Marvel Universe Chronology 01.1:  Reed Richards is an Idiot.

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

For this ongoing series of articles and podcasts, I will be using this website's list of the reading order of the Marvel 616 (main Marvel Universe) - http://cmro.travis-starnes.com/reading-order.php

I had nothing to do with putting that list together but I commend them for such a massive project.  I am also not going to split hairs over whether every single issue listed is exactly where it should be.  It looks good enough to me.  I will be reading these comics and putting a podcast about each one on our Patreon feed if you are interested.  Also, Tonya from When It Was Cool will be reading many of these issues as well.  She has basically zero comic book knowledge, though obviously, knows many of these characters through pop culture and movies.

Reed Richards is an Idiot.

If you have read comic books any time in the last fifty years, then you are probably under the assumption that Reed Richards, leader of the Fantastic Four of Marvel Comics is a genius.  In fact, he is supposed to be one of the smartest people in that entire fictional universe.

Furthermore, his Wikipedia page says, "Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is a founding member of the Fantastic Four. Richards possesses a mastery of mechanical, aerospace and electrical engineering, chemistry, all levels of physics, and human and alien biology. BusinessWeek listed Mr. Fantastic as one of the top ten most intelligent fictional characters in American comics."

But the evidence suggests something else.  The evidence suggest that "Mr. Fantastic" Reed Richards is, in fact, an idiot.

Exhibit 1:  The World's Smartest Man Sets off a Panic in Downtown Because He doesn't Know How to Use the Telephone.

Not a terrorist action.

Not a terrorist action.

The very first time we meet Reed Richards in the Marvel Universe he is doing something very dumb.  As established in part one of our look at the Marvel 616 Universe in chronological order, Reed Richards and the other members of the Fantastic Four reside in Central City.  Eventually, that is forgotten and just changed to "New York City" but whatever the case, the very first time we see Reed Richards, instead of using the telephone to call his three compatriots, he is instead shooting a flare gun out the window of a building and causing everyone in town to panic, including the police.

Exhibit 2:  The Dumb One is Actually the Only Smart One.

reed richards would have you believe that the brutish "Thing' is the dumb one of the fantastic four.  however, the truth is, the thing is the only one with a clue.

reed richards would have you believe that the brutish "Thing' is the dumb one of the fantastic four.  however, the truth is, the thing is the only one with a clue.

Reed Richards is supposedly brilliant enough to build a rocket ship (though not smart enough to shield it as we will see) but when it comes time to apply the scientific method and, I don't know, actually research the thing... nope.  When the dumb ass of the crew calls you out for being and idiot, maybe you are an idiot.  Somehow, the group oaf Ben Grimm, is the only one who realizes this might be a problem.  Turns out, he is exactly right.  I guess Doctor Richards got his doctorate in dumbassery.

Exhibit 3:  Dr. Reed Richards Has No Time For Safety Protocols.

No time for testing, research, or safety, what could possibly go wrong?

No time for testing, research, or safety, what could possibly go wrong?

For a supposed doctor of something-or-other and a scientist, Reed Richards ain't got no time for that.  Reed determines that the "conditions are right tonight" while running like common criminals past a lax security guard.  Yes, Reed Richards, the conditions are indeed right tonight, right for you to nearly kill yourself and three other people because you are an idiot.

Exhibit 4:  Guess What?  The Big Guy Was Right.

the time to worry about the cosmic rays is probably not when you are getting fried by comic rays.

the time to worry about the cosmic rays is probably not when you are getting fried by comic rays.

The time to discover that your fat buddy was right about the cosmic rays is probably not while they are frying your insides.  "They're penetrating the ship!! Our shielding isn't strong enough!"  Who said that before hand?  Not the doctor.  Not Reed Richards.  The big, fat, dumb guy did.

Exhibit 5:  After Almost Killing Three Other People, Reed Richards Refuses to Accept Responsibility.

Sorry i almost killed everyone and turned you into a freak circus but don't blame me!

Sorry i almost killed everyone and turned you into a freak circus but don't blame me!

Along with being a general idiot, there might be a case for Reed Richards also being a sociopath as well.  Despite nearly killing himself and three other people with his recklessness and stupidity he refuses to apologize or even accept responsibility for these actions and actually gets in a near fist fight with the only sane person of the bunch.  Are these the actions of a wise man?  I think not.

Exhibit 6:  Despite Committing Multiple Felonies, Possible Terrorist Acts, and Being an Idiot, Reed Richards Still Thinks He's All That and A Bag of Awesome.

yeah buddy.

yeah buddy.

So, what did Dr. Reed Richards learn from this near death experience?  That the scientific method has checks and balances for a reason?  Nope.  That the fat guy in the room might have a point?  Nope.  That stealing government property and going on a joy ride into space is poor decision making?  Nope.  That firing off a flare gun in downtown New York City is not good judgement?  Nope.  That you are FANTASTIC and people should call you MR. FANTASTIC?  Yep.  No wonder Dr. Doom hates this guy.

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