The Fantastic Four Finally Cure Cancer

If Reed Richards is so smart, why hasn't he cured cancer? Well, you can shut up now, because he just did.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Fantastic Four #606

It's long been the editorially-mandated blind spot for all high-profile comic book supergeniuses – if they're so smart, why can't they cure cancer? It was an unfortunate dilemma, since with all the crazy things people like Reed Richards can invent, he should be able to make that happen. However, since removing cancer from the Marvel Universe would also remove a lot of very human stories, what with the consumption sadly being a huge part of our real-world existence, a sweeping change like that would seem to rob creators of future storytelling opportunities.

So that makes it all the more interesting that a cure for cancer is developed in Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four #606.

True, this cure isn't a wonder drug, but rather an elaborate Innerspace-style miniaturized sojourn into the brainpan of the patient and an inordinate amount of crazy high-tech translocation hardware, and thus would in know way be cost-effective to implement on a worldwide scale, but they did it to save their mailman, the venerable Willie Lumpkin. Will there be a sweeping change in the state of the world as a result of this advancement, or do the excuses come quickly and copiously as to why they can't start a massive industry around this technology?  If so, they'd better be good, because otherwise Mr. Fantastic gets the reputation for being the guy who COULD cure cancer, but he doesn't feel like it.

The issue itself is a fun little jaunt, playing coy with exactly where they're going and what they're after for most of the story, although if you don't catch on by the time the big spherical tooth-monsters (aka white blood cells as creepily depicted by good ol' Ron Garney) attack, you might want to revisit your grade school biology lessons. They're full on explorers traversing exotic terrain in this stand-alone tale, as there's nothing to punch or burn. But depending on what they do with this development, it may not stand so alone after all.

Should cancer be cured in comic book land? Could any story requiring cancer be shifted slightly to 'disease name here?' Or should they just let it run for a while, and then have Mephisto take it away, too?