Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #218

 Posted: 25 Jul 2023
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)


In Spectacular Spider-Man #42, Peter was taking an evening river cruise with his ESU classmates. He noticed a flame message in the sky over the Statue of Liberty. Thinking that the Human Torch needed him, he rushed to Liberty Island. It had been Electro impersonating the Torch as per the plan of the Wizard. Spider-Man was captured by the Frightful Four (Electro, Wizard, Sandman and Trapster.)

Story Details

  Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #218
Summary: Frightful Four, Spider-Man Appears
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Pencils: John Byrne
Inker: Joe Sinnott

Trapster, dressed as Spider-Man, climbed his way up the Baxter Building, looking to find the Fantastic Four’s living quarters. They didn’t have a schematic so he had to search every window, hopefully before the security system found him. In Wizard’s flying craft, Sandman taunted the restrained Spider-Man that Trapster climbed almost as well as he did. Trapster needed suction grips but by the time they dealt with the Fantastic Four, it wouldn’t matter. Spidey said something muffled and Sandman assumed he was smarting off, so he hit him in the head.

Trapster eventually found Johnny’s bedroom and began tapping on the window to wake him up. He tapped harder, which activated the electrical security system. The shock knocked him off of the tower and he saved himself with suction cups shot from his “web shooter.” The noise woke Johnny up and he found “Spider-Man” at his window. Trapster explained that he had been fooled into thinking that the Torch was at the Statue of Liberty. He was attacked by the Frightful Four and barely escaped before coming to the Baxter Building to warn them. Trapster knocked Johnny out as he got dressed and bound him with his glue.

He made his way to the gym, where the Thing was working out by lifting heavy machinery. He startled the Thing then blinded him with his spider signal. He dropped the machinery and swung blindly at Trapster after being told his real identity. One of his punches smashed a wall and shorted out the security system and knocked himself out.

On the roof, Wizard had Electro short circuit the locks and they entered.

At that moment, Sue Storm was getting out of bed to see Reed. She assumed he was still fixing the computers after their fight with Dr. Sun. She heard noise from her brother’s room and found him bound and gagged. She was grabbed by Sandman, who was forced to drop her when she used her expanding force field. She turned invisible but was still wearing her nightgown and was easily shocked by Electro. (Her nightdress wasn’t made with unstable molecules, so it didn’t turn invisible like her uniform did.) Electro captured her by “creating an electromagnetic storm around the Invisible Girl—carbonizing the air and imprisoning her within a sheath of rock hard electro carbon atoms!” Wizard said he was glad that Electro liked his plan to make Sue into a statue and Electro said “so what?”

Outside, Spider-Man was still trapped by the Trapster’s glue but managed to hit the control panel on the hover car, reversing the gravity of the machine. He rolled out of the vehicle and moved underneath it, hoping that the gravity crushed the glue before it crushed him.

Reed was working in his lab, unaware of the four criminals behind him. Wizard ordered him to turn and face them, giving Reed a chance to dodge Electro and Sandman’s attacks. He also dodged Wizard’s anti gravity disks but was grabbed by Sandman and glued to the wall by Trapster. He blacked out after Electro overloaded the machinery he was stuck to.

At that moment, Spider-Man crashed through the window on the ceiling, startling the Wizard. Spidey landed on him, unbalancing his flight gyroscopes. Electro tried to blast him away but caused Wizard to crash into a wall. Spider-Man smashed through Sandman, sending sand flying everywhere. The sand landed all over Reed and the machinery, dampening the electrical current and weakening the Trapster’s paste. Soon it was two against three. Trapster said they didn’t need the Wizard and Sandman said they could take Spider-Man and Reed alone. Reed managed to vacuum the Sandman away. Electro said he wouldn’t be so easy to defeat but was tangled up in a rubber fire hose by Spider-Man.

Trapster had already run from the lab but was stopped by the Human Torch, the Thing and Invisible Girl. They took the time to remind him that he used to call himself “Paste-Pot Pete.” Thing said he’d gotten uppity since he changed his name to Trapster. Invisible Girl said it didn’t matter what they called themselves, their enemies end up the same way. Thing asked Trapster if he wanted to go to prison or just get busted up. Trapster fainted and landed on Thing’s chest.

At the lab, Electro was complaining that they couldn’t keep him in a hose and Spidey said at that at least they couldn’t hear Sandman in the vacuum. The heroes thanked each other before Spidey remembered that he left his clothes on the river boat. He had also blown off Deb, who would probably never speak to him again. He then swung home in the rain.

General Comments

I had no idea it was so easy to break into the Baxter Building. Trapster did it, Electro did it and so did Spider-Man. I also didn’t know that Sandman was defeated by a vacuum cleaner twice. Reed really needs to make an evening dress for Sue that turns invisible…when she does, I mean.

Besides that, not much to say. It’s an action focused story, not a lot of character development. That seems to be the kind of story that Bill Mantlo wrote. Roger Stern took over as writer of Spectacular after this issue and his stories had more depth.

Overall Rating

Again, entertaining but forgettable.

 Posted: 25 Jul 2023
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)