusforces.

The Fantastic Four mourned Johnnys death and temporarily retired their team name. They rebranded themselves as the Future Foundation and invited Spider-Man to fill the void left by Johnnys demise. Doom also joined the team over the objections of the Thing, as their longtime enemy needed Valerias help to restore his intellect. The Future Foundation also took in several gifted children to help the family face a series of seemingly impossible challenges.

The Fantastic Four versus some of their greatest foes

In the Negative Zone, Johnny was restored to life by Annihilus, who forced him to take part in his gladiator games. The Torch lived and died and lived again multiple times while he was a prisoner. Johnny was also instrumental in leading a rebellion against Annihilus and he even briefly became the ruler of the Negative Zone. Johnny reunited with the FF and saved the world from a Kree invasion and the Mad Celestials.

 

Now reunited, the Fantastic Four took a family vacation across time and space, with Reed, Susan, Thing, Johnny, Franklin, and Valeria departing. In their place, Ant-Man, Medusa, She-Hulk, and Johnnys latest girlfriend, Darla Deering, were named the temporary leaders of the Future Foundation. Darla had no powers of her own, but she wore a Thing exoskeleton into battle and adopted the Miss Thing codename.

 

Reed had an ulterior motive for the teams trip, as he had discovered that the cells in his body were dying. He also knew that his family would likely be stricken by the illness as well. Eventually, Susan and the rest of the team displayed symptoms and Reed was forced to confess the truth. They discovered their sickness came from an alternate world where the Fantastic Four were defeated by Doom the Annihilating Conqueror, a combination of Doctor Doom, Annihilus, and Kang. The FF teamed up with their counterparts from that reality and defeated Doom the Annihilating Conqueror before restabilizing their powers.

 

A previously unknown villain calling himself the Quiet Man set in motion a complex plot to destroy the Fantastic Four. He orchestrated the FFs eviction from the Baxter Building, set up the Thing for murder, and stripped the Human Torch of his powers. But his most devastating blow caused Franklin, Valeria, and the rest of the Future Foundation children to be taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. The Quiet Mans ally, the Psycho-Man, used Susans emotionally distraught state against her and turned the Invisible Woman back into Malice.

 

Reed was captured by the Quiet Man, but he was quickly able to prove that the Psycho-Man had betrayed him. The Quiet Man reluctantly freed Richards to let him save the world with Valeria, while Johnny regained his powers and Susan reclaimed her mind. The Quiet Man took advantage of the chaos to slip away and escape justice.

 

As the multiverse was on the verge of collapse, Reed rejoined the Illuminati secret society and made morally questionable decisions as they attempted to save Earth from multiple incursion events. When the Avengers became aware of the Illuminatis actions, it split the Super Hero community once again. Susan joined S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers to hunt down her husband, while secretly acting as Reeds inside woman.

 

The two sides were finally brought back together in time to make one final push to save their world. They failed. And at the end of everything, Reed witnessed the apparent demise of his wife and children as their ship was lost to oblivion. Doom emerged from the void with god-like powers stolen from the Beyonders and he recreated Battleworld from the lost pieces of the multiverse. On this patchwork world, Susan was reborn as Dooms wife and her children believed that he was their father.

 

Reed and other heroes eventually arrived on Battleworld and confronted Doom. Susan and Valeria discovered Dooms lies before he battled Reed for control of the Beyonders powers. Reed emerged victorious and used his new abilities to restore the multiverse. Doom was returned to Earth with his scarred face healed, while Johnny and Ben believed that their family was gone. In reality, Reed, Susan, Franklin, Valeria, and the Future Foundation children survived and undertook a new mission to rebuild the worlds that had been destroyed.

 

Without the Fantastic Four to hold them together, Ben and Johnny went their separate ways. But they reunited when they discovered that their powers were abandoning them. Grimm lied to Johnny about the survival of the Richards family to give him hope even though he believed them to be dead. Together, they ventured into the multiverse to find their loved ones and save themselves.

 

Now, the Fantastic Four has been reunited, and their adventures will begin again.

 

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  • Base of Operations

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Essential Reading
Best of the Fantastic Four
Spearheaded by the remarkable talents of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Fantastic Four represent the dawn of Marvel’s Silver Age. Read up on some of our favorite classic adventures from the FF’s first ongoing series, starring the family-turned-super hero explorers!
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