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Quote1.png First guy to ask me ta make a speech gets a fat lip! Quote2.png
The Thing

Appearing in "The Merciless Puppet Master"

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Synopsis for "The Merciless Puppet Master"


Fantastic Four Vol 1 14 Title.jpg

The Fantastic Four are returning from their adventure on the moon, landing their rocket at the airport greeted by a crowd of their fans. Exiting the ship they are swamped by fans, as well as fame seekers such as the wrestler known as the Golden Angel who challenges the Thing to a fight, with disastrous results. After Sue is harassed by Hollywood agents the Human Torch helps his teammates flee back to the Baxter Building by creating a hot air funnel to carry them back home. After settling in, Reed is disturbed to find Sue monitoring the world's oceans to try and find the Sub-Mariner, damaging his self-esteem and leaving him to question the future of their relationship.

Phillip Masters (Earth-616) from Fantastic Four Vol 1 14 0001.jpg

Meanwhile, at a local sanitarium, the Puppet Master -- having survived his last encounter with the Fantastic Four[Continuity 1] -- has been released to start his life over. However, the Puppet Master is far from cured and seeks to get revenge against the Fantastic Four.[Continuity 2] After some consideration, the Puppet Master decides to use his special clay to make the Sub-Mariner his slave and pit him against their mutual foes. Enslaved, the Sub-Mariner returns to his empty kingdom of Atlantis and uses his Mento-Fish to send out a communication asking Sue to come to him. When she meets up with Namor at the docks, he kidnaps her and takes her back to his undersea realm. The Puppet Master then forces Namor to contact the Fantastic Four, telling them that he has the Invisible Girl prisoner and taunt them into coming to rescue her. The Puppet Master then boards a sub to watch the battle from close by.

Hypno-Fish from Fantastic Four Vol 1 14 0002.jpg

After the Thing picks up his girlfriend Alicia Masters, the Fantastic Four take a sub of their own to the Sub-Mariner's domain. After fighting through the various undersea defenses,[Continuity 3] Reed, Johnny and Ben confront Namor in his throne room. With Sue trapped in a glass sphere ensnared by an octopus the Fantastic Four square off against the Sub-Mariner. At first the group is kept at bay thanks to the various undersea creatures that Namor has at his disposal, however the Thing manages to get past Namor and free Sue, knocking the octopus out into the ocean. When the Puppet Master tries to order the Sub-Mariner to slay his foes, Namor cannot bring himself to harm Sue and fights off the Puppet Master's control, causing the clay puppet to explode.

When the Fantastic Four try to attack Namor again, Sue stands in their way and convinces them to stand down. Meanwhile, the octopus ejected from the Sub-Mariner's palace reaches the Puppet Master's sub and crushes the submersible before the villain can put the octopus under his control.[Continuity 4] Meanwhile, the Sub-Mariner -- still not over his animosity towards the surface world -- allows his foes to leave his kingdom.


Continuity Notes

  1. The Puppet Master seemingly perished battling the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #8 when he fell out of a window. This issue reveals that he survived the fall and was placed in a sanitarium during this time.
  2. As the Puppet Master muses over which of the Fantastic Four's enemies to use in his plot, he mentions the Skrulls. In Fantastic Four #2 it is stated that the Skrulls' activities were hidden from public knowledge. One could presume that they became known as the Fantastic Four's adventures were being chronicled by Marvel Comics as seen in Fantastic Four #10.
  3. By this issue, Namor appears to have lost the ability to mimic the powers of other sea creatures as seen in Fantastic Four #6, 9 and Strange Tales #107.
  4. Although he appears to die again here, the Puppet Master resurfaces alive and well in Strange Tales #116 having escaped the sub at the last possible minute.

Publication Notes

  • This issue also has a one-page feature explaining how the Human Torch's powers allow him to fly in the air.
  • A bathyscaph is a Deep-sea diving apparatus used for exploration at great depths in the ocean. In 1960, Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh took the bathyscaph Trieste to a depth of 35,820 ft in the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench off the island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.


  • The issue features a corner box featuring the heads of Ben, Reed, Johnny and Sue. The art is recycled from the cover of Fantastic Four #11. This corner box will continue up to Fantastic Four #61.

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