Bad Comic Panels #10: “Just like a woman! […] you’re too scatterbrained and emotional!”

Just like a woman! Everything I do is for your own good, but you're too scatterbrained and emotional to realize it!
Source: Fantastic Four #23, 1964

Ah, Reed Richards. Few characters have been as consistently portrayed as sexist, in mainstream superhero comics. It’s probably because he and Sue were one of the first “real” couples in superhero comics: they were already dating in the very first issue, and were married in the third annual (1965). Therefore, all the “morals” of the late 50s and early 60s could be seen in their relationship; other couples typically came much later, and the moral zeitgeist had, by then, progressed.

Here we see another great example: Reed (and he isn’t depicted negatively, therefore Stan Lee seemed to agree, at the time) treats Sue as if he was a parental figure (instead of a boyfriend, which he was at the time), and insults her entire gender by saying that women are “too scatterbrained and emotional to realize” how, basically, men know best. In other words, according to this view, women should look up to men, including steady boyfriends and husbands, in much the same way as children look up to their parents, trust them implicitly, and obey them, because parents are adults and are, therefore, the only ones who can be rational and responsible.

And what’s worse is that, in the next panel… Sue agrees! Even though she challenged Reed in the previous panel (with, you’ll note, a childish retort: “go polish a test tube or something!”), after she leaves she admits to herself that Reed was right, that he really knew what’s best for her, and that she — like all women — only didn’t accept it at the time because she’s “too scatterbrained and emotional”.

The early 60s, ladies and gentlemen! :)

Bad Comic Panels #4: “a pretty young lady can always be of help — just by keeping the men’s morale up!”

"A pretty young lady can ALWAYS be of help -- just by keeping the men's MORALE up!
Source: Fantastic Four #12 (1963)

Yes, if your sense of humor is anything near mine, you may be grinning already, after reading the dialog above. :) But, for the full effect, this entry in the Bad Comic Panels series requires a little more background.

So, Fantastic Four #12, which we’ve already seen before, was, I believe, Marvel’s first “crossover” ever; until then, all of its characters stayed in their books. The Hulk (whose identity wasn’t publicly known at the time) was being suspected of sabotaging some missile installations in a military base, and the FF were asked to help capture him. After a page where the three male members of the Fantastic Four boast, very childishly (yes, even Reed Richards) about how each of them will use his own powers to capture the Hulk, the Invisible Girl, Sue Storm (she hadn’t married Reed yet), says that she probably won’t be of much help (this was before she developed her force field / turn other stuff invisible powers; at the time, her only power was to turn herself invisible, nothing more), and General Ross, without realizing how his words could be interpreted in a later, more cynical age, implies that that’s not a problem, as:

… a pretty young lady can always be of help — just by keeping the men’s morale up!

“Morale”? That’s what they called it those days? 😀

Of course, arguably the best part is yet to come, as Reed — Sue’s boyfriend, and eventual husband — agrees with Ross:

That’s just the way we feel about Sue, general!

In other words, agreeing that her girlfriend — and, by extension, all women — aren’t much good for anything… but that’s OK, because the only thing they need to do is look good. Ah, early Marvel comics. :)