Transformed By Mysterious Space Magic Showdown, Round One: The Invisible Woman vs. Metamorpho
Name: The Invisible Woman
Origin Story: Susan Storm joined her boyfriend Reed Richards’ illegal space expedition. The expedition ran afoul of some nasty cosmic rays, and when they crash-landed, the four people onboard found themselves radically transformed into “the Fantastic Four.” Sue discovered that she could turn herself invisible.
Costume: Like her fellow teammates, Sue rocks a blue FF bodysuit, though recently the team started wearing all-white stormtrooper-chic outfits in the wake of a rebranding as the “Future Foundation.”
Coolest Power/Ability: Initially, Sue’s power was limited to making herself invisible. But as the character evolved, she developed the ability to cast massive invisible-energy fields. This has multiple uses, but the most fun is her tendency to construct frictionless slides, essentially allowing her to glide through the city.
Defining Stories: The character came into her own in a mid-’80s run by John Byrne, when she notably changed her codename from “The Invisible Girl” to “The Invisible Woman.” But Sue’s best showcase is arguably much more recent: Under the stewardship of current FF writer Jonathan Hickman, she’s become the group’s most interesting (and probably most powerful) member.
Cultural legacy: Marvel’s first female superhero has a problematic history — she spent her first couple of decades dithering in the background, often eerily concerned about clothes. (It didn’t help matters when, in the ’90s, she started modeling a Victoria’s Secret-worthy skin-baring costume.) But she has steadily evolved into a multifaceted character: A mother, a leader, and a powerful heroine. (Alas, none of that was really evident when Jessica Alba played her in two Fantastic Four movies.) —DF
Origin Story: Globetrotting man-of-action Rex Mason tries to steal the Orb of Ra, an ancient Egyptian artifact carved out of a radioactive meteorite. The Orb transforms Rex into “The Element Man,” with the ability to transform into any element on the periodic table. Hydrogen gas, attack!
Costume: The Orb reconstructed Rex into an elemental being, complete with orange, purple, and white skin. Technically, the only item of clothing he has on is a demure set of black briefs.
Coolest Power/Ability: People. He can transform into any element. Phosphorus! Gadolinium! All of the lanthanides and the actinides! Put it this way: Metamorpho is almost certainly Walter White’s favorite superhero.
Defining Stories: The fantastic Showcase Presents Metamorpho: The Element Man volume features over 500 pages of pure Metamorphing goodness.
Cultural legacy: Metamorpho is probably the least well-known character in our superhero showdown bracket. But popularity isn’t everything, and Rex has been an essential bit player in the DC universe for a long time. —DF