94. The Return of the Frightful Four

Fantastic Four Issue Ninety-Four 94

Issue Ninety-Four, January 1970

“Is something wrong mr Grimm? You look at me so strangely. One might almost think that I were… a witch!

Reed and Susan have finally decided on a name for their son, ‘Franklin Benjamin’. Deciding that life in the Baxter Building would be too endangering to it, they decide to place him with a “child-rearing specialist” in a quiet place “upstate”. The whole Fantastic Four goes to see the infant securely installed. Their plans are overheard by The Wizard who reassembles the Frightful Four in order to exact revenge on his nominated nemeses. Arriving at the specialists house, the FF meet Agatha Harkness, who accepts charge of Franklin and asks the FF to stay the evening in her very gothic mansion. The Frightful Four choose their moment to strike just as the FF are settling themselves into their rooms. Medusa reveals herself to be an agent against the Frightful Four and is incapacitated. The remaining “Frightfuls” are swiftly incapacitated by Agatha Harkness herself through use of powerful illusions.

Fantastic Four Issue Ninety-Four 94

A touching early moment with Ben and Franklin.

This is a standalone issue, the first for a while, and it’s a welcome break in pace. On the face of it, it serves largely to shunt the character of Franklin off-scene so that the team dynamic can, presumably, return to its former dynamic. But the creators of this issue really couldn’t have had more fun with it, and seem to enjoy stretching themselves into a little bit of dark mysticism as a break from Sci-Fi. After the fairly poor realized arcs of the last two plots, it’s a palpable relief to have such a measured tale, even if it does feature what have proved to be the Fantastic Four’s least effectual enemies, the Frightful Four.

Fantastic Four Issue Ninety-Four 94 Agatha HarknessBut even then we are treated to a fresh thought in regards to them — a twist, in fact. At first it seems that Medusa is to be a full member working against the Fantastic Four, which is a moment of eye-rolling dis-continuity. Are the creators of the issue really going to overlook all that has been developed in her character as a member of the Inhuman Royal family and ally of the FF, just to round out the original team? As it turns out, no! That moment of triumph, however, is slightly detoothed by the ineffectualness of Medusa’s interference, which only results in her being pasted up.

But Agatha Harkness is on hand to bat for team female, however, and she very adeptly deals with the three male members of the Frightful Four, apparently without even moving from the same spot. The means are so delightfully visual that it’s a fun and cathartic denouement to a short and sweet tale. And Agatha is so modest that even the FF are unaware of what really happened that night, as a puzzled Ben Grimm props up a passed-out Paste Pot Pete.


Fantastic Four Issue Ninety-Four 94

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