[It’s still Marvel Week here at SB Nation and I couldn’t let this opportunity go. I also haven’t done a Zeitgeist post in a long while.]
Susan Storm-Richards isn’t like most people.
She’s a wife, a mother of two and a full time globe and dimension-trotting charter member of the superhero team known as The Fantastic Four. As “The Invisible Woman,” she uses her extraordinary pellucid powers to defeat, apprehend or eradicate threats to humanity including attacking aliens, sinister scientists, truculent time travelers and everything in between alongside her stretchy spouse “Mr. Fantastic” Reed Richards, her hot-headed younger brother Johnny, also known as “The Human Torch” and their friend Ben Grimm, whose hulking, craggy orange appearance has given him the unfortunate moniker of “The Thing.”
But like most people, Sue Storm (she prefers to use her maiden name) is hoping that professional sports can safely resume in the near future. Games have been postponed or canceled, and leagues and teams have been placed on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans are just hoping to see their favorite players suit up again.
And for Storm, that means her hometown New York Islanders, who she has been a fan of since the team’s inception. The native of Glenville, Long Island is a longtime season ticket holder. But don’t be surprised if you’ve never actually seen her at a game.
“I miss them terribly,” she told us in an interview conducted over Zoom this week, “I’m at every home game I can get to, although I usually stay invisible to not call attention to myself. It looks like just another empty seat, but it’s me. Cheering on my boys!”
How does a superhero become a hockey fan? In Storm’s case, it took another superhero.
“Namor The Submariner demanded I accompany him to a game in 1972. He thought ‘Islanders versus Golden Seals’ meant something completely different and when he realized it was just hockey, he threw a huge tantrum and stormed out of Nassau Coliseum. While I waited for Reed, Johnny and Ben to come pick me up in the FantastiCar, I fell in love with the speed and power of the game and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Storm has kept up with the Islanders ever since, watching them rise from expansion doormats to Stanley Cup champions only to fall into mediocrity and then relative obscurity. The franchise is in better hands these days, and when both the FF and Islanders are at their New York home bases at the same time, she’s the first person through the door before game time.
“I go alone because no one else in the group is interested. Reed thinks team sports are pedestrian and arbitrary. He’d rather watch a weeklong chess match between two computers than an ice hockey game. Johnny is more into racing and motor sports. Ben grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and is a Rangers fan. He and I have a very friendly hockey rivalry. Sometimes when he goes to games at Madison Square Garden, he gets mistaken for Mark Messier.”
Her two children, son Franklin and daughter Valeria, are both teenagers and more focused on their own friends and interests than their mom’s. “You know how they are at that age when they have immeasurable reality-warping powers and vast super-genius intellects. Hanging out with mom just isn’t cool.”
While Storm is known for her ability to turn invisible and create force fields, she can also form psionic constructs with her mind including tactile shapes, shields and weapons. This, along with her background as a competitive swimmer and expertise in martial arts make her a formidable foe that is often miscalculated by enemies and dismissed by the public at large. In that way, she sees yet another connection with the Islanders.
“I think we’re underestimated a lot,” she says of both her and the team. “We both have had a lot of setbacks, but we’ve also experienced amazing victories and had a hand in making history. We both tend to get lost in the noise of bigger personalities, whether that means other New York teams for them or with the Fantastic Four or Avengers for me.
“But we’ve also been known to fight back. The Islanders have a history of doing that and so do I. Even now. No one expected them to have one of their best seasons in decades last year and they did. No one expected me to put Psycho-Man into a coma, but I did.”
Storm won’t be going to any games - even invisibly - while the NHL remains shut down. She and her teammates are asking people to stay home, wash their hands, practice social distancing and wear masks when around others.
When it’s safe for the Islanders to play again, she’ll be there. You just won’t see her.
“Any empty seat you see at an Islanders game, there’s a good chance I’m sitting in it. I don’t about all the other empty seats, though. They could all be Skrulls in disguise. They’re tricky bastards. So be careful out there.”
This is obviously very silly. We do that once in a while. Excelsior.