- I learned that the difference between living and dying is managing fear. Not being afraid so afraid of losing the things you love that you hold them too tight. I used to believe in universal contraction. Entropy and the end of all things. Well, I changed my mind. I'm letting go. Because now I believe in expansion. I believe we endure. Don't you see? Everything lives.
- -- Mister Fantastic
Reed Richards was born in Central City, California the only son of wealthy physicist Nathaniel Richards and his wife Evelyn, was a child prodigy with special aptitude in mathematics, physics, and mechanics. Evelyn died when Reed was seven.
Nathaniel encouraged and guided young Reed in his scientific studies, and Reed was taking college-level courses. Reed entered college at fourteen at CalTech (California Institute of Technology). He also attended Harvard University and M.I.T.. He studied abroad at the University of Vienna in Austria. It is their he met fellow "super-genius"; Alyssa Moy. By the time he was eighteen, had had obtained four degrees in fields such as engineering, math, and physics.
It was when he was working on his fifth at at State University in Hegeman, New York, that Reed Richards first met two of the most important individuals in his life. He was assigned to room with a foreign student, a scientific genius named Victor von Doom. The imperious Von Doom, taking an immediate dislike to Richards, decided to take other quarters. Instead, Richards gained as his roommate former high school football star Benjamin J. Grimm, who became Richards’ closest friend. Richards was already intending to build a starship for interstellar travel. When he told his ambitions to Grimm, Grimm jokingly said that he would pilot the starship for Richards someday.
Doom became obsessed with developing a machine that could project the astral form of a being into other dimensions. Reed pointed out a flaw in Doom's calculations, but Doom arrogantly ignored his warning, feeling that Reed was trying to upstage him. The machine exploded, scarring Doom's face. He was soon expelled for conducting unethical experiments. As Doctor Doom, von Doom would later become Richards’ greatest rival and enemy. Doom blamed Reed for his deformities and he continually tried to prove himself superior to Reed, especially intellectually. They battled many times, but Reed almost always emerged triumphantly.
Reed and Ben later served in the military together. Their time in war increased their trust in each other. Richards also met Nick Fury during World War II.
While attending Columbia University, Richards rented living quarters at the Manhattan boarding house owned by the aunt of a young girl named Susan Storm. Though she was still only a child, no more than twelve years old, Susan fell in love with the older Richards, much to his embarrassment.
Three years before Reed Richards tested his starship, his father mysteriously disappeared. In fact, Nathaniel Richards had devised a time machine which he had used to attempt to journey into the future of his own world. However, the machine actually transported him to an alternate Earth with a history considerably different from our own. Reed Richards would be reunited with him while visiting this alternate Earth years later. Before Nathaniel Richards left his own time, he made arrangements that left two billion dollars to his son. Reed Richards spent most of the money on his project to build and launch his starship. This project, based in Central City, California, received further funding from the federal government.
Richards recruited his old friend Ben Grimm, who had become a successful test pilot and astronaut, to pilot the starship. Richards was joined in California by Susan Storm, who was now an adult. Richards and Storm were dating at the time.
Shortly before the starship was to be launched, Richards used his scientific knowledge to defeat the extraterrestrial being Gormuu, who had intended to conquer Earth. Richards’ encounter with Gormuu strengthened his resolve to finish the starship, which he saw as a first step for mankind to defend itself from extraterrestrial threats.
However, the federal government then threatened to withdraw its funding from the project. Richards decided to take the starship on a test flight himself before the funding was withdrawn. Grimm was opposed to the idea, warning that the starship's shielding might prove inadequate protection from the intense radiation storms. Nevertheless, Grimm was persuaded to serve as pilot, and Susan Storm and her adolescent brother Johnny insisted on accompanying Richards as passengers. The four friends stole onto the launch facility, entered the starship, and blasted off. They intended to travel through hyperspace in the ship to another solar system and back in order to convince the government to reconsider. However, unknown to Richards, a solar flare caused Earth's Van Allen radiation belts to be filled temporarily with unprecedented, ultra-high levels of cosmic radiation. Since the ship was designed to shield against ordinary levels of radiation, the cabin volume was subjected to to intense cosmic ray bombardment which irradiated the four passengers and wrought havoc on the ship's controls. Pilot Grimm was forced to abort the flight and return to Earth.
Once back on Earth, the four passengers discovered that the cosmic radiation had triggered mutagenic changes in their bodies. Reed Richards discovered that his body had become malleable and that he now had the ability to elongate his body at will. Richards convinced the others that the four of them should use their new-found powers for the good of humanity as members of a team he named the Fantastic Four. Richards, who became the team’s leader, named himself Mister Fantastic, while Ben Grimm, Susan Storm, and Johnny Storm named themselves the Thing, the Invisible Girl (later the Invisible Woman), and the Human Torch, respectively. The profits from Richard's patents and royalties funded the team's activities.
