Invisible Woman
Artwork for the cover of Fantastic Four vol. 3, 2 (February, 1998 Marvel Comics
Art by Alan Davis
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThe Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)
Created byStan Lee (writer)
Jack Kirby (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoSusan "Sue" Storm-Richards
SpeciesHuman Mutate
Team affiliationsFantastic Four
Lady Liberators
Fantastic Four Incorporated
Future Foundation
Notable aliasesInvisible Girl, Captain Universe, Susan Benjamin, Malice, Mistress of Hate, Baroness Von Doom, Tabitha Deneuve
AbilitiesCompetent martial artist
Projected invisibility
Invisible force field projection (which bestows the ability to generate protective invisible shields and invisible energy constructs as well as the power to control and manipulate objects)

The Invisible Woman (Susan "Sue" Storm-Richards), previously known as the Invisible Girl, is a fictional superheroine appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is a founding member of the Fantastic Four and was the first female superhero created by Marvel during the Silver Age of Comics.

Sue Richards received her powers after being exposed to a cosmic storm. Her primary power deals with light waves, allowing her to render herself and others invisible. She can also project powerful fields of invisible psionic energy which she uses for a variety of offensive and defensive effects. Richards plays a central role in the lives of her hot-headed younger brother Johnny Storm, her brilliant husband Reed Richards, her close friend Ben Grimm, and her children (Franklin and Valeria).

An object of infatuation for Doctor Doom and, most notably, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Sue's passive invisibility power translated into her frequent deployment as a damsel in distress during the team's early adventures. Upon developing the ability to project powerful fields of energy, Sue Storm became a more powerful member of the Fantastic Four, and the team's second-in-command with a growing assertive confidence. While Sue operated somewhat in the shadow of her brother and her husband in the early years, she is now the soul of the Fantastic Four and one of the primary heroes in the Marvel Universe.

The Invisible Woman was portrayed by Rebecca Staab in the 1994 film The Fantastic Four, Jessica Alba in the 2005 film Fantastic Four, and its 2007 sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Kate Mara in the 2015 film Fantastic Four.

Publication history

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2008)

Created by writer Stan Lee and artist/co-writer Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961).

Stan Lee did not want Sue to have super strength, "to be Wonder Woman and punch people", so eventually he came to invisibility, inspired by works such as The Invisible Man.[1] His original two-page plot summary for the first issue of The Fantastic Four, reprinted in the Marvel Masterworks edition of the first ten issues, handled Susan's powers similarly to the Universal Pictures's "Invisible" series, which required her to take off her clothes, but noting concern that that might be "too sexy" for a comic book.[2] Sue was initially presented as the sole reason for Ben Grimm, a bad guy, remaining on the group, which was significantly toned down in the published series.[citation needed]

Invisible Woman has primarily appeared in issues of Fantastic Four. Susan's initial power of invisibility proved to be of minor consequence in the team's early missions, especially compared to the abilities of the others in the group. In issue 22 (January, 1964), the creators expanded Sue's abilities, giving her the power to render other objects and people invisible and create strong force fields and psionic blasts. Despite her enhanced abilities, Susan served primarily as an assistant and second-in-command to Reed in the early years of the series. This changed when John Byrne began his run on the title. Under his authorship, Sue became more confident and assertive in her abilities which became more versatile and impressive. For instance, she found she could use her force field abilities to manipulate matter through the air, immobilize enemies, or administer long-range attacks. Susan changed her nom de guerre to Invisible Woman, and is now recognized as one of the more powerful characters in the Marvel Universe.[3][4]

Fictional character biography

As detailed in The Marvel Saga: Official History of The Marvel Universe #16, Susan Storm, and her younger brother, Jonathan grew up in the town of Glenville, Long Island, children of a physician named Franklin Storm and a woman named Mary. The parents left their kids alone one night to travel to a dinner honoring Dr. Storm. On the way, a tire blew out but only Mary was injured. Franklin escaped injury and insisted on operating on his wife. He was unable to save her and she died. After his wife's death, Dr. Franklin Storm became a gambler and a drunk, losing his medical practice, which led him to the accidental killing of a loan shark. Franklin did not defend himself in court, because he still felt guilty over Mary's death. With their father in prison, Susan had to become a mother figure for her younger brother.

