The Origin of the Molecule Man
Real Name: Owen Reece
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #20 (November, 1963)
Powers: Possesses the ability to warp reality and manipulate things at the molecular level.
Did You Know? Molecule Man is one of the most powerful beings in Marvel. He’s so powerful that, at times, even the Fantastic Four has failed to defeat him.
A Little History
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Molecule Man first made his appearance inside the pages of Fantastic Four #20 back in November of 1963.
The origin of the Molecule Man is fairly consistent of most origins of his era. When we first see Molecule Man, he is nothing more than a lab technician at the Acme Atomic Corp. As a lab technician, Owen Reece spent his days wandering the lab and complaining about the place that life had taken him. He wished more for himself but rather than taking action to get more, he simply complained.
One day while at the lab, Owen made a terrible mistake that caused the atomic machine that he had been working on to malfunction. As a result, the machine bombarded him with radiation and forever changed his life. Suddenly, Owen could now control the objects around him at the molecular level.
After the accident, he was marched upstairs and relieved of his duties as a lab technician for Acme Atomic. Instead of simply accepting his termination, Owen channeled his newly acquired powers through a rod and froze the terminator. Overtime, the rod would become an integral part of the character.
With more power than perhaps he should have, Owen proceeded to pick up the Baxter Building (home of the Fantastic Four) and hover it over Times Square. Like any good villain trying to make a name for themselves, Owen then told New York that he was taking over the city.
Under the request of the Watcher and try as they may, the Fantastic Four were not able to beat Molecule Man in battle. That is until Mr. Fantastic realized that Molecule Man could not control organic material. Upon this realization, he asked Ben Grimm’s girlfriend, Alicia Masters to help the team. She accepted and began covering the team with plaster. She did this so the team, rather than being recognized as the Fantastic Four, would simply be seen as statues.
The plan worked and when Owen tried to manipulate the statues, the feedback from the organic material underneath (the actual Fantastic Four) caused him a great deal of pain. With Owen beaten, Uatu the Watcher took him and tapped him inside another dimension.
While in the dimension, he realized that he aged at an accelerated rate. Tragically, before he could do anything about it, he died from old age. All wasn’t lost, however. Before he died, Owen used his incredible power to construct a new being. The being he created, now called his son, picked up Owen’s rod and became the new Molecule Man. Wanting to avenge his “father”, the new Molecule Man used the rod to get itself to Earth.
After landing on Earth, he engaged in a battle with The Thing. The battle was short-lived and at its conclusion, he was separated from his rod. Upon separation, he disintegrated. Up until this point, what nobody realized was that Owen Reece didn’t completely die. Instead, he transferred his mind and powers into the rod. When the rod was taken from his son, the very being that kept him alive was removed. Moving forward, because the rod housed the mind and power of the Molecule Man, whoever came into contact with it would receive Owen’s power.
The rod made its way through a series of owners eventually finding its way to the Silver Surfer. The Surfer immediately sensed its power and rather than harness it for himself, threw it away. Impressed by the Surfer, Owen began working on a way to restore his body. After doing so, he came to believe that his failures weren’t for a lack of trying. Instead, his failures were due to a lack of purpose. Under this realization, Molecule Man once again turned his attention to Earth. Before he could get there, however, the Silver Surfer warned the Avengers of what was coming. Unfortunately, most of the Avengers proved to be no match for him and one by one, most fell. Of the remaining Avengers, it was Tigra who managed to talk him out of destroying the Earth. She convinced him that he needed help and he agreed.
And why did Tigra’s conversation work?
This was the first time in years that somebody actually took the time to listen to him.
And there you go. The origin of the Molecule Man.