Civil War: Mr. Fantastic & Invisible Woman, Pt. 1Posted: 05/14/2014
It’s a marriage that (almost) tore apart because of a government law. Y’know, two people love each other but can’t be together because of politics — like gay marriage only everything is different and not at all related to gay marriage. Unfortunately, Marvel’s number one couple hits a rough patch every other year or so. Mr. Fantastic tends to have trouble treating his two soul mates equally (Susan Richards and science), and Mrs. Fantastic spends most of her day switching between forcefield-ing catastrophes and taking care of her four kids (Franklin, Valeria, the Human Torch, and the Thing). So all the camel’s back of their relationship needs is a single piece of straw to pierce the camel’s soul and destroy decades of built up happiness and trust (not a great analogy) — until the status quo returns, of course. And thank god, because I don’t think I could ever be emotionally ready for that marriage to end.
Today and Friday we’ll examine the tearing and repair of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman’s marriage in the following comics in order:
Civil War #2, written by Mark Millar and drawn by Steve McNiven
Fantastic Four #538-540, written by J. Michael Straczynski and drawn by Mike McKone
Fantastic Four #542, written by Dwayne McDuffie and drawn by McKone
Civil War #7, written by Millar and drawn by McNiven
Fantastic Four #543, written by McDuffie and drawn by McKone
Fantastic Four #545-546, written by McDuffie and drawn by Paul Pelletier
As one of the architects of the Superhuman Registration Act enact-ers, Reed Richards spends even more time in a lab coat with goggles. He gets busy imprisoning all his former friends, especially after his brother-in-law ends up in the hospital after a mob attack.
I know the mysterious “Plan 42” isn’t revealed to build suspense, but I’m going to ruin it for you now: Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and Hank Pym trap any unregistered in Negative Zone dimension cells never to return to Earth. It’s full-blown supervillain stuff. And despite all Reed’s rationalizations, the two argue pretty much like this:
Mr. Fantastic: “I’m doing the right thing!”
Invisible Woman: “The right thing is helping our friends!”
C’mon, all married couples have fights. A lovers’ spat won’t hold them down as their wedding vows and devotion towards each other’ll propel them to once again unite for the sake of their loved ones. Until the moment when one of the Negative Zone tubes burst.
Remember a few pages up when Mr. Fantastic told his wife that they’ll talk about this later in that same tone I use before I send kids to the principal’s office? It’s time. I absolutely adore both of them, but my goodness, the Invisible Woman’s phenomenal. I completely understand Namor’s infatuation and I can’t see why she doesn’t get more credit for being a positive female role model in comics today. Male writers only gave her an outfit that exemplified her cleavage once briefly back in the ’90s. That’s all. But most importantly, both her kids are well-adjusted, she doesn’t take crap from her husband (or bad guys), and remains the pillar holding together Marvel’s very first super-team. Plus, she’s not afraid of wrecking her home to prove a point.
Let’s talk about Sue’s argument. The Holocaust point doesn’t really hold up, because once superheroes register with the government then they have free rein to go about their happy, law-abiding business. Also, very few Jews can bench press trucks or spout adamantium claws from their hands. But Reed’s “I’m protecting you!” argument also comes out as a pathetic lie the moment the words leave his mouth. Both are wrong mainly because the Civil War sits caked in heavy coating of gray area, but Sue did touch upon something that holds absolute truth: no supervillain in the world can break up their marriage, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be bent from within.
The Thing had the right idea fleeing to France for a while. Look, everything in comics always comes down to Spider-Man’s mantra: with great power comes great responsibility. The responsibility to hold the family together. The responsibility to serve one’s country. The responsibility to stay on the moral path. So how can either Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman possibly win an argument when they’re both right and wrong? But have no fear — on Friday we’ll have a happy ending. Those are the best kinds.