Textless variant cover of Fantastic Four (vol. 6) #1.
(August 2018). Art by Stanley Lau.
|First appearance||The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)|
|Created by||Stan Lee (writer)|
Jack Kirby (artist)
|Alter ego||Susan Storm Richards|
|Place of origin||Long Island|
|Team affiliations||Fantastic Four|
Fantastic Four Incorporated
Seven Brides Of Set
|Notable aliases||Invisible Girl|
Mistress of Hate
Baroness Von Doom
The Invisible Woman (Susan "Sue" Storm Richards), previously known as the Invisible Girl, is a fictional superheroine appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is a founding member of the Fantastic Four and was the first female superhero created by Marvel during the Silver Age of Comics.
Sue Storm received her powers by being exposed to a cosmic storm. She possesses two powers: invisibility and force fields. Her invisibility power deals with bending light waves and allows her to render herself and other objects invisible. She can also project powerful fields of invisible psionic, hyperspace-based energy that she uses for a variety of offensive and defensive effects, including shields, blasts, explosions, and levitation. Richards plays a central role in the lives of her hot-headed younger brother Johnny Storm, her brilliant husband Reed Richards, her close friend Ben Grimm, and her children (Franklin and Valeria). She was also romantically involved with Namor the Sub-Mariner for a time, and they remain close friends.
Invisible Woman was portrayed by Rebecca Staab in the unreleased 1994 film The Fantastic Four, Jessica Alba in the 2005 film Fantastic Four and its 2007 sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Kate Mara in the 2015 film Fantastic Four.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2008)
Since Stan Lee wanted The Fantastic Four to be driven by familial connections rather than action, the primary impetus for Susan Storm's creation was to not only be a full member of the team, but also the female lead (with Reed Richards a.k.a. Mister Fantastic being the male lead) of the series. He eventually emphasized this to readers explicitly, with a story in which the Fantastic Four read fan mail denigrating the Invisible Girl's value to the team, and respond by enumerating some of the occasions on which she played a key role in their victories. Teammate Johnny Storm a.k.a. the Human Torch being Sue's little brother became one of several sources of tension within the group, and she also served as the center of a love triangle with Reed and the Fantastic Four's sometime ally, sometime enemy Namor. Sue was initially presented as the sole reason for Ben Grimm, a bad guy, remaining on the group, which was significantly toned down in the published series.
Lee did not want Sue to have super strength, "to be Wonder Woman and punch people", so eventually he came to invisibility, inspired by works such as Universal Pictures's The Invisible Man. His original two-page plot summary for the first issue of The Fantastic Four, reprinted in the Marvel Masterworks and Marvel Epic Collection editions of the first ten issues, handled Susan's powers similarly to The Invisible Man, which required her to take off her clothes, but noting concern that that might be "too sexy" for a comic book. It also noted that she could not turn visible again, and would wear a mask recreating her face when she wanted to be seen. By the time the first issue was written and drawn, both elements had changed: Susan could turn invisible and visible at will, and doing so affected the visibility of whatever clothing she was wearing.
Invisible Woman has primarily appeared in issues of Fantastic Four. In issue 22 (January 1964), the creators expanded Sue's abilities, giving her the powers to render other objects and people invisible and create strong force fields and psionic blasts. Under John Byrne's authorship, Sue became more confident and assertive in her abilities, which became more versatile and impressive. She finds she can use her force field abilities to manipulate matter through the air, immobilize enemies, or administer long-range attacks. Susan changed her nom de guerre to Invisible Woman.
As detailed in The Marvel Saga: Official History of The Marvel Universe #16, Susan Storm, and her younger brother, Jonathan grew up in the town of Glenville, Long Island, children of a physician named Franklin Storm and a woman named Mary. The parents left their kids alone one night to travel to a dinner honoring Dr. Storm. On the way, a tire blew out but only Mary was injured. Franklin escaped injury and insisted on operating on his wife. He was unable to save her and she died. After his wife's death, Dr. Franklin Storm became a gambler and a drunk, losing his medical practice, which led him to the accidental killing of a loan shark. Franklin did not defend himself in court, because he still felt guilty over Mary's death. With their father in prison, Susan had to become a mother figure for her younger brother.
