Mr. and Mrs. Fantastic

Reed and Sue Richards are still married. A loving couple who work together and are raising two children, they've managed to maintain their relationship since 1961. This is something as increasingly rare in the real world as it is in the pages of The Fantastic Four. As Mister Fantastic, Reed's intellect is as great an asset to his team as his ability to stretch his body. But what's truly fantastic is that despite all the things they've faced as both superheroes and parents, their bond has only grown stronger. Sue once suffered a miscarriage. Reed was once presumed dead in an explosion along with his archnemesis Doctor Doom. For months Sue took on the role of team leader, believing her husband still alive somewhere. She remained faithful in the face of romantic advances by Namor, the Sub-Mariner.The team faced many new enemies, including a Reed from a parallel reality, but eventually were reunited with the genuine article.

In younger days I found myself nauseated by the saccarine quality of their relationship, and the constant references to one another as “darling”. As I got older, I began to notice a disturbing trend in the soap-opera-like comics. Sue's younger brother Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, had married a longtime girlfriend of the fourth member of their team, Ben Grimm(The Thing). At some point during the early part of Tom Defalco's run as writer, it was revealed that a shapeshifting alien Skrull had impersonated the real girl, and they were never actually married. This wasn't the first time a comic book marriage had dissolved. In the West Coast Avengers, the marriage between Hawkeye and Mockingbird had dissolved when he learned that she let a villain fall to his death, one who had drugged her and forced her to love him against her will. She was upset that he was more concerned with the villain's fate than his wife's violation, and the two were separated for a long time before nearly reconciling--only for her to be killed by the demonic Mephisto.

I don't know if the writers were emulating the “real” world or if they thought single heroes would be seen as cooler. Even Spider-man's marriage to Mary Jane Watson, one of the stronger and most overdue unions, has suffered. I believe the couple is currently separated after a long period in which she was believed to have died in an explosion. This post would last longer than most marriages if I continued listing all the couples that didn't last. Hank and Jan. Scott and Jean. Bruce and Betty. Namor and Marrina. Be it death or divorce, writers have found ways to separate them. But through all of this, Reed and Sue Richards are STILL married. Let's hope future writers don't get any ideas to change that.

My own parents have stayed together for well over thirty years, having celebrated an anniversary a little over a month ago. I've seen them at their best and at their worst, working together anticipating what the other needs and at each other's throats when disagreements have gotten out of hand. They've come out of the fights stronger and more united, and it's a rare and remarkable thing to behold. In a world where otherwise good shows like Friends have trivialized marriage and divorce in an attempt to make light of the problems we all may face, it's nice to see someone take marriage seriously. Fantastic would be the word for it.


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