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The Evolution of Sue Storm

From Invisible Girl to Invisible Woman, Sue Storm deserves more credit!

Oh, brother.

I don't know how often readers take Sue Storm's age into account when they read an issue of Fantastic Four, I mean, she doesn't look a day over 35! In all seriousness though, I never really realized Sue Storm's importance to the Fantastic Four and to the Marvel Universe until the recent death of her brother, Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four #587. Honestly, I had never really been inclined to read FF books until Jonathan Hickman's recent storyline and have thus recently realized the great book I had been missing out on. It is in the issues that follow Johnny's tragic self sacrifice that Sue elicits tremendous strength and resilience; so it's kind of hard to think that the Sue Storm in today's comics is the same Sue Storm from the 1960's. And whatever people insist on telling you, they are not one and the same.

== TEASER ==

Sue Storm, or 'Invisible Girl' as she used to call herself, was first introduced in Fantastic Four #1. Sue was the first female superhero created by Marvel during the Silver Age. Even though Sue was Marvel's first female character, it does not always feel like the publisher markets her as their first female superhero, which kind of boggles my mind. Elevating Sue to the status of Marvel's 'First Lady' might draw more attention to her and the Fantastic Four (er...three) team as a whole. Sue Storm, who didn't always come across as the "independent woman," was often held back when she was first introduced.

In that very first issue of FF, Sue called herself 'Invisible Girl,' even though we all know she was an adult (seriously, who were they trying to fool). One can very easily read into the fact that Sue identified herself as a "girl and not a "woman," when she was clearly the latter. Choosing to identify herself as such only reinforced the idea that Sue Storm was a powerless and weak female character who was incapable, incompetent and incredibly unsure of herself.

It was the 80's, everyone looked like this...right?

Marvel comics first became popular because they were so distinctly different from other comic book publishers at the time. It was because Marvel writers explored their characters in greater depth, gave them tangible, relatable problems that made them so successful. However, it took Marvel 24 years (from FF#1 in 1961 to FF # 284 in 1985) to be comfortable enough to give their first female character an identity and problems that went beyond 'what to cook for dinner' and why 'Reed was too busy to take her out.' Sue's character was often used as a plot device by early writers and her role (even with the power to make herself invisible) was primarily to be the 'damsel in distress.' While her husband (Reed Richards) took the reigns of the Fantastic Four and influenced the Marvel Universe with his intellect and skill as both a scientist and a leader, Sue stayed home and did "womanly things" things like cooking and cleaning. It was not until John Byrne's run in the 1980's that Sue dropped the "girl" and became the 'Invisible Woman' in Fantastic Four #284, a symbolic step that would lead to the evolution of her character. It was during Byrne's run, and after Reed's death that Sue Storm broke away from the shadow of her husband and herself became a capable leader. Granted, Sue had to shed clothing in the 80's and cut out hole in the center of her uniform to sell books, but if it meant that she could start evolving and come into her own as a strong, female character, then they have my blessing.

Today, Sue is a capable leader and a fantastic female character. Not only is she a powerhouse in her own right, but Sue is a smart, interesting character that in my opinion, doesn't get enough panel time. She is one character I wish Marvel would make better use of. What do you think of Sue Storm? Do you like her? Hate her? Do you think she could lead the Fantastic Four and keep her clothes on? What Marvel ladies do you think deserve more of a spotlight?

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Posted by ReyGitano

Yes Sara, everyone dressed like that during the 80's, including a good number of men.

Posted by No_Name_
@slashseven303 said:
" Yes Sara, everyone dressed like that during the 80's, including a good number of men. "
I'd like to see those men.
Posted by himynameisCHRIS

Sue is perhaps the most crucial member of the FF, both in its current Future Foundation state and the Fantastic Four embodiment. 

Posted by Beyond your Doom

You make good talk, and I think most people didn't have the "4" in the suit though.

Posted by SirSparkington

From what I've read of the Fantastic Four, she is an awesome character. She is an awesome mom and kicks some serious ass.

On another note, belly windows are the stupidest costume thing ever.

Posted by The Sadhu

Agreed! Sue is one of the best female characters in comics! Not just in Marvel but all over!
Posted by The Mast

This whole convo about '80s clothing reminds me of something very dear to my heart.

"Prince had this cat named, uh...Micki Free. All them dudes was like, 'Yo, Prince got this new chick. That b*tch fine like a motherf*****. Micki Free is not a girl."