While living with her aunt, Susan, at the young age of 17, met her future husband, Reed Richards, a house guest who was attending college. When she graduated from high school as the award-winning captain of her Girls' Varsity Swim Team, she moved to California to attend college, where she pursued an acting career and encountered Richards again. They began to become romantically involved with each other.
Reed Richards, working in the field of aerospace engineering, was designing a spacecraft for interstellar travel. Everything was going well until the government stopped the funding of his project. Richards, wanting to see his project through, decided to make an unscheduled test flight. Originally, it was only going to be Reed and his best friend, Ben Grimm, involved, but Susan was instrumental in persuading Reed in letting her brother and herself join them on the dangerous space mission. In space, the quartet was exposed to massive amounts of cosmic radiation. As a result, they had to abort the mission and return to Earth. After the crash landing, they realized that they gained superhuman powers; hers was the ability to become invisible at will. Realizing the potential use of their abilities, the four of them became the Fantastic Four, for the benefit of mankind. Susan adopted the code name Invisible Girl.
As the Fantastic Four, the team set up their first headquarters in the Baxter Building in Manhattan. The Fantastic Four encounter many villains in the early part of their career, but none of them contend for Susan's affections more than Namor the Sub-Mariner. Sue feels an amount of attraction to Namor, but her heart belongs with Reed, a situation that has been called the Marvel Universe's first love triangle.
Initially, her powers are limited to making herself invisible. However, before long Sue discovers she can make other things invisible as well as create force fields of invisible energy. After Susan is injured in battle with the Mole Man, her father escapes from prison and operates on her to save her life. Franklin makes amends with his children before returning to prison; however, the Super-Skrull finds a way to kidnap Dr. Storm, mimic his appearance, and then fight the Fantastic Four as the Invincible Man. In the process of defeating the Super-Skrull, Dr. Storm sacrifices his own life to protect the Fantastic Four from a Skrull booby trap.
Reed and Sue's relationship progresses, with the two of them deciding to get married. The wedding is the event of the century, with several of New York City's preeminent superheroes in attendance. Not long after that, Sue and the Fantastic Four encounter Galactus and the Silver Surfer. Sue later becomes pregnant with her first child. As a result, she takes time off as an active member of the team. Johnny's girlfriend, the Inhuman elementalist Crystal, joins the team, taking over Susan's roster spot.
Susan's cosmic ray irradiated blood cells serve as an obstacle for her in carrying the unborn child to term. Knowing this, Reed, Johnny, and Ben journey into the Negative Zone to acquire the Cosmic Control Rod from Annihilus. Effectively utilizing the device, the baby is safely delivered and is named Franklin, in memory of Susan and Johnny's father. Due to the genetically altered structure of his parents, Franklin is a mutant, possessing vast powers. Seeking to use the boy's talents for his own sadistic purposes, Annihilus triggers a premature full release of Franklin's latent abilities, which were already in the process of gradual emergence. Fearing that his son could release enough psionic energy to eliminate all life on Earth, Reed shuts down Franklin's mind. Angry with Reed for not seeking her input in the matter, Susan leaves the Fantastic Four and has a marital separation from Reed.Medusa of the Inhumans takes her roster spot. With the help of Namor, Susan reconciles with Reed and returns to the Fantastic Four accompanied by Franklin.
Susan eventually becomes pregnant for a second time. However, this second child is stillborn due to Susan having been exposed to radiation inside the Negative Zone. A depressed Susan is manipulated by Psycho-Man into becoming Malice. As Malice, Susan attacks her friends and family in the Fantastic Four, utilizing her abilities at power levels she had never displayed previously. Reed saves Susan by forcing her to hate him legitimately. Susan (off-panel) does something to Psycho-Man, causing him to let out a terrifying scream. After she rejoins her teammates, Susan states that Psycho-Man will never hurt anyone ever again. Susan is profoundly affected by the entire episode, and changes her code name from "Invisible Girl" to "Invisible Woman". Along with Reed, she briefly leaves the Fantastic Four and joins the Avengers. The two of them rejoin the Fantastic Four before long.
