Fantastic Four #369
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #369
It starts when Galactus initiates the mind-meld that gets everyone up to speed in Infinity War #4. While the others are getting their exposition dump, Sue is faced by Malice. We know Malice as the identity that Sue took when she was under the control of the Hate-Monger, in the story leading up to her changing her name from the Invisible Girl to the Invisible Woman.
Note that here Malice is not saying that she's a doppelganger. She's saying that she could either be a side-effect of Galactus' scanner, or she could be something that was "lurking about your subconscious". She might not be telling the truth, of course.
Her stated goal is to cause Sue to throw off her psychological restraints, saying that the heroes won't survive infinity war without her "naked aggression".
And, ultimately, Sue agrees with Malice, and voluntarily absorbs her.
When she wakes up, we find that she's got much more of a take-charge attitude. The Hulk, in turn, continues to play the role of the jerk in this comic. Didn't his foosball game with the Thing settle their differences?
That's basically it for now, although Sue continues to declare her "by all means necessary" philosophy. Nice group shot by Paul Ryan here.
The big question is whether or not the Malice entity was telling the truth. Is it just a doppelganger, or is it really something subconscious inside of Sue? And if the latter, is it just a suppressed side of Sue, or a separate psychic entity? I should note that we saw Rage absorb his doppelganger in New Warriors #27. Thanos also will absorb his doppelganger in Warlock and the Infinity Watch #10. I don't know if that had any long term implications for them. But there are definitely implications for what Sue did here, which we'll see later in this title (in issues also by Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan). The creature will seem to be a separate psychic entity, to the point where it can transfer from Sue's mind to her (adult from the future) son Franklin's. But even then, the entity will refuse to confirm anything, and Franklin has mental powers, so maybe he just transferred a part of Sue's psyche to him. The fact that the creature still exists circa FF #384-392 doesn't prove that it's not an Infinity War doppelganger, either, since a couple of other doppelgangers continue to exist after the event.
Part of the reason i'm wondering about this now is because the MCP lists a few earlier issues as appearances of Malice, including Fantastic Four #280-281 and Silver Surfer #15-16. And this has implications beyond whether or not i tag a character as appearing in certain issues. The idea behind the original Malice story was that it was a repressed side of Sue after years of being treated as an inferior. The Hate-Monger amplified her hate, but "Malice" at that time represented a legitimate anger, and after the Hate-Monger's influence was gone, Sue, already an adult, changed her name from Invisible Girl to Invisible Woman, and all of that dovetailed with John Byrne writing Sue as a much more powerful (in terms of actual powers and in personality) character. We sort of see the same sort of thing here, but it's done in a way very similar to the "feminism" from male writers in the 70s, where a woman asserting herself was treated as an aberration or at least with skepticism from the male characters, as we see with the Thing and the Human Torch in one of the scans above.
If it's meant as actual character growth for Sue, first of all, it seems unnecessary, since Sue already went through that in a less clumsy way. In fact, i question the idea that Sue asserting herself here should raise eyebrows from Ben and Johnny. Although arguably the idea is that it's a metaphor for Sue deciding she needs to take charge since Reed isn't around, which is an idea that will be raised by others.
Beyond that, the depiction of Sue asserting herself is depicted in the kind of brute force feminism that we saw from the likes of Thundra. She's suddenly overly aggressive, closer to early Wolverine than anything. And of course, it does raise eyebrows from her teammates, which suggests that there's something wrong. But this isn't something that is resolved any time soon, certainly not as a part of Infinity War. I guess i'll just keep looking at it in these issues over the next two years(!).
I should say that if i ignore the long term implications, i like the idea of the Invisible Woman's "doppelganger" being a version of Sue that we've seen before. It makes the confrontation feel less random than, say, the Human Torch's battle last issue.
The following scene gave me a chuckle. What better way to show us that the Human Torch is still a ladies' man who's 'still got it' than letting us be privy to Psylocke's thoughts saying that he had a chance with her?
