This week, we tackle a whole volume, issues #579–582, also known as “The Future Foundation,” (2010) which sees some fun surprises set up and a few characterizing moments for the Thing and the Human Torch.
The story opens with Reed Richards speaking at a “TED Talk” analog at “Singularity 2010,” which seems to be going well until Reed seems to go off-script. He begins to berate his fellow scientists, proclaiming, “You fear tomorrow.” As such, Reed decides to form the eponymous “Future Foundation”: a collection of young and brilliant minds from around the Marvel universe to solve the problems of the "tomorrow" that his colleagues supposedly fear.
And what is the first problem that this assemblage of young minds decides to tackle? Curing the Thing of his rocky condition. The catch? He can only remain in his human form for one week out of the year. The sequence of Ben Grimm pondering whether or not to be cured is the first moment of true pathos that the character has experienced thus far and it’s a stunner to be sure.
Ben’s hunched posture and downtrodden utterance of “I don’t got time for this” really drives home the bitter nature of his condition — a man forced to watch his best friend create unimaginable technological wonders but mostly unable to cure him.
On the other hand, Johnny Storm is at the center of one of the arc’s most amusing distractions, a fight in a toy store against obscure Marvel fixtures Arcade and the Impossible Man. The sequence is a hoot and really contributes to Johnny’s “fun uncle” persona as he brings young Franklin along for the ride.
The majority of the arc, though, deals with the return of Reed’s absentee father, Nathaniel Richards, from a chronal war among myriad different Nathaniels from throughout the multiverse. This portion acts as a fascinating flip side to the Council of Reeds from previous arcs and highlights the differences between Reed and his father: the former is prone to teamwork and solutions, while the latter is prone to conflict and solitude. The conflict leaves Nathaniel as the sole survivor of the war, and as such he returns to a time bubble in the future where the future versions of Franklin and Valeria await him. With steely eyes, Franklin hurls Nathaniel back in time to comfort an adult Reed as he says, “Every boy deserves a father,” a line dripping with weight given Reed’s constant struggle to be a better family man than Nathaniel.
“Future Foundation” is the best balance between the four members thus far, which sparks my only real complaint: Why couldn’t we have gotten more of Ben and Johnny sooner? Much to my delight, we get just that in next week’s exploration of my personal favorite arc, “Three.”