Marvel Proved the Fantastic Four's Powers Are Really Gross (but Super Fascinating)

Many finer details within Marvel comics operate on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis. Characters like the X-Men's Glob Herman can raise plenty of questions based around their physiology and how that affects even simple day-to-day tasks. Generally speaking, though, Marvel tends to provide the broad strokes of how its super-powered people function and only delve into specifics in special cases, like when it's necessary for the plot. But in the Ultimate universe (AKA Earth-1610), Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four, had some of their members' powers described in great and painfully telling detail, and it was both disgusting and absolutely captivating.

The Ultimate Marvel universe began in 2000, spearheaded by Brian Michael Bendis and his highly successful Ultimate Spider-Man comic, which was the world's introduction to Miles Morales. In 2004, Bendis launched the Ultimate Fantastic Four title and wrote its first 6 issues. Like many other Ultimate titles, it was a reimagining of the team and their classic villains, with fresh ideas brought in to enable Bendis to take a different approach to the four's development. They were younger, never went to space (at least when they initially gained their powers), and Doom had metal horse feet.

RELATED: The 60 Greatest Fantastic Four Stories Ever Told Master List

In Issue #7, written by Warren Ellis with art from Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Dave Stewart, Sue Storm (Invisible Woman) attempts to gain a deeper understanding of the four's powers to ensure there won't be deadly consequences. She strong arms Reed (Mr. Fantastic) into a machine to assess his biology, citing grave concerns after not being able to assess the simplest of details about the inner workings of Ben Grimm (The Thing), like how he breathes or uses the bathroom.

As Reed stretches within the machine, Sue discovers that he has no internal organs at all. Instead of lungs to breathe and a stomach to eat, he has a "pliable bacterial sack" that somehow turns air into the nutrients that feed his bloodstream. In a similarly graphic description, Sue deduces that her brother Johnny (Human Torch) burns his body fat as the fuel for his flames. This can have an adverse effect on Johnny's health, however, as, like any fuel source, he only has so much to burn through. Of course, as weird, disgusting and amazing as all of these descriptions of superpowers are, they're not Marvel's first or only forays into gut-churning explanations.

RELATED: The X-Men's Least-Useful Mutant Just Became Their Most Powerful Member

Take, for example, Marvel's mutants, who are also no strangers to disgusting superpowers. Six years before the launch of Ultimate Fantastic Four, the X-Men saw the debut of one of their most infamous members, Maggott, a mutant whose digestive system manifested as two living beings or "slugs" that he called Eany and Meany. They could exit Maggott's digestive tract through his torso and could meltdown and eat any solid matter with alarming speeds. His time as an X-Men was short-lived, however, after not being particularly well-received.

There's also Marrow, who has the ability to control almost every aspect of her accelerated bone growth. These bones can grow out of any point of her skin to be used as weapons or defensive armor. While she has also grossed out some fans over the years with a mutation that graphic, she'll be in the upcoming Secret X-Men one-shot written by Tini Howard, and is still remembered well after various appearances in animated universes.

The Ultimate Fantastic Four are no longer around, though some survivors do still haunt the main Marvel universe, like Reed, who now calls himself The Maker, and is a pretty nefarious villain in his own right. It's still never been verified whether or not Earth-616's Reed Richards operates with a similar "bacterial sack" as his 1610 counterpart, but it would be no... stretch... of the imagination to believe he does.

KEEP READING: Marvel Promises the Death of a Fantastic Four Member - At Their Teammate's Hand

DC's Wonder Woman Event May Change the Amazons on a Fundamental Level
Related Topics
About The Author
Saz (11 Articles Published)

Saz writes comics features for CBR. He spends the rest of his time being a nomad and putting cool bugs he finds on the ground in his backpack. If you want to follow him on Instagram for all of his exploits, it is @sazbeats.

More From Saz