Unstable molecules

Unstable molecules

Unstable molecules are a piece of fictional technology featured in Marvel Comics. They exist as a configuration of unknown atomic nuclei and electrons that are responsive to certain energized matter around them. Developed by Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four), unstable molecules are typically utilized in fabrics for superhero or supervillain costumes, allowing the fabric to conform with the wearer's form and to not succumb to the wearer's powers. For example, as Mr. Fantastic stretches, his costume stretches with him instead of tearing. The same goes for his teammates: the Invisible Woman's costume goes invisible when she does and the Human Torch's costume doesn't burn when he activates his powers. Essentially, it acts as an extension of the wearer's skin.


Unstable molecules are not generally employed by heroes other than the Fantastic Four, whose day-to-day clothes are treated with them to allow for use of their powers in situations that do not require their uniforms, although Mr. Fantastic has, on rare occasion, gifted fellow superheroes with costumes of the material (most notably the X-Men's costumes, as well as Henry Pym's). The formula has occasionally been stolen by supervillains such as the Mad Thinker (who used it to create Awesome Andy), as well. It was also swiped by Taylor Industries, the company owned by Night Thrasher. Reed Richards allowed Thrasher's team, the New Warriors to keep the costumes they had, so they could fight crime more effectively. The Power Pack had costumes made of unstable molecules manufactured for them by the Kymellian smartship Friday; as the alien Kymellians had no direct contact with Earth natives prior to this, it's possible that they developed their own form of unstable molecules, as certain Kymellians naturally develop super-powers.

The molecules also had a downside. The Trapster once defeated Reed Richards through the use of a white powder which rendered unstable molecules inert, thereby preventing Reed's suit from stretching with him.

Although a potentially lucrative commercial enterprise, unstable molecules are deemed too dangerous for use by the public in general - when a fashion designer procured a small sample of unstable-molecule fabric and attempted to have the process reverse engineered, the "lock" kept on the molecules by Mr. Fantastic was undone, unleashing their instability, which spread to neighbouring molecules in a chain reaction that dissolved surrounding matter, including humans. The reaction was thankfully contained by the Invisible Woman.

To a certain extent the phrase has become a source of humour regarding the pseudo scientific explanations that arose during the Silver Age of Comics.


*The name was also used in the name of "", an Eisner Award-winning miniseries published by Marvel in 2004, and written by James Sturm with artwork by Guy Davis.
*Unstable molecules have become a common material by the time of the Marvel 2099 line of comics, to the extent that Miguel O'Hara, Spider-Man 2099, had a Day of the Dead costume made of them.
*Slapstick has a body composed of living unstable molecules dubbed "Electroplasm". Similarly, Morph of the Exiles once said his body is made of Unstable Molecules.

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