While living with her aunt, Susan, at the young age of 17, met her future husband, Reed Richards, a house guest who was attending college. When she graduated from high school as the award-winning captain of her Girls' Varsity Swim Team, she moved to California to attend college, where she pursued an acting career and encountered Richards again. They began to become romantically involved with each other.

Reed Richards, working in the field of aerospace engineering, was designing a spacecraft for interstellar travel. Everything was going well until the government stopped the funding of his project. Richards, wanting to see his project through, decided to make an unscheduled test flight. Originally, it was only going to be Reed and his best friend, Ben Grimm, involved, but Susan was instrumental in persuading Reed in letting her brother and herself join them on the dangerous space mission. In space, the quartet was exposed to massive amounts of cosmic radiation. As a result, they had to abort the mission and return to Earth. After the crash landing, they realized that they gained superhuman powers; hers was the ability to become invisible at will. Realizing the potential use of their abilities, the four of them became the Fantastic Four, for the benefit of mankind.[5] Susan adopted the code name Invisible Girl.[5]

Invisible Girl

One of the Sub-Mariner's many attempts to win Sue's affections. Art by Jack Kirby.

As the Fantastic Four, the team found themselves setting up their first headquarters in the Baxter Building in Manhattan. The first supervillain they battled was the Mole Man,[6] followed soon after that by the Skrulls.[6] The Fantastic Four encountered many villains in the early part of their career, but none of them contended for Susan's affections more than Namor the Sub-Mariner. Sue felt an amount of attraction to Namor, but her heart belonged with Reed.[7] Soon after that, the Fantastic Four encountered Doctor Doom for the first time.[8]

Initially, her powers were limited to making herself invisible. However, before long Sue discovered she could make other things invisible as well as create force fields of invisible energy.[9] After Susan is injured in battle with the Mole Man, her father escaped from prison and operated on her to save her life. Franklin made amends with his children before returning to prison; however, the Super-Skrull found a way to kidnap Dr. Storm, mimic his appearance, and then fight the Fantastic Four as the Invincible Man. In the process of defeating the Super-Skrull, Dr. Storm sacrificed his own life to protect the Fantastic Four from a Skrull booby trap.

Reed and Sue's relationship progressed, with the two of them deciding to get married. The wedding was the event of the century, with several of New York City's preeminent superheroes in attendance. Even several supervillains wanted to attend, if only for the chance to attack the Fantastic Four.[10] Not long after that, Susan and the Fantastic Four encountered Galactus and the Silver Surfer for the first time.[11] Sue later became pregnant with her first child.[12] As a result, she took time off as an active member of the team. Johnny's then-girlfriend, the Inhuman elementalist known simply as Crystal, joined the team, taking over Susan's roster spot.[13][14]

Susan's cosmic ray irradiated blood cells served as an obstacle for her in carrying the unborn child to term. Knowing this, Reed, Johnny, and Ben journeyed into the Negative Zone to acquire the Cosmic Control Rod from Annihilus. Effectively utilizing the device, the baby was safely delivered and was named Franklin, in memory of Susan and Johnny's father.[15] Due to the genetically altered structure of his parents, Franklin was born a mutant, possessing vast powers of the highest possible potential. Seeking to use the boy's talents for his own sadistic purposes, Annihilus triggered a premature full release of Franklin's latent abilities, which were already in the process of gradual emergence. Fearing that his son could very well release enough psionic energy to eliminate all life on Earth, Reed was forced to shut down Franklin's mind, feeling there was no immediate alternative. Angry with Reed for not seeking her input in the matter, Susan left the Fantastic Four and had a marital separation from Reed.[16] Taking her roster spot was Medusa of the Inhumans. With the help of Namor, Susan reconciled with Reed and returned to the Fantastic Four accompanied by Franklin.[17]

Invisible Woman

Sue possessed by Malice. Art by John Byrne.

