Invisible Woman #4
We begin the penultimate chapter of Sue Richards’s spy caper with Sue seeming to be helpless. Olivia Vetivier, the inventor of the LiFi technology that can instantaneously steal data from anywhere, has rendered The Invisible Woman blind with a technology that blocks visible light from her eyes. Worse yet, Sue’s old spying partner, Aidan Tintreach, is working with Olivia on behalf of the government of Moravia. Sue appears to be powerless to defy them. But the evil engineer and the spy that Sue thought was her friend and ally have forgotten the origin of The Fantastic Four and failed to realize The Invisible Woman’s true power. Sue can “see” not only visible light, but also in reflected cosmic rays. Before you can say “another ingenious, original use of Sue’s powers by Mark Waid,” Sue has the two of them and their henchmen properly trounced.
Our heroine quickly shuts down the tech that is robbing her of her normal eyesight, but the force-field-pinned Aidan warns her that the teenagers that Moravia is holding as political prisoners are still in jeopardy unless The Invisible Woman helps him and Olvia. Olivia’s former partner, Demosthenes Nox, possesses half of the LiFi tech in his own lab and the invention won’t work without it. If Sue doesn’t help Aidan steal it, the plane carrying the kids to safety will be blown out of the air. Aidan, who always affectionately called Sue “Stormy” after her maiden name, further reveals that the only thing holding him to any standard of morality was his partnership with Sue; when she stopped spying and committed herself completely to The Fantastic Four, his psychopathic tendencies fully asserted themselves and he became an immoral, international hired killer who sadistically enjoyed murder and even once took the life of a nine-year-old girl who could identify him. So, to save a planeload of innocent teens, Sue must help a man that she now finds as repugnant and repulsive as any super-villain she has ever battled.
Sue and Aidan’s invasion of Demosthenes’s lab results in their successfully purloining his half of the tech, and Aidan’s wanton murder of Demosthenes, much to Sue’s anger and loathing. In a shocking twist, however, it also results in the two of them staring into the pistols of Maria Hill, Agent of SHIELD, who charges in announcing The Invisible Woman’s arrest for treason—and shoots the critical device right out of Sue’s hand, destroying it and dooming the teenagers. Sue’s overriding motive all along has been to save those kids. Now it looks as if everything our heroine has done will come to nothing but tragedy for them and for her.
This next-to-last part of Sue’s espionage adventure makes me glad it’s almost over. It’s not that it’s a bad story; it just reminds me of one of Lee and Kirby’s last great FF stories, and those were the greatest of them all. In Fantastic Four #88 and 89, The Mole Man has Earth’s greatest heroes at his mercy with a technology that has rendered all of them blind, which he plans to use on the entire surface world. Had Sue demonstrated in that story the ability to “see” in cosmic rays that enables her to turn the tables on Olivia and Aidan in this issue, The Mole Man’s threat against The FF—which nearly killed Reed—wouldn’t have lasted five minutes.
Comparing the feeling that I get from a “real” Fantastic Four story to the feeling I get from this departure from FF-type adventures, it underlines that what I’ve most enjoyed about this miniseries is the very inventive and science-fiction-savvy way that Mark Waid has been using The Invisible Woman’s powers in this story. He has actually come up with applications of Sue’s powers that we’ve never seen her do before, which are entirely consistent with the way we know her powers work and the origin of The Fantastic Four. Mark Waid was one of the very best writers of the proper adventures of our awesome foursome, and even taking The Invisible Woman out of her element, he has shown his fine command of these characters. It begs the question of what Waid could have done by putting Sue in a “real” Fantastic Four situation by herself. Instead of a Tom Clancy/John LeCarré yarn with super-powers, this could have been a ripping bit of Fantastic Four-like fun. It’s a bit of a missed opportunity.
For what it is, though, it’s a good story well told, and I do look forward to seeing how our intrepid Mrs. Richards will finally sort out this mess and get herself back home and return from being a super-spy to being Earth’s greatest super-adventuress again.
If you were writing a blurb for the back cover of this mini, you might describe it as "a taut, complex espionage thriller with super-powers." On that score, it delivers. It's intriguing to think of The Invisible Woman taking the power-skill set that she demonstrates in this story back into the regular adventures of The Fantastic Four.
Invisible Woman #4: Stormy Rides Again
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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