I think he doesn't just have a prominent role because someone DECIDES to write her well. Sue Storm-Richards is also, as Norman said in the death issue review, a mother. They truly embody the familial elements better than any other in Marvel. Whereas other women might have to deal with relationship woes, Sue has to balance a marriage, kids and their life all in one. When you consider she's not married to the most attentive husband, though he does love her, it's gotta be tough.

I am personally thrilled with Christos Gage's job in Avengers Academy. People don't seem to like those characters, but I think he's doing an amazing job, especially with the ladies of the group.

I would love to see Elektra given more glory in terms of quality of writing. The woman who was pivotal in taking Daredevil from a poor-man's Spidey into one of its most serious and memorable arcs (Including her death) has barely had anything going on. The last huge story she had was her involvement in Secret Invasion and her return in Dark Reign. She didn't play as big a part in the monumentally mismanaged Shadowland as she should have.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Always have loved Sue. That 80s look sure is good even if it is obviously more appealing than functional.  Reminds me of the limited Fantastic Four Unlimited series when Sue had that look.

Posted by DH69

fav marvel superheroine <3

Posted by CellphoneGirl

Sue is freaking awesome. She's always been my favorite Fantastic Four character.

Posted by AfternoonWalker

You didn't even mention the change in her powers from just becoming invisible to creating forcefields to developing into one of the few characters in complete and utter control of her powers.  I remember a specific story when was able to contain a liquid Diablo had given to her and Reed in their throats and then pull it out when Diablo left the room.
Posted by sj_esposito

I was never much of an FF fan, and in the interest of full disclosure, I've only really made contact with them during large scale crossover arcs. That being said, I've always wondered why Sue wasn't made more prominent in the general Marvel U. She has such a fundamentally great power set and is very important to continuity. I wouldn't necessarily care to see more of her, only because I don't care see more of the FF, but I do think she's kind of underrated.

I wonder if it has something to do with her being a rather generic looking, but pretty blonde from Marvel's first family.  Before I get flamed, I say this because it seems like the female characters that catch a really big following are the 'edgier' characters. Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Elektra... These are all women who have a lot of mental and emotional baggage, and it may be true that these characters have the larger followings because of their personalities. Maybe?

Posted by Neverpraying

o.O

Posted by SC

Great article! Sue is the only original first wave of Marvel superheroines in an okay state. Jean and Janet are dead or as good as dead, Wanda is probably still crazy or perceived as. I think just by factor of how long she has been a character means she has a ton of complexity that a good writer who knows her history can tap into, to take the best parts and leave some of the... more questionable aspects. Its immensely fun sitting back with a stack of Essential FF4 and watching her develop as a character. Some interpretations I have hated, but for more recent times, she has been great! Loved her in Civil War. I think she was one of the biggest characters there and helped Iron Man's side look well... more balanced. Very cool, complicated and iconic character! 


I still maintain she is underutilized though! I remember a writer pitched a mini series based on her that got rejected, sounded promising! I think she could easily be developed into a character who could hold down a small solo mini series, alongside appearing in a team book! As for other Marvel female characters that could use (deserve) more spotlight and TLC? Gah, so many... 
Moderator
Posted by Mr. Kamikaze

My favorite of the four is Johnny, but Sue is a close second. She is so criminally underrated, despite having been named (on several occasions) the most powerful of the four. But beyond her power, she manages to balance being a wife, mother, and a super hero. And she is married to a douche of a man. 


I have always seen Sue as the heart of the Fantastic Four, without her to keep Johnny's antic in check, keeping Reed attentive to his social life and his kids, and Ben from beating Johnny in...the team would fall apart.
Edited by GOREX

Personally I don't read FF and other than the movies and a few references from Spiderman can't say that I've got the grasp for them. However I can say that in today's world girls/women from comics, be they DC or Marvel deserve more respect. I mean the "lets have them nearly naked" sells for the "hopes" but after so much time things should take a twist. Personally I've read Birds of Prey and honestly I think that's right now the best available book where women superheroes are portrayed in an above-average light showing they are fully capable of holding their own. As for the revealing costumes that leave little to the imagination I think in the end they do more harm than good.

However I do have 1 quick question. In that picture with the 80s Sue there's another Sue Storm in the background. A fan perhaps?

Edit: As for revealing males I think Ka-Zar is probably the best example :P

Edited by Kallarkz
Haven't been able to respect her character much as in the past she seemed to be constantly cheating on Reed. Is she still like that?
Posted by jloneblackheart

It's pretty amazing how far she has come. It's almost embarrassing to read those old issues now.

Currently, I think she could take on any member of the Four, or anyone for that matter. She is one of the most powerful people in Marvel, male or female.

