When it comes to my favorite comic book characters Sue Storm-Richards is among the top. Though my Fantastic Four reading history isn’t as extensive as I wish it was, Invisible Woman has always been a character I found as extremely cool. She is one of the leaders of the Marvel Universe who has been a major character in plenty of big events. Given how she has been such an important character since the Fantastic Four were created it is amazing to realize that Sue has never had a solo series. But now Marvel is finally fixing that by giving us an Invisible Woman mini-series. This long overdue series is written by former Fantastic Four writer Mark Waid. Waid has been around a long time and written major comics for Marvel and DC Comics. Though admittedly his work over the last few years has been hit-or-miss. Hopefully Invisible Woman can lean more towards being a hit. Let’s find that out now with Invisible Woman #1.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Mattia De Iulis
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Ten years ago, at the border of Bahzelstan and Hungary, two people are trying to cross during Operation Tempest. As the visitors paperwork is being reviewed one of the border’s guards trips on something. When the guard gets up he spots a guy whose invisibility was broken. The male visitor tells his female comrade that he will create a distraction so she can get the guy they were hiding across the border.
The woman is able to get across the border and creates force field to block the bullets being fired at her and the guy she is guarding. She then jumps off the bridge with the guy and uses her powers to make them invisible. Unfortunately the heavy snowfall causes an outline of their bodies to show their location to the guard following them. The woman hesitates to shoot the guard before he can line-up his shot. The woman’s partner suddenly appears and knocks out the guard.
All three border crosses make a break for it with the woman making a shield to protect them. They eventually make it to their ride and quickly get in the car.
Inside Nick Fury is shown to be the driver and reveals the guy that the pair retrieved was a doctor SHIELD was looking to recruit. Nick then tells the pair that they made it to the meeting point late as they usually do on missions.
Back in New York City, the pair get off the plane and it is revealed that the woman is actually Sue Storm in disguise and the man’s name is Aidan Tintreach, a secret agent for SHIELD. Aidan tells Sue that she should not hesitate in using a gun. Sue says that using a gun is not what she does.
Aidan then tries to hit on Sue while trying to recruit her to be a full-time SHIELD agent. Sue reminds Aidan that she is engaged and already has a day job as a member of the Fantastic Four.
In the present Sue reflects on her life with the Fantastic Four as an adventurer, mother, wife, big sister and friend. She thinks about how it has led her to witness sights such as the creation of galaxies. With all that said she still enjoys a good cup of coffee and book to read the most.
While walking through the park Sue finds herself finally having time to herself with the rest of her family busy with all the recent things that have happened since returning to their main universe. She suddenly gets a text message that greatly concerns her.
Sometime later Sue meets with an agent at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley. The agent says that recently six American college students were kidnapped and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Moravian government, though they are now safely at the US embassy during negotiations for their release.
The agent then reveals the real reason he called Sue was because Aidan has been captured by Moravian spies and is being held captive somewhere in Eurasia. Before being fully captured he was able to get out the secret word of “Stormy.” Sue says that was the nickname Aidan used for her.
Sue tries to volunteer to help find Aidan but the agent denies that request because he thinks she will just cause political problems for them with the negotiations for six colleges kids. Sue says she understands but secretly takes the files of Aidan’s mission.
A little later Sue gets a jet ready to go on a solo mission to find Aidan. Before she takes off Nick Fury Jr. appears and reveals he was ordered to make sure Sue didn’t try to save Aidan. Sue says that Aidan was her partner and can’t turn away from saving his life like he did in the past for her.
Fury Jr. says that while he could stop her from going he won’t. Instead he gives Sue some fake documents and burner phones that can help her safely pass into other countries while staying in contact with him. Fury Jr. then warns Sue that she is going down a road filled with darkness in which she cannot hesitate to do what is necessary. Sue assure Fury Jr. that it won’t come to that.
Sue then tells Fury Jr. he can make up an excuse that she knocked him out with her powers before taking off in her jet.
Sometime later Sue lands right on the coast of Madripoor. Immediately after getting out of her jet she is confronted by some thieves. Sue makes quick work of most of the thieves with her powers.
Only one thief is left and before Sue takes him out he is shot by an electric shot. Black Widow then appears and says she was expecting Sue to show up. End of issue.
The Good: Mark Waid accomplishes what he set out to do with Invisible Woman #1. This set-up why Sue Storm, who is normally involved in multiverse and universe traveling adventures, would get involved in the spy world. The set-up is not perfect at all as there are a few stumbles along the way that could bring down this mini-series if Waid isn’t careful.
One of the things that we have seen most recently is Sue Storm dive into more of the spy realm as part of Sharon Carter’s Daughters of Liberty. As part of that group we’ve seen how Sue’s powers make her a perfect fit within the spy realm. That is what Waid taps into with how Sue is able to use her powers in a way that shows readers who aren’t reading Captain America that to be the case.
