#556 cover by
By Jim Beard
Though the Fantastic Four may command attention with the greatest super hero action and adventure in the Marvel Universe, they've rarely been masters of their own hearts.
In FANTASTIC FOUR #554, the first issue by red hot new creative team writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch, the re-appearance of Alyssa Moy, the
old flame of Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, only serves to hammer home the frailty of the human heart—especially one irradiated by cosmic rays.
Susan Storm Richards, the indispensable Invisible Woman, possesses an enormous capacity for love—and forgiveness. The story of the Fantastic Four unfolded upon the backdrop of Sue's romance and marriage to Reed Richards, the man she's loved since
young adulthood. A partnership of strength and trust, those qualities have been mightily tested day after day, year after year, with the ups-and-down of Reed and Sue's very, very unique and public life as heroes and adventurers.
Despite a marriage weathered by turmoil and tumult, Sue maintains her loyalty and devotion to Reed. However, one man, one titan of legend, has ever realistically challenged Reed for the Invisible Woman's heart: Namor the Sub-Mariner. The Monarch of Atlantis appears as a figure of mystery and romance on Sue's horizon, yet she's regularly resisted Namor's allure for years, knowing full well that those seas would prove far more rough and choppy than those found at home.
Johnny Storm's passions burn as hot as the fire that engulfs his body, fickle and flighty as flame itself. The Human Torch has welcomed the company of many a female, and from Dorrie Evans to Crystal the Inhuman to the exotic Namorita, Johnny has forged a path littered with Cupid's arrows. No one girl has ultimately captured the undying devotion of that hunk-a-hunk-a burning hero—but one in particular came extremely close.
Falling in love with and marrying Ben Grimm's former sweetheart, Alicia Masters, Johnny later made the horrifying discovery that he owed his wedded bliss to a shape-shifting Skrull named Lyja. Even after her fiery revelation as a faux-Alicia, Johnny and Lyja attempted to live together in honesty,
but things eventually fell apart and to this day the Human Torch continues to carry a flame for both his phantom bride and the alien girl that touched his heart.
One might think the rocky hide of The Thing would make him impervious to love or affection, but in his way Benjamin J. Grimm, may be the most romantic member of the Fantastic Four. Before his transformation by cosmic rays, Ben had his heart neatly broken in two by college student Alynn Chambers, a girl who later suffered horrible disfigurement. When Alynn sought his help, the Thing taught her the importance of not judging a book by its cover. Later, at the time of that fateful rocket trip, Dr. Linda McGill found herself tested in the crucible of Ben's hideousness. The test proved too much for both and their paths diverged.
A blind sculptress by the name of Alicia Masters healed Ben in more ways than he could ever hope to number. Alicia loved the monstrous hero unequivocally and he in
& Ben Grimm
turn blessed every day spent with her. Wild and chaotic circumstances drew them apart and then brought them together again, and though Ben currently appears to be playing the field one suspects Alicia will always and eternally be his one true love.
A flexible man would seem able to expand his heart to encompass many women, but not so with Dr. Reed Richards, popularly known as Mr. Fantastic. He's strictly a one-woman guy, with a single focal point to his romantic research—but not always.
The specter of Alyssa Moy hangs over the Richards' lives as a reminder of Reed's past before Sue. Such was the impact of Alyssa on Reed; with
Alyssa possessing both beauty and genius-level intellect to match Reed mind to mind, he once proposed marriage to her. Fate had other plans, though, and the two good-looking scientists went their separate ways. Reed fashioned a rocket, took his best pal and his new girlfriend and her brother aboard and blasted off into a new life. The rest is history.
Now, Alyssa Moy returns. Sue says she's okay with her return to Reed's life, no problems to mention. Their marriage has survived everything else, will it survive Alyssa's latest plea for assistance to Reed in FANTASTIC FOUR #555. The entire Fantastic Four have old flames on their back burners, and their shared past helps them keep them at arm's length—for now.
FANTASTIC FOUR #556, the next chapter in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's opus hits stands, but before that you can read the first 100 issues of FF with Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.