Fantastic Four: Life Story rewrites the story of Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, eliminating the friendship between two of Marvel’s most iconic heroes.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Fantastic Four: Life Story # 1 by Mark Russell, Sean Izaakse, Nolan Woodard and Joe Caramagna on sale now.
Fantastic Four: Life Story # 1, much like Spider-Man: Life Story before, it tries to condense and retell the history of the publications of its titular heroes until the decade. Of course, there must be some notable differences here and there, keeping things from being a strict retelling of comic book history.
The Spiderman The story only began to diverge from the main Marvel continuity in its second part, but Fantastic Four: Life Story makes some major changes to Marvel’s First Family early on. One of the biggest changes involves the Fantastic Four’s core friendship, with Reed and Ben not even meeting at the beginning of the story.
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Ben Grimm in Fantastic Four: Life Story
On Fantastic Four: Life Story # 1, the team reunites to fly one of Reed’s experimental spacecraft into the stratosphere before the project that funded it is officially dismantled. Yet even with his experience, Reed still needs someone to pilot the ship, with neither Sue nor Johnny Storm (who makes his way into the group out of sheer excitement) being equipped for the task. Johnny, however, supposedly knows the guy to ask.
They run into Ben Grimm at a bar, and Grimm snorts his regrets for recently losing his job due to the demanding nature of his boss. From there, Ben signs up for the mission without much hesitation, though the first signs of feuding with Reed show up before the team takes off. It is never explained at all how Johnny met Ben randomly, and his only response to Sue when asked was a rather shy smile. This diminishes one of the best friendships in the comics, and in doing so removes the tragic elements of the story later on.
Mister fantastic and the friendship of things
In just about every other version of the Fantastic Four’s origins, Reed Richards and Ben Grimm go back much earlier, though the length of their friendship has ranged from college, high school to even being neighbors, by the story. This element was even kept in what would otherwise be wildly different. Fan4stic 4 movie, which makes the absence of their friendship in this story incredibly egregious.
It causes Ben to join the team completely at random, rather than being the dramatic culmination of the friendship of two completely different men. It’s this closeness to Ben that later makes Reed feel so guilty about his mutation into the Thing, as even with his intelligence, he can’t give his best friend back the humanity that essentially had him taken away.
Typical stories involving Thing’s monstrous form are told here, but they lack their typical weight due to Reed having absolutely no connection to Ben from before his trip to space. Basically, this turns Reed’s biggest failure into collateral damage. The fact that it’s Johnny who somehow knows Ben only makes things worse. Ben and Johnny’s relationship has also been strained but close over the years, with the angry curmudgeon Thing typically punching himself with the spoiled, attention-seeking human torch. There is no glimpse of that here, and it is unlikely to play out in future issues. Thus, by randomizing Ben Grimm’s role in the Fantastic Four, this retelling of his life story ruins two of the team’s greatest friendships.
KEEP READING: Fantastic Four: Life Story # 1 brings the FF back to the early days
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