The Invisible Woman solo series gives its titular star a chance to shine like she seldom does in team books. While the Fantastic Four may have been her original home, the new miniseries explores Susan Richards' secret life away from the FF serving as a spy for the United States government. While on a mission in the latest issue, she even applied her powers in a way never seen before.
While infiltrating a high society party, Sue needs to maintain a disguise that won't attract attention. After all, Marvel's First Family are some of the world's biggest celebrities, so she applies her powers in a way she says she learned from her super-genius daughter Valeria. Under the logic that her invisibility works by manipulating light waves, Sue disguises herself by tanning her skin and darkening her hair. Rather than make them outright invisible, she just changes the color.
The implications for this new application of her abilities could be major. If Sue can manipulate light waves to create whatever color she wants (she jokes about how annoyed the Thing gets when she turns him pink) then she could likely make elaborate illusions to confuse or distract her enemies. In combination with her force fields, there's no reason she couldn't make those illusions almost as good as the real thing.
This latest development may be a brand-new ability for Sue, but the idea that her powers advance and grow along with her creativity dates back to her early days. Sue started out as the Invisible Girl, solely capable of turning herself invisible, and initially had no additional powers aside from a vague "women's intuition." In Fantastic Four #22, however, Reed began pushing her to explore the limits of what she could do.
In the same issue where Sue first starts experimenting with her abilities, she quickly discovers that she can create force fields and turn objects aside from herself invisible. Initially this came with the limitation that she could not obscure both herself and a target at the same time, but the power growth had begun and it would only continue throughout the decades.
By the '70s, Sue blew past the limitation of how much she could turn invisible at once, and her force fields grew strong enough to resist blows from some of Marvel's heaviest hitters, like Hercules. Her contributions to the team outgrew her frequent damsel-in-distress role, and once she came under John Byrne's authorship in the '80s her powers began to see offensive applications.
Under Byrne, Sue was no longer limited to merely creating defensive bubbles with her force fields. She began to attack with them in powerful waves. The constructs she created grew increasingly complex, and during her stint as the demented BDSM-clad supervillain Malice, that complexity included knives and blades that punctured her targets from afar.
That trend of power growth continued even as writer Tom DeFalco took the reins from Byrne writing Fantastic Four. Her evil Malice personality re-emerged yet again, and the time-hopping Nathaniel Richards informed her of the immense potential she had yet to tap. Her force fields continued to grow stronger and more complex throughout the years, allowing her to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Hulk and Thor for brief skirmishes.
Sue's force fields were not the only power of hers to be strengthened, though. Through to the modern day, including this latest issue, Sue continually explores the implications of her invisibility powers. Whether it's using them like X-Ray vision to look through walls at an enemy, or check in on her own child in utero, this latest application only continues a decades-long trend of the Invisible Woman becoming one of Marvel's most powerful heroes.