The Great American
                Novel Act 1:
                the danger Act 2: rising action Act 3: the ball Act 4: crisis Act 5: triumph the Franklinverse part 2, act 1:
                the new danger

Sue's story, 2: married

Age 31:Duty 32:Namor 33:Disliked 34:Father 35:Wedding
36:Galactus 37:Sidelined 38:Franklin 39:Agatha 40:Divorce?
41:Enough 42:Scratch 43:Hell 44:Peace 45: Future

Year 5: The Wedding

age 35
(1965, FF34-45)


Finally Sue is at peace. This is her happy year, the year of her wedding. This is the year that sets the classic Fantastic Four apart from other comics: time moves forwards. The characters grow.


This year begins with an example of Sue's famous intuition, which is never wrong


But generally, Sue is distracted: Why?


The answer is obvious. Reed has taken her to his old university, and Sue knows there can be only one reason: he's finally going to propose.

So it is time to really understand Sue as a person: we get the clearest ever statement of her approach to life.


And finally, after all these years...


And the press goes wild!


But there is nobody to take her down the aisle. Her mind returns to the recent tragedy.


Sue wants justice. Can she be serious? The Skrulls are a galactic empire: a single ship was as big as a city, so how can four people bring justice to the Skrulls?


But consider Sue's world view: she knows that agreement is stronger than war. So it is impossible that a galactic empire is based on hate - or it would have so may wars (including civil wars) that it could not survive long. No, the average skrull must have a sense of justice of some kind. And Sue was right: the idea of booby-trapping an innocent civilian was not popular, even among Skrulls.


Sue's compassionate nature reaches the heats of the moderate Skrulls


But even she realizes she went too far.


Still, Sue is happy now.


But Sue soon gets a reminder: she can never afford to relax.


And again we are reminded that only Sue can save the team. Her love for her family is so deep that even unconsciously she protect them. It's a powerful moment.


Time for another note about her hair. Before being engaged, Sue was always going to the hair salon, the only place she was alone to think. Now that her future is secure she adopts her classic long hair style - ironically it was created not in the salon, but being dragged from the ocean.


Sue risks losing her home, but is only concerned about others.

(And Reed takes every opportunity to act romantically by carrying her when she probably didn't need it.)


But Reed is soon distracted, whereas for Sue it's all about family. Family is their strength.


(This is also a superb shot of Sue. While Vince Colletta is famous for rushing his art there is no doubt that the man can draw)

Sue is once again on top form. Here Reed is out of action, Ben is on the enemy side, Johnny is about to fall, but Sue is magnificent, she uses two forcefields at a time, rescues Reed, and saves them all. What a woman! Is it any wonder that long term fans adore her?

Sue's ability

And we are reminded Reed is more willing to take dangerous risks...


...while for Sue it's all about family.


And so the wedding at last!

the Wedding!

Note Sue's words: "we're married at last! And nothing will ever part us, my beloved!". After losing her mother, losing her father twice, having to give up Namor, and facing the very real risk of losing Reed every day, her greatest fear is of being parted from her loved ones. Now she knows that whether in this life or the next they will always be together.

Sue is prepared to do whatever it takes to make this marriage work. She will do things Reed's way, sexism and all. The strong, independent woman will even wear a frilly apron.


Reed's intentions are pure, hence making her a dish washer. Actually doing the dishes himself (which is a social act, as they can talk while cleaning up) is still beyond his limited social abilities, and Sue has accepted that and loves him anyway.

We may mock Sue's passive, loving approach, but it works: she can get inside a person's heart and influence them even when she is not present. Here we see her influence on Dragon Man. next year we will see that her influence on the Watcher saves the world.


Many times in this period Sue asks Reed for help. She knows that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.


Sue can solve the problem on her own of course, but she wants to do things together where possible; Sue intuitively knows that their strength lies in being a team.

Year 6: Galactus

age 36
(1966, FF46-57)


This is the central, defining year of the whole story. It is when Reed's method (use force) spectacularly fails. He faces the one enemy that force can never defeat: Galactus, the embodiment of power. Only Sue's method (soft power) can triumph. But Reed fails to learn the lesson, and instead pushes forward with his most dangerous gamble: he opens The Negative Zone.


We begin by seeing that Sue can look after herself. Later we will see that Dragon Man plays a central and symbolic part of the big story: by befriending him Sue passes the test.


We are also reminded that Sue acts as mother to Johnny...


