Friday, January 7, 2011

Reed Richards - God's Work - Sime McDonald

1. An elderly Reed Richards stands before his students in a university lecture theatre. He's dressed in a brown suit, his beard and hair is more grey than brown, but he's still got that Fantastic aura that demands attention. He watches his students pile out of the lecture hall, smiling affectionately, proudly. A shadow cast over his back reveals there is a person behind him, unidentifiable from the angle of this panel. It’s Holmstrom (new character, no reference).

The Reed Richards Institute for Science, Technology & Learning.

(off panel)
Professor Richards.
May I have a word?

2. Reed turns and sees a lanky fifty-something year old man in a trench coat still dripping from the rain outside. He looks harmless and is smiling nervously.

You’re not a student.

Ah, heh, no sir, I’m not.
I’m from the Vatican.

3. Reed’s expression turns to stone; Holmstrom raises his hands in defence, fingers splayed.

If this another form of protest against my institute...

Professor Richards, no sir, no, not at all - -

I - -
We need your help.

4. Reed looks at Holmstrom incredulously.

The Vatican has spent decades remonstrating against my life’s work.
I’ve been insulted by your superiors and by your supporters despite saving this universe on more than one occasion and never once claiming to be the demigod you portrayed me as.

REED RICHARDS (2)I’m sure you’ll understand when I say I’ve very little interest in listening to your spiel.

Professor, please - -

5. Holmstrom grabs Reed’s arm, holds on tight to oppose him from moving away.

Your research on engineered crops has not gone unnoticed and quite frankly we feel it needs to implemented now, before it’s too late. We’ve identified several locations where we feel will most benefit from - -

6. On Reed, still uncertain as to what’s altered the Vatican’s stance.

I do believe you’ve called such implementation ‘playing God,’ in the past.
All of a sudden you’re okay with this?
You don’t believe your God will help you solve this current global crisis?

7. Reed’s words sting Holmstrom, but he remains defiant.

What I believe, Professor, is that people need help and you may be the only person who can provide it for them.
I also believe that, now, more than ever, people need to have their faith restored.
And if done correctly – covertly – with your help, I believe we can accomplish both.

A Note from the author:
The idea for this script came from an article I read in which the Vatican’s response to scientific breakthroughs over the years was discussed, and it suddenly popped into my mind, What would the Vatican think of The Fantastic Four?
My intention – and I want to make this clear, in case my mother is reading this – wasn’t to portray Reed as a non-believer in God, or as the kind of man who would question somebody’s faith. Reed is, I belive, the kind of man who invents something for the good of mankind and instinctively wants to use it. He doesn’t consider the religious and political implications; he’s a man of action. He sees a problem and he solves it and moves on to the next.
But when this story takes place, Reed has grown tired of the bureaucratic barriers that oppose him benefitting the world, so he’s dedicated recent years to teaching. And when the Vatican seeks him out, requesting his help – under the proviso that he assists them in secret in an effort to restore the world’s faith – what follows would be a tale of Reed questioning whether he can willingly participate in a campaign that may really have only exist as a marketing tool.


  1. Slow burn, smart Reed, political and religious intrigue. It's like Dan Brown except well written and enjoyable. Sime - you've nailed the concept on this one, there's no big bang or hook but the meat of the tale is directly on the page. Bravo!

  2. Hmmm, the old Science vs Religion thing. Nice work, Sime!

  3. I think it's a fascinating idea Simon, and you pitched Reed just right. It's not religion itself Reed would have a problem with, but the business of it. This poses an interesting dilemma for the character - the opportunity to help people... but only on the Vatican's terms? Would he accept?

    (Besides, iirc, Reed has already visited heaven with Sue and Johnny to rescue Ben when he died during the excellent Waid / Wieringo. As I recall, they even met God... He looked a little like Jack Kirby.)

  4. Sime, I absolutely love the premise. I'm not a big FF fan, but I would pay good money to read this storyline. Just out of curiosity, in your mind, would this story involve the other members and superheroics or would this be strictly a Reed character piece?

  5. I think this fits nicely into the nebulous relationship "Big Two" comics have with religion -- that's a compliment. It's the beginning of something that can toe the line, not putting off any one group (religious/non-religous). And it hits one of my favorite topics.

    I agree with Ryan L also, it definitely the feeling of the beginning of a Dan Brown novel.


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