Susan eventually became pregnant for a second time. However, the trauma of her first pregnancy paled in comparison to that of her second for several reasons. This second child was stillborn due to Susan having been exposed to radiation inside the Negative Zone on a previous trip.[18] A depressed Susan was later manipulated by events set into motion by Psycho-Man into becoming Malice. As Malice, Susan attacked her friends and family in the Fantastic Four, utilizing her abilities at power levels she had never displayed previously. She effortlessly defeated She-Hulk and Human Torch; luckily, Reed was able to save Susan by forcing her to hate him legitimately.[19] Freed of Psycho-Man's influence, Susan (off-panel) did something to Psycho-Man, causing him to let out a terrifying scream.[20] After she rejoined her teammates, Susan stated that Psycho-Man would never hurt anyone ever again. Susan found herself profoundly affected by the entire episode, and decided to change her code name from "Invisible Girl" to "Invisible Woman".[21] Along with Reed, she briefly left the Fantastic Four.[22] Finding a life outside the Fantastic Four, Reed and Sue were invited into the membership of the Avengers.[23] The two of them were Avengers briefly, but rejoined the Fantastic Four before long.[24]

During the Infinity War, Susan was forced to face off against Malice, who had reemerged in Sue's subconscious. After defeating Malice, Susan absorbed Malice into her own consciousness. Subsequently, Susan's personality was influenced by Malice, causing her to become more aggressive in battle, even creating invisible razor-like force fields she used to slice enemies. Her son Franklin, who had traveled forward and back in time, had become the adult hero Psi-Lord, and he was able to free his mother and absorb the influence of Malice into himself. He eventually defeated Malice by projecting her into the mind of the Dark Raider, an insane alternate universe counterpart of Reed Richards who later died in the Negative Zone.

After the apparent death of Reed, Susan found herself becoming a capable leader. Around this time, Susan, who felt Reed was still alive, kept searching for him, despite romantic advances from her old flame, Namor the Sub-Mariner. The Fantastic Four eventually rescued the time-displaced Reed, who found himself temporarily losing confidence in his leadership skills, since Susan was also a capable leader.

Following their return to their Earth of origin, the Fantastic Four encountered Valeria von Doom. This new Marvel Girl came from an alternate future, where she was the child of Susan and Doctor Doom. Susan eventually came to accept the young girl as a friend. During a conflict with Abraxas, Franklin revealed that he used his abilities to save Susan's original stillborn child and placed it in another alternate future. After the ordeal involving Abraxas, Marvel Girl was restored to a baby again inside Susan's womb.

This time around, Susan, yet again, had a difficult birthing. Due to the help of Doctor Doom, Susan was able to give birth to a healthy baby girl, which Doom named Valeria, his price for helping Sue ... or so she thought. Doom placed a spell on the baby, which made her his familiar spirit, to be used against the Fantastic Four. The Fantastic Four wrestled Valeria free from Doom's control and defeated him.

Sue, the Human Torch

Zius, leader of a group of Galactus refugees, kidnaps Susan. His intent was to use her powers to hide planets from Galactus. Reed finds a way to fool Zius, by switching Susan and Johnny's powers. Susan assists in an adventure where Johnny becomes a herald of Galactus. Wielding a cosmic version of her powers, Johnny is able to see through people to the very cores of their personality.

Both Sue and Johnny gain a newfound respect for each other and how they deal with their powers. Soon, Reed tries to switch the powers back. The entire FF's powers are granted to four random civilians before being restored to their rightful wielders.

This parallels an earlier torture by Doom, where Sue was given an extremely painful version of Johnny's pyrokinetic ability.

Anti-Registration Movement

Sue's brother Johnny, enjoying a night on the town with a date, is beaten up in front of a nightclub by locals angered because his superhero/celebrity status affords him easy entry into the club while they are forced to wait in line, along with thinking he isn't worthy of his status anymore in the aftermath of the Stamford incident.

Although Sue was initially part of the Pro-Registration force supporting the Superhuman Registration Act, she defects after the Thor Clone, created by her husband Mister Fantastic and Tony Stark, kills famed superhero Bill Foster. In the midst of the battle, Sue arrives and creates an invisible force shield around Captain America's Secret Avengers, protecting them from Thor's lightning blasts and allowing them to escape whilst she held him off - developing a nose bleed in the process.

