Tag Archives: Johnny Storm

Fantastic Family Day

Up here in Canada, and more specifically in Ontario, yesterday was Family Day!  It’s a made up, but much appreciated, holiday to celebrate how great it is to have a family.  I spent the day playing boardgames with my friends and pressing ignore whenever my parents called.  (Just kidding. My parents didn’t call at all. ((They called the day before.)))  Anyhoo, this got me thinking that I should show some love to Marvel’s first family – The Fantastic Four.

As a delicious bonus, I’ve had a running argument with a guy at work about whether the Fantastic Four suck or not.  This is my opportunity to rebut him in public and in writing.  So Adam, you better read this one.  I also think they get a bit of a bad rap in general anyway.

To be honest, I think they’re kind of a hard concept to pull off well.  Reed Richards needs to prove to the world that he’s all super smart, so he builds a rocket and launches it before it’s ready.  Because he’s a supergenius, he launches it with himself, his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s brother, and his best friend inside.  The rocket gets bombarded with cosmic rays and instead of them all getting cancer they get super powers!  Reed becomes Mr. Fantastic with the power to stretch his body as if it were made of rubber.  His girlfriend, Sue Storm, becomes the Invisible Woman and she can turn invisible and make invisible force fields.  Her brother Johnny can set himself on fire so he becomes the Human Torch.  Ben Grimm, Reed’s buddy and pilot, becomes a rocky, orange Thing.  And, instead of seeking medical help of any kind, they become The Fantastic Four.

What sets them apart, and I know this is somewhat clichéd, is the fact that they are a family first and a team second.  Reed uses his super smarts to invent junk and let them live a super cushy life in the top floors of the Baxter Building. When monsters and aliens attack, they decide to use their powers to save the day.  Mainly because it gave the rest of the team something to do.  That stuff is just there to draw readers in.  Really, the book is about how they interact with each other.

This can be really tough to showcase properly.  Some writers make it too nicey nice, where they all get along way too well.  Other writers treat them more like roommates.  The best, though, are able to show them act like a real family.  Sometimes Reed gets so busy in his lab that he forgets about Sue and their two kids (Franklin and Valeria). Sue, on the other hand, can be tempted by the fiery passions of other men like Namor The Submariner.  Ben and Johnny play pranks on each other, and can be downright cruel.  But, when the chips are down, they always come to each other’s aid.

Something else that sets them apart from a more typical team book like The Justice League or The Avengers is the fact that they’re not your typical superheroes.  Often, the comic is more like an adventure.  They don’t really fight crime, but they go to other dimensions like the Negative Zone, or repel alien invasions like the Skrulls.  The first time they fought the Skrulls, Reed hypnotized them into shape shifting into cows and forgetting that they were ever anything but cows.  It’s a fairly creative, if somewhat cruel, way to solve that problem.

It’s also the comic that gave us Galactus, The Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, The Inhumans, The Black Panther, The Kree and the Fantasticar.  And those are all in the first 65 issues.  They’ve just passed issue 600 and have been a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe through all of that.  They’ve gone through some changes: Thing was replaced by She Hulk for awhile, and a lady Skrull joined the team around this one time that Reed died.  (He got better.)  The whole team was replaced for two issues by the coolest four person line up Marvel could cram together: Spider-Man, The Hulk, Ghost Rider and Wolverine.  The issues kind of suck, but the very thought of it got my blood pumping when I was in grade 8.  Who am I kidding?  It still does.

Currently, Jonathan Hickman is doing wonders for the team.  His first couple of arcs in particular did a really great job of balancing the sci-fi action with some tender family moments.  I highly recommend it.

THAT IS ALL.

Graham Becksted was once bombarded by cosmic rays but all he got was this lousy t-shirt.  He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles.  If you would like to be his 52nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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