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The Evolution of Sue Storm

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

Oh, brother.
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.

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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?
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?