Three schlubs and a mad scientist in training go for a trip around the cosmos and return to Earth as radiated heroes. But are they truly fantastic, fantastically lucky, or just screwed? Presenting: The Fantastic Four!
On a dark night back in November 1961, walking brain pan Dr. Reed Richards took his dream of soaring among the stars and made it a reality. Building a spacecraft with the intent to fly to Mars, he put his own cash together with some federal green and also tapped his girlfriend Susan Storm's pockets and ended up with a classic 60's spaceship.
Looks about as safe as a giant dart propelled by a volitile fuel mix can be. Maybe that's why Uncle Sam pulled out...?
When he learned that the government was cancelling the funding AND the project, Reed Richards did what any incredibly intelligent scientist faced with looking like a giant goof in his community would do: tell the government to go fuck themselves and take the damned ship anyway. With all of that grey matter working in his favor, Reed plotted out every detail of the launch and he just knew when the government saw the results, they wouldn't throw him into a military prison where real criminals would use Reed's ass for experimentation.
Yes, every detail.
Even those damned shields which would hold back the dangerous "cosmic rays" that a section of space known as the Van Allen Radiation Belt would be where our intrepid voyagers would be traveling. The shields that, if they weren't working, would cook everyone onboard like a $7.5 million dollar George Foreman Grill. But our genius doctor was positive the shields would hold.
Sadly, the Foreman Grill would've protected them better, seperating all bodily fluids they excreted cleanly while screaming as they were bombarded by cosmic rays
REED: "Oh, you meant protect against THOSE rays! Well..not so much, but when making an omlet..."
It was the abnormal amount of cosmic rays that he didn't account for that rabbit punched the regretful crew of the USS This Guy's Trying To Kill Us and somehow managing to crash land, they emerged no worse for wear...except for freaky ass powers that were both a blessing and a curse. And there was a lot of cursing, as you could imagine.
So you emerge from a terrifying flight that you're kicking yourself for going on and all of a sudden, your body feels really weird. Well, you just bathed in cosmic radiation so if a slight headache or dry mouth is the extent of your troubles, count your blessings. Not the case here.
Wacky scientist with a gigantic IQ but a lack for forethought in his experiments goes from being a nerdy mega-intellect that gets sand kicked in his face at the beach to Mr. Fantastic!
Putting Stretch Armstrong to shame, his body was turned into an ultra stretchable rubber that most aging Hollywood starlets would kill for. He gives himself a codename reserved for a popular cleaning solvent and with his super stretching ability as well as his geius intellect, he selects himself as the leader of the team of accidental heroes. And in keeping with his namesake, instead of dumping the group off into a government research center, he married his teenage bride, offered a home to both her jerkoff little brother and his old pal whom he disfigured horribly in the first place. What a fantastic guy.
Mr. Chauvinistic was both too lengthy and was murder on the spell checkers of the day
Trust fund inhertor that got blinded by SCIENCE at an early age, prudent judgement didn't keep her off of a rocket ship built by her boyfriend and several thousand cosmic rays later, she became...The Invisible Girl!
Sue gained the ability to both make herself disappear and create forcefields around herself and her teammates, which only really worked unless your adversary didn't just throw down knockout gas as when she went unconscious, her powers went with her. But as a primary member of the team (she sexed up Reed...what? Was The Thing gonna do it?), she held up her end, carrying on as the Invisible Girl way into her late 20's, no longer a "girl" and being demeaned by her teammates until she was kidnapped by a super villain named Psycho Man and the encounter had her change her moniker to The Invisible Woman! A "fantastic" name change that her husband Reed absolutely loved.
If it weren't for his adjustable unit, she would've sufficated him with a force bubble in his sleep YEARS ago
Losing his parents at an early age and being raised by a sister who's being chased by a 20 something lecherous scientist, Johnny was a brash, hard headed thrillseeker that wanted to live life on the edge so when given the option to break into a government facility and ride a rocket to his possible fiery death, how could he say no? Cooked by radioactive rays, he became The Human Torch!
With the ability to generate mass amounts of heat as well propelling himself through the air, one of the most powerful members of the team is one of the most feared as parents were greatly concerned that their children would want to be like Johnny and light themselves on fire to be like him. In 1978, The Fantastic Four cartoon series replaced Johnny out of fear and their replacement left a lot to be desied. Not so much "fantastic" as "fearful of lawsuits".
Millions of kids all over the world wondered the same thing. Waiting with lighters and cans of butane.
A test pilot for the military in the middle of a promising career, here comes Ben's old college buddy who wants him to pilot his death rocket into outer space and after some coaxing from Reed's then girlfriend (who Ben's wanted to plow like a cornfield), he risks his career to help fulfill his friend Reed's dream. And even though he believed there wasn't enough shielding, he soon became The Thing!
He's made of rock, he's super strong, and he found a place that sells giant fucking sized trench coats, but there's no way to sugar coat it: this guy got screwed. It's difficult for stars to get around without being spotted by regular people and being mobbed. This guy who looks like a friggin' wall and can't walk without causing tremors can't go to Starbucks and buy a cup of coffee without people freaking out and running in fear while the baristas crap their pants in fear. He shacked up with a blind woman who loved him for who he was, heroic brickface and stucco but you'd have to imagine that the bedroom relationship on her end would be similar to "doing it" while being dragged naked from a speeding car.
But you can't deny that "fantastic" catchphrase of his:
He went through a number of different options before settling on IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME
So he took three people that could've led uneventful, ordinary lives and gave them powers and identities that guaranteed they could do nothing else but be danger facing heroes for the rest of their days. If this guy has super intelligence, how in the hell can he not reverse the process that transformed them and bring them some normalcy? Especially the walking monument who had the best chance at living a normal life but now has to live a solitary existence, the only bright spot in his day coming when he can announce a specific time to severely batter villains within an inch of their lives?
If he hadn't taken his pals on that ride, when Galactus came along, our world would've been "finger food" on the gigantic deity's menu...though his solution to beating Galactus was using a device that would destroy all of creation.
The Cracked writers said it better than I ever could've...
The Skrulls would've surely taken over the planet if not for Reed's doomed flight, though we are talking about four people v.s. an entire planet of beings that have the ability to look like anyone. Pretty sucky odds and with ol' Reed at the helm, how could this one possibly turn out?
He would've helped E.T. get home by building him a ship with an experimental warp drive that would've sent him careening into the Sun.
He discovers an alternate dimension he names "The Negative Zone" and actually unleashes two extremely destructive aliens into our dimension, usually ends up getting their headquarters (The Baxter Building / Four Freedoms Plaza, etc.) blown to hell, and let's not bring up a certain Latverian gentleman who has crossed paths with Reed one too many times in the past.
DOOM: "What do you call Reed Richards in the center of a nuclear explosion? A good start. Ha...is this thing on?"
Your average individual that gets afflicted with super powers and can't live a normal life goes all crazy super villain and threatens to burn cities to the ground, but these guys didn't do that. They put all of those thoughts of what might have been and the lives they could've had aside to protect the world against the dangers that their leader would constantly uncover.
And putting up with a dick like Doctor Reed Richards certainly earns them the title of "fantastic" as far as I'm concerned.