During the Infinity War, Susan faces off against Malice, who has reemerged in her subconscious. Susan absorbs Malice into her own consciousness. Subsequently, Susan's personality is influenced by Malice, causing her to become more aggressive in battle, even creating invisible razor-like force fields she uses to slice enemies. Her son Franklin, who has traveled forward and back in time, becomes the adult hero Psi-Lord, frees his mother, and absorbs the influence of Malice into himself. He eventually defeats Malice by projecting her into the mind of the Dark Raider, an insane alternate universe counterpart of Reed Richards who later dies in the Negative Zone.
After the apparent death of Reed, Susan becomes a capable leader. Susan keeps searching for Reed, feeling he is still alive, despite romantic advances from her old flame, Namor the Sub-Mariner. The Fantastic Four eventually rescue the time-displaced Reed, who finds himself temporarily losing confidence in his leadership skills, since Susan is also a capable leader.
Following their return to their Earth of origin, the Fantastic Four encounter Valeria von Doom. This new Marvel Girl came from an alternate future, where she was the child of Susan and Doctor Doom. Susan eventually comes to accept the young girl as a friend. During a conflict with Abraxas, Franklin reveals that he used his abilities to save Susan's original stillborn child and place it in another alternate future. After the ordeal involving Abraxas, Marvel Girl is restored to a baby again inside Susan's womb. Susan again has a difficult birthing. Due to the help of Doctor Doom, Susan gives birth to a healthy baby girl, which Doom names Valeria, his price for helping Sue. Doom places a spell on the baby, which makes her his familiar spirit, to be used against the Fantastic Four. The Fantastic Four wrestle Valeria free from Doom's control and defeat him.
Zius, leader of a group of Galactus refugees, kidnaps Susan. His intent was to use her powers to hide planets from Galactus. Reed finds a way to fool Zius, by switching Susan and Johnny's powers. Susan assists in an adventure where Johnny becomes a herald of Galactus. Wielding a cosmic version of her powers, Johnny is able to see through people to the very cores of their personality.
Both Sue and Johnny gain a newfound respect for each other and how they deal with their powers. Soon, Reed tries to switch the powers back. The entire FF's powers are granted to four random civilians before being restored to their rightful wielders.
This parallels an earlier torture by Doom, where Sue was given an extremely painful version of Johnny's pyrokinetic ability.
During the 2006-07 storyline "Civil War", which takes place in the aftermath of an explosion in a residential neighborhood in Stamford, Connecticut, and prompting calls for the government to register people with superhuman abilities, Sue's brother Johnny is beaten up by locals angered by his celebrity superhero status. Although Sue is initially part of the pro-registration side supporting the Superhuman Registration Act, she defects after the Thor clone, created by her husband Mister Fantastic and Tony Stark, kills Bill Foster. Sue leaves the Baxter Building, informing Reed via a note that their children are in his care, as she intends to join Captain America's underground resistance force. Her final injunction to her husband is a heartfelt request: "Please fix this."
The Storm siblings narrowly escape a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents bent on capturing them in Civil War #5. The two further elude detection by operating under fake husband and wife identities provided by Nick Fury, becoming members of Captain America's Secret Avengers. Before storming the Negative Zone prison, Sue visits Namor to plead for assistance. He refuses and indicates she is still attracted to him, an accusation she does not deny.
During the final battle depicted in Civil War #7, as Susan is nearly shot by Taskmaster, but Reed Richards jumps in front of her and takes the brunt of the attack, sustaining a major injury. Outraged, Susan beats Taskmaster into the ground. Following the end of the war, Susan helps with the clean-up of New York City. She and the other Secret Avengers are granted amnesty, and she returns home to Reed. Seeking to repair the damage done to their marriage as a result of the war, Sue and Reed take time off from the Fantastic Four, but ask Storm and the Black Panther to take their places in the meantime.
In the second issue of World War Hulk, the Fantastic Four confront the Hulk. Reed has designed a machine that recreates the Sentry's aura. The Hulk, only momentarily calmed, discovers the ruse. Sue deploys her force fields to defend Reed against the Hulk, who shatters her protective fields with such force that she collapses, leaving Reed vulnerable. Reed suffers a vicious beating at the hands of the Hulk; Sue telephones the Sentry for help.