Later that night, Sue leaves the Baxter Building and meets Johnny. She has left a note for the sleeping Reed, informing him that the children are entirely in his care, since she intends to go underground and join Captain America's resistance forces. Her final injunction to her husband is a heartfelt request: "Please fix this."

The Storm siblings narrowly escape a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents bent on capturing them in Civil War #5. The two further elude detection by operating under fake husband and wife identities provided by Nick Fury, becoming members of Captain America's Secret Avengers.

Before storming the Negative Zone prison, Sue visits Namor to plead for assistance. He refuses and indicates she is still attracted to him, an accusation she does not deny.

During the final battle depicted in Civil War #7, as Susan is about to be shot by Taskmaster, Reed Richards jumps in front of her and takes the brunt of the attack, sustaining a major injury. Outraged, Susan beats Taskmaster into the ground, leaving a large circular indentation in the Earth. Following the end of the war, Susan helps with the clean-up of New York City. She, along with the other Secret Avengers, has been granted amnesty, and she returns home to Reed. Seeking to repair the damage done to their marriage as a result of the war, Sue and Reed take time off from the Fantastic Four, but ask Storm and the Black Panther to take their places in the meantime.

World War Hulk

In the second issue of World War Hulk, the Fantastic Four confront the Hulk. Reed has designed a machine that recreates the Sentry's aura. The Hulk, only momentarily calmed, discovers the ruse. Sue deploys her force fields to defend Reed against the Hulk, who shatters her protective fields with such force that she collapses, leaving Reed vulnerable. Reed suffers a vicious beating at the hands of the Hulk; Sue telephones the Sentry for help.[25]

The Hulk transforms Madison Square Garden into a gladiatorial arena. Sue and the other defeated heroes are held captive in a lower level. The heroes are outfitted with the same obedience disks that were used to suppress the Hulk's powers and force him to fight his companions on Sakaar.[26]

The Death of the Invisible Woman

Some time after World War Hulk, but before Secret Invasion, the Richards family has hired a new nanny for their kids, Tabitha Deneuve. At the same time, a mysterious new group, calling themselves the New Defenders, commits robberies, and one of their members, Psionics, starts a relationship with Johnny. After a bad break-up, Johnny is kidnapped by the Defenders, along with Doctor Doom and Galactus, to power a massive machine that is designed to apparently save the people of the future 500 years from now, a plan orchestrated by Tabitha, who is revealed to be Susan Richards from 500 years in the future.[27] Eventually, the present Fantastic Four are able to save both the present Earth and the future Earth by sending the future inhabitants to the Earth Trust's private duplicate Nu-Earth, but after freeing Doctor Doom, the future Sue goes to apologize to him and is electrocuted by Doom.[27]

Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four

While Susan is on a lecture tour in Vancouver, British Columbia, a Skrull posing as Mister Fantastic ambushes her, applying pressure to her skull with an invisible force field and knocking her unconscious. Then, a Skrull infiltrates the Baxter Building disguised as Susan and opens a portal into the Negative Zone, forcing the top three floors of the building into the Negative Zone, and in turn trapping herself, Johnny, Ben, and the two Richards children there. The Skrull impersonating her is later revealed to be Johnny's ex-wife Lyja,[28] who once infiltrated the Fantastic Four by impersonating Ben Grimm's love interest Alicia Masters.[29]

The real Susan Richards is recovered alive from a downed Skrull ship after the final battle of the invasion.[30]

Future Foundation

Reed started the Future Foundation for the benefit of the world and for science.[31] When the Human Torch died, the Fantastic Four was dissolved and Sue's heroic exploits were moved entirely under the banner of the Future Foundation.[volume & issue needed]

It was later revealed that Johnny was revived and is still alive.[32]

