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Doctor Doom, Richard Reed, Invincible Man, Reed Benjamin, "Man in the Mystery Mask", Mister "Elastic"
United States of America
Place of Birth
Central City, California
Fantastic Four #1 (1961)
Brown, graying at temples
One of the bravest adventurers and most brilliant scientific minds of his generation, Reed Richards was born to Evelyn Richards and her husband Nathaniel, a scientific genius whose inventions and discoveries made their family quite wealthy. Evelyn died when Reed was only seven, and Nathaniel was left to raise Reed on his own, nurturing the boy's obvious intellectual prowess and seeing to his education. Taking college-level courses at age 14, Reed attended four different universities, earning various degrees before he was out of his teens and studying under distinguished mentors such as Noah Baxter, Harmon Furmintz and Roderick van Nuys.
While attending State, Reed met fellow student Victor Von Doom, an egotistical and unstable genius who refused Reed's offer to room with him. Instead, Richards roomed with football scholarship student Ben Grimm, who became Reed's best friend. Amused by Reed's dream of someday creating a starship, Ben jokingly promised he would fly it if Reed ever built it. Reed's other notable college peers included Randolph James (Futurist), Janus the Nega-Man, and possibly Alyssa Moy. Reed's many scientific colleagues included Abe Jankovitz, Harvey Jessup (Great Coordinator), and Phillip Zolten Rambow. During his time at State, Doom pursued a rivalry with Reed, trying to prove himself the superior intellect. When Doom built a machine designed to contact the afterlife, Reed tried to warn him that his calculations were slightly off; but the proud Doom refused to listen and the device blew up in his face, leaving him badly scarred and expelled from the university.
An early brush with the fantastic came when Reed helped expose and capture an extraterrestrial spy at college, the amnesiac Zankor of the Skrull race; young Reed turned the spy over to the super heroic First Line team, which helped them stop a subsequent full-scale Skrull invasion (albeit at the cost of many of their lives). While attending Columbia, Reed met the much younger Sue Storm, his landlady's niece, who was instantly smitten with him. Reed received her interest awkwardly at first, but they later dated steadily during Sue's own college years; Reed also befriended Sue's kid brother, Johnny. After college, Reed did military work that took him overseas, after which his old friend Alyssa Moy manipulated him into helping her rescue Asian ruler Prince Bayan from the rogue General Lao-Tse. After taking a job with Demarco Laboratories in France, Reed teamed with Alyssa and Professor Francesca Fisher on a quest for the mystical artifact known as the Claw of Bast, which they recovered despite interference from Reed's old rival, Doom. Reed shared several other adventures with Alyssa around the world, even proposing to her at one point, though they parted as friends. Returning to America and Sue, Reed secured government funding for his starship project and asked Ben-now a successful test pilot and astronaut-to fly the mission.
One of Reed's earliest and closest super heroic friends was the Sentry, a supremely powerful and beloved costumed hero who predated even the FF; however, in order to neutralize the Sentry's evil counterpart, the Void, Reed was forced to erase the world's memories of the Sentry, including Reed's own memories, and the Sentry languished in forgotten obscurity for years. Reed led the FF against many foes, notably Namor the Sub-Mariner, a misguided Atlantean warrior who became Reed's rival for Sue's affections; the Wizard, an evil genius who founded his own criminal Frightful Four in envious imitation of Richards; and Reed's old college foe Victor Von Doom, who had become the armored super-villain Doctor Doom and had seized the throne of his native Latveria. Determined to conquer the world and destroy Richards, Doom quickly became the FF's most frequent and formidable opponent. Namor, meanwhile, became a valued friend and ally to the FF, though Sue ultimately married Reed regardless.
Their first child, Franklin, proved to be a vastly powerful mutant whose fluctuating abilities have alternately saved or menaced both the FF and the world, forcing Reed to take steps to contain Franklin's powers; on one such occasion, Franklin's mind was temporarily shut down. An outraged Sue, already resentful of Reed at this point as she felt he did not regard her as an equal, left her husband and quit the team. She was replaced in the FF for an extended period by Medusa of the Inhumans, but Sue reclaimed her spot on the roster after she and Reed finally reconciled. After losing his powers, Reed was imprisoned and impersonated by the Brute, his then-criminally insane counterpart from the High Evolutionary's Counter-Earth, who exiled himself to the Negative Zone after he finally regained his senses.
The FF even broke up for a while, during which time Doom hypnotized Reed into capturing his former teammates as the Invincible Man. The team regrouped after Reed took a solo space flight into the Van Allen radiation belts, guided by information from colleague Stephen Beckley (later Comet Man), regaining his powers at amplified levels, and the FF foiled Doom's latest world-conquering plot. Later, seeking a more normal family life, Reed and Sue established a household in small town Belle Port, Connecticut for a while, living quietly in disguise there as the Benjamin family while continuing to serve with the FF in their original identities.
