The Fantastic Four #36, Mar. 1965
Proudly produced by Smilin’ Stan Lee and Jolly Jack Kirby
Inked by: Chic Stone
Lettered by: Artie Simek
All right, the Frightful Four! They took two shitty villains that the Human Torch had fought on his own (Paste-Pot Pete and the Wizard), added in a classic Spidey baddie (Sandman), and created a lady who can control her hair in crazy ways (Madam Medusa). Because they had to have a girl. You know, to match the Fantastic Four. They’re very dedicated to their theme.
The Sandman breaks himself and Paste-Pot Pete out of jail, and they rescue the Wizard before his own antigravity device flies him into orbit (as seen in Strange Tales #118). The three of them decide to tackle the Fantastic Four (even though they’ve all been beaten by just Johnny Storm by himself in the past), but they need a girl partner. The Wizard finds a lady who lives in a cave and who has prehensile hair to fill in as their fourth member, and they dub themselves the Frightful Four!
Meanwhile, Reed Richards and Sue Storm finally announce their engagement! How exciting! After the big party (attended by the X-Men and the Avengers, where Thor gives an actually touching line about envying Mr. Fantastic. Also Spider-Man steals a piece of cake because he wasn’t invited. Aww), The Frightful Four sneak in and handily dispatch all but the Torch, who is out playing with cars. Alicia, the Thing’s blind girlfriend, manages to let off a warning shot, and Johnny comes back to save everyone. Dammit.
I hate it when the Human Torch saves the day. I really do. Especially in a case like this, where all these villains are basically Torch B-listers (except the Sandman, who I still say should be basically invincible). Having Paste-Pot Pete and a lady with crazy hair completely immobilize the Thing… That’s just not cool, man.