In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out how the Invisible Woman came close to becoming a private detective in the 1970s.
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and forty-fifth episode where we examine three comic book legends and determine if they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three captions.
The Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman almost became a private detective in the 1970s.
I go with true
In The Fantastic Four #130 (by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Joe Sinnott), the Fantastic Four fight an invasion of the Baxter Building by the Frightful Four, and Reed is unhappy with how Sue wasn’t doing enough, in his mind, to protect their son Franklin…
Even after the battle is over, Reed decides not to drop the subject, and he again takes it out on Sue for not putting Franklin’s safety first…
Sue is fed up with heartbreak, so she leaves Reed, taking Franklin with her, and an angry Reed lets her…
Two issues later, Sue is replaced in the team by Medusa…
Gerry Conway then replaced Thomas as writer of the book (with Thomas remaining as editor, however). Conway wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of the book’s writing. He discussed it with Bob Brodsky in Write Now! by TwoMorrows! #ten…
Conway: [W]riting the Fantastic Four was a constraint, working within that dynamic and trying not to change its iconic nature.
Brodsky: Was the team format a problem?
Conway: No, I liked writing teams. The truth is, The Fantastic Four is one of those comics that has gravity, but when you watch it and work through it, not much happens. [laughs] It was the first Marvel book at the time, but from a writer’s perspective, there weren’t many places to go with it. Reed Richards is a stick. His relationship with Sue has always been very strained and unreal. This guy is like 20 years older than her. What does she see in him? Johnny Storm is a cartoon, and the Thing is one of those great tragic heroes who, once you’ve explored tragedy, where do you go? So you can’t do much with them. You continue to stir the pot.
In The Fantastic Four #141 (by Conway, Buscema, and Sinnott), Reed worries that Franklin is losing control of his powers, so he uses a weapon to shut down his son’s mind….
Sue, naturally, was not a fan of this, and in The Fantastic Four #147 (by Conway, Rich Buckler and Sinnott), Sue filed for divorce…
In an excellent piece by Jarrod Buttery (as is the case with Jarrod’s pieces, in general) in issue 74 of TwoMorrows, Conway explained his thinking:
I wanted to shake things up and, to put that in historical context too, the early 1970s was a time of huge upheaval in gender relations. The divorce rate was skyrocketing, [and] women were really pushing to be taken seriously as equals in their relationships with men. It was the cultural flourishing of women’s liberation. This was when women’s liberation was really gaining momentum as the next step in civil rights, the next big national cause in the country. So that was part of the zeitgeist and what we were all thinking about.
Ultimately, what the story was a metaphor for was, here is a man who basically put his own view of what’s good for the world over the good of his own family. Now, he may have felt like he had no choice, but in the end what he was doing was the classic male thing of taking one-sided male action – without really consulting his wife. Just deciding, ‘That’s what I had to do!’ Obviously, he felt awful about it; he felt he had no choice, but didn’t really expect his wife to oppose him so fundamentally that it would break up their marriage.
I think if Stan had written this story, if he had to do the same things – which I doubt he ever does – he would have made Sue become understanding; Sue would have capitulated. Stan’s version of Sue would have been mad at Reed but probably sadder and would have focused her nurturing attention on the damaged child, and maybe even reassured Reed by saying, “Oh what you did, you did it. did because you had to.”
It’s not Sue I wanted to write! It was basically a woman going to say, ‘That’s it, son of a bitch! You’ve done the one thing you can never do to a mother and that’s mess with her child! That’s what I wanted to address.”
Conway, however, asked Sue to get back together with Reed in The Fantastic Four #149…
The problem, however, was what to do with Sue when she got back together with Reed, but Medusa was still on the team. Conway has finally left the book period, but before that he explained some of his plans, and they were published in the fanzine, Legion Outpost #7, as a news item (I asked Gerry about it, but he couldn’t remember. However, it reminds me of something the late and great Len Wein told me a “It’s hard enough to remember the stories I wrote 40 years later, let alone the ones I did NOT write”), that the Fantastic Four were going to be kicked out of the Baxter Building and had to find jobs to support themselves and that Sue was going to open a detective agency, possibly with other Marvel Characters working with her.
Obviously, since Conway left the book, that never happened. Roy Thomas took over the book with Conway gone, and in The Fantastic Four #158 (by Thomas, Buckler, and Sinnott), Thomas alluded to Conway’s abandoned plot by Reed mentioning that Sue had wanted to form a detective agency…
However, in the next issue, Sue joined the team and Medusa left…
so the idea of a detective agency never existed!
Thanks to Gerry Conway, Bob Brodsky and Jarrod Buttery for the great information!
SOME MORE LEGENDS OF ENTERTAINMENT!
Check out some entertainment legends from Legends Revealed:
1. Did Tony Curtis say kissing Marilyn Monroe was like “kissing Hitler”?
2. Was George Reeves’ role reduced in From Here to Eternity because audiences couldn’t stand seeing Superman in the movie?
3. Were The Little Mermaid’s facial features based on Alyssa Milano?
4. Has a Frank Zappa instrumental album received a parental advisory?
PART TWO COMING SOON!
Check back soon for part 2 of the legends of this episode!