Thursday, January 16, 2014
Pipe Smoker (fictional): Reed Richards
Reed Richards is a fictional character from the Marvel Comics universe, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and first appeared in The Fantastic Four #1 in 1961.
Richards was the only son of physicist Nathaniel Richards and his wife, Evelyn. Reed was a child prodigy, excelling in mathmatics, physics and mechanics, taking college-level courses when he was only 14. While attending State University at Hegeman, NY, he became the room-mate of football star Benjamin Grimm. Richards' dream was to someday build an interstellar spaceship, and Grimm joked that if Richards ever did, he would pilot it. Later he and Grimm served in the military together.
While attending Columbia University, he rented a room in a boardinghouse owned by the aunt of Susan Storm, then only 12 years old.
Nathaniel Richards eventually mysteriously disappeared (but that's another story), but had made arrangements to bequeath Reed with two billion dollars, which Reed used to fund his spaceship project, in addition to getting funding from the government. By the time he had finished it, Grimm had become an astronaut and test pilot, so Richards did indeed recruit him to pilot his new spaceship. Richards decided to launch the ship on a test flight before government funding was withdrawn. Susan Storm, now an adult, had joined him and was dating him at the time. She insisted that she and her younger brother Johnny accompany them as passengers. Benjamin Grimm was against the test flight, because he believed the the ship had inadequate shielding to protect them from cosmic radiation.
After the launch, an unexpected solar flare caused the Van Allen radiation belt to fill with intensely high levels of radiation, so they returned to Earth, but not before they had been exposed to the radiation.
And of course, that meant that they soon discovered they had super-powers.
Ben Grimm was the worst off, being essentially turned into a human rock and called himself the Thing. Susan Storm gained the ability to become invisible and manipulate force fields and became the Invisible Woman. Her brother Johnny was able to turn himself into a human torch and called himself the Human Torch.
Reed Richards became Mister Fantastic, with a body that now had super-stretch powers. He called his new team of superheroes the Fantastic Four. So there you go.
See also: Professor Richard Impossible