Character Issues: Reed Richards

Reed Richards

The Stats:

Name: Reed Richards
Height: 6’1
Weight: 180 lbs
Powers: Malleable Physiology, Super Genius
Type: Stretchy Hero #165
Excels at: Being the smartest guy in world of super-geniuses.
Fails at: Common Sense and being a good parent, husband, friend, teammate, neighbor, role-model…

The Character:

Reed Richards is the patriarch of Marvel’s first family.  As the leader of the Fantastic Four, Reed has saved the planet many times.  His genius and ingenuity is heralded all over the Marvel 616 and is a common trait among Reeds from other realities.  Reed exists as the supreme intellect among earthbound Marvel characters, granting him a position of leadership in the Marvel Superhero community.  Many heroes meet with him when faced with questions that require a scientific answer.  Reed is aware of the limits of his knowledge and often consults with other Marvel geniuses when he encounters threats outside of his areas of expertise except…

The Issues:

When it comes to personal relationships Reed is an abjectly terrible at them.   This is not for lack of effort. He is trying his best but he is a bad parent, a bad husband and literally the worst friend you’ve ever had.  Having Reed care for you means that you will be ignored, mistreated, manipulated or horribly disfigured. Reed cares. He honestly wants peace and safety for his friends and family, just not if if comes at the expense of a scientific discovery or his emotional comfort.  Reed isn’t above telling a bald faced lie to his oldest friend to cover for his deadbeat brother-in-law.  As part as Marvel’s Original Sin Event in 2014, the Human Torch completely ruins a device Reed created to cure Ben Grimm.

Instead of admitting this to Ben, he tells the biggest lie in history while allowing Ben to suffer another soul-crushing disappointment when the procedure doesn’t work.  Remember, Ben is Reed’s BEST friend, imagine how this kind of ‘caring’ extends to his family.  When his son, Franklin, started showing phenomenal abilities, Reed’s special brand of ‘care’ responded in kind…

Reed Richards Shoots Franklin Richards
Reed Richards: Father of the year

Yes.  That is Reed Richards blasting his first born child… in the face with a laser, while Susan Richards cradles the child in her arms.  This is how Mr. Fantastic nurtures…do NOT dispute this claim.  Reed loves hard. He knows that love comes in all forms. Even if that form is a laser to the face.

Disclaimer There are also plenty of panels of Reed being abusive to Susan.  Other writers have used those for comic effect as proof of Reed’s assholery. I won’t… I’m good on that.

The Fix:

Writers have been using Reed’s intelligence a reason for his inability to relate to those around him so why not put him on the Autism Spectrum? Reed’s behaviors superficially fit the description of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome. With some research, a talented writer can add a unique voice to Reed, retcon this into a lifelong diagnosis, making his friends and family fully aware of it.

Have him attending therapy sessions with Doc Sampson due to recent problems in his personal life.  Put the physically abusive Reed Richards on a bus and find a way to retcon his abuse of Susan out of existence. Frankly, it didn’t add anything substantial to either character.  Having Reed aware of his shortcomings while taking action to manage them is a lot more sympathetic than the caring and destructive Reed we have been reading for the last 50 years.

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