Twenty-one years ago, Gary Richards and his wife gave birth to their first child, a son named Reed. Almost immediately, the Richards suspected that there was something special about Reed, who displayed his curiosity from the day he was born. As a child, he demonstrated remarkable intelligence, well ahead of that of his peers. While other children engaged in sports or played games, Reed devoted himself towards the sciences. His father often found him cannibalizing household appliances in an effort to create something never before seen by man - an act that often earned him his father's ire.
Reed's heightened intellect naturally made him the subject of ridicule at his school. Fortunately, he managed to become friends with the school's star linebacker, Ben Grimm. Ben generally associated with Reed in order to get help with his trigonometry homework, but he valued him enough to help him against the school bullies.
When Reed was only ten-years old, he began developing schematics for a device that could transmit matter across the dimensional plane. He displayed his work at the Midtown Middle School Science Fair, where he successfully teleported a toy car into an alternate dimension. This garnered him the attention of the Director of Mainland Technology Development.
An agent named Lieutenant Lumpkin (who was present for Reed's Science Fair experiment), recommended him for induction into a special government think tank - a program that recruited young geniuses in the hopes of creating the scientific leaders of the future. Lumpkin approached Reed's parents for their permission, and explained that the government would pay them a nominal fee for allowing them to take Reed under their care.
Lumpkin brought Reed to the Baxter Building, the central hub for the Mainland Technology Development consortium. He began working under the auspices of noted scientist Dr. Franklin Storm. Storm introduced Reed to his "greatest achievements", his daughter, Susan, and her younger brother, Johnny.
Reed's father was relieved to get rid of him, so Reed rarely saw his family thereafter. His only close contacts were fellow students and his dog Einstein. Missing his family, Reed covertly constructed a "Fantasti-Car," a fuel free vehicle with the capacity to fly at MACH-7, but never used it.
For the next several years, Reed continued to work on his teleportation technology. The Baxter Building provided him with all of the resources at their disposal and they even developed an oscillating window that could peer into an otherworldly plane of reality known as the N-Zone.
During this time, Reed met a fellow student named Victor Van Damme. Victor was a brash and arrogant student, known for his enmity of his fellow students. One day, Reed caught Victor in his room rifling through his notes. Victor had taken it upon himself to read Reed's research, adjusting various calculations along the way. Reed was furious, but soon discovered that Victor was equally brilliant. He invited him to work alongside him on the N-Zone project. Over the next five years Van Damme helped Reed with his N-Zone math while Reed aided Victor's work in miniaturized robotics.
By the time they reached adulthood, the young geniuses were ready to test their N-Zone transmitter technology on biological matter. The think tank erected a large platform in the Nevada desert for their first major testing phase. Reed's old school chum, Ben Grimm, showed up at the testing site to visit him. He was on college holiday and wanted to see how his childhood pal was getting along.
Accompanied by a bevy of military officers and scientists, Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm and Victor Van Damme stood at the control panels of the transmit platform. What the other four didn't realize however, was that Victor had surreptitiously altered the coordinates on the transmitter device. They activated the machine hoping to teleport an apple into the N-Zone. Instead, they tore open a dimensional breach in space and all five disappeared in a blinding flash of light.
Reed awakened several yards away. As he rose to his feet, he discovered that he now possessed the ability to stretch and remold his body into any variety of shapes. They soon took the clay-based creations of Dr. Molekevic, subsequently foiling his plot and remaining hidden from the public's eye. Only one member of the group affected by the N-Zone accident remained unaccounted for: Victor Van Damme, the man responsible for the Fantastic Four's failed assassination.
Victor established a small community in Denmark under his control using neural implants, and when the foursome arrived he took down each of them until only Reed stood in his way. Reed fought Victor, winning until he unleashed his "subjects" upon them. Unable to convince Van Damme to help him reverse the changes, and unable to force him as he had diplomatic immunity, Reed returned his focus to science by perfecting his N-Zone transporter and adapting it to both time travel and accessing parallel dimensions.
After the team went public battling the alien Nihil in Las Vegas, Reed began craving the public approval of being a super hero, perhaps compensating for his father's disapproval. He now balanced his obsessive love of science against his romantic relationship with Susan Storm and his new celebrity hero status.
Six months after the Ultimatum Wave hit New York, Reed is once again living at home with his family. He is seen lounging on the sofa when there is a caller at the door. Mr, Richards answers the door as Reed gets an alarm on his computer reading "Energy Flux Detected". He tries to warn his father but is too late, and the Richards household is blown apart by an unknown energy attack. It is not yet known if there are any survivors.
As a lead scientist at the Baxter Building, Reed has access to enormous governmental resources. He has developed technology such as: