Fantastic Four #176-178
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #176, Fantastic Four #177, Fantastic Four #178
Issue #176 deals with the Impossible Man running on a rampage through the Marvel Bullpen. The less said of it, the better.
Here's the scene Dan mentions below, reflecting the EiC turmoil.
It ends with the FF seeing an ad in the Daily Bugle placed by the Frightful Four, advertising that new members will be considered at the Baxter Building.
The FF show up at the Baxter Building and subsequently get captured, thanks to the Trapster who is making a point of using non-glue based traps.
In issue #177 a number of potential villains show up to be considered for the Frightful Four, including a bunch of non-powered wannabes. A new super-powered individual called the Texas Twister appears, but the Frightful Four can't match his desired pay.
Another powered individual is Captain Ultra, but he is rejected when it is learned he has a weakness to fire.
Thundra arrives to try and help the FF but she is captured as well.
Tigra also applies...
...but her job application is a sham; she's really there to help free the FF.
However, the final applicant is the Brute, the Reed Richards of Counter-Earth...
...who is strong enough to defeat the Thing and throw him into the Negative Zone and help mop up the rest of the FF. The Thing is brought back by the Frightful Four at the beginning of the next issue and bound with the others while a shirtless evil Reed Richard gloats.
Instead of killing the FF, the Wizard has the dumb idea of holding them all for ransom, something the other members, especially the Brute, aren't too happy with. The FF are able to escape when the Impossible Man, who has been watching TV, accidentally unplugs a fuse and knocks out the Baxter Building's power.
The FF plus Thundra and Tigra easily overpower the Frightful Four, but during the fight the Brute manages to switch places with the real Reed and throws him into the Negative Zone.
It's interesting to see the Wizard admit that he's got a soft spot for ladies who wind up betraying him, listing Medusa, Thundra, and now Tigra. But for the most part these issues are way too silly for my tastes. George Perez's art isn't all that spectacular in these issues, either.
As a result of Galactus' ray that transformed Ben back into the Thing last issue, he is now bigger and stronger than ever before. This seems to have been a deliberate attempt to put him closer to the Hulk/Thor league (Letters page: "Does this mean he'll fare better if and when he ever again takes on the likes of the Hulk, Thor, et al.? Could be. Truth to tell, it was mainly in order to increase the Thing's strength a little that we had Ben temporarily lose his powers in the first place."). These issues have a number of "don't know my own strength" and "he'd never be able to withstand that before" moments.
Reed's powers also decline throughout this issue and eventually conk out completely, although we don't find out why.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: The FF start this issue still in space, returning home from Counter-Earth. Reed Richards is replaced on the FF by the Brute starting with the end of this arc. That plot is resolved with Fantastic Four #183, so all appearances of Reed between this entry and #183 in non-FF books should be considered carefully. Because of that on one end and the Thing's earlier power loss on the other, the Marvel Index, "[i]mpossible as it may seem", places a huge gap after the FF crash land back on Earth and before they head to Marvel's building. So there's a gap in here...
...right before the Thing says "Here we are back in Fun City", which encompasses Marvel Two-In-One #21-36 and a few other appearances, including Super-Villain Team-Up #5-7. That is insane, but i'm going along with it.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Fantastic Four #53 (vol. 3) (issues #177-178 are originals)
Inbound References (17): show
I remember reading the Brute/Negative Zone storyline in my dentist's waiting room in 5th or 6th grade.
Posted by: Chaim Shraga | June 7, 2012 5:19 AM
Pffft! Abe Beame trying to get the ransom money is comedy gold! I also love how when the Wizard claims "my stratagem worked", the Trapster points out that it was his Electro-Grid that knocked out the FF; Wiz really was trying to run away.
The door with all the EICs names on it was really at the Bullpen at this time, as a later lettercol notes.
Posted by: Dan Spector | February 3, 2013 7:50 AM
One of those non-powered wannabes, the Osprey, was used as an example of character creation in the original Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game. He had gained the "power" of flight because he had figured out how to control the anti-gravity disc the Wizard had stuck to him.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | August 22, 2013 8:20 PM
It's dumb but I kind of wish The Brute fought The Hulk. Purple skinned strong guy in green shorts vs. green skinned strong guy in purple pants!
Seems like they liked the idea of Reed Richards with super strength what with that other Reed becoming the Thing.
Y'know considering how often you point out Reed's super-villain moments, and you wondered why Reed was losing his powers, you wouldn't find it too strange if villain Reed gave himself the most protection for the flight? "My brain is most imporant, so I have a special suit for myself, they will do fin with their versions."
Posted by: DavidBanes | December 8, 2013 10:19 PM
"The door with all the EICs names on it was really at the Bullpen at this time, as a later lettercol notes."
Late to the game here but, who's the guy between Wolfman and Conway?
Posted by: entzauberung | August 4, 2014 1:46 PM
It's hard to read but the first name looks like Roy. Roy Thomas did briefly consider an offer to become EiC again but moved to California instead, so it's probably meant to be him. It might actually say "Roy Again" or something like that.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 4, 2014 1:54 PM
Two more of those "Hunt" background signs appear in #176.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 15, 2014 11:07 PM
My original of #176 is apparently a little clearer than your scan. What's written between Marv's and Gerry's names is "Roy Tho," and indeed seems to represent the fact that Roy came close to taking the EIC position again before relocating. The idea appears to be that he changed his mind before they could even finish putting his name back on the door.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | August 3, 2015 11:31 AM
I just checked this gap against chronologyproject's various lists. On top of all the Thing appearances, a bunch of issues of Thor have to happen between issues of MTIO... and Captain America 204-216... and some Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker, and consequently the Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure mini... and five issues of Daredevil, and a Marvel Spotlight with the Warriors Three... it works out to, I believe, 100 comics between those two panels.
Posted by: Douglas | December 2, 2016 11:53 AM
Captain Ultra's fire weakness might be a joke about DC's J'onn J'onzz.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | January 1, 2018 11:34 PM
Mr. Fantastic also has a weakness to fire. Most people have a weakness to fire. Captain America, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Shang-Chi, Nick Fury, Hawkeye-- many Marvel heroes aren't fireproof. I think they just didn't like Captain Ultra's fashion sense.
Posted by: Holt | March 3, 2018 9:31 PM
Yes, most people aren't fireproof...but most people also don't faint at the sight of any open flame. That would be something of a deal breaker for anyone planning to go up against a team that includes the Human Torch. ;)
Posted by: Dermie | March 4, 2018 12:06 AM
A few months ago with the news that Disney was buying Fox assets, I couldn't resist working out a plot for a movie to bring the FF into the MCU, and #177 was where I got the plot for the first third. The team returns from a long space exploration to find that the Frightful Three have taken over the Baxter Building and are holding auditions for a fourth member. I would absolutely have used the Osprey.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 4, 2018 2:28 PM
Here's the plot, if you care.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 4, 2018 10:27 PM
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