Saturday, June 21, 2014

Damsel In Distress!

"Your record? Come now, Susan. Anyone who studies the history of the Fantastic Four would quickly realize your primary function has been to be captured and terrorized by your foes." -- "Woman To Woman" host Barbara Walker, interviewing Susan Richards

It's a running joke in any discussion of the Fantastic Four, to be sure: The Invisible Girl, captured by whoever was out to get the FF, and held hostage for leverage over the three men of the group. The "joke," of course, was that it seemed to happen a lot, and always to the female member--taken out of action all too easily despite her powers. Did the bad guys target Sue just because she was female? Or because they figured she was the least likely of the four to put up a fight? Or because they thought she wouldn't really be able to defend herself? Take your pick. Perhaps it's all of the above.

But it's high time we took an actual count of the times that Sue's been whisked away by a foe. Fortunately, Barbara had already done the leg work and was delighted to provide us with the data. I hear she's putting together a scathing documentary on the subject.

Finally, the question we dared to ask! The ultimate

Marvel Trivia Question

Just how often was the Invisible Girl captured and held hostage?

(With a nod to artist Jovenal Mendoza for our damsel in distress!)

If I'm not mistaken, Sue went on the record books as a captive when Dr. Doom was menacing the FF and made the first of what would become many abductions of Sue. Though as you'll see, there was something of a twist to it in this instance:

I don't know, Sue--are you any less a hostage of you go willingly? On another note, you've got to give Doom points for covering his bases. Consider: he's already taken the entire FF as his prisoners, yet he still demands they hand over Sue as a hostage. The man is nothing if not thorough.

From there we take a little trip to the moon, where the Red Ghost is battling the FF in the "blue area" and decides to hedge his bets:

As if being a villain's hostage isn't humiliating enough, there's also being carted away on the back of an orangutan. Barbara must have doubled over in laughter at that one.

It probably goes without saying that the Sub-Mariner would eventually take Sue captive. I'm guessing it was the one time where she didn't feel like putting up much of a struggle.

Now, why the heck would the X-Men be battling the FF? And why would they ever sink to taking a hostage? Both questions have the same answer: the plan of the mad Thinker, who, like any other FF villain, seems to know the team's vulnerability and has the X-Men act accordingly:

"Put me down!! If the others see you, they'll clip your wings but good!" Gosh, Sue--not that you haven't completely shaken up the Angel with that threat--but how about you getting the ball rolling in the wing-clipping department?

Next we have the Mole Man, who was sinking whole city blocks down to his domain, one block in particular being where Sue was in the area. There's nothing like having a ready-made hostage literally drop into your lap:

In this instance, Sue being a captive had the distinction of taking not one but two fighting teams out of action:

(Man, Thor looked peeved at Reed, didn't he!)

The Frightful Four have never been shy about making bold plays--and that was certainly true when they snagged Sue in broad daylight. Jeez, does the Invisible Girl now have to hire security, just to go out and shop??

Heh--"You won't get away with this!" On the contrary, Sue, that looked like one of the cleanest getaways a villain could hope for. Regrettably, it would take awhile before Sue would realize that hair follicles really don't mean squat to a force field:

There were also a few times when the villain didn't quite "get away" with Sue in tow. But in those cases, it's the thought that counts:

When Magneto had joined with the Sub-Mariner and was pressuring him to attack the surface world, he decided he needed a hostage to keep the FF off his back. And, as luck would have it:

Finally, not even a hospital provides sanctuary for Sue when she's targeted for abduction:

Barbara has informed me that she omitted from her dossier those times when Dragon Man made off with Sue, since Dragon Man wouldn't know a hostage from a hedgehog and would have been clueless as to Sue's tactical value. While we're on the subject of Barbara, my feeling is that she'll probably want to follow up with an interview with Reed. After all, the man spent considerable effort to get Sue to stay behind on missions--but was it out of concern for her safety? Barbara insists that, instead, it was to avoid bringing the FF to the brink of defeat again when another villain would end up putting the grab on this walking liability. (Her words, not mine--honest!)


Kid said...

You're forgetting the time when I abducted her and kept her in my cellar for a week. The door was unlocked, so she must have liked it in my cellar. I also stayed in the cellar for a week, so maybe it was me she liked. Bit of a girl, that Sue, let me tell you.

B Smith said...

And don't forget all the times John Byrne kidnapped her hair and held it hostage.

Anonymous said...

This is the best blog post I have seen in many months! I love it! Susan Storm is at her best when she plays the role of a hostage or victim! Thanks for the memories...

Anonymous said...

Actually, there were a few you missed: FF Annual #1, FF-The World's Greatest Comic Magazine #9 of 12 and #10 of 12, FF #3, FF #8, FF #14, FF #19, FF #134, FF #171, FF #547-548. There might be a few more, but that is most of them anyway.

Comicsfan said...

Kid, strangely, that one isn't documented anywhere--I smell a cover-up, bub!

B, that is a great touch of humor. I don't think Byrne has a hairdresser career in his future, do you? :)

Anon, you're quite welcome--it was a lot of fun putting together.

Anon (2), thanks, I knew some instances were bound to slip through the cracks! But I think I can eliminate most of those you mention:

-- FF Annual #1: Namor indeed takes Sue, yet not as a formal hostage but (as Krang puts it) because of the bond they share (i.e., only because of his attraction to her, not to keep in exchange for something--which no doubt made the lady Dorma royally peeved).

-- FF #3: Sue was simply hypnotized by the MM to signal the others--not captured and taken as a hostage.

-- FF #8: Sue wasn't captured and held hostage by the Puppet Master, but discovered while invisible and put to sleep while Alicia was disguised to take her place. (The PM later intended to use her as a hostage while he escaped, but Sue is recovered by the others only seconds after she's taken.)

-- FF #14: This one is already featured in the post--it's the issue from where the panels were sampled.

-- FF #19: The entire FF is rendered obedient by Rama Tut's ray--the Pharaoh simply chose to keep Sue at his side, rather than send her out with the others.

-- FF #134: Again, we're not counting those instances where Sue is abducted by Dragon Man. (In this instance, Gideon was after both Sue and Reed for his device, and incarcerated the rest of the team.)

-- FF #171: Sue frees herself (while pointing out that her days as a hostage are in the past). Gore also mentions that he seized Sue in panic, nothing more.

You're right on target with FF #s 547-548, though, nice job. You may well be right about the World's Greatest issue, too--I didn't include those as they're not strictly canon in the FF's continuity. In any event, good work!