Letters from Fantastic Four
#290, May 1986
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
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
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
Point 5 – It is now 3:45 AM. I am tired.
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
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
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
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.
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?
Your solutions – THE INVISIBLE
WOMAN CAN SEE WHEN INVISIBLE BECAUSE…
…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.
…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.
…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.
…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.
… 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
…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.
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.
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
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