You'll All Be Sorry

Mon, March 6th, 2000 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Gail Simone, Guest Contributor

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Dear Readers,

Heya! I know that you've come to expect intensively-researched pieces from me, and I've sworn never to let you down in that regard. But I changed my mind. Here's this week's piece! Excelsiad! 'Nugg Said! Make Mike's Marvel!

[Fantastic Four: A Family In Crisis]

A contented Reed Richards is sitting on his beloved son's bed, reading to him as Franklin sits enraptured, in his room in the Baxter Building or the Four Freedoms Plaza or wherever the Hell it is that they're living at now…

REED: …and the Quantum Theory of electroweak interactions begins with four massless particles, a proton, the charged W+ and W, and the neutral Z. Experiments indicate that the Ws and Z must be massive, but adding mass to the theory spoils its mathematical consistency. What do you think about that, Franklin?

FRANKLIN: It's cool, daddy! Say again about the S'clars…

REED: I think SOMEONE is trying to stay up past his bedtime!

FRANKLIN: Oh, please, daddy! The S'clars! They're my favorite!

REED: All right, you little rascal. Well, the theory states that three of the SCALARS are "eaten" by the Ws and Z, giving those particles mass. This of course brings up the problem of quantum gravity, but that's a bedtime story for another night, young man. Now, turn off that light and get to bed, no arguments!

FRANKLIN: (Suddenly thoughtful and pensive…) 'K. Love you, daddy. G'night…

REED: Something on your mind, son?

FRANKLIN: Well…sorta…

REED: (Sitting back down on the bed…) Now, Franklin. In THIS house, or building or warehouse or whatever, we don't keep secrets, right?

FRANKLIN: Right. Okay, well…daddy, why are mommy and Uncle Ben and Uncle Johnny such idiots?

REED: (Shocked…) FRANKLIN!

FRANKLIN: But they ARE! They're all so STUPID! They don't understand physics or math'tics or ANYTHING! They can't do ANYTHING without you, and when you build inventions they just walk by and say, "That's nice, Reed" or "Ho-hum, Reed's built a Quantum 'porter" or like that. They're so DUMB! You ALWAYS end up figuring out how to beat the bad guys, and they don't do ANYTHING! It should be the Fantastic ONE! They're just dead weight!

REED: That was a Quantum TRANSporter, son.

FRANKLIN: They're STUPID!

Reed silently gets up from Franklin's bed, and waves his hand over a sensor near the doorway on the boy's wall, causing the door to electronically shut and lock.

REED: Okay, Franklin…I've been waiting for you to ask me this question. You see, it all started because I was a forty-year-old virgin and your mom was a real PIECE back then…

FRANKLIN: Piece of WHAT, daddy? Was mommy a piece of candy?

REED: Oh, yes, son…a piece of sweet, sweet candy! With hair like a football helmet and a rack that--well, you came along and pretty much ruined that, but still, grRRRoooOOOOowwwll!

FRANKLIN: Haha! Make that funny noise again, daddy!

REED: …Maybe later, son. See, back in those days, Uncle Ben and I were WWII veterans, which would make me about, let's see, eighty seven years old now, I suppose, and we were trying to beat the Reds to the moon. Yessir, the race was ON, back then…

[---------------]

1966: REED'S LABORATORY

SUE STORM: I don't see why I have to go to the dirty ol' moon with you, Reed Richards. I don't even LIKE you very much. You smell like a Bunsen Burner.

REED: It's the MOON, Sue! Listen - The Russkies have already launched a satellite. In two years, they'll be on the moon. Where's your national pride? Where's your sense of adventure?

SUE: (Pouting…) Well, what's the moon LIKE, anyhow? Is it hot, like the sun? Should I bring a bikini?

REED: Well, no, actually, the temperatures will be below freezing, and there's no atmosphere, but maybe you should MODEL the bikini, what color is it, go put it on put it on oh for the love of GOD put it on!

JOHNNY: (Coming into the lab, snapping his fingers…) Hey, sis! You still talkin' to the egghead here? Didn't you say he smelled like a Biology experiment?

SUE: He wants me to go to the moon with him, Johnny, and it's really cold there, I guess, and it's like, my least favorite planet anyway. I'd much rather go to Pluto or Star Trek or China. One of the nice planets that's not so dirty.

JOHNNY: Hey, if you two are going to China, I wanna go! I've never been in a rocketship. Man, I want to burn some space rubber! Zoom! Ka-pow!

SUE: Is it hot on China, Reed?

REED: Well, first of all, China is a country, not a planet, and second, Star Trek isn't a planet, either, it's a television show, and strictly speaking, the moon isn't a planet either.

JOHNNY: Do they have Martians on the moon?

SUE: Oh, I don't speak Mars. I don't even speak France!

JOHNNY: Man, I can't wait to get me some of that cheese they have on Mars! This'll be even BETTER than China!