Also in this issue, the Puppet Master is about to tell his stepdaughter Alicia that the Thing has been "seeing another woman" (Sharon Ventura) when he's interrupted by Aron the rogue Watcher, who kidnaps her. He's observed by Uatu.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This begins during the fight between the heroes and the Infinity Watch at the beginning of Infinity War #4, and ends just as the heroes are tricked by Thanos into fighting all of the doppelgangers at the end of Infinity War #5.
Crossover: Infinity War
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAdam Warlock, Agatha Harkness, Alicia Masters, Angel, Aron the Watcher, Captain America, Colossus, Cyclops, Devos the Devastator, Dr. Druid, Dr. Strange, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Havok, Hercules, Hulk, Human Torch, Iceman, Invisible Woman, Jean Grey, Living Lightning, Lyja the Lazerfist, Magus (Evil Adam Warlock), Malice (Sue Storm's psionic entity), Moondragon, Nova (Frankie Raye), Nova (Rich Rider), Paibok the Power Skrull, Pip the Troll, Polaris, Professor X, Psylocke, Puppet Master, Quasar, Rogue, Sasquatch, Scarlet Witch, Shaman, She-Hulk, Silver Surfer, Soul Gem, Storm, Strong Guy, Thanos, Thanos Doppelganger, Thing, Thunderstrike, Uatu the Watcher, Vindicator (Heather Hudson), Vision, Wolverine, Wonder Man
Thus begins the era where Sue wears the boob sock bathing suit with the 4 shaped hole. Can't wait!
Posted by: Darren | April 9, 2016 10:34 PM
I take this to be just another instance of DeFalco trying to undo or break some character growth from Byrne's run. He probably thought the idea of Sue having a dark evil side at all was poisonous to his Silver Age tastes so decided to try and reveal it was an entity.
Posted by: AF | April 10, 2016 5:58 AM
Nice group shot by Paul Ryan here.
fnord, definitely agreed with that. As I've commented before, Ryan was an underrated penciler who did some quality work on this series. He certainly was good at drawing these huge crowd scenes. Looking at his depictions of the X-Men here, I really wish he'd had the opportunity to draw them more often.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 10, 2016 1:20 PM
Ryan's work looked so much better here, when it wasn't buried under Tom Palmer's murky inks. For some reason, they were always paired together at Marvel, and, while both great artists on their own, were a really poor match for each other.
Posted by: Bob | April 10, 2016 3:11 PM
As I recall, Ryan was doing loose pencils/breakdowns for Tom Palmer, which accounts for the differences between his FF and Avengers art. Palmer, like Joe Sinnott was more of a finisher guy who took control of the look of the final art(even coloring issues). And I like Palmer over just about everyone, although I'd grant that he and Ryan never meshed. Of course the bi-weekly schedule and rotating writers on Avengers didn't help. Ryan did full pencils as far as I could tell on every FF issue he penciled. The story might have been lacking, but the art never was.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | April 10, 2016 10:25 PM
I found Ryan to be a lot like Byrne, but just a little more stiff all around. He showed up for work, I'll give him that, but I'd take a guy with a little style any day.
The coloring around this time was really great, by the way. Really vibrant and a great match for the paper. Today's books for the most part a little too slick and over saturated for my taste. Too bad there was so much god damn crosshatching back then.
Posted by: MindlessOne | July 13, 2017 9:30 AM
I recently read FF "Strange Days" Epic Collection and I'll give my two cents on Paul Ryan: he's great if you read a large chunk of his stuff. I agree he's not flashy so in isolation he doesn't work as well. But he's absolutely incredible at world-building. You will almost NEVER see a Paul Ryan panel missing a background. There's a certain comfort level in reading a Paul Ryan comic. Everything feels real. Living, breathing characters and scenery. Distinct faces. A total workhorse professional.
Posted by: bigvis497 | July 14, 2017 12:04 PM
Paul Ryan was an excellent journeyman artist, and when he was paired with the right inker he really shone. His storytelling was clear, and his art was nice to look at. However, he wasn't really a dynamic penciler, and his action sequences did not have the oomph that the greats did. But his craft was great, and it was good to see him get some work in this era when so much was becoming worthless, knockoff Image style crap.
Posted by: Chris | July 14, 2017 2:14 PM
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