Under Richards’ leadership the Fantastic Four has become Earth’s most honored team of superhuman adventurers, and has saved the world from conquest or destruction many times. Richards proposed to and eventually married Susan Storm in a wedding ceremony attended by most of the world's heroes, and they had a son, Franklin.
Franklin proved to be a vastly powerful mutant whose fluctuating abilities have alternately saved or menaced both the Fantastic Four 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 because she felt that he did not regard her as an equal, left her husband and quit the team. She was replaced in the Fantastic Four for an extended period by Medusa of the Inhumans, but Sue reclaimed her spot on the roster after she and Reed finally reconciled. However, Reed and Sue were separated.
A number of Earth's most powerful heroes -- Mister Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Professor X, Iron Man, and Namor -- traveled to Skrullos to confront the Skrull King, informing him that the Earth was strictly off-limits. Upon arrival, however, the heroes were captured and experimented upon before they were able to escape. Mr. Fantastic would later blame himself for the Skrulls increased transforming powers. While the meeting predictably turned violent, the experience would provide the basis for the later establishment of the Illuminati. The secretive group of Earth's most influential heroes would meet only a few times, and these, only to tackle events of extraordinary importance. Reed added the viewpoint and perspective of a scientist.
After losing his powers for a time, Reed was imprisoned and impersonated by the Brute, his then-criminally insane counterpart from the High Evolutionary's Counter-Earth, who ultimately exiled himself to the Negative Zone after finally regaining his senses.
The Fantastic Four 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 Fantastic Four foiled Doom's latest world-conquering plot. Later, seeking a more normal family life, Reed and Sue established a household in small town Belle Porte, Connecticut for a while, living quietly in disguise there as the Benjamin family while continuing to serve with the Fantastic Four 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 Fantastic Four, 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 Fantastic Four altogether to concentrate on raising Franklin, leaving Ben in charge of the group. To replace them, Ben recruited his friend Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura) and Crystal (who had already served as Sue's 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 a demonic 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 remained friends and allies to 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 Fantastic Four 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 rebuffed romantic advances from Namor. Reed was eventually rescued.
The entire Fantastic Four appeared to die in battle with the psychic monster Onslaught. Instead they (and the Avengers) found themselves on Counter-Earth, in a pocket universe Franklin had created to save them. In a sense, they had been reborn and had to start their lives over. Once the heroes on Counter-Earth realized what had happened, they returned to their original homes.
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's 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 Fantastic Four ever.
In the end, Doom was taken by his own demonic benefactors, but not before he hideously disfigured Reed's face as a petty parting gesture. Physically and emotionally scarred, Reed led the Fantastic Four 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 Fantastic Four, allowing Doom to escape long enough to kill the Thing.
Devastated, the remaining Fantastic Four 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 Fantastic Four 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. 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 a parting gift. With the Fantastic Four back together, Reed led them in rebuilding 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 continued to be raising a family, protecting humanity and seeking knowledge in all corners of the universe and beyond.
During the Civil War, Reed Richards was one of the leading figures, along with Iron Man, on the side favoring the Superhuman Registration Act. Reed's true motive for supporting the registration act was due to his development of a working version of Isaac Asimov's (fictional) Psycho history concept. His application of this science indicated to him that billions would die in escalating conflicts without the presence of the act. He speculated that this would lead to conflict with his wife, which came true when a clone of Thor, created by him and Iron Man lost control and killed Goliath and nearly killed all the rest of the Secret Avengers until Sue stepped in and saved them.
Soon after, Sue left Reed, along with Johnny, to join the Secret Avengers in hopes that it would drive Reed to end the conflict quickly. In the final battle of the war, Reed was shot by Taskmaster as he was saving Invisible Woman's life. He survived, however, and Sue returned to him in the aftermath of the battle, having been granted amnesty. With their marriage in jeopardy Reed and Sue agreed to “take a break” from the Fantastic Four to focus on each other. While away on a second honeymoon Reed asked The Black Panther and Storm to take their places on the team.
Reed and Sue reunited with the Four when the Hulk returned to Earth seeking revenge on the Illuminati. Reed was defeated and thrown into Madison Square Garden, which had been turned into a gladiatorial arena by the Hulk. Hulk implanted the Illuminati members with obedience discs and forced them to fight each other. However the Hulk spared them from being forced to kill each other, deciding that he had shown them and that he had proved his point to the world. They survived the encounter by Hulk's mercy and the timely intervention of the Sentry, who weakened Hulk enough for Stark to use prototype defense satellites to negate the Hulk's powers.
After the Human Torch sacrificed himself to save the Baxter Building from the Annihilus's Annihilation Wave, the Fantastic Four disbanded. The Future Foundation started acting in its place.
Due the presence of Reed Richards of alternate universes, Mr. Fantastic made an alliance with many villains such as Mad Thinker, AIM, Wizard, Diablo and High Evolutionary to plan how to stop them. Then they lead the battle to High Evolutionary's city where one of the Richards escaped with Doctor Doom and the others two were captured by the Kree army. After returning to Baxter Building, Richards reunited other heroes to fight the Inhumans in Attilan, but at the time they where preparing to go at the rooftop, a Kree invasion started. Reed used Iron Man's armor and Sue's power to create a force field around Manhattan, at the same time the Cult of the Negative Zone opened the portal to the Negative Zone after Spider-Man failed at stop them, the portal revealed a living Johnny Storm with a enslaved Annihilus.
