Tag Archives: Invisible Woman
Up here in Canada, and more specifically in Ontario, yesterday was Family Day! It’s a made up, but much appreciated, holiday to celebrate how great it is to have a family. I spent the day playing boardgames with my friends and pressing ignore whenever my parents called. (Just kidding. My parents didn’t call at all. ((They called the day before.))) Anyhoo, this got me thinking that I should show some love to Marvel’s first family – The Fantastic Four.
As a delicious bonus, I’ve had a running argument with a guy at work about whether the Fantastic Four suck or not. This is my opportunity to rebut him in public and in writing. So Adam, you better read this one. I also think they get a bit of a bad rap in general anyway.
To be honest, I think they’re kind of a hard concept to pull off well. Reed Richards needs to prove to the world that he’s all super smart, so he builds a rocket and launches it before it’s ready. Because he’s a supergenius, he launches it with himself, his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s brother, and his best friend inside. The rocket gets bombarded with cosmic rays and instead of them all getting cancer they get super powers! Reed becomes Mr. Fantastic with the power to stretch his body as if it were made of rubber. His girlfriend, Sue Storm, becomes the Invisible Woman and she can turn invisible and make invisible force fields. Her brother Johnny can set himself on fire so he becomes the Human Torch. Ben Grimm, Reed’s buddy and pilot, becomes a rocky, orange Thing. And, instead of seeking medical help of any kind, they become The Fantastic Four.
What sets them apart, and I know this is somewhat clichéd, is the fact that they are a family first and a team second. Reed uses his super smarts to invent junk and let them live a super cushy life in the top floors of the Baxter Building. When monsters and aliens attack, they decide to use their powers to save the day. Mainly because it gave the rest of the team something to do. That stuff is just there to draw readers in. Really, the book is about how they interact with each other.
This can be really tough to showcase properly. Some writers make it too nicey nice, where they all get along way too well. Other writers treat them more like roommates. The best, though, are able to show them act like a real family. Sometimes Reed gets so busy in his lab that he forgets about Sue and their two kids (Franklin and Valeria). Sue, on the other hand, can be tempted by the fiery passions of other men like Namor The Submariner. Ben and Johnny play pranks on each other, and can be downright cruel. But, when the chips are down, they always come to each other’s aid.
Something else that sets them apart from a more typical team book like The Justice League or The Avengers is the fact that they’re not your typical superheroes. Often, the comic is more like an adventure. They don’t really fight crime, but they go to other dimensions like the Negative Zone, or repel alien invasions like the Skrulls. The first time they fought the Skrulls, Reed hypnotized them into shape shifting into cows and forgetting that they were ever anything but cows. It’s a fairly creative, if somewhat cruel, way to solve that problem.
It’s also the comic that gave us Galactus, The Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, The Inhumans, The Black Panther, The Kree and the Fantasticar. And those are all in the first 65 issues. They’ve just passed issue 600 and have been a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe through all of that. They’ve gone through some changes: Thing was replaced by She Hulk for awhile, and a lady Skrull joined the team around this one time that Reed died. (He got better.) The whole team was replaced for two issues by the coolest four person line up Marvel could cram together: Spider-Man, The Hulk, Ghost Rider and Wolverine. The issues kind of suck, but the very thought of it got my blood pumping when I was in grade 8. Who am I kidding? It still does.
Currently, Jonathan Hickman is doing wonders for the team. His first couple of arcs in particular did a really great job of balancing the sci-fi action with some tender family moments. I highly recommend it.
THAT IS ALL.
Graham Becksted was once bombarded by cosmic rays but all he got was this lousy t-shirt. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 52nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
This week’s column is thanks entirely to my friend Karo Silverwick. She asked on Facebook if anyone was a fan of Marvel comics. Obviously I threw my hat in the ring since I can’t seem to resist the chance to talk about comic books. Karo then sent me a list of questions each one worthy of an essay style response. So, I figured it would be best to just answer them all here.
When did you become a fan?