Setting up the fact that Nick Fury employed Sue as a part-time SHIELD agent in the past makes sense. Fury is someone that was deeply connected to the heroes of the Marvel Universe. And with all the things going on in the world it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility he would ask Invisible Woman and others heroes to help him on secret missions. That is in line with who Fury is. It also speaks to how as Invisible Woman, Sue believes she can help the world in a wide variety of ways that could also be outside her Fantastic Four adventures.
Using that to Sue getting back into the spy game gives her character something unique in comparison to her other Fantastic Four teammates. It specifically gave Waid the chance to show how Sue is someone that won’t back down to others. Whether it was with the high ranking CIA official or Nick Fury Jr., neither one was going to stop Sue from helping a friend. At the same time we see how Sue isn’t just rushing off without thinking things through. She made the diplomatic move with how she talked to the CIA official in order to hide the fact she stole the documents she needed.
This provided an intriguing set-up for the dynamic between Sue and Nick Fury Jr. to be explored. Fury Jr. is still an enigma within the Marvel Universe since he has not established himself in the way his father or MCU counterpart has. Being involved in a man-in-the-chair type for Invisible Woman is a good way to start establish him. It could also be the first step into Fury Jr. reviving a form of SHIELD since that organization hasn’t been around in quite a while.
Ending Invisible Woman #1 with Black Widow’s appearance was a strong hook. As a fan of Waid and Chris Samnee’s Black Widow run, it will be fun to see what kind of dynamic is created between Sue and Natasha. These two haven’t really interacted much so there is a lot of potential in what Waid can do in developing a partnership between Invisible Woman and Black Widow.
The Bad: Not everything about Invisible Woman #1 ends up working the way that was intended. The biggest problem with this issue was how Waid set-up Agent Aidan Tintreach. Waid gets the character off on the wrong foot by just having him act as a guy up to flirting with Sue Storm. For fans of the Fantastic Four it is tough to get behind a random guy who would want to get in between Sue and Reed’s relationship. So for the first actual scene that gets us to understand who Aidan is to be him trying to get a date from Sue was a bad start.
What made this set-up for the character worse was the fact that it is just playing to the stereotype young field agent. Waid tried to make it seem that Aidan falls into the James Bond-type character. The problem is that the character never got a chance to show himself to have a degree of being cool before acting in this way. Even how the operation ended up going made him look like a guy who makes easy mistakes. That is hopefully something that is resolved when we see him in the present were he has had 10 years to grow as a person.
The way that Waid wrote why it was dangerous for Sue to go save Aidan came across as contrived. The six arrested college students didn’t really play much of a factor in why going after Aidan was dangerous. Waid could’ve simply gone with how Sue or another hero trying to rescue him would cause political issues. Things did not need to be complicated with this other sub-plot.
What especially makes this sub-plot with the six arrested college students contrived is that Sue does not place importance on their capture. As soon as she hears Aidan was captured Sue did not care what going to save Aidan would mean for the college students. That goes against who Sue is, as she would not risk the lives of six kids in a risky mission to save one person.
Not helping matters is that Waid makes Sue look like an ameteur in the way she almost took off without a plan. If Fury Jr. didn’t show up Sue would’ve gone off without a plan or equipment to help her secretly get into other countries. Sue would never be someone that would act in such a foolish manner. She has plenty of experience after being a superhero for over a decade that this way of acting is completely out of character.
Spending almost half of Invisible Woman #1 on this flashback spy operation took away precious page count that should’ve been used to show Sue’s relationship with her family. The flashback should’ve last just four or five pages at most. Because one of the strengths of the Fantastic Four franchise is the family aspect that doesn’t exist in most franchises. And within this family Sue has been the glue that has held everything together.
So for this important aspect in Sue’s character to be broken down to two pages was extremely disappointing. What made it worse is that Waid wrote these two pages in a way they just came across as a recap of what has been happening to the Fantastic Four. There was absolutely nothing added by going with this direction to show what Sue’s current life is like. As someone who had a long run on the Fantastic Four, Waid should’ve known that using the other Fantastic Four in a supporting cast role would’ve actually made Invisible Woman #1. It just seemed he was afraid to do so.
With this being a story one that delves into the spy world Mattia De Iulis is not the right fit for Invisible Woman. His artwork is to bright to fit into the world nor does it hit on the superhero style an Invisible Woman series should have. And as Invisible Woman #1 progressed Iulis seemed to lose detail in his artwork. The opening flashback sequence showed much more detail in character faces in particular. Once we got the present day scenes that same detail was not apparent making it seem as though half of this issue was rushed to meet deadlines.
Overall: Invisible Woman #1 is a pure set-up issue to get Sue Storm on a solo mission. Mark Waid positioned Sue to have an adventure that is tailored to make the best use of her powers and skills. This issue is far from perfect as there are several problems with questionable choices made certain character choices and artwork that does not fit the tone of this story. This all ends up holding Invisible Woman #1 back from reaching its full potential. For now I recommend those interested to wait to see how the second issue of Invisible Woman is received before picking up this comic book.
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