Moderator
Posted by marvelunivers_deleteme

x 23

Posted by Scarlet_Rogue

Sometimes I kinda just hoped that the FF were mostly killed off and Sue would come into her own. She's come a long way and I always cringed when I've seen her referred to as Mrs. Richards.

Posted by tectonic_prose

Love the article, but if I may; Sue Storm is an inherent hypocrisy.  While being Marvel's 'first lady', it none the less remains that Sue Storm original power was to be invisible, allegorical for the 50s that birthed the book.  Women, were neither meant to be seen or heard.  In it's own right, it's a step back from Wonder Woman. For those that don't know, The FF actually altered the entire focus of comic books forever by successfully bridging the 'super hero' and 'sci fi' genre.  Sure, Superman was a 'alien', but at his core he's really just a human with powers, it was Reed Richards that turned the cheek to alternate dimensions, alien empires, and 'world devourers'.  The Human Torch and The Thing were really benign elements in the book for some time, accomplishing the stereotypical 'superhero' role.  Sue Storm was an unfortunate victim.  The wife of a mad scientist, invisible, at times, to even him.    
  In any case, the fact that Sue HAS come so far is an accomplishment.  Sue's role in Civil War was, arguably, the voice of reason among the heroes.  She holds herself now as decisive and defiant.   Beyond obviously being the most powerful of the FF, she has now has the most formidable persona.  I would love to see her branch off further from her husband, possibly even divorcing him to remove herself from his dangerous obsessive ways.  Has that happened?  It should.   

Posted by Mercy_
@SirSparkington said:
" From what I've read of the Fantastic Four, she is an awesome character. She is an awesome mom and kicks some serious ass.On another note, belly windows are the stupidest costume thing ever. "
@jloneblackheart said:
" It's pretty amazing how far she has come. It's almost embarrassing to read those old issues now. Currently, I think she could take on any member of the Four, or anyone for that matter. She is one of the most powerful people in Marvel, male or female. "


QFT

Moderator
Edited by Donovan Montgomery
I have always thought of Sue as a major part of the FF therefore a major part of the Marvel U. but I agree she was originally misused generally speaking.  I am glad they finally started bringing her to the fore in the FF. Not forgetting her role as Malice either, which led to her aforementioned name change to Invisible Woman

@The Mast said:

I would love to see Elektra given more glory in terms of quality of writing. The woman who was pivotal in taking Daredevil from a poor-man's Spidey into one of its most serious and memorable arcs (Including her death) has barely had anything going on. The last huge story she had was her involvement in Secret Invasion and her return in Dark Reign. She didn't play as big a part in the monumentally mismanaged Shadowland as she should have. "

I agree with this, I also don't think she needs that PIS power they gave her.  Take her back to her roots when she was the top assassin around.  Also agree with her part in Shadowland, really missed the Widow in that story as well.

And to finish my post off I'd like to quote @Mr. Kamikaze said: 
I have always seen Sue as the heart of the Fantastic Four, without her to keep Johnny's antic in check, keeping Reed attentive to his social life and his kids, and Ben from beating Johnny in...the team would fall apart.
"
Very well said, thank you.

P.S. I also think she would do really well in her own mini series.
Posted by JonesDeini

Hickman really upped Sue's profile for me. That panel of her laying the pimp hand down on Imperious Rex in 577 will forever dwell fondly in my memory. 

Posted by xkoenig

I love this article, good job, Sara. I only read a few old Fantastic Four comics back during Walt Simonson's run, but I just started collecting the new FF series. I totally agree, poor Susan used to be a sorry reflection of the 60's attitude toward women, but thankfully she is now a strong, powerful female superhero. I just love where she is right now.

Posted by The_Martian

Invisible Woman is the best female character in comics.

Edited by GundamHeavyarms

Its good that Sue is getting some love.  I'd honestly like to read an Invisible Woman mini, but I dont think that will happen. Oh and about her 80's outfit, well lets just say she was going through a phase.

Posted by Joe Venom

"Fine! Wives should be kissed -- and not heard!" lmao i'm gonna blow that panel up and put it on a T-shirt. Did he happen to tell her to go make him a sandwich too XD

Posted by AssertingValor

sue is hot............................
Posted by PikminMania

I like that 80's costume HOT

Posted by PhoenixoftheTides
@tectonic_prose: Great points; I was thinking of some of them, as well. Her invisibility is both powerful while constantly being unnoticed by it's very nature. Maybe she should gain another powerup in the form of forcefields that can be either visible or invisible so she can get credit for some of the more dynamic shapes she used to fight bad guys. Make her more of a Green Lantern like character.
Posted by Lurkin

Great article, Sue deserves the recognition.

