The Fantastic Four haven’t exactly stuck to the rules of their own name. Members of the official four have occasionally needed help, taken a break, and (because it’s comics) even shuffled off this mortal coil if the story calls for it. We’ve seen an ever-changing roster of visiting heroes drop in and out of their ranks that seems to call for a more appropriate and substantially less-catchy name; “The Fantastic….Handful of, Oh, let’s not settle on a number and just take help from whoever might be around.”
What might come as a surprise, other than the nightmare of access badges the security team at the Baxter building must need to generate for all these visitors, is that a great deal of the interim members are often more powerful and, dare we say, even more fantastic than the core group we know and love. Let’s take a look at everyone who’s been a member of the Fantastic Four over the years and where they rank in terms of general (and completely unscientific) superhero bad-assery from worst to best. Here’s Every Member Of The Fantastic Four, Ranked Worst To Best.
18. Miss Thing (Darla Deering)
Well, we had to start somewhere and pop star Darla “Miss Thing” Deering drew the short straw when it comes to being a member of the Fantastic Four– or rather, the Future Foundation. Not that she wasn’t an absolute trooper when it comes to joining the team since, as a successful pop star, she really didn’t need the work, but still joined after a last-minute request from Johnny Storm (whom she had been dating).
Miss Thing’s story was a tale as old as time. The original four were off on a quest through time and, being the heroes that they are, didn’t want to leave the world without a numerical-based superhero team. Reed Richards advised each member to go out and find their own replacement (a group that became the Future Foundation) for the time they’d be gone and Johnny waited/forgot until the last minute leaving him to hurriedly ask Darla(Fantastic Four Vol 4 #2).
She accepted the offer, despite it being the superhero equivalent of a “hey girl, u up?” text, and was bestowed the “Thing Rings” which, when touched together, allow a Thing-like exoskeleton to surround her, giving her strength on par with the everyone’s rocky pal.
The Queen of the Inhumans, Medusa has stepped into a role in the Fantastic Four a few times in the comics, but her time replacing The Invisible Woman as part of the Future Foundation might be our favorite. She’s a fitting substitute for Sue Storm as both are smart, strong, and determined women you do not want to mess with.
In addition to being a skilled fighter, her Inhuman physiology allows her the very unique talent of “Trichokinesis”; the ability to psionically control every strand of her hair independently in a myriad of ways. While this would be an impressive set of powers on a great deal of other lists, Medusa’s abilities tend to pale in comparison to the rest of our choices on this one. Still, her experience in battle and ruling an entire race of superhuman beings make her a formidable opponent so her time on the team is well-deserved.
16. Luke Cage
Safe to say that these days, people are more familiar with Luke Cage than they ever have been, after the success of his eponymous Netflix series. In the years since his introduction, he’s thankfully evolved away from the stereotypes, catchphrases, and a particularly strange story where he traveled to Latveria in the Fantastic Four’s jet to collect a $200 fee that Doctor Doom had stiffed him on (Hero for Hire #8-9). Although, come to think of it, we’d absolutely love to see the classic line “Where’s my money, honey?” on Netflix at some point if only for the corny nostalgia.
Beyond super-villain debt collection, Cage has crossed paths with the team on other occasions having filled in as the their muscle in Fantastic Four #168 when The Thing lost his powers. These days (in the comics that is) he’s putting his super-strength and near invulnerability to good use as a full-fledged Avenger.
In what seems to be an ongoing theme in the Fantastic Four’s history, Namorita Prentiss was brought into the fold of the Four via a relationship with Johnny “The Ladies’ Human Torch” Storm. Since she and Johnny were involved, she would tag along on missions from time to time, making use of her her unique human/Atlantean physiology. Her powers included super strength/speed/stamina/agility/durability, the ability to heal in water, and the power of flight.
Through the years, Namorita went through changes in both appearance, power-set, and (for a time) a name change to “Kymaera”.
