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Quote1 We of the Fantastic Four did not choose to be 'super-heroes.' We are just ordinary people who fate selected to be more than human. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we did not lose our human foibles when we gained our powers. Quote2
Susan Richards

Appearing in "Childhood's End"

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Synopsis for "Childhood's End"

Susan Richards is participating in an interview on the television program "Woman to Woman" hosted by Barbara Walker. Right off the top, Walker's begins to irk Susan by referring to her by her maiden name. When Sue correct Walker, the newswoman suggests that the belief that Sue is accepting the "subservient role" to her husband Reed. Sue corrects her by saying that she loves her husband and that it was her choice to take his last name when they got married. When Barbara questions her use of the codename the "Invisible Girl" as counter to a "liberated woman" of today would use, Sue again explains that she doesn't make herself a prisoner of labels. Barbara continues her interview showing an early photo of the Fantastic Four prior to their rocket flight, and footage of it's take off an internal cameras during the cosmic ray storm that gave them their powers. After going over the powers of the other members of the Fantastic Four, Barbara asks if Sue feel's her own powers are overshadowed by the others. Sue shows the contrary opinion by using her invisibility powers to create a column that lifts Barbara high above the stage. Sue then goes on to explain that with her powers she was able to rescue the Fantastic Four during their first battle with Doctor Doom, as well as knock out the Hulk. Barbara continues to dig deeper, bringing up Sue's past love affair with the Sub-Mariner. Sue brushes it off as youthful indiscretion and that after she made up her mind about Reed and they were married, she has maintained a friendly relationship with Namor. Sue then goes on to explain that the Fantastic Four are more than just a team of super-heroes, that they are a family and she has a role with them as wife and mother. Meanwhile, in the control room of the studio, the crew notices that the Fantasti-Flare has been fired into the sky, but none of them are willing to interrupt Barbara's interview due to her tyrannical nature on the set.

Soon after the interview is ended and Barbara expresses her regrets that Sue couldn't be "completely open" with them. Sue resigns to the fact that she could not convince Walker of anything and takes a cab back to the Baxter Building. When she gets into the main lobby, she is shocked to find that her solenoid belt buckle is not calling the elevator to the main floor. Suspecting trouble, Sue uses her powers to lift herself up to the top floors of the Baxter Building. Fearing that they have been vulnerable while Reed has been busy reconstructing the top floors of the Baxter Building, Sue frantically searches for her teammates. She comes across the unconscious body of Reed. She is relieved that he is still alive but she believes that his mind has somehow been shut down. Further down the hall she finds the Thing in the same condition. Turning invisible, Sue then searches their headquarters further. In on the of the rooms, she finds Johnny being restrained by a strange man with long hair and a beard wearing nothing but rags. The man rants about finding answers and tries to probe Johnny's mind. Not finding what he is looking for, the man also shuts down Johnny's mind and tosses him aside. Raging like a madman, the mysterious intruder turns and is actually able to see Sue even though she is invisible.

Dropping her invisibility, Sue tries to flee and when her attacker almost catches her, she tosses her overcoat on him. The man simply reforms it into an outfit for him to wear. When Sue tries to hold him back with an invisible barrier, he causes her great mental pain, simply by touching it. When the man gets too close, Sue bombards him with a flurry of invisible spheres and flees further into the Baxter Building. Entering Ben's quarters, she sees that the doors were blown open and inside Franklin's nanny robot HUBERT had been destroyed, leaving her to wonder what happened to her son. When the man sneaks up on her and places a hand on Sue's shoulder, the Invisible Girl turns his hand invisible. The ruse works, and the man panics as Sue flees once more. Back at the Woman to Woman studio, the tech crew alerts Barbara Walker that there is a news story about a battle going on at the Baxter Building. Seeing this as a golden opportunity for her career, Barbara orders the crew to get a mobile van rolling so they can try to capture footage for their Sue Richards interview. However when they arrive they find that the police have already cordoned the area off and are refusing to let anyone pass.

