Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sue Storm Kicks Butt, Takes Names, and Finally (Finally!) Earns My Respect

Gentle Reader, I've never liked Sue Storm.

In fact, I've never really liked the whole Fantastic Four Family. Maybe it's the cookie-cutter family-ness of them, with their kids, their public profiles, their "tolerance" for the sad, angry Thing, which always felt forced to me. Or perhaps it's Reed's silly antics, or Sue's passivity, or Johnny's in-your-faceness. Whatever it is, it's turned me off, from the comics, from the movie, from The Thing action figure holding Mr. Reads' toothbrush in the WC.

Perhaps it's because I am a DC girl, through and through. We've discussed this already, Friends, and really, it doesn't bear mentioning again. But suffice to say that when I give kudos to Marvel, I truly, *truly* mean it. And I give Marvel Kudos for Civil War.

I am a DC girl, but even I admit that Civil War is infinitely more fascinating than One Year Later or 52. Perhaps it's the parallel to the real world (and if Marvel does anything perfect, it's write about real world issues), or perhaps it's the odd sides characters are choosing (Cap anti-reg? Spidey pro-reg? Cassie, freaking Cassie pro-reg?!), I'm not sure. But it's working. And it's Got Me, hook, line, and sinker.

Sue Storm always seemed traditional to me. I don't necessarily mean Suzy Homemaker traditional, but rather, a traditional superheroine. Mr. Reads and I have a Very Dear Friend who is rabid for the Marvel Universe, and Said Friend argued with me, just about every week, over the vast superiority of Marvel over DC. Knowing my feminist leanings, and being Quite The Feminist Himself, Said Friend would work through female superheroes on either side of the Publishing Divide in an effort to Convince Me that Marvel was Better than DC.

He said Elektra; I said Black Canary. He said Jean Grey; I said Zatanna. He said Sue Storm; I said Wonder Woman, Huntress, Gypsy, Big Barda, anyone else but Sue Storm.

Her powers changed over the years, he said. She's become the most powerful member of the team. She can turn invisible, and she can create force fields to protect others. She can even attack with force fields.

She's a woman, I said. She's a woman, and her power is invisibility. Wow, that's original.

As you can imagine, Friends, we never did see eye to eye.

But tonight, I Eat Crow, with the faint patina of Shoe Leather. I was wrong, and Said Friend was right.

***Dear Reader, here there be spoilers for Civil War #4. Read with caution.***


At the start of Civil War, I had a feeling things would change between Sue and Reed. They had nothing to gain or lose from Registration. They were already public faces, and they were loved by society (well, not Latverian society). But Reed became wrapped up in Reed, Johnny was beaten almost to death, and Sue began to suspect that her husband wasn't quite the noble figure she had thought him to be.

In this issue, yes, issue #4, Sue sees the extent to which Reed and Tony have gone over the edge. I don't see them as heroes anymore, and neither, I think, does Sue. In fact, they are perhaps more villainous than the villains themselves, and with Venom and Bullseye in your villainous roundup, that is saying a lot indeed!

Sue leaves Reed. She leaves her kids. She leaves the team. She and Johnny go off to fight with the resistance. She leaves her husband with a plea not to judge her as a bad wife or a bad mother. She puts the future, her children's future, above appearances, and forces Reed to take an active interest in children he's really ignored for some time. Sue sees true horror in the face of her friends and loved ones, in the face of her *husband*, and she stands up for what she believes in.

Civil War and its extending books have had some remarkable moments for me, Friends, and I remember each and every one. But the three that stand out above Spider-Man's unmasking, far beyond the fight between Cap and Iron Man, are the final scenes between Jessica and Luke, Sue Storm protecting the Resistance with her force field, and then Sue leaving, not invisibly, but visibly. She's not hiding her convictions, nor is she hiding behind them. She is walking, head held high, and she is walking towards family opposition. She takes the time to cook dinner, make love, write a long note, and walk out in plain sight, and Reed never once notices.

Sue isn't a passive woman, or a stereotype, or any of the other things I've accused her of being. Nor is she a coward, although in her letter to Reed, she admits that some may view her departure as such.

No, Sue Storm is not a coward. She is the bravest person in Civil War thus far. She, more than anyone else in the entire Marvel Universe, knows what it means to sacrifice for a cause she believes in, for the good of humanity, for the future of her children.

And I respect the hell out of her for it.

8 Comments:

At 11:54 PM, Blogger Fanboy said...

I am totally digging this series too. I thought #4 was excellent. The part Sue played, as a moral force if you will, was well orchestrated and her leaving - along with her brother - will be a great opportunity for more character development all around. Add to that the Thing reportedly skidaddleing off to Paris (Paris!?!) and now we have the Fantastic One.

The scenes with Spidey unmasking and Luke and Jessica saying goodbye were well done too. Although not officially part of Civil War, there was an issue of New X-Men a few months back where Ms. Marvel tries to convince the X-Men to be pro-registration and Emma just eviscerates her argument with a brutal logic, if you will. I liked it. Ok, now I am rambling and using big words. Not a good sign.

 
At 12:33 AM, Blogger Amy Reads said...

Hi Mr. Fanboy,
You said, The part Sue played, as a moral force if you will, was well orchestrated and her leaving - along with her brother - will be a great opportunity for more character development all around.

And how! To show such conviction in the wake of such tragedy is to be incredibly brave indeed. So many would have stayed put--Our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is still wavering, after all--and she left.

