Review and Media by Jon T
Episode #3 - Diablo
Notes: Based on "The Dreaded Diablo!" from Fantastic Four #30 (September 1964), written by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby.
Original Airdate - September 16, 1967
The Fantastic Four are lost in a Transylvanian forest while on vacation, and eventually come across an old castle. They are warned that the castle belongs to Diablo, an evil alchemist was was sealed away in the dungeon exactly 100 years ago. Only a very strong individual can free him, and so Diablo hypnotises Ben into breaking the seal that holds him. The rest of the team investigate Ben's disappearance, and find that Diablo has rewarded Ben by partially returning him to his human form. In return for Diablo's help, Ben agrees to act as the alchemist's assistant for one year, against the team's objections. Reed steals a sample of Diablo's serum that changed Ben, while Diablo performs miracles all over the world with his other potions. Reed discovers that Diablo's potions are dangerous, while Diablo himself amasses an army. Ben eventually fully returns to his Thing form and breaks Diablo's hold over him. As Diablo's potions all over the world begin to wear off quickly, the rest of the team head to his castle to stop the alchemist and free Ben.
Review: Perhaps deciding to take a vacation in a Transylvanian forest wasn't the best of ideas! Clichés aside, this episode provides some neat insights into Ben's character, with the first mention of his sadness at no longer being an ordinary human, which would have been quite a departure from virtually all super-heroes on TV up to that point. It's therefore a successful touch that after Diablo restores Ben's human face, he disregards the tales of Diablo's evil and assists him willingly.
On the visual side of things there's a nice glimpse of a portrait of Diablo that's rendered as a more traditional background painting rather than the cel-type backgrounds traditionally used in this show. Ben with a human face on the Thing's body is pretty unsettling though!
Stan Lee once said that Diablo was one of his least-favorite characters, and after seeing this episode, it's easy to see why. His spells and potions ultiamtely aren't really effective against a super-team as powerful and resourceful as the Fantastic Four. That probably explains why he was never used in any subsequent FF show!