The Fantastic Four may be the most beloved superhero team and family in Marvel Comics. They were the first team to usher in the silver age of comics and the first to show how science could be a perfect foundation for creating superheroes. But instead of showing these characters only as superheroes, their stories were more about adventures and exploring the unknown as a family. As a result, they have represented something totally new in the superhero genre because they are the physical embodiment of achieving the impossible. With that, there has been an everlasting purity and true north tied to her presence in the Marvel Universe. But thanks to the Multiverse, not all iterations share such positive parallels.
When Jonathan Hickman started working on Fantastic four, introduced concepts that would impact the Marvel Universe for years to come. However, his additions also introduced an even broader level of understanding of just how important the team has been to the universe as a whole. But with each version of the team in different realities, there are some that are far less noble than Earth-616. A great example of this was in Fantastic four #605.1 (by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Choi), where the classic team was introduced in an era when Hitler won World War II and took over the world.
Fantastic Four 605.1 twisted the classic origin of the first Marvel family
The origin of The Fantastic Four is etched in comic book history when a group of four individuals travel into space and are bombarded by cosmic rays. But in this alternate reality, Reed Richards is a scientist appointed by Hitler to build a team to travel into space, inspiring his empire. Reed and Sue are loyal followers of Hitler who literally fought a room of other contenders to be worthy of the trip, while Ben Grimm was taken from a concentration camp to be a pilot. To make matters worse, Reed, admiring Viktor Von Doom’s intelligence, took a piece of his mind to put his own. Their origins alone showed that this version of the team was more ruthless and angry than any other iteration, making them incredibly dangerous.
There is also a degree of selfishness to his journey, as Reed traveled on Earth-616 out of a scientific desire to discover. In this reality, Reed did it because he was told that he would inspire people from him. Each of his powers, instead of focusing on his personality traits, focused on his desires and emotions. After hitting the cosmic rays, Ben transformed into a new version of The Thing, while Sue turned to flame and Johnny to ice.
On the other hand, Reed expanded his mind, leading him to pit his team against each other, kill Hitler, and expand the Reich with the Infinity Stones. But instead of Reed traveling in the void after destroying the planet, he was introduced to Reed’s Council and inspired to solve the world’s problems with like-minded people. As a result of this revelation, it became clear why Reed Richards was so concerned about how cold and calculating the council was, since they had all removed his connection to the rest of the Four. That being said, exploring this dark iteration of the team led to an indisputable fact about the original team of Earth-616.
Why is Marvel’s Fantastic Four Mainstream So Important?
The beauty of alternate realities lies primarily in the ability for the creators to show how a classic story could be skewed for better or worse. Or, even more interesting, how a minute detail could mean a world of difference in the grand scheme. That being said, one unwanted but essential aspect of alternate realities is how it can put the main universe on an unbeaten pedestal. But with a team like The Fantastic Four, this is best shown as no matter the version, Earth-616 is the reality with the best and most important iteration of all.
The darker version of the FF proved that one wrong move could make Reed and his team truly dangerous, but it also reaffirmed what makes the 616 team the best. From their intense love for each other to their loyalty through thick and thin, it’s clear that the team is nothing without each member looking out for one another. If Reed was away from Sue, his mind could lead to dark decisions. Conversely, if Sue doesn’t punish Ben or Johnny from time to time, they could become unpredictable. As various realities have shown, the Fantastic Four aren’t fantastic if they don’t trust each other unconditionally.