Cover Date: September 1964
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone
“The Dreaded Diablo!”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Chic Stone
What’s Going On?
The Fantastic Four has to stop the ancient alchemist, Diablo, before he conquers the world!
- On vacation in the wild woods of Transylvania, the Fantastic Four discover a long-forgotten castle!
- Before they can investigate the mysterious castle, some locals warn them away and tell them the story of Diablo. He was a dangerous alchemist that the locals had sealed within the castle 100 years ago.
- That night, Ben is drawn by a strange voice back to Diablo’s castle. As he broke seal after seal, it soon becomes apparent that he is freeing Diablo from his prison!
- The rest of the Fantastic Four discover Ben’s disappearance in the morning, and follow his trail to Diablo’s lair. There, they find Ben and Diablo. In exchange for treatment that will make him human again, the Thing has promised to apprentice with Diablo for one year!
- Not trusting Diablo, the rest of the FF starts to attack. The Thing fights his own teammates to a standstill, before explaining his motives: he wants to become a normal human and marry Alicia, and Diablo is his only hope. In fact, Diablo has already given part of a potion that looks to have partially returned him to a more human appearance.
- The FF agree to leave the Thing with Diablo, but they still don’t trust the alchemist. Reed quietly steals a potion from Diablo’s lab for testing.
- Meanwhile, it doesn’t take long for Diablo’s miraculous potions to make international news.
- Diablo makes a fortune selling his potions, ones that cause plants to grow in deserts, generate unbreakable force fields, etc.. However, Reed’s tests reveal that those results will be only temporary.
- Diablo has taken his profits and invested in a mercenary army that will conquer the world. The Thing doesn’t realize it, but he is supposed to lead that army.
- Around this time, Ben realizes that Diablo’s “cure” for him was only temporary. He tries to attack the villain, but is quickly subdued by Diablo’s potions.
- The FF attack Diablo’s castle and are able to overcome his mercenaries. Unfortunately, Diablo manages to use his alchemy to paralyze and capture the heroes.
- This is about the time where the paralysis potion used on the Thing starts to wear off. Once awake, he breaks free and comes after Diablo.
- Terrified of the Thing’s wrath, Diablo retreats to his old crypt for safety. The Thing seals the villain inside and then topples the entire castle on top of it.
- To ensure Diablo never gets free, the Human Torch then melts the castle ruins so they are fused together.
Is It Good?
It’s not awful, but it’s bad for a Fantastic Four story. The concept of alchemy in the pages of Marvel’s biggest pseudoscientific comic isn’t a good fit. That might not matter if Diablo had a lot of personality or a cool power set, but he was a bland character that could seemingly do anything at all, until the plot dictated that he couldn’t.
Fun fact: Stan Lee has repeatedly referred to Diablo as his least favorite character creation. I first read it in Wizard Magazine’s Dark Book special in the 90’s (that was a pretty cool reference guide before the internet), and I’ve seen him mention it in other interviews.
To give that fact some context, Stan Lee is saying that Diablo is less interesting than Fancy Dan. And he’s 100% right!
- While Dracula exists as a character in the modern Marvel Universe, he doesn’t appear in a comic until after the Comics Code loosens it’s restrictions on horror characters in the 1970’s. In other words, Ben is referencing the film/literary character here, not the “real” Dracula of the Marvel Universe.
- This is the first appearance of Diablo. Diablo is an alchemist that has many powerful potions/encapsulated chemical formulas that allow him to do almost anything he wants. He has unnaturally long life, thanks to an immortality potion he takes regularly.
Comics Are Goofy:
- Yeah, that looks like a “stone” slab.
- Yes, Johnny, if you were looking for a legal reason to go after someone, the United Nations declaring them evil is a good excuse.
- “Melvin” is a great insult that isn’t used nearly enough.