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Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules #2 By Matt Martin
Marvel Comics Ė James Sturm (w); Guy Davis (a)
James Sturm, a creator that I have nothing but respect for, finally makes a mainstream debut, much to the chagrin of hoity-toity indy press fans everywhere. I, on the other hand, applaud him for doing so, as heís not only produced an incredible pair of issues so far, but heís set the standard (in my opinion) for small press stars looking to climb the ladder.
So, that having been said, I must admit that this book absolutely broke my heart, itís that sad. But I mean that in a positive way.
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Last issue, this real-world retelling of the origin of Marvelís First Family sort of spread the focus around, giving everyone all four characters a moment in the spotlight and closing with the teenage hi-jinks of Johnny Sturm. This time, everyone is present (except Reed, who is present only through otherís conversations regarding him), but itís Sue Sturm who takes center stage.
James Sturm is showing, essentially, that these charactersí traditional powers to represent an important facet of their personalities. For instance, Ben Grimmís rocky and gruff exterior disguises a tender soul. Johnny Stormís ability to wreathe himself in flame is representative of a fiery temper and generally erratic behavior. And Sue, the Invisible Woman, is precisely that: sheís invisible to everyone around her.
Now, that is not to say that this version of Sue has the ability to turn transparent or create unseen forcefields. Instead, her invisibility is thrust upon her by society and its rules, rather than happenstance and cosmic radiation. Her invisibility is shown in the lack of respect that she receives from her brother, Johnny, and her fiancťe, Reed. Neither of them show her the slightest consideration, be it Johnnyís misbehavior or Reedís general disregard for her own needs or feelings. She is a woman burdened by tradition, not only the overarching societal demands of women (be pretty, dress nicely, be a good cook, etc.), but also by her own self-imposed need to fill her departed motherís shoes, taking up the daunting two-front task of mothering Johnny and inserting herself into her motherís social circle. Her own feelings that she is an increasingly irrelevant part of the lives of those she cares about are paralleled by sequences from her favored comic book title, Vapor Girl, drawn by Sikoryak.
In the end, I find myself almost longing for something involving spandex and superpowers, because this brutally honest examination of 1950s domesticity is absolutely heart-breaking. However, after this issue, I cannot wait for the next; Sturm has shown an absolute affinity for exposing the souls of these characters. Itís a must-read book, Iím telling you. In a perfect world and perfect comic book industry, a mini-series like this would the sort of thing that makes a star.