There were also a few things that I didn't realize about the original issues. One of the big ones being that Sue Storm didn't gain her forcefield abilities until much much later -- originally, her power was simply to turn invisible, and that's it. There's a "get to know the FF" back-up story in one issue where we see some kids playing make-believe Fantastic Four, which is unintentionally hilarious in showing just how "fun" it'd be to be stuck playing Sue in this case:
Sue apparently feels similarly, but the guys assure her that's nonsense:
Sue Storm: Cheerleader.
The most interesting thing about reading these first twenty issues so far though, is that I feel like I'm reading about two very distinct Sue Storms. One is the Sue Storm portrayed in text and by her dialogue, the ditsy, domesticated, and often-worried Sue Storm whose main concerns seem to be clothes, men, cleaning the house, and whether Reed will be able to save the day. The other is the Sue Storm portrayed by her actions, the strong, determined, and fearless Sue Storm.
The latter Sue Storm is the one who, though frequently separated from the group when the villain takes her hostage, manages half the time to escape on her own and rescue the guys. Or when Impossible Man turns into a jet-propelled missile flying around the room and no one knows how to stop him, this Sue goes invisible and fearlessly stands in his path in order to bring him to a halt (he turns into flowers at the last minute, upon impact).
Remembering that Stan and Jack worked on the stories "Marvel-style," wherein Stan would give Jack a plot summary, Jack would work out the smaller story details, and then Stan wrote the dialogue over it, I started to wonder if perhaps what I was witnessing here was Stan and Jack's varying attitudes towards women heroes.
For example, during the FF's fourth confrontation with Doom, Sue ends up finding Doom before the rest of the team. Rather than waiting for the guys, she decides to go up against him on her own, and totally kicks his ass! But it seems as thought Stan felt a girl being able to get the best of Doom little too unbelievable (despite how tough I imagine it'd be to fight hand-to-hand with an invisible foe?), and instead comes up with this out-of-nowhere retcon:
Ah, so it's Reed who deserves all the credit...Stan could *totally* write for Heroes! *snark*
But yeah, the further into the series I went, the more plausible it seemed that Jack was all about trying to make Sue a bad-ass (while Stan was more interested in portraying her as a housewife). And when you look at Jack's later output, with creations like Big Barda, it certainly seems like that could be the case, doesn't it? I was discussing it with old-school-Marvel fan papajoemambo who confirmed it for me, telling me he'd heard from Jerry Robinson first-hand that this was essentially the case.
Makes me wonder how greatly Stan and Jack's intent differed in particular panels. For example, here's a panel where the FF are taking a load-off after an exhausting battle. Sue's body-language to me looks to say "you guys are wimps!" (in a playful way, of course). But her mouth is saying something altogether different:
A nice littel "Superman Is A Dick"-style moment from Reed there.
Before I close this entry, here's one last panel. In this sequence, Thing has just broken Sue out of an underwater prison. This one really took me by surprise, exiting the realm of merely sexist to that of outright misogynistic:
I passed it papajoemambo just to double-check if I was reading too much into it, but nope, he saw the same thing. Wonder if Stan had just had an argument with his wife that week, or what?