FANTASTIC FOUR - TERRIFIC TRAGEDY1 of 12As Marvel’s “first family,” the Fantastic Four have historically been a bright spot in the publisher’s universe, exploring new worlds, saving the Earth on the regular, and providing a center for the superhero community. But even with such a generally bright outlook, the FF have suffered their share of tragedies.
As we write thi the team is defunct: the Richards family and remnants of the Future Foundation living outside the universe but believed dead by their friends, colleagues and the Marvel U at large, with Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm serving with the Inhumans and Guardians of the Galaxy, respectively.
And on Thursday, arguably the team's most popular modern writer Jonathan Hickman teased involvement in DC's pending Rebirth. Getting a little meta, Hickman's departure from the Fantastic Four title could be viewed as one of the worst things to happen to the franchise, given the ultimate state of them now.
But even as fractured as they are now, this isn’t the darkest place the team has ever been.
Outside forces such as the FF's villains have given the first family some bad times, but this list goes deeper than that.
Here’s our list of the ten worst tragedies the Fantastic Four have ever suffered in story– and some of them might surprise you.
Secret Wars2 of 12When all the alternate realities of the Marvel Universe began collapsing in on each other, it was the Fantastic Four’s arch-enemy Dr. Doom who saved the universe, combining the shreds of various worlds into his own kingdom. In doing so, he also did his best to erase his hated nemesis Reed Richards from existence, and adopt his wife Sue and children Franklin and Valeria as his family.
Ultimately however, good triumphed over evil (albeit with some unexpected shipping delays) that would see the Richards family reunited, but in a new role outside of the bounds of the Marvel multiverse and believed dead by the Marvel U at-large. That left Johnny and Ben to go their own seperate ways -- to Attilan and space, respectively -- punctuating the official end of the FF for now.
Storm Warning3 of 12Sue and Johnny Storm come from difficult stock – sure, their father was a successful doctor, but he was unable to save his wife in the aftermath of a terrible accident, he became a drunken gambler, eventually facing jail time for his involvement with loan sharks.
Maybe it’s the fact that their own family fell apart so easily that keeps Sue and Johnny committed to their life as Marvel’s first family, with the pair – and the rest of the Fantastic Four – having come through so much tragedy over the years.
It just goes to show – every cloud really does have a silver lining.
Lyja4 of 12Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters were longtime paramours, though when their relationship ended, it was Johnny Storm who wound up marrying the blind sculptress. But not all was as it seemed.
In fact, “Alicia Masters” wasn’t Alicia Masters at all – she was a Skrull named Lyja who was part of a plan to infiltrate the Fantastic Four through seduction. It was Alicia’s father, the villainous Puppet Master, and Ben Grimm who exposed the ruse.
Lyja was seemingly killed when she betrayed her Skrull compatriots. When she was revealed to be alive, she and Johnny fell in love again – though her Skrull connections drove them apart.
Years later, during Secret Invasion, Lyja resurfaced, posing as the Invisible Woman as part of the Skrull invasion. After her defeat, she remained in the Negative Zone, and hasn’t been seen since.
Reed Gone Wrong In Ultimate U5 of 12In the Ultimate Universe, the Fantastic Four were much younger when they received their powers. Reed Richards was a brilliant prodigy whose experiments lead to the team being exposed to the N-Zone, granting them their powers.
After years of teamwork, Sue Storm rejected Reed’s proposal of marriage, Reed got… Dark. Real dark. Faked-his-death-and-killed-his-family dark. Reed went full-on supervillain, orchestrating alien attacks around the world, and eventually beginning an experiment that created an entire race of advanced people and decimated part of Europe.
After appearing in Secret Wars, Ultimate Reed has since resurfaced in the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe, fighting against Sunspot’s Avengers.
Everyone Has Died6 of 12Pretty much all of the Fantastic Four has died – or appeared to have died – at some point. Not all at once, mind you, but they’ve all taken the old dirt nap at least once. Most recently, it’s Johnny who died in a high-profile misadventure in the Negative Zone, where he was torn apart and rebuilt by the Annihilation Wave.
Reed has also been presumed dead, though he was actually flung through time.
Meanwhile, Sue Storm has also died, after being electrocuted by Doom – though this was actually a future version of Sue.
Even Ben Grimm has left this mortal plane -- shot by Reed Richards to avoid Dr. Doom from taking over his body.
The Movies7 of 12The Fantastic Four have had four shots at cinematic glory, and they’ve whiffed every single time. Their first film, a low budget placeholder meant solely to preserve the studio’s copyright, was cartoony and outlandish, though not meant for public consumption.
The next two, a reboot and its sequel, went somewhat deeper into the Fantastic Four mythos, but like the first attempt at a film, were too silly to be taken seriously -- almost coming across as family comedies more than superhero movies.
The latest attempt, released just this summer, de-aged the FF to teen prodigies, and cast a much darker tone for the team. Unfortunately, it also failed to capitalize on its more serious, sci-fi bent, putting forth a hole-filled plot and stilted performances from its cast.
As for when the FF might get another shot at a first impression, chances are slim that it will come any time soon.
Malice8 of 12After Sue Richards suffered a miscarriage thanks to the radiation that gave her her powers, the villainous Psycho-Man used his emotional manipulation powers to turn Sue into Malice, a villainous version of herself and turned her against her family.
Over the years, Malice has resurfaced several times, forcing Sue to battle her own subconscious. But on the plus side, freeing herself as Malice increased her powers to never-before-seen levels, and caused her to change her name from “Invisible Girl” to “Invisible Woman.”
Civil War On Marriage9 of 12Civil War may have been arguably the worst for the Avengers, what with the team splintering and Captain America, you know, dying, but it also had a profound effect on the Fantastic Four as Reed and Sue Richards found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.
Reed joined forces with Tony Stark, helping design new protocols for superheroes, including a prison in the Negative Zone, while Sue found herself allied with Captain America. The split wasn’t reconciled easily – Reed and Sue remained separated for some time after the conflict ended, with the newly married Black Panther and Storm taking their place at the head of the team.
Sue's Miscarriage10 of 12For many years, the darkest moment in the FF’s history came in Fantastic Four #267 when Sue Richards suffered a miscarriage of her second child. When complications from the radiation that bombarded the team and gave them their powers put Sue’s life and the life of her child in danger, Reed turns to Otto Octavius to help. Unfortunately, Octavius is overcome with criminal urges, leading he and Reed to fight before Reed finally convinces Octavius to help. However, by the time they reach the hospital, it’s too late – Sue’s life has been saved, but the baby, whom the Richards name Valerie Meghan Richards, has died.
Of course, years later, the story was somewhat retconned when it was revealed that Valerie’s life was secretly saved, her consciousness transported to an alternate reality by the power of her brother, Franklin Richards, where she was raised as Valeria Von Doom. She has since been reunited with her family, though the memory of Sue’s miscarriage remains one of the darkest chapters in the FF’s history.
Becoming the FF11 of 12Sure, the space flight that gave the FF their powers set them on a path of amazing adventure, but when you get down to it, it was also probably the greatest tragedy the team ever suffered. In fact, it’s been a plot point over the years that the FF’s entire superhero career was a plan by Reed to alleviate and embrace the tragedy suffered by his friends and family.
Undoubtedly the worst to suffer from the FF’s space accident was Ben Grimm, who was forever twisted into the ever-lovin’-blue-eyed Thing. But without that one fateful day, almost none of these other terrible things would have ever occurred. Granted, there would have been no one to repel guys like Galactus and Annihilus, but still…
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