SUE: I guess I could learn some France…How do you say, "I won't let you touch me there, Reed" in France? Or, "I'm doing your best friend, Reed" in France?

Ben Grimm enters…

BEN: Just SLAP HIM REAL HARD, Suzy. Old Brainy needs a good SLAPPIN' once in a while. Creepy little science jerk! Every time I see him, I just want to BEAT HIM SENSELESS.

SUE: Hi, Ben! We were just talking about you!

REED: (Nervously…) Oh, hi, Benjamin! Nice to see you!

BEN: CAN it, you ugly toad! I heard you're taking a flying saucer to the planet of China and I WANT IN, or it's CLOBBERIN' TIME.

REED: Heh, well, Ben, you know, I mean, I'd LOVE to have you go, but the weight ratio and the fuel storage…!

SUE: Of COURSE you can come, Ben. Reed could ride on the outside! He doesn't mind!

REED: Well, Sue, see…now there again, the problem is that the heat of the liftoff and the friction, and then the cold and lack of oxygen would kill me, with almost 100% certainty. It's actually the statistical equivalent of a certainty, but being a man of science, I prefer to not deal in absolutes where the future is concerned. However, I think I can deliver a personal guarantee that I'd be killed approximately two seconds after countdown, give or take a millisecond…

SUE: Oh, now you're just being a big fat BORE, Reed. Ben can come. It'll be FUN! Now, it'll be below freezing, so we should all bring sweaters…

BEN: Yeah, heh…it'll be FUN. I can see you and me kissing in them rings around the planet, Suzy. Maybe we could do it Pluto-style, you know?

SUE: Oh, Ben, you bad boy! Tee hee!

JOHNNY: Can I take my hot rod to China with us? I want to impress the Martian chicks!

SUE: Giggle! Silly Johnny! You don't speak France! How would you TALK with them? And we're not going to China. China is a TELEVISION SHOW, you big dope!

BEN: I see London, I see France. I'd eat Suzy's underpants!

SUE: giggle!

JOHNNY: You know what I don't get on Star Trek? That blonde chick who likes the ear guy. What's HER deal?

REED: I don't think you all understand. See, the FUEL has to be carefully portioned out, it's extremely heavy and volatile, and, well, basically, if we take Ben, there's no way we'll have enough fuel to get home, you see? Essentially, we'll just float around in orbit until we starve to death, or run out of oxygen.

JOHNNY: Man, you talk a LOT. You sound like the ear guy. Hey, I just realized I forgot my pants! Dang!

SUE: Then it's settled. We'll all go, and Reed can ride on the outside.

BEN: Yeah, Brain! Scoot over, I'll be driving! And

now, it's WEDGIE TIME!

[---------------]

REED: I guess I'd be lying if I said that I didn't resent them, Franklin. But, as I implied earlier, I REALLY wanted Sue, like BAD. So I took them to the moon, and we did survive, and then I flew the rocket right into a storm of cosmic rays out of spite. We all gained fantastic powers, but they didn't get any more intelligent as time went on. In fact, I think Ben and Johnny might actually have gotten stupider. The main benefit of the trip was that Ben got so ugly he had to shop for dates among blind women. That just tickles me. Heh!

FRANKLIN: But, daddy, why are they even IN the Fantastic Four? Shouldn't you have smart guys like Dr. Pym or Dr. Banner in your group?

REED: Well, Franklin, that's a very grown-up sort of question, and it deserves a grown-up sort of answer. The truth is, I got bored of them and replaced them all with robots several years ago.

FRANKLIN: What? Mommy's a robot?

REED: (chuckle!) Yes, they're all robots. Life Model Decoy technology, in fact. H.E.R.B.I.E. was an early prototype, testing the AI algorithms and such. I suppose perhaps I've gone a little bit insane, remaking the world into the way I want it to be through robotics. Heh. Science over humanity, I always say!

FRANKLIN: (Crying…) But…but, where's my REAL mommy?

REED: Eh? Oh, let's see…I think somewhere in the Negative Zone, if I remember correctly.

FRANKLIN: Waaaaaaaaaaah!

REED: Really, son. This outburst is uncalled for. Try to think of this scientifically, rather than emotionally. The Sue robot is a definite improvement over your real mommy in every way. She's smarter, stronger, doesn't care about shopping...Really, you're much better off.

FRANKLIN: --sniff!-- Daddy, am I a robot?

REED: Of COURSE not, son! You're merely an artificially-inseminated fetus brought to full-term in a series of birthing chambers and raised on a steady diet of brain-stimulating drugs. Huh. When I say it that way, it almost sounds wrong.

FRANKLIN: You won't ever replace ME with a robot, would you daddy?

REED: Hmm. Well, not if you keep your room clean. Good night, Franklin. I mean it this time!

FRANKLIN: I'll be good!

REED: You'd BETTER.

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