In amongst all the Wonder Woman hype, I want to remind y’all of Susan Storm-Richards, A.K.A. The Invisible Woman. No, not because of Jessica Alba. I watched Jessica in Dark Angel, and I blame her subpar foray into the Fantastic Four on poorly written characterization. My choice to vote for in this week’s Nerd Fight is the best performance of Sue because – from the beginning of the Fantastic Four in 1961 to 2017 where her book has been canceled, but she lives on in other Marvel adventures – I look at her and I see what exemplifies women: powerful patience, unyielding resolve, and ferocious defense of those they love.
Over time, the Invisible Woman has: raised her brother, gone into space to help the man she loves and her brother achieve their dreams, been shrunken, traveled to parallel realities, traveled to the negative matter universe, traveled through time, traveled to other planets, traveled between atoms, & gone to Hell to save her son. She’s only ever lost control twice, and both times were due to mind control. Never did she give up, even when she miscarried her second child. She wanted to, but did not, even then. Susan Storm-Richards is the type of woman who was frightened when her hand was disintegrated, but quickly grabbed its pieces and charged forward to stop the threat from hurting anyone else. Weeks later she was truly horrified… when her young son swore. Priorities AND ass-kicking. She has them.
Obviously, she is a complex character, and as such is hard to write, and harder to portray. We’ve had Jo Ann Pflug have the Invisible Woman join us in the original animated 1960s series. Ginny Tyler gave us Sue in 1978 (in the same series that brought us H.E.R.B.I.E to replace the Human Torch. Sigh.) More of you will remember Lori Alan in the Fox series from 1994-1995. The sixties series was… ah… animated…? Yet it had some of the most faithful-to-the-characters writing – thanks to taking dialogue almost word for word from the comics.
The 2006-2007 series from Cartoon Network did not include the darker themes from FF history like the devil kidnapping Reed and Sue’s toddler, or our heroes being dismembered, but it did allow her a wide range of character opportunities. Things like getting to know the tenants of their building (two of whom hated the four.) The family dynamics of quashing super-powered bickering between Ben and Johnny (The Thing and The Human Torch.) To quashing the bickering of violent world leaders, and stopping the Hulk in his tracks by herself twice! She even stared down Galactus, the World-Eater.
World’s Greatest Comics Magazine
Like the rest of their cartoon series, Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes had a much more action and adventure oriented storytelling style than all of the Fantastic Four comic books have been. At least Miss Lara Gilchrist (whom Supernatural fans might recognize as Nurse Foreman from “Sam, Interrupted” or Holly Parker from “Scarecrow”) joined us for it.
Lara took writing that already balanced out the heartbreak, excitement, laughter, and adrenaline of a comic book CENTERED around exploring the unknown, and made Sue feel EXACTLY like Sue. Down to the unwavering love, the stoic dedication to what is right, and being the immovable object in the path of evil and carelessness. Lara Gilchrist also remained the super-heroine my grade school self admired for her creativity and diplomacy, not just ass kicking. This show was the first and still only Fantastic Four multimedia presentation to get it. The FF may be the first super-hero family, but Sue is their soul. Thank you, writers of Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes, and thank you, Lara Gilchrist. Sincerely, Igor, Possibly a Box