The Hulk transforms Madison Square Garden into a gladiatorial arena. Sue and the other defeated heroes are held captive in a lower level. The heroes are outfitted with the same obedience disks that were used to suppress the Hulk's powers and force him to fight his companions on Sakaar.
Some time after World War Hulk, but before Secret Invasion, the Richards family has hired a new nanny for their kids, Tabitha Deneuve. At the same time, a mysterious new group, calling themselves the New Defenders, commits robberies, and one of their members, Psionics, starts a relationship with Johnny. After a bad break-up, Johnny is kidnapped by the Defenders, along with Doctor Doom and Galactus, to power a massive machine that is designed to apparently save the people of the future 500 years from now, a plan orchestrated by Tabitha, who is revealed to be Susan Richards from 500 years in the future. Eventually, the present Fantastic Four are able to save both the present Earth and the future Earth by sending the future inhabitants to the Earth Trust's private duplicate Nu-Earth, but after freeing Doctor Doom, the future Sue goes to apologize to him and is electrocuted by Doom.
While Susan is on a lecture tour in Vancouver, British Columbia, a Skrull posing as Mister Fantastic ambushes her, applying pressure to her skull with an invisible force field and knocking her unconscious. Then, a Skrull infiltrates the Baxter Building disguised as Susan and opens a portal into the Negative Zone, forcing the top three floors of the building into the Negative Zone, and in turn trapping herself, Johnny, Ben, and the two Richards children there. The Skrull impersonating her is later revealed to be Johnny's ex-wife Lyja, who once infiltrated the Fantastic Four by impersonating Ben Grimm's love interest Alicia Masters. The real Susan Richards is recovered alive from a downed Skrull ship after the final battle of the invasion.
Reed started the Future Foundation for the benefit of the world and for science. When the Human Torch died, the Fantastic Four was dissolved and Sue's heroic exploits were moved entirely under the banner of the Future Foundation.[volume & issue needed] It is later revealed that Johnny was revived and is still alive.
Sue and the rest of the Fantastic Four create a life raft that will save them from the coming death of the universe. However, right before the final incursion between their universe and the Ultimate Universe, Sue's part of the ship becomes separated. Reed and Black Panther plan to get her ship back, with Sue holding her part together with her force field. However, the death of the universe proves too much, even for her, and she, Ben, and her children die at the hands of Oblivion, with Reed screaming in agony at the death of his wife and children. Captain Marvel tells him they need to go, and they leave Sue's destroyed part of the ship behind.
When Molecule Man transfers his power to Reed, Reed used it to resurrect his family including Sue, and they began to rebuild the entire Multiverse.
Invisible Woman was later with Mister Fantastic and the Future Foundation when they were confronted by the Griever at the End of All Things.
The Invisible Woman received her powers after cosmic radiation had triggered mutagenic changes in her body. Originally only able to turn herself invisible, Sue later discovered she could render other things invisible as well and project an invisible force field. It has been said on numerous occasions, including by the Fantastic Four's greatest opponent, Doctor Doom, that Susan Storm is the single-most powerful member of the quartet and she is one of the few beings able to rupture the shell of a Celestial.
As the Invisible Woman, Susan can render herself wholly or partially invisible at will. She can also render other people or objects fully or partially invisible too, affecting up to 40,000 cubic feet (1,133 cubic meters) of volume. She achieves these feats by mentally bending all wavelengths of visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light to bend around herself or her target without causing any visible distortion effects. According to the Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook, Sue's retinas don't function conventionally and instead of just registering objects using reflected light, the retinas in Sue's eyes also interpolate shapes based on reflected cosmic rays, which in the Marvel Universe are always present in the atmosphere, granted usually only in small concentrations. This anomaly apparently allows her to perceive invisible people and objects, though she does not see them in colour since the cosmic-ray reflections bypass her eyes' rods and cones; her vision may also be monochromatic when she herself is invisible since her eyes do not reflect light in that state, though she otherwise seems to possess a full range of vision while she is invisible. She can also sense people or objects made invisible by scientific means, and can restore them to a visible state at will.
