Letters from Fantastic Four #290, May 1986

Fantastic Forum

Dear Marvel,

It is 2:34 A.M

This afternoon I read FANTASTIC FOUR #284. I can’t get the story out of my head. I have been hopelessly addicted to the FF since I was seven years old. Now, at twenty-two, after reading this issue, I am compelled to write to you for the first time. I just wish to make a few points.

Point 1 – I have watched the FF evolve and grow over the years and I have witnessed many changes. None of these have compared even slightly to what has happened to Susan in the past few issues. She has always been (in my opinion) the least thought of member of the quartet, invisible (alas!) in more ways than one. It is good to see her importance now realized by the other members of the group. Although I by no means ever considered Sue to be childlike (for lack of a better word), it is indeed refreshing to see her character finally maturing. She’s coming to terms with who she is, exorcising the doubts and unspoken fears she has obviously been carrying inside for so long. The “Invisible Girl” truly no longer fits Susan Storm Richards…she is the “Invisible Woman”!

Point 2 – I have always liked the She-Hulk. Unlike her male counterpart, she is warm, intelligent, and frequently witty. She provides that much-needed humorous side to the FF, much in the way Ben Grimm did when he was a member. I have always associated the She-Hulk with power and confidence. She has that special aura about her. That’s why I was literally stunned to see her reduced to a cowering slave in issue #284. It was one of the rare times I have really felt something for a character. You people should be commended. It is not often I am moved by a comic book. Then again, that’s what Marvel is all about – providing believable stories that make people feel. For this, I thank you.

Point 3 – Keep Johnny and Alicia together. He has had so many bad relationships that he deserves one that will last. It would be really nice to see them get married, perhaps for the 300th issue. It would also be great if Ben could be the best man, assuming he could accept beyond a shadow of a doubt that his relationship with Alicia was over.

Point 4 – Aside from the magnificient SECRET WARS series, FANTASTIC FOUR #284 was the best comic I have read in a long, long time! Many thanks for such fine work. It’s nice to know that I’m getting what I pay for.

Point 5 – It is now 3:45 AM. I am tired.

Good night.

Mark Beebe
Quebec, Canada

Dear Mr. Byrne,

I just finished reading FANTASTIC FOUR #284 and I was delighted. I’m glad that Sue finally decided to call herself the Invisible Woman Wow! Terrific. I’m speechless…

Shawn P. Barry
Easthampton, MA

Dear John,

Let’s see…this issue you strand She-Hulk in a sub-atomic sewer and Princess Pearla gets a nasty spear wound in the shoulder. Hah, it’s a good thing you like these characters. No telling what you’d do otherwise!

The subtlety of the Psycho-Man’s fate in FF #284 is all the more grisly in that it’s not shown. We know Sue’s ticked. We hear the scream. Something unpleasant happens, obviously. Yet, that is left to us. Especially pleasing in this little scenario is the idea that Sue is human enough that, if she’s pushed a bit too far, she just might push back. While she wouldn’t kill the Psycho-Man outright, she sure made him plenty sorry he tangled with her. Good! It’s about time.

I’ve always felt, especially with Doctor Doom, the FF were a bit too willing to forgive and forget. At least in #284 you give a nod to revenge. I like the idea if it’s used sparingly. I wouldn’t want the other extreme of a savage FF on the loose – the Torch barbecues the Trapster, Reed fires an FF flare into the Latverian embassy, etc.

As far as the “Invisible Woman” business, I would’ve preferred “Mrs. Fantastic”. Sue’s invisibility is only one of her powers now, after all. It’s like calling her “Mrs. Forcefield”. Ah well, I suppose it’ll have to do for the next twenty-four years. I might as well get used to it.

Joe Frank
Scottsdale, AZ

Well Joe, you’ll just have to trust us when we tell you the majority of letters were all for this name change – in a big way! Right now, we’re going to take advantage of the Invisible Woman’s moment in the spotlight to bring you some of the responses to a question raised a few months back. So many of our loyal fans responded that we’ve been forced to abridge their letters in order to bring you even a small sample. There’s a lot more where these came from!

Ok, the problem – if indeed, Sue warps visible light rays around anything she makes invisible, including herself, then why is she able to see when no light rays should reach her eyes?

…her eyes never become invisible! We see images because light is reflected off of objects. Because Sue’s eyes were open when she was transformed by the cosmic rays they gained the ability to became non-reflective when she manifests her power.

Matt Drinkwine
Salisbury, VT

…her power warps visible light, but allows light other than visible light to come through to her eyes. The cosmic ray mutation that made her what she is also allows her to perceive these images as she would see them in normal visible light.

Thomas Everett
Athens, GA

…it’s possible for her to create a small inverted cone of invisibility, going from her eyes to the edge of the invisible bubble around her. For a split-second Sue would be blind – until she created the rest of her cloak of invisibility to cover her body. When her second light warp is in place, Sue releases her concentration on the cone. At the end of the cone would be a small opening that would be so small that no one on the outside would be able to see it.

Mike Ferrero
Middletown, NY

…of the same principles as TV. A television screen projects an incredibly rapid series of still pictures, each separated by mere microseconds. Due to a “persistence of vision” in the human eye, each picture remains imprinted on the retina long enough to cover the gap before the next picture comes up. In the same way, the Invisible Woman takes light reflected off of objects and “projects” it around her body in a series of rapid flashes. Natural light is a continuous flow, but by breaking it into these flashes, Susan can send half to her own eyes and half around her body to continue in its original direction.

Alvin Helms
Xenia, OH

… we can infer from this that all other non-visible wavelengths of radiation are at least distorted by her power. This would include, among others, X-rays. Sue’s invisibility “field” would be on the order of one millimeter thick. The thickness causes a distortion of the X-rays and a lessening of the frequency. The drop in frequency is just enough to cause the X-rays to have a frequency equivalent to visible light. Thus, Sue and anyone else in her “field” would actually be observing the world  through distorted X-rays.

Tim Whetune and Frank Wade
Ontario, Canada

…since Kitty Pryde of the X-Men lets molecules of foreign objects slip between her own, I propose that the Invisible Woman does something similar with light. She warps it not around an entire object, but around every single molecule in the object, until comes out the other side.

Christopher Blue
USA Health Clinic

…her power is more a metter of absorption and re-emission. Imagine Sue standing in the corner of a room with a single light source. To become invisible, Sue’s body would have to do four general things: 1) Absorb all light striking her from the source, 2) re-emit it on the other side of her body along the same straight path it had been travelling before it struck her body. 3) Absorb all light which reflects from the corner and strikes her on its return, and 4) re-emit that light back towards the source, so that corner will be seen and she will not.
Leonard Johnson
Ann Arbor, MI

Glad you think so, Leonard, but the fact of the matter is that we’re still waiting to hear from Reed on this particular matter. (He really can’t be absent-minded!) Thanks to everyone who cared enough to help – all 12 million of you!
As soon as the verdict’s in, we’ll let you know – and if we know John Byrne, he’ll probably figure out some way to work it into a story soon. And next time we’ll know better than to cover such a loaded question!

Note: this issue was edited by Michael Carlin

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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