Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sue Richards...Heart of the Fantastic Four

Tally Ho!

In this comic book era where the average female superhero is anatomically impossible, and often not much more than a fantasy image, it is easy to say that there are no positive role models for girls in comics. This is not true. Several ladies come easily to mind as powerful and positive female role models. There’s Barbara Gordon, Wonder Woman, Buffy, and the current incarnation of Supergirl, to name a few. But perhaps the single most impressive woman in the entire pantheon of comics is…Sue Richards, The Invisible Woman.

Sue is not only one of the most powerful heroes in the entire Marvel Universe, heroic and self sacrificing, as is any card carrying adventure hero. She is also a wife and mother, as well as the moral center of the Fantastic Four. There is something also very…real…about Sue. The way she is realized on the page, beautiful but not impossible, brilliant but not all knowing, loving but capable of putting her foot down, adoring of her husband but often questioning the nature of her marriage…all of these and more make Sue a wonderfully three dimensional character. Sue is actually someone you would like to know.

Of course Susan was not ALWAYS the character we know and admire today. Back in 1961, when Jolly Jack and Smilin’ Stan first created the Fantastic Four, Sue (then Sue Storm) was little more than the damsel in distress with a very minor power. Back in those halcyon days sweet Sue was most often seen shopping for dresses, mooning over Reed, or being held prisoner. Of course this WAS the early 1960s , and she was being portrayed in much the same way that women had been presented in the Sci-Fi fare of the age. She would have been right at home in Creature Of The Black Lagoon, Rocketship X-M, This Island Earth or The Thing.

But never let it be said that the Mighty Marvel Bullpen was not forward thinking. In short order, Sue developed her force field ability, which made her as potentially powerful as anyone on the team. She was no longer a hostage waiting to happen but a vital member of the FF.

By 1966 Sue was no longer a “girl” but a married woman. And no shrinking violet was she! Early on Susan (now RICHARDS) challenged Reed’s decisions when she felt he was wrong. This was spotty back in the earlier days of the team but has evolved to the point where Sue is really the co-leader of the Fantastic Four today.

Add to all that the fact that the lovely Mrs. Richards is also one heck of a great mom. I mean how many parents would have such well adjusted kids with Dr. Doom and Galactus paying such frequent visits? (Plus she still acts as a surrogate mother to the never grown up Human Torch). She may be only co-leader of the TEAM but there is no doubt that she is the unquestioned leader and heart of the FAMILY.

Is it any wonder that Namor has had a crush on her since 1961? Or that *I* have??!!!

Next a Silver Age retro review of Action 252 from 1958, the first appearance of Supergirl!

And that's 30!


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