...and that she  cares for them all.


Contrast this with Reed's approach, which is to analyze the short term forces at work.


Sue's method, to care, has far greater long term power. She turns the Inhumans from enemies into friends.


...just as she had touched the heart of the Impossible Man, the Skrull ruler, Dragon Man, etc.

Reed doesn't understand and is annoyed that he has to follow Sue. His pride will finally drive them apart, drive him to despair, and worse.


Reed's desire to interfere seems very reasonable here, but look at the long term. Could Sue have earned the respect of the Seeker (and Maximus as well)? Like she just did with Triton (who was also considered an enemy)? Like Alicia later did with the surfer and later with Doom? Most people would say "No, because Maximus is mad." But is he? We only have the Inhumans' view on that, and until recently they too were considered enemies.

Meanwhile we see that Reed is colder than ever.


Sue's way to defuse a serious situation is to do something non-serious, usually her hair, as it gives her time to think. It works. Reed had been critical of her recently, and during the flight Ben and Johnny were depressed. By acting the dumb blond, Sue got Johnny talking positively again (about Crystal), and she got Ben focusing on the task in hand. She also made Reed feel superior again. Besides, it's her honeymoon, why shouldn't she do her hair?


(NB: If Johnny is Sue's son, why does she refer to "our" patents? Because they are: his adopted parents. For a discussion, and whether Johnny knows, see the notes to FF291.)

Entering the hidden land is the first time we have seen Sue genuinely frightened. But why, when she has faced far greater dangers in the past?


There could be at least three possible reasons:

  1.  She is more aware of the dangers than the others: she is hundreds of meters in the air, supported by a thin, crumbling piece of stone, and unlike the others she cannot survive the fall.

  2.   She is more aware of social matters. They are invading a nation of superheroes who are thousands of years more advanced than us. The others seem to have no idea of what they are doing!

  3.   The architecture below may remind her of her feelings when seeing Atlantis when she was young and vulnerable. See the notes to FF 291 for why that may have happened and why that would have a profound impact on her.

The danger appears to be over, so it is right that Reed spends more time with Sue.  Sue is humble enough to let Reed do things his way when there is immediate danger, but intuitively know that he should listen to her when the danger is over. Is dinner selfish? No, dinner is a time to talk. Reed needs to talk!


All that Sue wants is for Reed to talk to her. but he lacks those social skills. Reed's only skill is science, so he turns to that even when it does not work. He locks himself away from a world he cannot cope with, but nothing Reed can do in his lab will be the slightest use against Galactus.


Sue needs Reed "to be healthy" so he can think clearly. or at least talk to the others. Ultimately only Sue and Alicia can solve his problem but Reed can't see that in hs stressed out state.


Reed focuses on the short term problem (what will happen right now?) but Sue understands the big picture immediately: Galactus is power personified. Ben understands the implication: he cannot be defeated by force. But force is all the boys have.


This page is about Sue's words, but what happens with Galactus is central to the whole multi-year story, so we need to see the others' words as well.

Reed is so desperate for power that he cannot defeat Galactus. At the same time that Reed is angrily demanding power, the most powerless one is beginning to solve the problem, by touching the heart of the surfer.


The loss of his only friend means Galactus must defend his morality: Alicia, through the surfer, has got inside his mind.


The Watcher finishes the job. Galactus could of course remove the nullifier in a hundred different ways (freeze Reed, stop time, encase it in force bubble, etc). What stops Galactus is not the nullifier, but the knowledge that the Watcher, his only equal, is against him.


So Galactus is defeated: not by force (that would be impossible) but by the persuasion of his only friends. Note the Watcher's words: he admires courage in frailty. In his first appearance we saw that he values non-violence above all else. Sue fits that description better than anyone: she is the bravest (as she has the fewest defenses), the most frail, and the only one to use the Watcher's enlightened methods.

Reed's only role was to follow orders for a few seconds. But following orders was always the hardest thing for Reed.

At first it seems that meeting Galactus has not changed Reed at all.


But it has: he is now more determined than ever to find a way to do what is logically impossible: to defeat the embodiment of force using force.


And he acts like Sue is the enemy: keeping secrets and getting angry when she finds out.

He is about to open the gate to hell, and will not tell Sue anything because he knows she will object.


Note the irony: she must trust him like he trusts Ben: but Reed's judgment is faulty. Sue is right and this Ben is a fake.