Secret Wars

Sue and the rest of the Fantastic Four create a life raft that will save them from the coming death of the universe. However, right before the final incursion between their universe and the Ultimate Universe, Sue's part of the ship becomes separated. Reed and Black Panther plan to get her ship back, with Sue holding her part together with her forcefield. However, the death of the universe proves too much, even for her, and she, Ben, and her children die at the hands of oblivion, with Reed screaming in agony at the death of his wife and children. Captain Marvel tells him they need to go, and they leave Sue's destroyed part of the ship behind.[33]

Powers and abilities

As the Invisible Woman, Susan can render herself wholly or partially invisible at will. She can also render other people or objects invisible, affecting up to forty thousand cubic feet of volume. She achieves these feats by mentally bending all wavelengths of light in the vicinity around herself or the target in question, and she does this without causing any visible distortion effects; she also directs enough undistorted light to her eyes to retain her full range of vision while invisible. She can also use her powers to turn objects of similar size that are invisible by other means visible. Sue can also mentally generate a psionic field of invisible force apparently drawn from hyperspace, which she manipulates for a variety of effects. Most commonly, Sue generates near-indestructible invisible force fields around herself or other targets. She can vary the texture and tensile strength of her field to some extent, rendering it highly rigid or as soft and yielding as foam; softer variations on the field enable her to cushion impacts more gently, and are less likely to result in a psionic backlash against Sue herself (in rare cases, sufficiently powerful attacks on her psionic fields can cause her mental or physical pain). She is also able to make her shields opaque or translucent like Milk glass to effectively block variations of light such as laser-beams, or make them semipermeable to filter oxygen from water though the latter is mentally taxing.

Sue can shape her psionic force fields into invisible constructs, usually simple shapes such as barriers, columns, cones, cylinders, darts, discs, domes, platforms, rams, ramps, slides and spheres. By generating additional force behind her psionic constructs, Sue can turn them into offensive weapons, ranging from massive invisible battering rams to small projectiles such as spheres and darts. She can generate solid force constructs as small as a marble or as large as 100 feet (30 m) in diameter, and her hollow projections such as domes can extend up to several miles in area. By forming one of her force fields within an object and expanding the field, Sue can cause her target to explode. She can also travel atop animated constructs such as ramps, stairs, slides, columns and stepping discs, enabling her to fly. She can manipulate the energy of her force fields around other objects to simulate telekinetic abilities. It has been said on numerous occasions, including by the Fantastic Four's greatest opponent, Doctor Doom, that Sue is the single-most powerful member of the quartet and she is one of the few beings able to rupture the shell of a Celestial.[34] She is capable of generating and manipulating multiple force fields simultaneously. This power is only limited by her concentration; once she stops concentrating on a field, it simply ceases to exist.

Susan is also a competent hand-to-hand combatant and martial artist, having been trained by Iron Fist,[35] and having received additional coaching from both the Thing and She-Hulk. Her unparalleled sense of compassion makes her a natural-born leader, and she usually acts as the Fantastic Four's second-in-command, usually taking over complete leadership of the team during Mister Fantastic's absence.

Other versions

Main article: Alternative versions of Invisible Woman

In other media



File:Normal InvisibleWoman.jpg
Jessica Alba as Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four

Video games

In popular culture


Invisible Woman was ranked as the 99th greatest comic book character of all time by Wizard magazine.[50] IGN also ranked the Invisible Woman as the 66th greatest comic book hero of all time stating that "the Fantastic Four are nothing if not a dysfunctional family, and they need someone to hold that family together. That someone tends to be Susan Richards",[51] and 40th in their list of "The Top 50 Avengers".[52] She was ranked 85th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.[53]


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  4. ^ The Empowerment of the Invisible Girl
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  6. ^ a b Fantastic Four #2
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  10. ^ Fantastic Four Annual #3
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  19. ^ Fantastic Four #280-281
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  22. ^ Fantastic Four #304-307
  23. ^ Avengers #300
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  28. ^ Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #1
  29. ^ As revealed in Fantastic Four #357–358
  30. ^ Secret Invasion #8
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  52. ^ "The Top 50 Avengers". IGN. April 30, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  53. ^ Frankenhoff, Brent (2011). Comics Buyer's Guide Presents: 100 Sexiest Women in Comics. Krause Publications. p. 54. ISBN 1-4402-2988-0.