Friday, November 22, 2013

Comic Book Beard: Fantastic Four's Reed Richards?!?

Beard + long, unkempt hair + torn uniform = Bearded Reed!
In the past, I've mentioned that Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, was one character I have dressed up as in the past, and lamented that he did not have a a beard so I could continue a form of low-budget cosplay--I failed to recall the Tom DeFalco scripted and Paul Ryan drawn Fantastic Four run of the mid-1990's. Though not too fondly thought of by fanboys today, I rather enjoyed the run as it was took narrative chances and really played with the explorer/family dynamic of the team. During this time, following a short period being "dead," Reed turned up in the distant past (FF #407) much worse for the experience. The chief indicators of this descent into madness were his long hair, beard, and (naturally) a shattered psyche.

The worst part about Reed's sporting a very fashionable beard is that is appears to be symbolic of the character's emasculation; it is during this series of issues that Mr. Fantastic, mentally weakened from his experience, cedes leadership of the team to the newly independent(ish) Invisible Woman. Issues later, when he finally does shave, his character reverts back to his confident, egotistical, totally in control self. So while Reed does briefly sport a rockin' beard, it does come at a price, his sanity, a startlingly common plot device you'll notice when consistently presented baby-face heroes get hairy in comics.

Can Reed really be expected to build a time machine when he can't even cut his hair?

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