Monday, August 3, 2015

FF Week #9--Reed And Ben's War Years?

It's one of the consequences of the cursed sliding time scale,but nobody talks about Reed and Ben's service in WWII very much anymore:

This has really been a forgotten aspect of the characters. They were flippin' war heroes, long before they became super-heroes!

I'm not aware of anyone updating they history, claiming they fought in, say Desert Storm, or Iraq, or whatever, as they've done with Tony Stark. As far as I know, their days as soldiers have just been forgotten.

Of course, if you accept that they fought in WWII, that means that both were probably well into their 30s by the time of their fateful rocket launch, and that's way too old for modern super-heroes (according to some dumbass companies)--hell, in the new film, Reed Richards is apparently a teenager!  (I jest, Miles Teller, but you look so damn young!) So, as it's not vital to their super-hero origins, better to let the matter go ignored, some editors no doubt say, so not to tie them down to a particular era.

But while it may be no longer cool to think of Reed Richards and Ben Grimm as part of the "Greatest Generation," by ignoring their war service, we ignore the fact that they were already brave men, willing to risk their lives for the country, not just a roughneck and a brainiac.

I'm just sayin'.

From Fantastic Four #11 (1963)


Brian said...

I've been recently reading FANTASTIC FOUR from #1 on via the magic of the Digital Unlimited app (I've taken a break just before the Englehart run to jump back to read more old 70s AVENGERS issues, but I'll get back to the foursome soon), and I've noted how the nature of their origins pre-cosmic rays really played into a better balanced and less-overly specialized group of characters. A Reed Richards who was an OSS man crawling through occupied France was the sort of guy who was as likely to Kirby-punch Victor von Doom as try and come up with an odd gadget – and that odd gadget would often be a sort of gun that took advantage of him being a crack shot from the war. Likewise (as you've noted before), test pilot and astronaut Ben Grimm was a smart and technically-apt guy in his own right – the main thing stopping him from building or flying things was his weird fingers not his brain (in fact, there was a beautiful irony in Ben was the one who saw the technical errors in Reed's rocket plan before its failure and their disfigurements just like Reed was the one who saw the technical errors in Victor's necromancy-machine plan before its failure and his own disfigurement – that's a connection that is drawn out any longer). Even Johnny, in an age where heroes actually aged, was a young gearhead who built the first Fantasticar and was expected to become a proper engineer rather than get locked by the sliding timeline into eternal post-adolescence (Sue didn't get much love from the Stan & Jack era, although she of all of the Four made up for it later on).

I think the sliding timeline as well as changing natures of the creative teams (to be perfectly honest, I don't see many folks at Marvel today who would be interested in seeing a military record as a good thing for a character – for all the talk of diversity, there's a political myopia in comics today) has made it such that we're not going to see the FF as veterans any longer. It's a bad thing all around, because you're losing something that added a lot to the characters and that one has to hand-wave too much to fill in the spaces on – and then you end up with ultra-genius Reed, bruiser Ben, etc. in the place of rounded characters...

anthrax2525 said...

I know I'm getting way too picky, but -
If Ol' Ben was a Marine pilot, why's he flying a P-38 Lightning? He should be in an F4U Corsair, or even an F6F Hellcat. Wrong service entirely...

BK said...

Loved the vet FF. Still made sense in the 70s but not so much in the 80s; they were contemporaries to Captain America and Nick Fury whose greatest years were to come AFTER the war. There was a day when all superheroes were (or seemed to be) in their 30s and 40s, in part because I was a kid reading about them, in part because the men writing them were. This made Spidey exceptional.

I still like the idea of the FF as the First Family, the first superheroes of the Marvel Universe. Imagine if they had simply been kept that way, aging slower than others because of their mutations, plus time travel, space travel, Reed's science, etc. Battle-hardened. Super-experienced and knowledgeable. The FF movie should be set in the 60s.