Then Johnny gathered the team drawing with fire the symbolical "4" at the sky above the Baxter Building. Reed, Sue, Ben and Peter boarded one of the Annihilation Wave's ships controlled by Johnny, who used the rest of the ships to battle the Kree army until the Inhumans asked to finish them by their own hand. Meanwhile the other heroes on Earth where dealing with the scraps of the battle which could damage the Earth, Reed and Sue summons Galactus, who destroys completely the Kree army. That moment, the Mad Celestials appeared to destroy this universe. Although the team tried to use the Hub (a weapon of mass destruction created by the Reeds), they couldn't defeat the Mad Celestials. Then, a future version of Franklin and Valeria appeared as part of Nathaniel Richards's plan. The Future Franklin used his power to heal Galactus and destroy the Mad Celestials, saving the day. Later, the Baxter Building was easily rebuilt, Mr. Fantastic showed a new secondary headquarters called Foundation and new costumes were given to the members of the Future Foundation, as part of the reformation of the Fantastic Four.
After finding out that during one of their explorations he developed a sickness which caused the cells of his body to start degenerating, Reed decided to disguise a travel through time and space to find a cure as a family excursion.
They discovered their sickness had been caused by an overload of their powers, as the abilities of an alternate reality version of themselves had them stripped from them when trying to stop Doctor Doom, who had conquered their Earth. After helping their depowered counterparts from that alternate universe defeat Doom the Annihilating Conqueror, the Fantastic Four re-stabilized their powers and returned home.
Time Runs Out
Reed had returned to form part of the Illuminati with the presence of a new threat: the Incursions, events in which universes collided with their respective planet Earths as the focal point, and the only way to prevent the death of one's own Earth was to destroy the colliding one, for which the Illuminati had to prepare themselves to do "the unthinkable," destroy an innocent planet.
Soon after being forced to confront a colliding Earth inhabited by noble heroes, an event after which none of the Illuminati were willing to destroy that Earth, Namor decided to take matters to his hands and do it.
After Captain America discovered the Illuminati's activities regarding the possible destruction of worlds, he decided that the Illuminati's actions shouldn't be tolerated, and disposed the Avengers to hunt them down.
While on the run, the Illuminati attempted to find numerous times a way to solve the problem of Incursions, from trying to create a new Earth with a Cosmic Cube and then with Franklin Richards' powers, to asking for help to the Celestials. However, all of their plans failed. After setting a trap to Steve Rogers and his forces, both parties managed to reach a middle ground and started working together.
Reed and the Future Foundation began working on vessels capable of surviving the imminent destruction of the Multiverse. When the final incursion took place between Earth-616 and Earth-1610, Mister Fantastic gathered in the life raft every person he could and deployed its measures. When the vessel approached the central point of the incursion, it suffered a hull breach that led to the death of Reed's family.
The life raft reached its destination, whatever thing which was left of the Multiverse, namely Battleworld, a patchwork planet composed of the remnants of different realities, created by Doctor Doom, who had seized the power of the Beyonders as his own. The raft was found five years after Battleworld's creation by Stephen Strange, the sheriff of this planet and right hand to Doom, who kept it hidden in his sanctuary, the Isle of Agamotto, fearing something of great consequence was inside it, but not knowing it was the bodies in stasis of the few other survivors of Earth-616.
With the public discovery of another similar vessel, which was revealed to contain the survivors of Earth-1610, the Maker and the Cabal, Strange investigated the one he had found, and freed Mr. Fantastic and the other survivors. After learning about Battleworld, Reed immediately opposed the idea of such a man as Doom governing everything that was left of reality, and began working together with the Maker, Reed's own counterpart from Earth-1610, to bring him down.
When discord arose in Battleworld as a consequence of the Cabal's meddling, Mr. Fantastic and the Maker infiltrated Doom's castle in Doomstadt while the God Emperor was dealing with the marching forces that opposed him. Mr. Fantastic and the Maker came across an alternate version of Sue Storm who was married to Doom and had his children, realizing that Doom had basically stolen his life. The two Reeds soon came across the Molecule Man, the source of Doom's power.
After discovering Richards' meddling, Doom confronted him, but as he wished to make the fight fair, the Molecule Man reduced his powers. During a furious battle, Doom accused Richards of believing he could've done better had he had Doom's power, and when Reed conceded he did, so did Doom. On the grounds that both agreed, Molecule Man gave his power to Reed, destroying Battleworld in the process.
With the power of a god in his hands, Reed rebuilt Earth-616, bringing all of its inhabitants back with no memories of what had occurred. Mr. Fantastic also brought his family back from the dead, and together with their help, began to reconstruct the entire Multiverse.