I think that actually started with my dad. He collected comics as a kid. Actually, I’m pretty sure he was pretty exclusively into Marvel comics, too. He’s got some pretty cool issues stashed away. Well, he says he has them anyway. He’s never let me see his really good ones, so they may not exist at all…
Anyway, he got me my first few issues, but what really did it was the X-Men Animated Series. I watched it pretty obsessively and then read up on all of the characters on wood burning websites on my smoke-signal internet. What really solidified it for me was when double-bubble started packaging X-Men stickers in with the gum. At lunch kids would ask me about the characters on their stickers and for a brief time I was like a god! Some sort of X-Man identifying god!
It didn’t last.
Do you collect any of the comics?
Yes. Currently – Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers Academy, Punisher, Ultimates, Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Hawkeye, Shield, FF, and Alpha Flight.
(Those are just the Marvel ones.)
Who is your fav hero and why?
That’s a tough call. I mean, these days I’m really more invested in the creators behind the comics than the characters in the comics. The easy answer is probably Wolverine. He’s such a badass it’s hard not to like him, especially for kids. But, there are a lot of cool Marvel heroes. Some characters who are making a play for a special place in my heart are The Thing, Reptil, James Hudson, and Leonardo Da Vinci.
But, I gotta say that ever since Ultimate vol. 1 Captain America has been the character I’ve most liked. He’s always been depicted as a man out of time, but as an idealized, squeaky clean version of the 40s. In the Ultimate version, he’s got rougher edges. He’s kind of sexist, and doesn’t take any guff. My favourite moment of his is this one:
He’s getting the crap beaten out of him by an alien Nazi (it’s a long story.) The Nazi is demanding that he say that he surrenders. Cap has heard enough, and beats him to a pulp before saying those immortal words above.
Who is your favorite villain and why?
That is a harder question. There’s so many to choose from and they cycle through them so often. But, I guess I’ll settle for a classic: Magneto. When he first appeared, he was sort of two-dimensional villain. I mean, he was the founder of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He was pretty purely a bad man. Through years and years of character development, he’s actually become one of the deeper super-villains in comics. He believes that mutants are superior to humans, and he won’t idly stand by when his people are threatened. He is principled and has his own moral code. In fact, at least once a decade he switches sides and joins the X-Men. He’s even led them at various times, and was the headmaster for the New Mutants. He’s one of the very few villains who could probably support his own ongoing series.
What is your favorite romance and why?
Another tough one, as superhero romances aren’t usually worth talking about and almost all of them end in heartbreak of one sort or another. Cyclops and Jean were a good couple, but they were together for so long that they’ve had a lot of weird stuff happen to them. For instance – Jean died, then Cyclops married a woman who looked just like her, had a kid with her, then left her when Jean turned out not to be dead, then the other woman was revealed to be a clone of Jean and became evil, the kid was sent to the future, Jean and Cyclops got married, then Cyclops psychically cheated on her with the White Queen, and then Jean died again. (And those are just the twists I can think of off the top of my head.)
I guess the one that I like the most at the moment is Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards) and the Invisible Woman (Sue Storm). They really feel like a couple who have been through a lot together. And, considering they have been together for 50 years, they have been through A LOT. But whatever happens they always end up with each other. They have two kids and a pretty strong marriage. When written well there’s always the sense that they enjoy each other’s company and that they each bring something to the table. As clichéd as it sounds, they really complete each other.
Tell me what you think of the movies.
Love ‘em. Well, for the most part I love ‘em. Since Marvel created their own film studio they’ve had a pretty strong track record, and a lot of the movies they put out before then were pretty solid too. The best have been X-Men, X-Men 2, Iron Man, and Captain America. The worst are definitely X-Men 3, Elektra, and all of the Punishers. The rest fall somewhere in between. The best all seem to capture the spirit of the comics without trying to replicate them exactly, and without deviating too much. It’s a tough balance to hit, but when they do it elicits a lot of fist pumping. Well, at least in me it does…
THAT IS ALL.
Follow me on Twitter if you’d like: @GrahamBecksted