Posted by fenrirfear93

there are so many costume to me to catch up

Posted by carnivalofsins00

I love how Hickman handles Sue. I never really knew her importance until I started reading Three. Her part in Three was definitely my favorite and the most interesting, for me at least.

Posted by The Stegman

i feel that Marvel for the most part can't make a good super heroine to save their lives, they either have them annoying and bitchy or just a quiet member of a team of all males, however sue is the first and only in my opinion, Marvel Heroine who is successful on her own, although Reed is the brains behind the FF sue is the heart and spirit, and without her i believe the team would crumble, she is nice, strong, relatable and smart as well as wont take crap from anyone(you can be this and NOT be a bitch, are you listening Emma Frost?) she's really the ONLY woman in marvel i actually like and respect!

Posted by The Stegman
@tectonic_prose: well..not to be picky, but technically the Challengers of the Unknown were the FIRST comic book heroes to branch over into sci fi, they were actually created by Jack Kirby and the inspiration for the Fantastic Four (they were also a quartet of heroes acting as a family) although i think the reason the FF are more successful is because they actually have...personalities
Posted by katanalauncher

In my opinion, current FF's quality are no where near late 70's to 80's FF.

Posted by Blurred View

Could Sue lead the FF?


Hell, I thought she had already been running things for years now. She's the one who balances out all the other members' eccentricities (Ben's temper, Johnny's irresponsibility and Reed's obsessiveness) and keeps the team functioning. She's also the only Marvel female I can honestly see standing up to Cap, Iron Man and Thor and putting them in their place.
Posted by DKing_CiCADA

This was a great article

Posted by -Vigil-

If she could keep her clothes on, that'd be great. Anyway, I admittedly haven't read the recent comics, but I never liked Sue Storm. Or almost any comics heroine, actually. The entire medium could stand to have some better female characters. (and maybe keep them more modestly dressed.)

Posted by Augustus Freeman VI
@The Mast said:
" This whole convo about '80s clothing reminds me of something very dear to my heart."Prince had this cat named, uh...Micki Free. All them dudes was like, 'Yo, Prince got this new chick. That b*tch fine like a motherf*****. Micki Free is not a girl."
full of win
Posted by SneakyPenguins

 

      lol, gotta love the 80's
Posted by gambitpryde1993

What's your opinion of Jessica Alba's performance in the Fantastic Four  films? I think she's just a retread of the 60s Sue Storm w/ the sex appeal of the modern one. She seems insecure and too dependent on Reed to be a strong leader like Invisible Woman in the comics.

Posted by Slinger

I'd say modern Sue is really better fit to lead the FF than Reed. Reed get's too caught up in science, and is fine on his own, but puts the team in more danger than they need to be in. If I were in the Fantastic Four, with Sue in charge I would have more confidence that the whole team would be making it back alive from a mission. With Reed I would bring along my Rosary beads.

Posted by charlieboy

ok. i love sue richards. she is the best member of the ff. always has been. and also sue wore that outfit during the 90's not the 80's.
Edited by JonesDeini
@Joe Venom said: 
One of my favorite panels in history lol


@Blurred View said:
" Could Sue lead the FF?

Hell, I thought she had already been running things for years now. She's the one who balances out all the other members' eccentricities (Ben's temper, Johnny's irresponsibility and Reed's obsessiveness) and keeps the team functioning. She's also the only Marvel female I can honestly see standing up to Cap, Iron Man and Thor and putting them in their place.
"
As did I. Sue runs the Four, has for a while now. 

Edited by charlieboy

from the research i did sue started wearing that outfit around '93. i could not pinpoint the exact issue because i don't have it in my collection. she was being influenced by malice i believe at the time.
Posted by JonesDeini
@Slinger: 
Yeah, but Reed's the perfect man to head the Future Foundation. Sue and Ben had a great convo about the changing focus of the team in Issue 2. 
Edited by Psychotime

I'd love an explanation as to how she put up with Reed for all these years.



That panel is amazing. How does he apologize to his wife for being an asshole and then a second later in the SAME panel he switches to asshole mode again? HOW DOES HE DO THAT?

 Honestly, I wouldn't have Reed any other way.

It's been a good while since I've kept up with the FF.
Posted by G-Man

She really needs to put Reed in HIS place for this:

  
She should go all Malice on him for this.
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