Sue can also mentally generate a psionic field of invisible force apparently drawn from hyperspace, which she is able to manipulate for a variety of effects. For example, Sue can shape her fields into simplistic invisible constructs (e.g. barriers, clamps, columns, cones, cylinders, darts, discs, domes, platforms, rams, ramps, slides, spheres, etc.) or generate a near-indestructible invisible force field around herself or her target. She can vary the texture and tensile strength of her field to some extent, rendering it rigid as steel or as soft and yielding as foam rubber; softer variants on the field enable her to cushion impacts more gently, and are less likely to result in psionic backlash against Susan herself (in some cases, sufficiently powerful assaults on her more rigid psionic fields can cause her mental or physical pain via psychic feedback). She is also able to make her shields opaque or translucent like milk glass to effectively block variations of light such as laser-beams, or make them semipermeable to filter oxygen from water though the latter is mentally taxing. She can generate solid force constructs as small as a marble or as large as 100 feet (30 m) in diameter, and her hollow projections such as domes can extend up to several miles in area.
By generating additional force behind her psionic constructs, Sue can turn them into offensive weapons, ranging from massive invisible battering rams to small projectiles such as spheres and darts. By forming one of her force fields within an object and expanding the field, Sue can cause her target to explode. She can also travel atop her animated constructs, enabling her to simulate a limited approximation of levitation or flight. She can manipulate the energy of her force fields around other objects to simulate telekinetic abilities as well. She is capable of generating and manipulating multiple psionic force fields simultaneously. This power is only limited by her concentration; once she stops concentrating on a psionic force field, it simply ceases to exist.
Sue's psionic force fields can also counteract or interact with other forms of psychic energy. For instance, when battling against Psi-Lord, an adult version of her own son, her force fields shielded her mind from his telepathic abilities. Similarly, Jean Grey's psychokinetic abilities could not pass through her shields.
Sue Storm is portrayed by Rebecca Staab in the 1994 film adaptation The Fantastic Four. This film portrays Sue very much as she was in the original comics; shy, reserved and infatuated with Reed. The film concludes with Reed and Sue's marriage.
Sue Storm is portrayed by Jessica Alba in the 2005 film Fantastic Four. Sue, a brilliant scientist, leads Victor Von Doom's Department of Genetic Research. She is dating Von Doom at the beginning of the film. Immediately prior to the arrival of the cosmic storm which grants her the ability to manipulate light (allowing her to disappear and generate semi-visible force fields), Victor proposes to her: she turns him down. Unlike in other media, Sue was not able to render her normal clothes invisible which resulted in an embarrassing moment when Sue tried to disrobe to sneak through a crowd, only to reappear while still in her underwear. Although her powers are influenced by her emotions, she manages to control her abilities during the team's climactic battle with Von Doom. Sue accepts Richards' proposal of marriage at the end of the film. In the sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Sue Storm's wedding to Mister Fantastic is interrupted by the arrival of the Silver Surfer, who initially serves as a herald to the planet-consuming Galactus, but later decides to oppose Galactus' attack upon Earth because Sue reminds him of the woman he loved back on his homeworld. While attempting to shield the Silver Surfer with a force field, Sue is stabbed through the chest by a spear created by a cosmic-powered Doctor Doom, and she dies in Reed's arms. However, Silver Surfer uses his cosmic powers to heal her. After the Surfer successfully fends off Galactus, Sue and Reed marry.
Kate Mara portrays Sue in the 2015 Fantastic Four film reboot, directed by Josh Trank. In the film, Susan is Albanian from Kosovo, the adopted daughter of Franklin Storm and adopted sister of Johnny Storm. After gaining her powers from Planet Zero, Susan develops invisibility and force field abilities. The scientists working alongside Franklin Storm were able to create a special suit to help Susan master her abilities. When Victor von Doom returns from Planet Zero and goes on a rampage trying to get back to Planet Zero, Susan is devastated when her adoptive father is killed by Victor. She later helps Reed, Ben and Johnny defeat Victor.
Invisible Woman was ranked as the 99th greatest comic book character of all time by Wizard magazine.IGN also ranked the Invisible Woman as the 66th greatest comic book hero of all time stating that "the Fantastic Four are nothing if not a dysfunctional family, and they need someone to hold that family together. That someone tends to be Susan Richards", and 40th in their list of "The Top 50 Avengers". She was ranked 85th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.