And so Reed enters the Negative Zone, refusing to take the one person who could protect him (with her force field, that we recently learned would turn on automatically where there is danger, and we will later learn in FF 229-231 that it can protect against the Negative Zone).

Yet through all this Reed is a hero: he risks everything for what he believes is right.


And of course disaster happens. Sue is frantic! She could protect him!


Finally the impostor, seeing Reed's heroism, sacrifices himself to save him. The lesson? Reed should have listened to Sue's intuition.

But Ben learns that "the jaw-breakni', egg-headed square does have feelings after all! Who'd a guessed?"


Time and again we see that Sue's intuition is right, and Reed's opinion, when it often differs from Sue, is wrong.


Why? Because Sue understands other people. She cares. Constantly. Even when they're having fun she worries about the others.


But at this stage they still have fun together. This is still their golden age.


This is till part of the honeymoon!


But Sue cannot stop thinking of others.


Reed also thinks of others, but is not good at it. He is obsessed with the Negative Zone.


Danger draws him like a magnet.


Reed is like the man who only has a hammer and sees very problem as a nail. He thinks only his experiments can save them.


But there is no need for the Negative Zone portal to save Crystal. We have already seen that Lockjaw can cross such a barrier easily. Instead of hiding in his lab, Reed needs to make friends with Lockjaw!


But instead, Reed locks himself away, putting Sue in great danger.


because while Reed knows that Sue's intuition is always correct...


...he doesn't grasp the implication: you have to listen to Sue! But he does take Sue out to dinner! The year ends on a positive note - or does it? He only does it because he wants to keep secrets from her. Will Reed ever learn?

Year 7: Sidelined

age 37
(1967, FF58-69)


The honeymoon is over. Reed's desire to do everything increases his stress levels. So when Sue becomes pregnant, he treats her as helpless and won't let her do anything. He was never like this before.


The year begins with Reed keeping secrets from Sue yet again.


Ree continues his charm offensive.


But he is only doing it to compensate for keeping Sue in the dark. And his heart isn't in it:


The honeymoon cottage barely lasts a few minutes, as Doctor Doom has stolen the surfer's powers. But this this event happen at random? No! Look back at what caused it:

The Surfer wanted a friend. Ben, with his self confidence destroyed by Reed, drives the surfer away. Right into the arms of Doom, who does pretend to be the Surfer's friend.


At this point we need to remember that despite his faults, Reed is still a great hero. And regardless of what caused the problem, how do we solve it?


How do we solve it? Sue gives us a hint. Remember Johnny? The guy with Lockjaw, the key to the Inhumans' vast and advanced power?


But nobody gets the hint, so once again it's up to Sue to defeat Doom.


Except that this time Doom is too strong. But thankfully Reed seems to be learning: he does get help (he is seen talking to T'Challa) and so is able to defeat Doom, at least temporarily. All defeats that rely on force are temporary.

And so we are back to Reed's experiments putting the team in danger.


And all this time Sue, unlike Reed, is eager to learn from others. Whatever his social skills, Reed is still a scientific genius.


But his lack of social skills cause him to panic. When faced with poison gas, instead of breaking the nearby window (the one Sandman escapes through) The panicking Reed opens the gate to hell and is sucked in!


Remember how the Inhumans can solve all their problems if only they are asked? Here they prove it.


Reed's negativity is rising. "You never talked to me like this before we were married."  So he tries being nice again, and says the negative zone is "finally sealed off for good" (a promise he will soon break).


This is Reed's biggest and final charm offensive. The holiday and its aftermath are the only time we see a hint of their bedroom, and this is almost certainly when Franklin is conceived (see the main commentary to FF 64-65)

This whole year is Reed's attempt to win Sue's heart.


He goes shopping with her, he goes through all the motions of being a good husband.


But when the chips are down he considers her to be weak.

His excuse? She is expecting a baby!


Sue and Reed are still in love...

,... but still Reed won't listen to his wife. If he did, most of his problems would be solved. And in this case Reed's ignorance risks the life of his best friend.

Reed uses the excuse of the baby to sideline Sue again and again...


...even though she is often the only one who can save him.


Thankfully Sue ignores Reed's command to stay at home, and saves his life.

Reed is genuinely grateful, but his scientific brilliance makes him possibly the most stubborn man in the world.

Reed's refusal to recognize Sue's strength will put the family in greater and greater danger over the next years, until finally.... well wait and see.

Next: Franklin

The Great American Novel