Fantastic Four #561: A Medical Review

Fantastic Four #561 “The Galactus Engine”
Mark Millar, writer
Brian Hitch, penciler

In battle, Sue Richards disables the future Wolverine by turning his optical nerves invisible, thus rendering him blind…then the Thing clobbers him.

scene from Fantastic Four #561

Nice plan, but there’s no way it’s going to work.

As the name suggests, the optic nerve transmits nerve impulses from the back of the eye to the brain. It does not transmit light or images of any sort. Thus turning it invisible would have absolutely no effect on vision. It would be like turning the wiring in a lamp invisible but leaving the bulb alone — the light’s still going to work.

This is the second time I’ve seen this error in a comic book; it must be a more common misconception than I realized.

Other thoughts:
ffSue can see when she’s invisible, and her optic nerve is invisible with her, so maybe she should have realized there was a flaw in her plan earlier.
ffWolverine, he of the “I can smell force fields” a page earlier, is disabled by losing his vision? He defeated Sebastian Shaw by purposefully fighting him in the dark in another comic published the same month.

Medical errors — and lateness issues — aside, I am thoroughly enjoying the Millar/Hitch run on the Fantastic Four. I think it just hits all my Fantastic Four buttons perfectly.

13 Responses to “ Fantastic Four #561: A Medical Review ”

  1. I read in some book that an invisible person wouldn’t be able to see, because there’d be nothing catching the light… You make it clear that “optic nerves” is the wrong part. Would there be a part of the eyes that she could “invisible” that… You know what, never mind.

  2. The retina would be the key part of the eye in this case. The photoreceptor cells withing it react to light and let us see.

    Theoretically, if those cells were invisible, light would pass through them instead of activating them, rendering the invisible person blind.

  3. The Planetary version of Sue has to wear special goggles to see while invisible, although I don’t think it’s ever elaborated as to how they work. Given Planetary’s world, they probably tap into some alternate dimension where one does not need a retina to see.

    I remember that the D&D version, at least back in 1E, actually explained that the invisibility essentially cycled on and off in a way that allowed the person within to catch the needed occasional glimpse while those outside might see only a flicker, which also explained the uncanny ability for people to occasionally know exactly where the invisible person was.

  4. I always thought that Sue’s invisibility is more like an optical illusion thing than making her body’s transparent with refraction index equal to the air. That would explain why she can see while invisible.

    On the other hand, maybe she gets invisble except for her retina… They’re so small that no one would notice two little things floating around.

  5. Sue is the second cheapest character in comics behind Superman. I really hate her concept.

    Why doesn’t she just stroke him out with miniature force fields or surround his head with a force field and have him pass out from a lack of oxygen. It worked against the Hulk and he can breathe (or whatever) in space.

    Kudos to Millar to killing off future Sue (or whatever.)


  6. Is “invisabled” even a word? Is there a difference between her “invisabled his optic nerve” and “Making his Optic Nerve Invisable”?

    She could have just said, “I’ve made his EYES invisable.” Simple and to the point.

    Sorry, poor Grammer/English makes me crazy person.

  7. If I recall correctly, the AD&D Invisibility spell was from the Illusion school of magic, not Transmutation. So was truly a magic trick, unrelated to physics. Kinda like the Obfuscation of WoD (more an enchantment, that one).

    I hate Sue and the 4F. I don’t read it so I’m not sure of the battle conditions, but “invisibling” (!) nerve optics is obviously stupid, as everybody here said.

    A force field could choke Logan, couldn’t it?

  8. Just a quick note: this is actually the third time this error has shown up in a comic, and the second time that Mark Millar has made it. You’ve got an earlier post here:
    about a scene in which Ultimate Sue “invisibles” the optic nerves of a whole bunch of zombies.

    As for the whole “seeing while invisible” thing, I think Mark Waid, in his FF run, had a techno-babble explanation for that. Apparently Sue sees with regular light and some sort of “cosmic radiation”, which allows her to not only see while invisible, but also see things that she’s made invisible. Since it bypasses her rods and cones (or maybe just the ones that receive color, whichever those are), though, she only sees in black and white.

    Just my two cents.

  9. Is “invisabled” even a word?
    Given that the dialogue is in the vernacular, and that sounds like a word someone is likely to make up, then yes.

    Sorry, poor Grammer/English makes me crazy person.
    Every time a grammar nazi misspells grammar an angel gets its wings.

  10. What’s even sadder is that this isn’t the first time that Sue’s gone up against Wolverine! Back when he was killed and reanimated by the Hand, he attacked the Fantastic Four and Sue pretty much shut him down. If I recall correctly, she actually did turn his retinas invisible *and* she threatened him with creating force field plugs inside his lungs. (I guess that if she’d just domed his head, he could have pierced his own chest for airflow?)

  11. Metz77: Do’H!!

  12. Benm In What If – Enemy of the State, Wolverine never gets unbrainwashed by the Hand. When Sue fights him she does encase his head in a forcefield, and Wolverine respond by stabbing his throat so he can continue to breathe.

    It doesn’t end well for Sue after that.

  13. It doesn’t end well for Sue after that.

    Which is silly, really. While he’s stabbing himself in the neck, she can completely encase him in a force field that has been shown to be strong enough to take punches from the Hulk.

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