Add to that the Thing reportedly skidaddleing off to Paris (Paris!?!) and now we have the Fantastic One.

Paris??? Goodness! When he leaves, he goes all out, doesn't he? As for the Fantastic One, I think we've had that for quite some time. I'm just not sure when Reed is going to figure it out, he has his head so far up his own...
well, you know.

Although not officially part of Civil War, there was an issue of New X-Men a few months back where Ms. Marvel tries to convince the X-Men to be pro-registration and Emma just eviscerates her argument with a brutal logic, if you will. I liked it.

Are you reading the Ms. Marvel series? I can't decide if I want to jump in or not. She's an interesting character, but I'm hesitant...
re: Emma, all I have to say is, "Omigod, you teach *ethics*?"
Which is pretty much my response whenever Emma does something Smart.

Ok, now I am rambling and using big words. Not a good sign.

*waves hand*
This blog is ever the Safe Space for rambling, particularly rambling with big words, although I saw no rambling, just smart words. But if you ever do feel the need to ramble? Drop on by. I'm a rambler, and a babbler, complete with Big Words, from way back.
(But sometimes, I mispronounce said big words. At least that only happens in person, right?).
Ciao,
Amy

 
At 10:02 PM, Blogger Dean Trippe said...

i thought she should've been considerably more pissed, actually, but i'm with you.

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger Amy Reads said...

Hi Dean,
You said, i thought she should've been considerably more pissed, actually, but i'm with you.

I do agree that she was almost... mild, considering how I would most likely have been, but then, that seems almost in line with Sue. She has a sort of Earth Mother vibe--as one of the few mothers in the comic book superhero universe!--and I think her letter was just the right amount of personal guilt and scathing righteousness.

Go Sue Storm!
Ciao,
Amy

 
At 11:45 AM, Blogger SallyP said...

As to Sue should have been more pissed off, I disagree. Sue has lived with Reed for long enough to know that logic is the only thing that he may respond to. Remember when she was freaking out as Malice, and he slugged her? Anyway, this cold and reasonable approach is really more devastating when you think about it. You want logic Reed? Boy have you got it. Whether Reed will actually wake up and realize that he's being a gigantic moron is debatable.

 
At 8:55 AM, Blogger Katherine said...

I wasn't particularly interested in Sue or the FF until I read Mark Millar's "Enemy of the State" storyline in Wolverine (note that Millar is also the writer of Civil War, and I think the Sue/Reed relationship as depicted in "Enemy of the State" is foreshadowing for the events of CW). Wolverine breaks into the Baxter Building and tackles each of the Four, one by one. Eventually it's Sue who stops him by -- and this made my jaw drop -- putting force fields in his lungs. So he couldn't breathe.

At which point I said to myself "Holy cow. Sue Storm-Richards is freakin' metal! Why didn't anyone tell me?!"

I've been reading early FF since then, and I see no need to retract that statement. Sure, there's the typical sexism of the era, and she has a tendency to get captured and run into traffic while invisible, but even in the earliest of early days, she was smart and capable and insisted on being an equal partner on the team. Once she got the forcefields, she was easily the most powerful of the Four -- so much so that Lee kept having her faint because otherwise she would have eliminated the bad guys too quickly.

Sue rocks.

 
At 9:23 AM, Blogger Amy Reads said...

Hi Sally,
You said, As to Sue should have been more pissed off, I disagree. Sue has lived with Reed for long enough to know that logic is the only thing that he may respond to.

I think you are absolutely right. Your "cold and reasonable" point is dead on, and it might be the only way to get it through his thick skull. At first, my hackles went up over leaving the kids behind (because I think I've been socially programmed to hackle up in situations like that, no?), but then, to leave them behind in order to force their father to pay attention to them? Actually a wonderful parental move.

You also said, Whether Reed will actually wake up and realize that he's being a gigantic moron is debatable.

He loves Sue. I don't even read the comics, and I know that. I think if anything's going to get him to wake up, it's this.
Although *shudder* the whole "Anyone else think something's up with young Peter Parker?" scared the Bejeesus Out Of Me.
Reed's supposed to be *benign*, right??
Ciao,
Amy

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Amy Reads said...

Hi Katherine,
You said, I wasn't particularly interested in Sue or the FF until I read Mark Millar's "Enemy of the State" storyline in Wolverine [...] Eventually it's Sue who stops him by -- and this made my jaw drop -- putting force fields in his lungs. So he couldn't breathe.

Goodness Gracious! Thank you so *very* much for pointing this out. I am going to find this book forthwith.
What a great and wonderful use of superpowers, and of what I've always viewed as an underrated character.

At which point I said to myself "Holy cow. Sue Storm-Richards is freakin' metal! Why didn't anyone tell me?!"

And now you've told me! Huzzah! Thank you!

I've been reading early FF since then, and I see no need to retract that statement. Sure, there's the typical sexism of the era, and she has a tendency to get captured and run into traffic while invisible, but even in the earliest of early days, she was smart and capable and insisted on being an equal partner on the team. Once she got the forcefields, she was easily the most powerful of the Four -- so much so that Lee kept having her faint because otherwise she would have eliminated the bad guys too quickly.

You've convinced me even more than #4 of Civil War, Katherine. Thanks you so much :) I am off to find all the Sue Storm I can possibly find. I'm especially happy about this because I've always felt I *should* like her.
Ciao,
Amy

 

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