As comics are known to do, there’s now been two iterations of the Atlantean warrior. The first died at the hands of Nitro via a massive explosion (amplified by Mutant Growth Hormone) in Stamford, Connecticut which set the events of Civil War into motion (Civil War #1). And the second Namorita is currently alive and well, with her powers seemingly unchanged from the standard Atlantean starter pack. However, having been pulled from a time stream by Nova before her Kymaera transformation, she lacks the trademark blue skin
14. Miss Marvel (Sharon Ventura)
One of the hard luck tales that people rarely remember is the story of Sharon Ventura. Her tenure with the team was fleeting and, for a time, she even found herself fighting against them.
After a rough upbringing by a father that never accepted her, she became a stunt woman and eventually crossed paths with Ben Grimm. Later, as Miss Marvel, she gained super strength through a dubious Power Broker procedure that, as you can imagine, involved a villain wanting to control her. This ordeal left her generally distrustful of men other than The Thing.
Things went from bad to worse on adventure with The Thing and ended with cosmic rays mutating her in much the same way they had originally affected Ben. She was temporarily cured of her rocky condition by Doctor Doom in return for spying on the Fantastic Four, but when she refused to fight them due to her feelings for Ben, Doom reversed the cure and caused her to transform back again. Unfortunately, Ben to turned his back on her following this betrayal. (Fantastic Four #371-375)
13. Black Panther
Another character that people might be more aware of thanks to their MCU iterations, T’Challa is a hero we’d want on our team in any capacity. The Black Panther, who has the distinction of being first introduced in a FF story back in 1966’s Fantastic Four #52, is beyond impressive when it comes to fighting ability, strategy, and intelligence. Even if you were to set aside the mystical enhancements that come with being the Black Panther, T’Challa would be a force to be reckoned with.
He’s interacted with the Four one a number of occasions, but following the events of Civil War, he and his wife (Storm) moved into the Baxter building, filling in for Sue and Reed while they took a break from their super-heroic duties. Alongside The Thing and Human Torch, this new team fought against the likes of a new Frightful Four (Wizard, Titania, The Trapster, and Hydro-Man), The Hulk and his Warbound, and even went toe-to-giant toe with Galactus and his heralds.
12. The Thing
Benjamin “The Thing” Grimm is everyone’s favorite rock monster. In our minds, he’s absolutely irreplaceable as an original member of the Fantastic Four team. You know, other than the many, many times he’s been replaced.
The Thing, despite not ranking so high on this list, is always someone we’d turn to if we needed help. A man who has never forgotten his roots on Yancy Street, The Thing’s strongest attribute is his sense of honor and friendship. He’s been through hell and back through countless transformations, possible cures, and hard decisions but has always remained the same lovable big galoot on the inside.
Because death is never permanent in comics, Ben was recently destroyed in Secret Wars #1 but was brought back to Earth-616 thanks to Reed Richards via Molecule Man’s powers. These days, he’s kicking around the universe with the Guardians of the Galaxy as their new recruit (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 4 #1)
Scott Lang has popped up a handful of times in the Fantastic Four’s lives over their long publication history, having first helped them in a “micro world” back in 1982 as part of Marvel Two-In-One #87. There, he and The Thing fought against the Lizard Men of Tok and their leader Zorak.
Having proven himself in battle alongside The Thing, Lang was later hired by the team to replace Mr. Fantastic who had gone missing (Fantastic Four #384) so he and his daughter moved into the Baxter building. Years later, he was approached by Reed Richards himself to lead a team of Fantastic Four replacements while the original Four was on an adventure through time and space (FF Vol 2 #1). Alongside a roster of She-Hulk, Medusa and Darla Deering, this newly formed Future Foundation held down the fort until the OG F4 returned.
The powers that Ant-Man has at his disposal can be used in so many different ways, making Lang quite a powerful ally for his size.
10. Human Torch
Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm is one of the original, dare we say, bad boys of comic books but no matter what mayhem he gotten himself into in the 50+ years he’s been appearing in comics, we love him all the same. Appropriately hot-headed at times, he’s gotten his teammates into more than a few messes over the years but has proven himself a hero time and time again. His fiery abilities are often shown to have their limits and it has got to be a bummer that anyone with a fire-extinguisher can at least partially incapacitate him for a time, but the one thing that can’t be extinguished is his spirit.
