FF#8: Meet the Puppet Master
Jocular Jon Bogdanove and Tim Powers are back with a look at Fantastic Four #8: Meet the Puppet Master. We ALSO meet the future Mrs. Benjamin J. Grimm, Alicia Masters.
Reed has been working on a formula to try and change the Thing back to human form and has Sue and Johnny try to bar Ben from entering his lab until it is finished. This leads to a fight between Ben and the others. Fed up with being kept in the dark, the Thing puts on his coat and hat and leaves the Baxter Building. Worried about Ben, Sue turns invisible and follows after him to make sure nothing bad happens to him. However, the Thing soon becomes aware that Sue is following him and tells her to leave him be. However, Sue spots someone climbing up to the top of the Queensborough Bridge and fires up a signal flare to alert Reed and Johnny. When Reed cannot stretch that far to save the man, Johnny flames on and flies after him.
Not far away is the Puppet Master, who is testing out his radioactive clay that can control the people it is modeled after. Before he can make the man jump, the Torch saves his life and the heat from the Torch's flame causes feedback that burns the Puppet Master's finger. Furious over the interference the Puppet Master vows to eliminate the Fantastic Four before they can meddle in his plans further. When his step-daughter Alicia enters the room to inquire as to what is wrong, he silences her and tells her to obey his wishes as his step-daughter. To get revenge against the Fantastic Four, the Puppet Master fashions a puppet to resemble the Thing taking control of him and sending orders to come to his apartment. However the Puppet Master is unaware that the Invisible Girl is present with him, and seeing Ben enter a trance-like state, she turns invisible and follows after him to see what's wrong.
When Ben and Sue enter the apartment, Sue's presence is betrayed thanks to Alicia's sensitive hearing. Realizing that the Invisible Girl has followed the Thing to his home, the Puppet Master places gas masks on himself, Alicia and Ben and then fills the room with ether, knocking Sue out. Seeing a resemblance between Sue and Alicia, he disguises Alicia as the Invisible Girl and orders her to accompany the mind controlled Thing back to the Baxter Building so the Fantastic Four will fall for his trap even more. The Puppet Master then begins the next phase of his scheme which involves taking control of the warden of the state prison. When Ben and Alicia arrive at the Baxter Building, both Johnny and Reed are unaware of the trap until Ben suddenly starts attacking them.
However, the battle quickly ends when the Thing slams into Reed's chemistry experiment, dousing himself in chemicals that revert him to human form, thus freeing him from the Puppet Master's control. Back in human form, Ben explains everything that happened and Alicia finds comfort in Ben. At first she finds him different, but he suddenly reverts back into the Thing and instantly recognizes him by the touch. Ben is depressed by the fact that the only woman who would be interested in him in his monstrous form just happens to be a blind woman. Meanwhile, the warden at the state prison is ordered by the Puppet Master to free all the prisoners there instigating a massive jailbreak.
Waking up from the ether, Sue tries to flee the apartment, but the creaky floorboards give her away. The Puppet Master uses a puppet of Sue to trip her up, but she still manages to fire off a flare signal to alert the Fantastic Four of her location. Soon Ben, Reed, Johnny and Alicia arrive on the scene. While the male members of the group are held at bay by the Puppet Master's robotic puppet, the group saves Sue, but the Puppet Master gets away. They then hear news reports of the prisoners trying to break out of the state prison and rush to the scene to stop the prisoners from escaping.
With their superior powers, the Fantastic Four are easily able to stop the prisoners from escaping. Meanwhile, the Puppet Master returns to his apartment to try and utilize a puppet of himself that he believes will make him king of the world. However before he can use the puppet Alicia tries to stop him, knocking the puppet from his hand. Lunging for Alicia, the Puppet Master trips over the puppet and goes crashing out the window, down into the street below. The Fantastic Four then arrive and believing that the Puppet Master is dead, comfort Alicia but are left to wonder what caused him to fall out of the window to his apparent demise