By Tim Stevens
On October 22 in FANTASTIC FOUR #561, the Invisible Woman will die. Guaranteed. After all, the issue does mark the conclusion of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's blockbuster storyline, "The Death of Invisible Woman."
Since Sue Storm has always been the heart and soul of the Fantastic Four, the team will no doubt be left reeling without her. However, this will not be the first time her husband Reed, brother Johnny, and friend Ben have had to go without her. Looking back, the FF have muddled through without their matriarch three times before.
Unlike most companies in the United States these days, the Fantastic Four have a very generous maternity leave plan. Thus, upon realizing her pregnancy in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #5, Sue decided to step back from active duty until the birth of her child.
The Inhuman Crystal joined up to fill in for Sue and intensify her romance with the Human Torch. For the better part of a year, while the team tangled with the Mole Man and the Skrulls amongst others, Crystal ably filled in for the Invisible Woman. Fans might not have noticed, however, as Sue stayed close to the action throughout.
With the arrival of baby Franklin, after a difficult and dangerous pregnancy, in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #6, Sue returned to active duty and the quickly redundant Crystal returned to the Inhumans.
A Clash of Parenting Styles
His Cosmic Rod stolen by Reed Richards and used to bring Franklin Richards successfully to term, the villain Annihilus felt he owed the FF some payback. He took it by spiking Franklin's latent mutant abilities, something that quickly threatened the Earth's stability. Fearing the worst and seeing no other alternative, Reed acted unilaterally to shut down his child's mind. Sue, angry that to not even be consulted on the decision, took Franklin and left Reed in FANTASTIC FOUR #130.
The FF once again went to their bullpen, the Inhumans, and this time called Medusa up to the majors. For 19 issues, she aided the FF in saving Sue and Franklin from Dragon Man, as well as repelling the threats of Thundra, Doctor Doom, and Darkoth, the Death Demon.
Eventually, that most persuasive of marriage counselors, Namor the Sub-Mariner, reconciled the Richards in FANTASTIC FOUR #149. Medusa stayed on to aid in the transition, but by FANTASTIC FOUR #159 she left the team to return to her role as Queen of the Inhumans.
Between the fallout from Reed's invasion of Latveria in FANTASTIC FOUR v2 #74-79, the couple's disagreement over CIVIL WAR, and Sue's recently revealed kidnapping at the hands of the Skrulls, the Richards have spent much of the past few years apart.
Reed and Sue have proven you cannot keep a good couple down as they reconciled after both the Latverian invasion and the end of CIVIL WAR. Currently, in SECRET INVASION, Reed has turned his rage on the Skrulls full bore so it seems only a matter of time before Reed and the real Sue will be reunited.
That said, with FANTASTIC FOUR #561 marching ever closer, their happy reunion may be very short lived.
Find out if the FF can keep together without Sue again, or if this time it will be too much by snagging your own personal copy of FANTASTIC FOUR #561, on shelves October 22. For more on the Invisible Woman, visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!