It is less than two weeks until Halloween, and we’re still counting down the days with a look at Marvel Comics’ collection of costumes. You’ll want to come read next week when Wizard Victor concludes the series with a very Halloween appropriate look at costumes (I’m excited about it myself). This week it’s a look at the tailor of the Marvel heroes wardrobes: Reed Richards.
The question of “how does a super hero costume not incinerate when they use their powers” probably comes up often enough to the common reader. The answer is quite simple, really. It’s because of unstable molecules. You’re probably thinking “unstable what now?” Without being too scientific (which I’m generally not) these are costumes made of atoms that, when charged in certain ways, can form in specific ways. What it has enabled the crime fighters to do is worry about having a stable costume as they stop villains in their tracks.
It started with the Fantastic Four. The premise of their powers required that the team have adequate uniforms to practice their feats. The Fantastic Four have fantastic, but unstable powers. Reed Richards, himself, could not stay in regular clothes because he could stretch out of them. The Human Torch burned through common clothing. Invisible Girl couldn’t be completely invisible with outfits on. Ben Grimm, the Thing, was way too bulky covered in rocky skin. The solution came from the space suits Mr. Fantastic made for the flight that accidentally gave the four their powers. Because the mission was such a dangerous and intense travel in the first place the crew needed adequate uniforms. Richards is a scientist…a brilliant scientist…and his invention was the unstable molecules that allowed them travel through deep reaches of space.
But, now, the whole universe of heroes (and sometimes villains) benefit from his invention. These four are not the only characters in the Marvel universe that have crazy and unstable powers. One of the first, and consistent, set of heroes to take on the unstable molecule uniforms is the X-Men. Professor X is a good friend of the Richards and Reed was kind to develop costumes for the mutant team. It’s even helped them blend in with humans at times.
A few of the Avengers have taken Reed up on his tailorship, especially the Wasp and Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Goliath/Yellowjacket (yes, he’s probably had the most name changes). The reason they’ve had these costumes is because of their abilities to shrink and grow in size. Having regular clothes would result in either tearing through them or shrinking out of them. The molecules reshape with them, thus allowing it to grow and shrink as they do.
New Warriors, Power Pack, and most recently Spider-Man (see previous Watcher Wednesday) have all gone to the Reed Richards tailor shop for some new digs. It is because of this I dub Reed Richards the tailor of the Marvel universe.