Over the many years he’s been portrayed in comic books, he’s grown from an excitable teenager to a strong and heroic man who has sacrificed his powers and his life (more than a few times actually) for the sake of others.
As a staple in so many different comics through the last few decades, who reading this list isn’t familiar with the powerhouse X-Man known as Ororo “Storm” Munroe. A proven leader, strategist, and all-around bad-ass, Storm has been involved in so many superhero teams, team-ups, and comics it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. As we mentioned earlier, following the events of Civil War, she accompanied her husband (Black Panther) to New York to fill in for Sue and Reed during their heroic hiatus (Heroictus? Hero-tus?)
Her mutant ability to control weather is daunting enough let alone the other skills she’s acquired over her super-heroic career. An expert thief, hand-to-hand combatant, pilot, and tactician – she has a spot on any super team she wants as far as we’re concerned. And above all else, Storm has always been able to rock a mohawk cooler than anyone could ever hope for in real life.
Even before she got her powers, Jennifer Walters was already a hero choosing to spend her days as a lawyer in Los Angeles.
Thanks to a gamma ray-infused blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner, she became She-Hulk and was imbued with all of The Hulk’s powers with none of the rage-filled “Hulk Smash!” downsides. Originally, Jennifer was able to control her switching to Hulk form at will and was able to retain her mental capacity in her more powerful state.
The fourth member of the previously mentioned Future Foundation, Walters benefited from her time on the team by making use of The Thing’s weight training equipment which helped to develop her strength beyond what was previously thought to be her limit. Her tenure with the Future Foundation also resulted in the happy accident of her getting stuck in her She-Hulk form (the form she prefers) after being exposed to radiation from a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. Anyone with the potentially endless power of The Hulk who is still able to keep a cool head is alright in our book.
Little sister to the previously mentioned Medusa, Crystalia Amaquelin crossed paths with the Fantastic Four the way most young women in the Marvel universe tend to do; by becoming involved with Johnny “Keep it in your pants” Storm. Crystal filled in for Sue Storm while she was pregnant and proved herself to be a valued member of the team. She later married and had a child with the mutant Quicksilver.
Returning to the Fantastic Four for refuge when the relationship was in trouble. Crystal, although sometimes overlooked, is a massively powerful Inhuman because of the powers she gained from Terrigenesis as an infant.
Able to psionically manipulate forms of matter (fire, water, earth, and air) at an atomic level. Though it’s never been demonstrated in the comics, the ability to mess with things on an atomic level is a power that has so much potential which could make Crystal one of the most powerful Inhumans ever.
6. Valeria Richards
Throughout the Fantastic Four’s run, there has been far too much pressure thrust upon the shoulders of the Richards’ children. Valeria Richards, the second child of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, was conceived in the Negative Zone, which resulted in her giving off massive bursts of radiation while in Sue’s womb. Were it not for her brother Franklin’s reality warping abilities (we’ll get to those in a few entries), she wouldn’t have been saved via a quick jaunt to an alternate reality and a reset on the pregnancy.
[Side note: the alternate time/reality/dimension version named “Valeria von Doom” had powers on par with and perhaps beyond those of her brother, but we’re sticking with the Earth-616 version.]
Perhaps due to Valeria’s extraordinary circumstances of existence, her intelligence soared up to a point that would rival even her father’s, although she kept it hidden from the family for a time. Through a few adventures involving future selves, alternate timeline family members, other dimensions, and an honest shot at turning Doctor Doom into a good guy – it feels like Valeria’s superior intellect is needed just to wrap our heads around her arc.
5. The New Fantastic Four (Hulk, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man & Wolverine)
Alright, we know this might be cheating, but how can we split up such a coo-coo bananas team-up into their own entries? Tricked by a Skrull disguised as Sue into thinking the rest of original team had been murdered, this unlikely foursome of The Hulk, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, and Wolverine teamed up to find the non-existent killers.