After a conflict during which he mercifully spared the life of the planet-eater Galactus, Reed found himself placed on trial in an interstellar court by survivors of the many worlds Galactus had consumed; but Reed was exonerated once the last-minute testimony of Eternity proved to the court that Galactus was a necessary aspect of the cosmos. On the family front, Sue's second child was stillborn despite Reed's frantic efforts to save their unborn baby; Reed discovered that his own long-lost father Nathaniel was living a new life with a new family on Other Earth; and an embittered Thing quit the Fantastic Four, partly because a well-intentioned Reed had withheld information from him regarding the state of Ben's ability to resume human form, an ability Ben lost due in part to Reed's misinformation. Ben's hand-picked replacement, She-Hulk, served a long stint with the FF, but eventually left after Ben finally reconciled with the group and rejoined their ranks.
Seeking a more normal family life again, Reed and Sue retired from the FF altogether to concentrate on raising Franklin, leaving Ben in charge of the group. To replace them, Ben recruited his friend Ms. Marvel and Crystal (who had already served as Sue's FF substitute during and after Sue's first pregnancy); however, Reed and Sue's retirement was short-lived. After teaming with several Avengers to rescue a captured Franklin during the demonic Inferno invasion, Reed and Sue reluctantly agreed to join the Avengers, who were critically short-handed at the time. But Reed was too accustomed to leadership himself to serve smoothly under Captain America for long, so Reed and Sue amicably stepped down from active Avengers membership after only a few missions with the team; they later resigned their Avengers membership altogether after rejoining the Fantastic Four. They remain friends and allies with the Avengers, though.
When Reed and Doom seemingly died as a result of their conflict with the alien Hunger, they were actually spirited away by the space-time-warping Hyperstorm, mad son of an alternate-future Franklin Richards. Hyperstorm kept Doom as a tortured captive and trapped Reed in the distant past for months, during which time the world believed both Reed and Doom to be dead. In Reed's absence, Sue took over leadership of the FF and served capably in the role, recruiting Ant-Man as the team's new scientist; however, she refused to believe Reed was truly dead, and she rebuked romantic advances from her old flame, Namor. Reed was eventually rescued, but the entire FF soon appeared to die in battle with the psychic monster Onslaught, though they secretly survived in a new "Counter-Earth", parallel world created instinctively by Franklin. They eventually returned to Earth.
An even more surprising resurrection unfolded during the team's reality-warping conflict with the cosmic being Abraxas, when Franklin revealed he had used his powers to rescue Sue's seemingly stillborn second child years earlier, and that this child had been raised in an alternate future to become the Marvel Girl (Valeria Von Doom), who was now an ally of the present-day Fantastic Four. As a side-effect of Abraxas' defeat, Marvel Girl was restored to her original state, as an unborn child in Sue's womb. This time, Sue's pregnancy resulted in the birth of a healthy baby girl, christened Valeria in memory of Doctor Doom's first love. (Doom had insisted on naming the child in exchange for assisting with the difficult birth.) Later, Doom would exploit his special bond with the child to employ her as a mystical familiar, using sorcery to mount one of his most ruthless and terrifying attacks on the FF ever.
In the end, Doom was taken by his own demonic benefactors, but not before he hideously disfigured Reed's face as a parting gesture. Physically and emotionally scarred, Reed led the FF into Doom's now-leaderless Latveria, where he worked obsessively to dismantle Doom's regime, neutralize his arsenal, erase Doom's legacy and create a better state, becoming increasingly tyrannical himself in the process and ignoring threats of international criminal charges from the United Nations. At the same time, unknown even to his teammates, Reed was secretly plotting to retrieve Doom from Hell and place him in a specially prepared other-dimensional prison from which he could never escape; but this transfer was unwittingly interrupted by the rest of the FF, allowing Doom to escape long enough to kill the Thing.
Devastated, the remaining FF returned to America where their standing with the authorities and their reputation with the general public had taken a terrible beating due to the Latverian controversy. The FF broke up, Reed and Sue split up, and Reed was even forced to sign over most of his patents to the government as part of a deal to escape prosecution. However, Reed was certain that Ben could be resurrected, and he convinced Sue and Johnny to join him in this quest, which ultimately led them to the gates of Heaven itself using a modified model of Doom's old afterlife machine. Persuaded it was not yet his time, Ben agreed to return to the land of the living with his friends-and the Creators allowed it, even healing Reed's facial scars as an added boon. With the FF back together, Reed lead them in trying to rebuild their reputations and their finances. For a time, he also steered the team into taking on more conventional civilian occupations as life experience; but his chief goals continue to be raising a family, protecting humanity and seeking knowledge in all corners of the universe and beyond.