Today on my journey through comic book history, I read The Fantastic Four #21, from December 1963. This issue is significant for featuring the first appearance of the original Hate-Monger, AKA…well, I get to that in a minute. The finale was one of the strangest, most “did not see that coming” moment I’ve ever encountered. It also features the first appearance of Nick Fury post-WWII; thus removing the possibility that he would ever die in his own book, Nick Fury and His Howling Commandos.
The story revolves around a rash of racist demonstrations and near-riots, lead by a purple-clad figure known as The Hate monger. When our foursome walks by one of the rallies, The Thing destroys their platform, prompting The Hate-Monger to fire his “H-Ray” at The Four, causing them to immediately turn on each other, and ultimately split up.
Back at The FF’s HQ, Reed is Visited by his old war colleague Nick Fury. Seems Nick has become a spook! “The sarge” is now a colonel in the CIA. Shades of things to come, I suppose; as I’m sure you all know Nick’s future, even if a lot of you mainly know him as a bald black man. He’s come to talk to enlist the aid of The Fantastic Four in dealing with a situation in South America. The US has been investing Billions into the small country of San Gusto, to “make it a show-place of Democracy.” Things were going great, but suddenly a rash of violence and revolt has arisen.
Reed agrees to go, but he’s still feuding with the rest of the FF. Seeing the POGO plane launch, the rest of the FF rush to HQ, furious with Reed for taking the craft without telling them. When they arrive, Fury is waiting for them. Fury knows they’re under the Hate Monger’s influence, and manipulates them by telling them that Reed didn’t want them coming because they’d be in the way. Feeling insulted, they board the FF’s special ICBM (how in God’s name do they have the money for this? Billion-dollar one-time use aircraft? Really?) and head to San Gusto. The Hate Monger’s men in San Gusto witness the ICBM’s passenger pod landing, however, and the Hate Monger boards a really confusing ground craft and hurries to the under siege nation as well.
Down in San Gusto, Reed is busy using his powers to sabotage the rebels, when he discovers a strange underground bunker. Climbing down the stairs, he falls victim to a paralyzing gas-trap, and is captured by The Hate-Monger’s men. The villain explains that he plans to envelope the entire world with his hate-beam, bounced off the moon. Thankfully, Nick Fury arrives just in time (some how) and forces the Hate-Monger to give Reed the hate-ray’s antidote. Unfortunately, Hate-Monger manages to lower a bullet-proof glass wall between them and makes his escape.
When the rest of the FF arrive, Reed gives the m the antidote, and Fury and the Foursome make their final assault on Hate-Monger’s compound. During the battle, Invisible Girl disrupts The Hate-Monger’s aim, and his ray hits his soldiers, who turn on him and kill him. The threat finally subdued, the team unmasks The Hate-Monger…