The Core of the Four
By WnCg

When asked to write something for this Fantastic Four Tribute site, I originally declined. The reason being is that I don't read the Fantastic Four-in fact I've only read two regular issues, and some collected stuff of their first appearances. Beyond that, I know very little on the characters to the point where you would have to give me the "Idiots Guide to the Fantastic Four" to figure out just what the heck is going on.

So I started thinking about it, recalling all of the little tidbits I did know about the FF: There were four of them, occasional members included She-Hulk, Ant Man, Ms. Marvel, and a handful more. They had a kid, whose name was Franklin. They lived in a really kick ass high rise building with a 4 at the top. They rode around in some funky sled that could disconnect into smaller sleds. They fought Galactus a time or two, and met the Silver Surfer. They also met the Inhumans, and fought aliens called the Skrulls.

Outside of that, I know nothing about them. But did I really need to know anymore outside of that to understand these characters who have survived for decades? After all, what makes them so popular with fans that they can sustain comics, cartoons, and action figures for over 37 years and still keep on trucking? So I began to reflect upon what I knew of the team.

Was it the super powers? After all, Mr. Fantastic could stretch himself into just about any shape imaginable. His big bands frequently catching his falling teammates, or giving them the added boost they needed to catch the evil doer. Or was it The Invisible Woman's ability to project invisible force fields, protecting her teammates? The Human Torch was literally a human torch that could fly and hurl fireballs at his opponents. The Thing was a huge giant orange rock that could kick the snot out of just about anyone they encountered. All interesting and dynamic powers in there own right. However could this be the explanation for their continued success after all this time? Was this the core of the Fantastic Four? Possibly, but often times powers don't make the core of the character(s), and when they do usually the character doesn't stick around very long. But that wasn't the case here, as the FF has survived for decades.

So what if it was something else at these four character's core that made them so enduring. What if it was the fact they were a family? Look at it--back when they were created in November of 1963 it was the height of the nuclear family. Nuclear families tend to have four members of their family, and in the case of the Fantastic Four it fit perfectly to a T. Reed was the father, protecting his family as well as supporting them, while Sue often times played the mother figure to both Johnny (her brother) and Ben. Then naturally Reed and Sue had a child-Franklin-- thus continuing with the concept of family.

It's rather funny though if you think about. Some of the most enduring characters of our time have lost their families in some way: Superman was orphaned when Krypton exploded; Batman lost both parents to violence as did Spider-Man with his Uncle Ben. These heroes for which we continue the legacy for all lost a key component in everyone's lives-family. So here we have a group of people who haven't lost anything, but gained something. They grew closer, and became more than just a super-hero team but an actual family that looks out for one another and cares for each other like families do.

In today's world where broke homes, absent parents, and just a break down of family values and communication is spreading like a virus throughout our nation the Fantastic Four bring a ray of light to that classic ideal of family. That even through the deaths, births, and life altering events we all go through family will still be there to support you. It brings something a lot of folks need-they bring a sense of hope.

I guess I don't need to read all of those stories about this quartet. It's clear to me now why these characters are so loved. At their core they are a family above all else, and it is the hope and ideals they carry that makes them so appealing to everyone young and old. The Fantastic Four is really the Fantastic Family.