Where was the real FF, you ask? Well, that super-powered team was incapacitated by the incredibly ingenious trap of being… tied up and left in an elevator. Hey, what else would you expect from the early ’90s?
Despite the general goofy nature of this team-up– as we cannot imagine these four tolerating being in the same room let alone working together– it still would be a group we wouldn’t want to face off against. Long and weird story short, the four thwart the Skrull invader and everyone returns to their respective books, never to speak of it again.
4. Invisible Woman
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say Sue Storm could kick anyone’s ass. Especially if it involves protecting her family. Over the years we’ve never really seen the full potential of Sue’s abilities, but we have seen her use them in some terrifying ways. As cool as invisibility would be, we’re still more interested in her force fields.
The comics have shown her using them for defense in countless ways, but it’s when she gets imaginative and uses them for offence that she really scares us. We’ve seen her crush foes with a thought– as if a giant cartoon hammer came down on them, sever buildings, and even brutally dig into the openings of an enemy’s armor. We’re secure in our theory that Sue could end any battle in a matter of seconds by creating a brain-scrambling pea-sized force field in any foe’s head, but chooses not to for the thrill of a good fight. That’s just how bad-ass she is.
3. Franklin Richards
There may be only one person who could combat the Invisible Woman should she ever decide to rule the world and that person is her own son, Franklin Richards.
Though his mutant powers have fluctuated throughout publication, Franklin’s reality warping abilities are enough to scare any villain, but they’ve always managed to terrify his own family first. Since he’s able to literally re-write reality, a feat he’s done on a number of occasions, there really isn’t anything Franklin can’t do. He is potentially the most powerful mutant in existence and was even described by the Celestials to be beyond omega level (FF #13), a distinction he shares with only a handful of other incredibly powerful mutants.
As is the case with his sister Valeria, the stories Franklin has been involved with are a impressive mess of multi-verses, alternate timelines, future-selves, alternate timeline future-selves, and even a number of resets on death itself.
2. Mister Fantastic
Reed Richards, Mister Fantastic himself, is the Marvel universe’s smartest superhero. Despite gaining the ability to stretch and shape his body during the Fantastic Four’s fateful voyage, his unsurpassable intelligence remains his most defining super power.
As the leader of the Fantastic Four, he has orchestrated the defeat of hundreds of villains over his career, from Mole Man to Doctor Doom to Galactus. With his knowledge of chemistry and biology, he has helped Bruce Banner control his transformations; with his expertise in engineering, he’s helped Tony Stark perfect his armors and construct the Avengers’ spacecraft. In short, he is the scientist all of Marvel’s scientists go to for help.
An evil version of Reed Richards from the Ultimate universe became his world’s most dangerous villain, calling himself The Maker and attempting to reshape reality. Should the main continuity’s Mister Fantastic ever turn evil, there is likely no hero, Avengers and Fantastic Four included, who could stop him.
Surprised? Well, you really shouldn’t be since Flux is, in our opinion, one of the most heroic characters to ever grace the pages of comic books. Dennis Sykes was a good man doing all he could to provide for his wife and orphaned niece. In 2010’s Heroic Age: One Month to Live storyline, Dennis was exposed to toxic waste (having it forced down his throat) while trying to help a robbery victim. This gave him the ability to manipulate all forms of matter but also gave him terminal cancer, and only a month left to live.
Because of these abilities, the Fantastic Four approached him with a mission to save Ego The Living Planet. Successful, but weakened by the use of his powers, he was brought back to Earth to spend his remaining time (a week) with his family. A magical cure was then found in the Savage Land, but upon retrieving it Sykes used it to save his niece who had been mortally wounded.
If that wasn’t enough, he again defended his family against another threat and died soon after. Flux was caring, selfless, and quite possibly the most heroic member of the Fantastic Four.
What do you think of our Fantastic Four ranking? Let us know in the comments.
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