Sunday, 6 March 2016


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

When the November-dated first issue of The FANTASTIC
FOUR debuted in August of 1961, there was a suggestion that BEN
GRIMM carried a torch (no pun intended) for his teammate SUSAN
STORM.  That was repeated in FF #4, but I can't recall if there were
ever any further examples between that fourth issue and the eighth,
in which we were introduced to ALICIA MASTERS.

As you'll no doubt remember, Alicia unwillingly impersonates
Sue, to whom she  fortuitously bears an uncanny likeness.  (And
gasp at how quickly Alicia's step-father, The PUPPET MASTER,
knocks up a duplicate costume.)  It's clear from JACK KIRBY's art
that Alicia has her hair cut 'n' dyed to match Sue's, but STAN LEE's
dialogue refers to it as a wig.  However, when Alicia pops up again 
later in the tale, although her hair is back to its natural colour,
it's still styled after Sue's, which is shorter.

So, Ben might not win Sue's love, but he does end up with a
Sue Storm lookalike, which is something I'd like to have seen ex-
plored to some degree.  Years later, in a back-up tale in FF # 118,
writer ARCHIE GOODWIN revealed that, in an alternate universe
somewhere, Ben actually did marry Sue, as, on that world, he was
So take heart  if you're a loser in this world - on an alternate
one you may well be a winner!

Ain't it strange 'though, that no one ever referred to Sue
and Alicia looking like twins after that one issue?  Just think
what someone like ALAN MOORE would've done with that
dangling plot-thread.  Who knows?  Maybe one day.


Colin Jones said...

The reason why it was never mentioned again was probably because the idea of Sue and Alicia looking identical was extremely silly and so it was quietly dropped - thank goodness !

Kid said...

And by what standard do you judge it silly, CJ? The Prince And The Pauper, The Prisoner Of Zenda - both classics of literature and based on the premise of two unrelated people being practically visually-identical. I sometimes think you live in your own little world. Don't you find it confining?

TC said...

My impression (and of course I could be wrong) is that the Sue-Alicia lookalike idea was just a convenient plot device that was forgotten after it had served its purpose for that one story.

I had a paperback book that reprinted FF #1-6, and I remember that scene with Ben saying "I want Sue to look at me the way she does at you." Maybe Stan had some tentative plans for a love triangle subplot, but then decided against it. Of course, it became irrelevant when Ben met Alicia. And for a while, there was a sort of triangle with Reed, Sue, and the Sub-Mariner.

Similarly, there was a hint of a Captain America-Scarlet Witch-Hawkeye love triangle in The Avengers in the mid-1960's (the Kooky Quartet era), and it never really developed. Black Widow returned, and became Hawkeye's love interest once again. And, sometime around 1970, when DC really started consciously imitating Marvel, there was some indication of a Batman-Black Canary-Green Arrow triangle in Justice League. AFAIR, it was never really developed or resolved, just dropped and forgotten.

Kid said...

I think you're more than likely right, TC, but I can't help but think that it would've been interesting to explore. Of course, it may be that when Ben said "I'll prove to you that you love the wrong man, Susan!", he simply couldn't believe that she'd prefer 'egghead' Reed to a 'real' man like him, not that he had any particular designs on her. Likewise, when he said "I want Sue to look at me the way she looks at you!", he merely meant without revulsion. (Although Johnny took it as more than that.) Another 'love triangle' was the Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Professor X one, although the Prof's interest was soon forgotten.

B Smith said...

Professor X's unspoken desire was expressed in a single panel in X-Men #3, I believe.

And Colin, you may think the idea of Sue and Alicia being near-identical silly, but, well, it happened! We all saw it!

B Smith said...

Other than that, the unresolved sexual tension/triangle seemed to be part of the formula in early Marvel titles, when you think about it...Major Talbot has the hots for betty Ross, who only has eyes for Bruce Banner....Foggy Nelson looks longingly at Karen Page, who pins for Matt Murdock....Happy Hogan' s sweet on Pepper Potts, who would take dictation from Tony Stark any old time he wanted.

I guess Stan had been writing scripts long enough to realise that it was a reliable plot device that could be developed or discarded fairly easily, depending on reader/sales response.

Kid said...

And it was a student/teacher relationship, BS - ol' Prof would've been struck off! Yeah, X-Men #3, I think.

At least Ben got his Susie, even if she was called Alicia. Maybe Stan should just have had Puppet Master say "H'mm, she's your height and build, Alicia! In fact, that gives me an idea!" Yeah, they all followed the same formula back then, sure enough.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, you imply I'm small-minded so why don't you provide a better explanation for why Sue and Alicia's apparently extraordinary similarity was never, ever mentioned again by anybody ? And by the way, 'The Prince And The Pauper' may be a classic of literature but the plot is utter pants - an uneducated urchin swaps places with a cultured Renaissance prince and nobody notices...yep, that is SO believable.

Kid said...

Nope, I imply you're somewhat unimaginative beyond a certain point, CJ, as you've demonstrated a number of times in the past. And I don't have to provide a better explanation because it's rather obvious that the similarity was merely a convenient device to advance the plot. In the real world that is. However, I still think it would have been an interesting situation to explore in the context of a superhero fantasy. (Obviously Stan and Jack didn't.) As for The Prince and the Pauper being believable - you mean like four people being bombarded by cosmic rays and gaining superpowers, or (to mention a favourite of yours) Earth being ruled by apes in the future? Yes, entirely believable. I haven't read The Prince and the Pauper, but I have read The Prisoner of Zenda (and its sequel, Rupert of Hentzau) and I didn't want to put them down. Utter classics of literature.

So - explain why Alicia resembling Sue is 'silly', given the context of a man with a face like Howdy Doody controlling people through radioactive puppets.

Colin Jones said...

Okay, I accept that cosmic-ray-induced superheroes/talking apes etc are silly but some silly things seem more acceptable than others (to me anyway). The idea of Alicia looking so much like Sue that she fools Reed, Ben and Johnny is just silly - sorry, but it is. And Stan Lee never brought it up again...'nuff said. I've never read The Prince And The Pauper either - I only know it from film and TV versions. Do you remember the mid '70s BBC serial with Nicholas Lyndhurst in the dual role ?

Kid said...

To me, that two people should look alike is the least silly thing about the issue. And remember, Alicia only has to look enough like Sue to fool Reed and Johnny viewing her and Ben through a security monitor. However, there's absolutely no reason for Alicia to impersonate Sue to begin with - as you'll see in my new post, just up.

As for Stan never bringing it up again (which only proves, if anything, that it had served its purpose, not that it was silly) - well, that's my point - he should've done, because it would've made for an interesting bit of characterization. Does Ben love Alicia just because she looks like Sue? The only silly thing about the resemblance is not the resemblance itself, but that there was no real need for it (plot-wise) to start with.

And yes, I do remember that BBC serial. That was the first thing I ever saw Nicholas Lyndhurst in.

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