A hero published by Marvel Comics
. Mr. Fantastic
first appeared in Fantastic Four #1
in 1961 and was created by Stan Lee
and Jack Kirby
When you need the smartest most inventive mind in the Marvel Universe, one name stands at the top of the list: Reed Richards. This brilliant scientist and adventurer has for years lead the flagship team of the Marvel Universe, the Fantastic Four, lending to it not only his extraordinary intellect and leadership, but lending his amazing stretching abilities to the fight to stop evil and protect the the innocent.
Richards was born to Nathaniel and Evelyn Richards. Nathaniel was a brilliant scientist in his own right and encouraged his son's natural curiosity and inventive nature. Richards' mother passed away when he was seven, but he continued to blossom under the care of his father, despite this hole in his life. Richards attended New York State University where he excelled and formed two relationships that would have lasting impact throughout the rest of his days.
The first relationship was with a foreign exchange student named Victor Von Doom. The two were matched as roommates by the housing department of the university, which makes them in no little part responsible for the death, destruction, and general mayhem that would occur in the years to come as these two men clashed. Von Doom took an immediate disliking to Richards, seeing in the young American student an intellect that rivaled and in many ways surpassed his own. Von Doom soon moved out, but the two had begun an intense rivalry that carried on throughout their educational career and beyond. Unfortunately, Von Doom pushed himself to beat Richards and one fateful night, exhausted in his quest for victory, Von Doom fell asleep during an experiment. Left unattended, the experiment exploded and scarred Von Doom's handsome face. Von Doom blamed Richards for the entire incident, vowing revenge. He left and returned to his native Latveria, but would later become Richards' arch-nemesis.
The other relationship was football star Ben Grimm who also became Richards' roommate. Despite their differing backgrounds and personalities, the two became great friends. One night, as Richards told Grimm of his dream of creating an interstellar spacecraft, Grimm jokingly said that if Richards would build it, Grimm would fly it. Little did Grimm know how prophetic those words would become.
After graduating, Richards successfully built his spacecraft, but was not allowed to test it. Balking at the restriction, Richards contacted his old roommate, who was now a successful test pilot and reminded him of his promise. The two, accompanied by Richards' girlfriend Susan Storm and her brother Johnny, successfully entered the launch site and blasted off in the rocket. The rocket flew well, but due to insufficient shielding, the crew was exposed to massive doses of cosmic rays, that had a mutegenic effect on each of them. Richards gained the ability to stretch all and any of his body parts to incredible lengths. Along with his friends, Richards decided to use their newly acquired powers for good and became the Fantastic Four.
Richards successfully led the Fantastic Four against many different foes over the years. His intelligence and natural leadership has held the group in good stead while battling such foes as the Mole Man, Blaastar, Annihilus, and Richards' old nemesis Doctor Doom. Often times the difference between victory and defeat has come down to Richards' inventiveness, as he has created such amazing devices as the Negative Zone Portal, the Fantasti-Car, the Pogo-Plane, not to mention the unstable molecules used in hero costumes and that allow most super-heroes in the Marvel Universe not to run around in the all-together.
Richards and Susan Storm were married in a wedding attended by a lot of super-heroes and super-villains and which set the standard for super-hero weddings for all time (i.e. big fight somewhere during the proceedings). When Susan became pregnant with their first child, the cosmic radiation that fueled both her and Richards' powers became a deadly factor, threatening both her her life and that of their child. Richards led the remaining members of the Fantastic Four into the Negative Zone to retrieve the Cosmic Control Rod from the villain Annihilus, and returned in the nick of time, saving the life of his wife and new son, Franklin. Franklin was born with reality shifting powers due to parents unique abilities.
The Richards became pregnant a second time, but unfortunately, Reed's efforts to save the baby were not successful. It was later revealed that Franklin used his powers to save the child and she became known as Valeria Von Doom. Thought to be from an alternate universe where she was the product of a union between Richards' wife and Von Doom, Valerie fought along side Franklin against the villain Abraxis. The final battle ended with Franklin's powers being burned out and Valerie seemingly being killed. But at the last instant, Franklin was able to transform his sister into a full term fetus replace her in their mother's womb. The result is that Valerie is now alive and well and Franklin is going to have a whole lot of therapy for messing with his mother's reproductive issues.