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Did the Invisible Woman Almost Become a Private Eye in the 1970s?

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn how close the Invisible Woman came to becoming a private detective in the 1970s.

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn how close the Invisible Woman came to becoming a private detective in the 1970s.

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and forty-fifth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I’ll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

The Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman almost became a private detective in the 1970s.

I’m Going With True

In Fantastic Four #130 (by Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Joe Sinnott), the Fantastic Four are fighting off against an invasion of the Baxter Building by the Frightful Four and Reed is not happy with how Sue was not doing enough, in his mind, to protect their son, Franklin…

Even after the battle was over, Reed decides to not let the subject drop, and he goes in on Sue again for not prioritizing Franklin’s safety…

Sue had enough of the grief, so she leaves Reed, taking Franklin with her, and an angry Reed lets her do it…

Two issues later, Sue is replaced on the team by Medusa…

RELATED:Did Marvel Have to Change the Name of a Comic Because of the Hells Angels?

Gerry Conway then replaced Thomas as the writer on the book (with Thomas remaining as the editor, though). Conway was not the world’s biggest fan of writing the book. He discussed it with Bob Brodsky in TwoMorrows’ Write Now! #10…

Conway: [W]riting the Fantastic Four was a strain, working within that dynamic and trying not to change the iconic nature of it.

Brodsky: Was the team format a problem?

Conway: No, I liked writing teams. The truth is, The Fantastic Four is one of those comic books that has gravitas, but when you actually look at it and work on it, there’s not a lot going on. [laughs] It was the premier Marvel book at the time, but from a writer’s point of view, 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 she is. What does she see in him? Johnny Storm is a cartoon, and the Thing is one of those great tragic heroes that, once you explore the tragedy, where do you go? So there’s not a lot you can do with them. You just keep stirring the pot.

In Fantastic Four #141 (by Conway, Buscema and Sinnott), Reed fears that Franklin is losing control of his powers so he uses a weapon to basically shut his son’s mind down….

RELATED:Did a Major Wonder Woman Character Receive Their Name From a Mistake?

Sue, naturally, was not a fan of that, and in Fantastic Four #147 (by Conway, Rich Buckler and Sinnott), Sue filed for divorce…

In an excellent piece by Jarrod Buttery (as is the case for Jarrod’s pieces, in general) in TwoMorrows’ Back Issue #74, Conway explained his thinking:

I wanted to shake things up, and, to put this into historical context, too, the early ’70s was a period of tremendous upheaval in male/female relationships. 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 flowering of Women’s Liberation. It was when Women’s Liberation was really gaining steam as the next step in Civil Rights, the next big cause on a domestic level in the country. So this was part of the zeitgeist, and part of what we were all thinking about.

When you come right down to it, what the story was a metaphor for was, here is a man who basically put his own vision of what is right for the world over his own personal family’s good. Now, he may have felt like he had no choice, but ultimately, what he was doing was the classical male thing of taking an unilateral male step – without really consulting with his wife. Just deciding, ‘That’s what I had to do!’ Obviously, he felt horrible about it; he felt that he had no choice, but not really expecting his wife to so fundamentally oppose him that it would break up their marriage.

I think if Stan had written that story, if he had had to the same things – which I doubt he ever would – he would’ve had Sue become understanding; Sue would’ve capitulated. Stan’s version of Sue would have been angry with Reed but probably more sorrowful and would’ve focused her nurturing attention on the damaged child, and maybe even reassured Reed that, ‘Oh, what you did, you did because you had to.’

That’s not the Sue I wanted to write! She was basically a woman who was going to say, ‘That’s it, you son of a bitch! You have done the one thing that you cannot ever do to a mother and that’s screw with her kid! That’s what I wanted to address.”

Conway, though, had Sue get back together with Reed in Fantastic Four #149…

The issue, though, was what to do with Sue when she got back together with Reed, but Medusa was still on the team. Conway ultimately just left the book period, but before he did, he explained some of his plans, and they ran in the fanzine, Legion Outpost #7, as a news item (I asked Gerry about it, but he didn’t recall. However, that reminds me of something that the late, great Len Wein once told me. “It’s hard enough remembering the stories that I DID write 40 years later, let alone the ones I DIDN’T write”), that the Fantastic Four were going to be evicted from the Baxter Building and have to get jobs to support themselves and Sue was going to open a detective agency, possibly with other Marvel characters working with her.

Obviously, since Conway left the book, instead, that never came about. Roy Thomas took back the book with Conway gone, and in Fantastic Four #158 (by Thomas, Buckler and Sinnott), Thomas alluded to Conway’s dropped plot by Reed mentioning that Sue had been wanting to form a detective agency…

However, in the next issue, Sue rejoined the team and Medusa departed…

so the detective agency idea was never to be!

Thanks to Gerry Conway, Bob Brodsky and Jarrod Buttery for the great information!

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 Handle Seeing Superman in the Film?

3. Were the Facial Features of the Little Mermaid Based on Alyssa Milano?

4. Was a Frank Zappa Instrumental Album Given a Parental Warning Advisory?

Check back soon for part 2 of this installment’s legends!

Feel free to send suggestions for future comic legends to me at either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com

CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over fifteen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed).

He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo.

He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed and other pop culture features at Pop Culture References.

Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at brianc@cbr.com!

SOME OTHER ENTERTAINMENT LEGENDS!

PART TWO SOON!

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