As it looks like the return of an FF title is becoming more and more unlikely anytime soon, I often think about the untapped relationships between the four core characters. You'd think that after 50 plus years there wouldn't be much more to explore.
I disagree and think that there's still a lot of different ways the various relationships between characters can be tapped. Take for example Ben and Reed. Are they truly "best friends" as so often is stated, primarily after the events that transformed them? My answer is no. In fact I think Ben is closer to both Johnny and Sue.
I'm not bashing Reed. Yes, the burden of leadership is heavy and he has tried many times to cure his "old friend" out of a sense of guilt. Yet there were prolonged periods where Ben seemed content with his plight and at least verbally communicated that he was content with himself. During these times did Reed and Ben ever go to the bar or to the ballgame, just the two of them? Or do anything that would indicate that they are best friends? Again, I am excluding college flashbacks.
I have a hard time remembering any scenes indicating a deep friendship. Reed often talks down to Ben or calls him "old friend" in a way a father gives his child a lecture. If the FF were to ever return I'd like to see Reed and Ben hang out once in a while, talk about life, have some fun. I recall a Hickman issue where Reed sits down with Ben and has a beer in the final panel or so. Beyond that I'm struggling. Was he ever at a poker game?
In all the times Ben has been under someone's control or has temporarily "gone bad" Ben's real feelings towards Reed often come to the surface and they go beyond just being angry with him over the transformation. I think Reed and Ben have a lot to work out if they are to ever get back to "best friend" status. I'd like to see that relationship explored further.
Early on, Reed and Ben were indeed best friends. But overtime, Marvel went from portraying Reed as a studly, daring academic intellectual playboy to an aloof, scientific emotionless anti-social nerd. Reed also took a paternal role as the wizened elder and that isolated him from Ben, who is often a comedy mechanism in bronze age Marvel. That left Ben and Johnny as the natural comedy team, since Reed is too "serious".
Marvel essentially ruined Reed as a character and did not stay true to the original Kirby/Lee recipe. Reed used to be normal and social. Now he's depicted as a loner and weird. Tony Stark took the old Reed's persona so Marvel made Reed strange to prop up Iron Man as character.
Marvel has made so many mistakes they are impossible to track.