Monday, October 1, 2012

The Invisible, Pretty Asset

In his second series of Fantastic Four pin-ups, artist Jack Kirby's rendering of Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl, attempts to emphasize Sue's aura of glamour:

"Glamourous" being a strange label to pin on Sue at this point in time. During her Silver Age years, Sue is hardly a fashion plate, and certainly doesn't call attention to herself. (In fact, if I were to describe her demeanor within the group, I would say "withdrawn." Maybe "reluctant heroine" would be more accurate.) Her wardrobe for the most part is tasteful, not showcasing--and to my knowledge, she's not out on the town with any frequency. Though as we see in this scene where a skirmish between Johnny and Ben have ruined the contents of her closet, there seems to be no shortage of designers who have sought her out:

I think the perception of Sue's "glamour" comes from her status as the group's only "distaff member." In these Silver Age stories--at least until Crystal joined the FF--women played mostly supportive roles, and there was a noticeable dearth of female super-heroes. So in the FF, you have three aggressive males charging off into battle--and a female, Sue, right along with them. Sue--a named, equal member of this famous group. Yet she doesn't "fight" with them, so much as "contribute" (though I'd probably argue that the difference is negligible)--and in so doing, Sue walks the line between both worlds, as far as public perception of her is concerned. She's a hero in battle with deadly villains, yet she doesn't relinquish an ounce of her femininity. That makes her stand out in the group, and I can see how the public might perceive that as glamour.

In that sense, I think Kirby's rendering of her captures that completely--pictured above in uniform, yet in an extremely attractive pose that all but shouts that she's all woman. It almost looks as if she's appreciative of this outlet to show that side of herself. Kirby (and writer Stan Lee) have certainly made no secret of the fact that they consider this to be Sue's major appeal and contribution to the group--vividly demonstrated in this scene following a military briefing, where the males of the group have demonstrated to General Ross just how each of them would capture the Hulk:

Sure, Reed. Twist the knife, why don't you.

It took quite a long time for Sue to grow into her own, and to find a healthy balance between roles she's happy to assume simultaneously--wife, mother, woman, and one-quarter of the world's first fighting team.  Perhaps in her solo pose above, seemingly so at ease in the public eye, she's already giving an indication of the potential she'll bring to her future, and to her role in the Fantastic Four.

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