Suddenly there is an explosion from within the Baxter Building, and Sue is sent flying out -- protected by an invisible bubble. She safely lands by creating a cushion on the street below. Barbara manages to break past the police cordon and begins asking questions. Sue tells Barbara that it's too dangerous and that she and everyone else needs to get away. Before she can say anymore, the strange attacker exits the Baxter Building and floats down to the street below. He is confused by the appearance of both woman and demands answers. When the mystery man grabs her, Sue looks into his eyes for the first time and finally realizes who he is: her son Franklin. When Sue' voices this, the man recoils and suddenly the memories begin flooding back to him. The man-child recalls how his powers flared up while trying to solve a Rubix Cube, transforming him into the form he now wears and confused as to his own identity. Suddenly, Reed, Ben and Johnny -- now back to normal -- exit the Baxter Building to investigate what is going on.

Reed is shocked by this news and suggests that they get Franklin inside so he can run some tests. Just then Alicia arrives on the scene and is reunited with Ben. Reed tells Franklin that he must return himself to his proper age, otherwise his powers may burn out his body. Franklin agrees, but before he does he goes to Ben. Explaining how his father's last attempt to turn Ben back to normal caused a permanent regression to his previous dinosaur-skin like form, Franklin uses his powers to try and restore Ben. However instead of changing him back to his human form, Ben is returned to his trademark rocky exterior and Franklin is restored to his proper age. Reed explains to Ben that Franklin was unable to restore Ben to normal, so the boy undid the permanent nature of Reed's last transformation. Satisfied with this, Ben decides to take Alicia out. When he is out of ear shot, Reed explains to Sue that the real reason was more likely the fact that Ben has had fears that Alicia only loves him for being the Thing and that Franklin reverted him back to his previous rocky form so as not to cause mental trauma by restoring Ben back to human form when he is not mentally capable of accepting the fact that Alicia loves him for who he is, not what he looks like.


Continuity Notes[]

  • The Barbara Walker interview covers a few points of Sue's career with the Fantastic Four:
    • A brief recap of the Fantastic Four's origin from Fantastic Four #1 is recapped here. The only new bit of information provided is that the crash landing happened in Ithaca, New York. This is the first time the location of the crash site is referenced.
    • There is another mention of Sue using the "Invisible Girl" moniker, the last time someone questioned her use of this name was Power Man back in Fantastic Four #169. Sue does eventually rename herself the Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four #284 after being mentally tormented by Psycho-Man.
    • Sue mentions that her invisibility powers assisted her in helping the Fantastic Four defeat Doctor Doom the first time he fought the Fantastic Four. This happened back in Fantastic Four #5.
    • Sue also points out that she was able to knock out the Hulk once. That's not technically correct. She is referring to the battle against the Hulk in Fantastic Four #167. Sue used her invisible force field to place a bubble around the Hulk's head, cutting off his air supply. This allowed the Thing to knock the Hulk out with a single punch.
    • The love affair between Sue and the Sub-Mariner comes up as well. The Sub-Mariner became infatuated with Sue when he was first revived back in Fantastic Four #4. However, after the events of Fantastic Four Annual #1, Sue had made up her mind that she wanted to be with Reed, as explained in Fantastic Four: The Wedding Special #1.
  • Although unnamed here, Sharon Selleck is a member of the television crew as identified in Fantastic Four #251.
  • Sue makes reference to the top floors of the Baxter Building being repaired. They were decimated when the FF were attacked by Terrax in Fantastic Four #242. Reed began repairs last issue.
  • Although seen destroyed here, H.U.B.E.R.T. is repaired and operational again in Fantastic Four #257.
  • Franklin restores Ben to his rock-like form in this story. Ben was reverted to his original dinosaur-skin like form (first seen in Fantastic Four #1) back in Fantastic Four #238. According to Reed, that transformation was supposed to be permanent.
  • Franklin's powers go dormant again at the end of this story, but this only lasts until Fantastic Four #282 when they start manifesting again as precognitive dreams.
  • Franklin's "adult form" is not named here, but is referred to as the Avatar when it reappears in Fantastic Force #1013.

Publication Notes[]

  • This issue contains a letters page, Fantastic Four Fan Page. Letters are published from Mark Waldman, Michelle Cohen, Steve Elliott, Steve Thurman, Jeffrey Lowndes, and Joe Gardner.

See Also

Links and References